Options for measuring dissolved solids - Page 5

Coffee preparation techniques besides espresso like pourover.

#41: Post by Mrboots2u »

I have re read this thread that started with a question on "options for measuring dissolved solids" ( lest we forget ) ....prompted by a really interesting and informative video ( ive watched it too ) from a respected coffee roaster.
Replies that make reference to commercial bullsh** and selling water by the river , are helpful to the OP or the question proposed ????...People dont need to agree on aspects of how to brew, measure or taste it even , but as suggested , if you have no interest in a particular process or tool , then either present responses with a bit more tact or ignore the thread ...

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#42: Post by baldheadracing »

baldheadracing wrote:Funny, the conclusion that I drew from Tim Wendelboe's recent videos (and the recent threads) was that I have no need for a refractometer - because I can taste what I make, and taste trumps instrumentation.
I said that earlier in this thread. Ergo, I have to eat crow here.

After watching Wendelboe's videos numerous times and reading all four volumes of the Gospel of Coffee according to Rao :), something snapped and I got an Atago PAL-COFFEE refractometer and the associated MAGIC for PAL gizmo.

I haven't used the refractometer for espresso. I have invested a lot of time applying another_jim's "Espresso 101" lesson and feel fairly comfortable adjusting dose and grind in response to taste. It takes me a dozen or so shots to dial in a new coffee, or a different basket, a different machine, etc., and I am okay with that.

However, I recently started fooling around with V60's. I had that frustrating experience in that my first V60 cup was a revelation, and everything went downhill from there, and didn't seem to be improving. In a nutshell, my taste wasn't (and isn't) good enough, my technique wasn't consistent enough, and I couldn't figure out where to go. Think about it this way:
- you're looking at an object 100 feet away;
- the next day, you come back to same place. The object has been moved;
- you try to determine if the object is closer, or farther, and by how much;
- if the object was moved 50 feet closer, then you'd easily be able to say that the object was closer, and probably hazard a reasonable guess that it was half as far away now.
- next day, same thing, the object has been moved again, this time 55 feet back. (You aren't told the distance.) Would you be able to say the object is now 105 feet back?
- repeat this process once a day. Various distances. Sometimes inches, sometime a couple feet, sometimes ... go through the process enough days/weeks/months, and you'd probably get pretty good at estimating how far away the object was.
- Fine. But let's change the situation. Suppose that, after each guess, you were told how many feet the object had moved. I'd hazard that your rate of improvement at estimating the distance/direction would be much quicker.
That's what the refractometer did for me. It gave me objective feedback on a property of what I was drinking, and a magnitude and direction to serve as a basis for change. If my taste was good enough, then a refractometer wouldn't be as useful, or even needed. However, while my taste-ability is where it is, a refractometer speeds up my dialing-in process, and that is the value of a refractometer to me. I now enjoy every V60 brew, and can adjust between 01 and 02 seamlessly.


Again, I am talking about my use with V60's; I have not tried measuring espresso.

P.S. FWIW, the "Magic" gizmo for the PAL makes the PAL much faster to read, and with much less variance; as in, I put a sample in: hot, cold, whatever; put the magic on, do one reading, do another reading, and that's it. In my experience, the second reading is "it," as in, subsequent readings/samples are superfluous. Without the Magic, the coffee sample needs cooling outside the unit, and then the PAL's readings gradually increase and eventually stabilize - just like you see in various YouTube videos showing PAL-COFFEE operation. Again, YMMV.
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann