Brew 101: How to Adjust Dose, Grind Setting, and Temperature by Taste

Coffee preparation techniques besides espresso like pourover.
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#1: Post by bostonbuzz »

Gotcha! This is really a call for this guide stuck to the top of this page. Or maybe not! I was wondering if this would be exactly the same as Jim's wonderful post in "Tips and Techniques". Do the same changes carry over to other brew methods very generally?

Here is my issue. I'm new to siphon, but sticking with 16g and 220ml, I have been on both sides of the grind - too fine = bitter, too coarse = sour. Now, I'm in the middle and have those two just about balanced for a smooth coffee, but something is missing. There is no fruity taste that I know should be there.

To fix this, according to the espresso guide, I would increase the dose and coarsen the grind to increase the intensity/acidity relative to the sweetness/caramels. I'm going to try this tomorrow, but does anyone have experience where the espresso tips don't work, or should be different. For instance, should I just not bother touching the grind, and only increase the dose 2g, since time isn't going to change very much in a siphon? Perhaps there could be an asterisk* next to "...and coarsen grind*..."

*small dose changes don't affect the extraction time in siphon and therefore grind doesn't have to be changed accordingly/only needs to change very slightly.

Of course, I don't know if this is actually true or not- I'll edit this once someone lets me know.

LMWDP #353

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Team HB

#2: Post by another_jim »

The problem with brewing is the sheer number of variations.

What you describe may work OK for steeping methods (i.e. french press); but with percolation (drip) and siphons, agitation, draw times, etc all matter.

One major difference I've noticed is that for espresso you are forced to up the dose when grinding coarser, whereas for drip you are not. So the net result of a coarser grind is not the slightly underextracted and fully concentrated shot you get with a coarse ground espresso, but a very underextracted and weak brew with a little less acidity and lot less of everything else.

This is especially apparent for people just beginning with the V60 ... like me :oops:
Jim Schulman

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ex trahere

#3: Post by ex trahere »


I have made hundreds of syphons, and while I do not claim to be a master, I would say I have a good amount of practice. I look at syphons (in terms of strength/brew ratio), as in between a cup of drip coffee and a shot of espresso. I suppose this is largely personal preference, but it works well for me, and it is the same ratio used by barismo, as well as Taiwanese coffee roaster Simon Hsieh

Despite ~15:1 working out great for v60s, in order for me personally to get a really tasty vac-pot, the dose needs to be way higher. I generally rock 28 grams to 240 ml, and split that pot with my girlfriend. 4 oz of syphon coffee at 8.5:1 is pretty intense, and requires a fairly course grind to be in that sweet spot extraction zone.
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#4: Post by oktyone »

I generally rock 28 grams to 240 ml, and split that pot with my girlfriend. 4 oz of syphon coffee at 8.5:1 is pretty intense, and requires a fairly course grind to be in that sweet spot extraction zone.
I might be totally lost on this, but shouldn't you be grinding finer rather than coarser to get your brews into that "sweet spot" of extraction (middle column on the SCAA brew charts)? From my understanding of extraction, the higher dose you use, the harder it is to achieve a proper 19%-22% extraction, forcing you to brew at higher temps, with stronger turbulence/pressure and finer particles.

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#5: Post by Peppersass replying to oktyone »

Finer than what? The statement, "the higher dose you use, the harder it is to achieve a proper 19%-22% extraction" doesn't make sense without reference to the grind setting.

When ex trahere says he has to grind coarser, you need to ask, "than what?" My guess is that he means coarser than he would for a typical brew ratio. That would be on the order of 18g of coffee for 240ml of water. If he has the grind adjusted for that dose, then ups the dose to 28g, the draw down will take longer, legthening the contact time. So if his extraction was in the balanced zone with the 18g dose, it will be over extracted at the 28g dose (assuming the same grind.) So he has to coarsen the grind to bring the extraction back down into the balanced zone.

You may be confused because coarsening the grind produces particles with less surface area, which will extract less than finer particles. But that's only if you hold the dose constant. With certain brewing methods, like espresso and syphon pot, increasing the dose decreases the flow rate (espresso) or increases the draw down time (syphon), which will increase the contact time and extract more from the grounds.

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ex trahere

#6: Post by ex trahere »

Sorry I didn't elaborate, but Peppersass' interpretation is right on. The grind size needs to allow the syphon to drawn down quickly (I aim for 30 seconds). This requires a grind that is a little coarser than drip, but not quite as course as plunger.

Constituents are still being extracted during the draw down, so I try to make it as quick as possible, utilizing the cold towel method.

While I beleive refractometers and extract mojo are useful, I have never used one, so I cannot tell you exactly what my percentage of extraction is. I control all the variables I can such as time, temp, weight, etc. this enables me to get results that are repeatable, and others could also repeat with simple kitchen tools.
A posse ad esse

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bostonbuzz (original poster)

#7: Post by bostonbuzz (original poster) »

I tried updosing from the original 16g (220ml) to 18, 20, 24g with the same grind. I find that the coffee tastes sweeter, and generally better, although with a bit less complexity perhaps. This is without shifting the grind. Also, curiously, the dose doesn't seem to affect the drawdown very much.
LMWDP #353