Recently changed grinders - drip coffee tastes burnt.

Coffee preparation techniques besides espresso like pourover.
Whitecrane

#1: Post by Whitecrane »

Hello all. I upgraded to a Fellow Ode a few months back. Typically, we only drink dark to medium roasts (heresy, I know) in this house. We are not a light roast family.

Because I now have a more precise grinder, should I be adjusting the dose, or grinding coarser because we tend to use dark roast? My old grinder was a cheap Breville.

Method:
I timed my brewing process. From the moment of the bloom, it takes 4 minutes and 45 seconds for the shower head to stop dispensing water. However, it then takes a full 6 minutes from the bloom for the water to fully pass through the grinds and into the pot. I'm brewing 20 oz of water, with between 33g and 34 g of coffee. If any of you are familiar with the Fellow Ode grinder, this morning I ground on setting 6.

Any advice? Tastes like cigarette ash.

CathyWeeks

#2: Post by CathyWeeks »

Ok, so different brewing method, but same concept:

I've gone through every recipe in the iOS AeroPress Timer app, and figured out what settings to use in my Knock Feld2 grinder, my Knock Aerspeed grinder, and then again with my Ode. I stayed on the same recipe until I found the setting that made a good cup.

What I found, surprised me. A lot. I have some recipes that I thought were terrible with the Knock grinders but were tasty with the Ode, and vice-versa. By and large, I've found that it's easier to brew when I've ground with the Ode because (I think) the grinds are more consistent and with fewer fines and so it doesn't take as much effort to press through the Aeropress.

I'm now playing around with pour-over (though manual, with a Stagg dripper) and auto-drip is basically a pour-over method. I suspect that you are grinding too coarsely and using too much coffee to compensate. For pour-over, my ratio is 18 grams of coffee to 400 grams (13.5 ounces) of water (about a 1:22 ratio), and I'm grinding at a 3.0 on the Ode. The grinder lists the settings for pour over at 2.0 through 5.0 or 6.0 (I'm not near my grinder to check). And I found that the coffee just tasted better at the extreme lower end of that. So, I'd try grinding with a 3.0 setting and go from there. You may need to reduce the amount of coffee, as well.

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Whitecrane (original poster)

#3: Post by Whitecrane (original poster) »

From your numbers, I will try dosing just 26.6 grams to my 20 oz of water. I will also grind on 3. (My pot cannot brew less than 20oz due to the size of the filter basket and shower head.)

I just brewed. After 6 minutes, the filter basket was no longer a "pool" of water and grinds were visible to me. I'm drinking it now. This is definitely an improvement. It isn't there yet, but the "harsh" cigarette ash taste is gone. I thought I was brewing the SCA gold cup standard, 1.67 grams per ounce. I guess I was wrong?

What should I do next? I'm a newbie, my old grinder had an auto doser.

CathyWeeks

#4: Post by CathyWeeks »

So there are some things about gold standards that you should feel free to ignore, and others you shouldn't.

1) Don't ignore: When you buy a coffee machine, make sure it brews at the right temperatures for pour-over. I believe that should be 200F? I'd definitely get a machine that's been certified to brew at that temp. Because this isn't a variable that you can typically control with a coffee machine, it's best to get the pot that is already "right" and then play with the variables that you CAN adjust.

2) Ignore if you want: Ratio guidelines should be considered a starting point because ratio preferences are highly subjective and personal. For example: I like immersion brews at a 1:16 brewed at 185F, ground coarsely. For pourover, I like 205F and 1:22, ground reasonably finely. When brewing with peaberries, I often prefer a stronger ratio (peaberries seem to have a better, though more delicate flavor)

I would consider upgrading your brewer to one that allows you to brew less coffee just for more flexibility. I *think* (and there are others here who know more) that a cone-shaped filter basket will allow for more flexibility in brewing amounts.

I would also consider attempting to brew a smaller amount than 20 ounces with your current brewer, just to see what happens. But that's just me. :D

Now, this is how I work through these things:

1. Start at a grind size well above your target and brew once per day, each day taking it down one more notch.
2. I used to stop once I hit the sweet spot, but I recently discovered that if I keep going, it gets worse initially, and then a second sweet spot pops up if I keep going.

So, now that you know there's an improvement at 3.0, I'd actually go back up to 6.0, work my way down day by day. 5.2, 5.1, 5.0, 4.2 etc. And, I'd go all the way down to the finest grinds. I keep a spreadsheet on my phone for my results. Then once you've identified your sweet spot(s), then play with ratios. Start too strong, then decrease in 5g increments until it gets too weak. I'd only bother testing the ratios at the identified sweet spot or spots.

Added: I'm not sure how to help with the auto doser part - I ground exclusively with hand grinders for more than a decade, and the Ode is my very first electric grinder.
★ Helpful

dsc106

#5: Post by dsc106 »

Ash taste = burnt/bitter.

Roughly/generally, a good rule of thumb is that coffee extracts in order of acidic, sweet, bitter. So if it's too sour, you are under extracted. Too bitter, over extracted.

You are too bitter, so you want to extract less. You extract less by grinding coarser and lowering the water temperature. Time is a dependent output variable, meaning, it is correlated to grind coarseness. By grinding coarser, you will also decrease brew time because water will draw down faster. One stone, two birds.

For medium/dark roast coffees, they are very easy to over extract. You can even use water temperatures closer to 185F! Try grinding coarser to get your total brew time sub 4 minutes, you could even play with lower (closer to 2:30-3:30). Try your water much cooler. You can do these variables one at a time for a more accurate assessment of the problem. If you want to try a massive change, do both at the same time - it may get you much closer, and then from there you can tweak each variably independently.

CathyWeeks

#6: Post by CathyWeeks »

Yeah, he's using an auto-drip machine, and the water continues spraying over the grounds for well over 4 minutes for a fairly large batch: 20 ounces of water. I don't think a sub-4 minute brew is possible given that. And the setting he started with (6.0 on an Ode) is really quite coarse for a pour over (or an auto-drip machine for that matter). And in fact, a 6.0 is the lower end of French press ranges (according to the manufacturer's guides, anyway).

While I know you are correct that burnt flavor usually means bitter and over extracted, I don't think that's what is going on here.

FWIW, my daughter uses a small Bonavita coffee maker and a blade grinder when she's at college and that setup makes a perfectly drinkable cup (though not as good as I make with a Stagg dripper or an AeroPress or with a decent burr grinder. :wink:), and when she came home for the summer and started using my Ode instead of the blade grinder, she settled on setting 3.0 also (mostly I made enough coffee for both of us but she occasionally had to work an early shift, so used her own coffee maker then).

dsc106

#7: Post by dsc106 »

I think it's primarily the water temp if the Ode @ 6 is as course as you say.

If not, what do you think it is then?

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CathyWeeks

#8: Post by CathyWeeks » replying to dsc106 »

The most direct answer is the wrong ratio and too coarse a grind. And maybe water temperature, too, but I don't know what coffee maker he's using. But honestly? It's the foibles and intricacies of human communication and the difficulties in describing a purely subjective experience in a way others will understand. One difficulty is that he's primarily a medium-to-dark roast person, while I strictly prefer light roasts, and I'm not sure how that changes the shared vocabulary.

One person's "ashtray" might mean "burnt and bitter" (which is a natural conclusion) or it might simply mean "nasty off-flavors." I believe it's the latter. The only reason I didn't think it was the former, was because I've been using the same grinder and a similar brewing method for months including at his same settings and similar ratios and produced bad cups myself with nasty off flavors. Too much coffee at too coarse a grind produces something that's strong enough, but with poor and flat flavors.

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB

#9: Post by Jeff »

Short of suggesting taking careful notes and changing one thing at a time, it's a challenge to offer suggestions without tasting the result.

One thing to remember about better equipment is that it should be more revealing of the coffee. This is a double-edged sword. Not only can it reveal the wonderful flavors, but also those that are less enjoyable. Once dialed in better, you may find that a different coffee provides a flavor profile that you prefer. Dark roasts may sound easy, but hitting the right balance in the roast without getting into the overly bitter range isn't easy. Perhaps worth trying a different roaster's offerings are your preference of roast level.

Here's some general suggestions

DamianWarS
Supporter ♡

#10: Post by DamianWarS »

Whitecrane wrote:Hello all. I upgraded to a Fellow Ode a few months back. Typically, we only drink dark to medium roasts (heresy, I know) in this house. We are not a light roast family.

Because I now have a more precise grinder, should I be adjusting the dose, or grinding coarser because we tend to use dark roast? My old grinder was a cheap Breville.

Method:
I timed my brewing process. From the moment of the bloom, it takes 4 minutes and 45 seconds for the shower head to stop dispensing water. However, it then takes a full 6 minutes from the bloom for the water to fully pass through the grinds and into the pot. I'm brewing 20 oz of water, with between 33g and 34 g of coffee. If any of you are familiar with the Fellow Ode grinder, this morning I ground on setting 6.

Any advice? Tastes like cigarette ash.
An ashy taste in my experience is a roasting defect which perhaps is from the result of a build up of too much smoke or generally over developed. Better grinders reveal more of the coffee and sometimes we don't like what it reveals.

However with that said if you're getting coffee that's too bitter it may mean it's being over extracted. There are many ways to extract less such as grinding coarser, lowering the dose or decreasing the extraction time. Another effective way is to use water that isn't so hot, maybe under 90c or even lower until that taste goes away.

You can also try to drop the bloom as blooming coffee will generally cause the coffee to sink which means more water is passing through and extracting (generally a good thing) If you skip the bloom (but still ensure the coffee is all wet) the coffee floats and the draw down is quicker. It's harder to control and you don't get flat beds but can make a more tea like coffee.

Another tip is it seems like your letting it go to the last drop, maybe try and remove the brewer before it gets that far. You can also let it drip in multiple cups during the brewing process. Taste each one from start to finish and see how the cups change and you may be able to isolate when the coffee starts getting unpleasant, then maybe try and aim for a brew time where the coffee is still enjoyable for you.