Terrible Coffee after Fellow Ode gen 1 + SSP MP Shim Alignment

Coffee preparation techniques besides espresso like pourover.
atikhon
Posts: 28
Joined: 9 months ago

#1: Post by atikhon »

Hello all, I'm looking for some help troubleshooting some problems I'm having with my brewing set-up.

Sometime last year I purchased a Fellow Ode Gen 1 (refurbished by Fellow) and a new set of SSP MP burrs in an effort to increase the quality of my filter coffee. This was after I deliberated between purchasing the SSP Cast or the MP. I decided to jump on the MP because I was willing to lose *some* sweetness in favor of clarity.

Wanting to continue to refine my brews, I decided to align my burts using foil shims and attempted to do so on two separate occasions, seeing no noticeable improvements. On my third attempt, I ended up passing off the grinder to my father, who is a former (gifted) mechanical engineer. He returned the grinder to me, showed me what I had been doing wrong (I was trying to shim the wrong part of the burr carrier) and I made my first brews today. It's also worth noting that before we put the grinder back together, I decided to make the grinder step less by removing the spring and little knob as well as adding Teflon tape the the thread.

Using a light roast Ethiopian natural just under two weeks off roast that I had stocked up on for practice, I made 10 or so V60 pour-overs with the method I normally use (20g:340g, Hoffman/Rao/Gagne type recipe, Lotus water drops- "Bright and Juicy" water recipe, Cafe Medium roast filter paper) and none of the coffees tasted good, at all. Each brew was consistent in its variables save for the grind size, which I was attempting to dial in with no luck. Many of the brews, which as far as I can tell were reasonably close to a desirable brew time (3:00-4:45) were sour and unpleasant with no sweetness whatsoever to speak of.

Frustrated, I moved in to French press and attempted 3 brews with the Hoffmanrecipe, again at a couple of different grind sizes, and was getting similar tastes to the sour V60s and again were completely lacking in sweetness. Completely frustrated and over caffeinated, I decided to try one last diagnostic attempt and set up a little cupping session with 4 grind sizes across my Ode's dial. Each one of them, while they varied in intensity, had the same unpleasant sourness and lacked any kind of sweetness.

So here is my question- has anybody had adverse experiences aligning their Ode and/or 64mm SSP MP burrs? I remember seeing some disagreements on Reddit over whether aligning a grinder like the Ode is desirable on the grounds that it was manufactured with the precision for which it was designed, which I always thought was a questionable argument because I've heard the Ode gen 2 was built with tighter tolerances (which in my mind, should make default alignment more accuraye.) These discussions have also referenced "hyper alignment" as being undesirable. That said, I previously disregarded these notions because the posts I came across often seemed presented without real personal experiences. My question is meant to rectify this. Perhaps there is another factor I'm overlooking, in the grinder or in my brews?

The other obvious variable is the coffee bean itself, which could be just simply bad. But it was prepeaed by a reputable roaster, one that I work with as a wholesale customer at my job, and which consistently roasts delicious coffee, which is why I haven't yet considered it. That said, I intend to try a different coffee tomorrow and see if that changes my brews.

This is a lot of information, I realize, but I thought it would be helpful to give all of my variables up front.

viteaux
Posts: 40
Joined: 9 months ago

#2: Post by viteaux »

Hey, I've got the Gen1 with SSP MP's. I'm getting much better brews with the SSP's than with the stock burrs, and I'm sorry to hear you aren't getting better results. I did the marker/foil alignment when I first installed them. I mostly brew natural Ethiopians, natural and washed Kenyans and washed Colombian pink bourbons that I roast myself to a light/Nordic level. 5 clicks off chirp, I'm finding 5 on the dial is the sweetspot for me, maybe a click up or down depending on the coffee. At this grind, I'm around 5-6 min TBT, 18-300, water temp 202F. I don't get hung up on brew time, and don't experience any astringency. I think your suggestion of trying some different beans is a good one, even the best roasters jack up batch now and then.

atikhon (original poster)
Posts: 28
Joined: 9 months ago

#3: Post by atikhon (original poster) »

viteaux wrote:Hey, I've got the Gen1 with SSP MP's...
Thanks for this, I was able to approach my tasting today with a bit more optimism. :)

My guess is that the coffee I was using is a bit more finicky than some of the others I normally brew. I cupped 4 coffees today, one of which was the one I was trying yesterday, at grind setting six (I cant say how well my grinder is zeroed because I took the stepping mechanism out). All and all the coffees did taste alright, but not quite up to snuff (maybe a little muted?), I think I need to calibrate and find the best grind setting for cupping. Even the coffee I tried brewing yesterday tasted better.

I've had some trouble brewing this roaster's coffee if it's less than 2 weeks off roast and I wonder if that was an obstacle. I'm going to give it another couple of days and see if that helps even more.

This is just a digression, but one of my struggles with this grinder all in all is not having anything to compare it to (how should this grinder perform?) other than opinions online. Taste-wise, this is especially difficult, like how should my coffee taste?

ShotClock
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Posts: 434
Joined: 3 years ago

#4: Post by ShotClock »

I had a gen 1 Ode, which was poorly aligned from the factory. After a bit of messing around, I realized that it was going to be very difficult if not impossible to align due to the stock burrs, and returned the machine.

That said, natural Ethiopians can be tricky to extract as pour over, due to the combination of fines and being easier to extract than washed coffees - the tight rope between under and over extraction can be harder to navigate than for other coffees. I'd suggest something like a washed Colombian might be easier to test dial-in if you are unsure of the grinder.

atikhon (original poster)
Posts: 28
Joined: 9 months ago

#5: Post by atikhon (original poster) »

ShotClock wrote:I had a gen 1 Ode, which was poorly aligned from the factory. After a bit of messing around, I realized that it was going to be very difficult if not impossible to align due to the stock burrs, and returned the machine.
I hear you here. I read or heard somewhere recently that one of the reasons the gen 2 is such a price hike is that it is manufactured with tighter tolerances. If I had known that I would have some of the experiences that I had, I probably would have bought the Gen 2 and used the Gen 2 stock burrs instead of a Gen 1 and the SSP upgrade.

Your advice about the coffee rings true to me. I need to order coffee anyway so this is likely what I'll do.

ShotClock
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Posts: 434
Joined: 3 years ago

#6: Post by ShotClock »

Yeah - not long after this experience, i had the realization that I'm happy to pay more to not have to mess around with alignment. If you're able, I'd really recommend a grinder that has excellent alignment with no user calibration required. I ended up with a monolith, but the sweet spot is probably a P64 or similar, so that you can take advantage of the low price and wide variety of 64mm burrs.

atikhon (original poster)
Posts: 28
Joined: 9 months ago

#7: Post by atikhon (original poster) »

Update: Finally had some washed Colombian to spare after a cupping event. Just made my first V60 with it- needs some tweaking but still not a far cry from a tasty cup of coffee. Much more in the necessary ballpark. Thanks to you all for your help. I'm gonna need to do some more work on the natural Ethiopian.