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2 gallons of coffee...
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Joined: 25 Sep 2002
Posts: 115
Location: Grand Ledge, Mi
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Breville Dual Boiler
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Vac Pot: na
Drip: aeropress,
Posted Tue Jun 18, 2013, 9:00pm
Subject: 2 gallons of coffee...

I make coffee at church once a month.  I have to make it in large urns (1 1/2 gallons each).  The water is filtered and direct fed to the urn, so I cannot control temperature or water quality.  The beans are fresh and I grind them just before I use them.  The only thing I can control is the amount of coffee grinds I use and the grind setting.  Does anyone have any ideas?  The coffee is usually pretty bitter, so I know I am doing something wrong.  I am more of an espresso person than a drip person.

I use approximately 2 cups of coffee beans (measured before grinding) in a large, commercial size filter.  Any help you can give would be helpful.
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Senior Member

Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 423
Location: Internet
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Wed Jun 19, 2013, 3:39am
Subject: Re: 2 gallons of coffee...

Dear jjs,
It sounds like you are working against many constraints.  For more detailed brainstorming, it might help to know the models of the brewer and grinder that you are using, in case someone has had experience with the same.  Because of the church setting, I have to assume that you are using a Bunn coffee grinder with very different steps of grind fineness.  Of course, each variation that you attempt will affect about one gallon of coffee and may 'waste' the corresponding amount of coffee beans, which are very expensive when compared to most church budgets.  I wouldn't want my good intentions to bring down the wrath of the deacon upon me, but lets try.  My first suggestion is to grind the beans one step coarser.  This may solve the bitterness issue, but it might make the coffee too weak.  You imply more than one urn.  If the coffee turns out less bitter but weak, make another urn using your current technique and try to mix the two batches together by using a soup ladle to add a bit of each brew to the other.  Mixing the different dry grinds will not work.  Also, when I was in a similar endeavor in a church coffeehouse years ago, I was told to put a pinch of salt on the coffee grounds before brewing to 'cut the bitterness'.  It seemed to work and the amount was much too little to taste salty.  One-quarter teaspoon would be a good amount to try.

Are the cheapest beans possible being bought?  Can the bean buyer be persuaded to try another roast?  The most elegant solution may be to find a lighter roast that is more suited to the brewing method being used.  As you know, every roast takes on a different character depending upon the method of preparation and some roasts are just perfect for automated drip.  If the current beans are labeled 'espresso', that may be one of the problems.

One word of caution.  Congregations can involve themselves in a committee mentality and they may love the way 'things have always been done', and that includes bitter coffee!  If this is one of the Lutheran congregations that Garrison Keillor broadcasts so lovingly about, then drinking the current coffee may be an act of penance.  Or, there may be very vocal members who love to load their cups with milk and sugar and the bitter coffee makes the perfect vehicle for doing so.  People vary tremendously in their coffee preferences and can get quite righteous about it.  One has only to read this forum to come up with many examples.  If one makes changes to the coffee, just remember the dictum, "no good deed goes unpunished."  But do not let that deter you.  If there is an auxiliary small automatic drip brewer, it would then be possible to introduce a trial amount of any new roast to the congregation.  The first paragraph was the easiest and most transparent step while the second might be more effective but more troublesome.
Finally, most would agree that the dry measure of beans changes very little, if at all, for the grind.  One cup beans equals one cup grind.

Good luck,

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Joined: 25 Nov 2007
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Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Wed Jun 19, 2013, 10:56am
Subject: Re: 2 gallons of coffee...

By urn, I take it that this is a perk machine, not a drip. I know there are people that say they get great results with perk machines but I am not one of them.

Like above, look at the coffee beans used, are they fresh? good quality? Have you tried adjusting your grind settings?

A pinch or two of salt can help reduce bitterness.

In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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