HomeRoast Digest


Topic: What causes a coffee to be more Bitter, (24 msgs / 618 lines)
1) From: Jamie Dolan
HI;
I roast with either a RK drumm or my Iroast.  Most recently I have
been using a couple different Yemen beans from SM.  I make espresso
using a fairly cheap pump machine and a cusinart burr grinder (that I
moved the burr heads closer together on so I get a finer grind).
At the coffee show, I did taste some espresso and coffee that seemed
bitter to me, but there was also a number of them that did not have
that bitter flavor.  I do believe that I am making my espresso
properly, as I watched a number of pro's at the show pull espresso.  I
also pulled a number of shots on a Dalla Corte and frothed milk and it
was excellent, great crema and all.  (my latte art sure isn't going to
win anything though).
Is the bitterness more related to how I am roasting, the beans I am
choosing for espresso (i.e. using the yemens vs some other more
traditional espresso bean), or just that my brewing equipment is
substandard?
I am leaning towards it being my brewing equipment or how I am
roasting, as I have experienced this bitterness with other types of
beans as well.  Just to make it clear how much bitterness I am talking
about here, at home, I almost always have to use at least a little bit
of vanilla in my espresso / cap to make it enjoyable.  A number of the
espressos /cap at the show were just perfect without even thinking
about using any flavor.
I enjoy my home made cappuccino that I make with my home roasted beans
very much.  However, it is frustrating that I find I have to add that
vanilla syrup to get rid of that edge of bitterness.  Now I know,
after tasting many samples at the show I know that you should not need
to add that splash of vanilla to your cappuccino to make it be really
good.
Any thoughts?
Thank You.
Jamie
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2) From: ries van Twisk
Hey jamie,
I also have a cusinart burr grider and was wondering how I can move  
the burr heads closer?
I was also thinking lowering the speed of the headers, not sure how  
yet... a 110V lamp may be in series with the engine?
Ries
On May 7, 2008, at 3:00 PM, Jamie Dolan wrote:
<Snip>
Ries van Twisk
tags: Freelance TYPO3 JBoss JasperReports Flex Blaze-DS WebORB  
PostgreSQL DB-Architect
email: ries
web:  http://www.rvantwisk.nl/skype: callto://r.vantwisk
Phone: + 1 810-476-4193
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3) From: Barry Luterman
Bitterness is usually caused by over extraction or wrong brewing heat.
Therefore the immediate suspects would be your grinder and your
espresso machine. As usual for good espresso start by replacing the
grinder then go from there.
On Wed, May 7, 2008 at 10:00 AM, Jamie Dolan  wrote:
<Snip>
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4) From: Allon Stern
On May 7, 2008, at 4:23 PM, Barry Luterman wrote:
<Snip>
To clarify...
(ignoring temperature, which is a separate variable)
Speed of extraction is a function of particle size - smaller  
particles = more surface area = faster extraction.
So finer grind == faster extraction.
Espresso is a fast extraction of a fine grind.
Drip is slower extraction of a medium grind.
French press is  a longer extraction of a coarse grind.
If you tried to extract a fine espresso grind in a french press for a  
4 minute steep, it would be bitter beyond belief.
Let's say you have a coarse grind, but you mix in some espresso  
grind, and brew that for 4 minutes in a french press. You'd get some  
good flavors from the proper grind, but also bitterness from the  
overextracted fine particles.
With me?
Okay, now let's look at your espresso...
This requires a very fine grind.
Using a grinder that is not high enough tolerance to properly and  
evenly grind espresso will result in powder, and fragments smaller  
than the desired grind mixed in with the rest of the grind. These  
smaller fragments and powder will be overextracted, leading to  
bitterness in the cup, even if the majority of the grind is okay.
You haven't deliberately mixed a finer grind with your espresso, but  
your grinder is not up to the task of creating a fine enough grind  
without adding "fines" - the smaller particles.
A grinder designed for espresso will do a much better job. These  
don't come cheap, but you will find a vast improvement in cup  
quality. A better quality grinder for drip or coarse grinds will also  
make you a better cup.
Some people have experimented with filtering out these fine particles  
with a sieve. Up to you, but I think a better grinder is your best bet.
-
allon
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5) From: Jamie Dolan
<Snip>
Allon;
Thank You;
I can finally understand what is happening.  See once I got my grinder
alot more fine, I looked at it and said, wow, you know this looks a
lot like the grinds that come out of a M-cap, Mazzer, etc.  I know my
grinds are more clumpy, but the overall grind was looking fairly close
to what I thought was a proper grind.  However, even once I thought my
grind was somewhat correct, I was seeing some ground getting passed
through the portafilter basket, and could not figure out why because I
didn't think the grind overall was too fine.
<Snip>
So what kind of results will I see if I use a Mazzer with my cheap-o
espresso maker?  Will I start getting results closer to what I want,
or am I going to run into a major secondary problem with the
pressurized portafilter and such?
So is any coffee really suppose to have a bitter character?  Do you
think the bitter coffees that I had at the show were just poorly
ground / and or poorly brewed?  (there were not a lot that were very
bitter, but several).
Once final comment, many of the roasts I had at the show tasted almost
burnt to me.  Maybe this is a result of the fact that I roast my
coffee so much lighter than what many people do?  Do you guys find
that many coffees / espressos taste somewhat burnt to you (even ones
that are suppose to be high end)?
Thanks Again
Jamie
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6) From: Allon Stern
On May 7, 2008, at 4:55 PM, Jamie Dolan wrote:
<Snip>
I think you'll find that you will start producing far better espresso.
I've been using a Rossi RR45 with Krups Espresso Novo thermblock  
machines for the past 15 years with excellent results.
I recently stopped using the back pressure device on the portafilter  
- once you start producing good espresso consistently, consider the  
same. What I found is that the backpressure device makes the machine  
able to handle a much wider range of grind. Without it, I need to  
grind finer or else I get a really fast shot, but if I grind too  
fine, I stall. This is good. It means the variables have to be more  
spot-on. It's harder, but produces better espresso with a little more  
effort.
<Snip>
Espresso is not a roast.
High end is not a roast.
-
allon
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7) From: Barry Luterman
As to what you tasted and saw at the convention is antibody's guess.
The telling remark was that most of what you tasted was better and not
as bitter as what you brew. You will experience a major improvement in
your espresso and even your brewed coffee with a Mazzer. The Mazzer
will probably be the last grinder you will have to buy. Final
improvement will depend on the espresso machine. The improvement
achieved with the grinder will satisfy you for a while then up-grade
fever for the espresso machine will set in.But at least you will be
able to zero your resources in on the espresso machine.
On Wed, May 7, 2008 at 11:17 AM, Allon Stern  wrote:
<Snip>
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8) From: Jamie Dolan
<Snip>
I would want to do the same once I get a better grinder here, where
did you find the regular portafilter device to fit your machine?  I
looked online but never found one for my size basket. (I think mine is
a 52mm if my measurement is correct).
I have had the exact same problem with clogging / stalling at times,
and at other times I get too fast of a pull.  I now understand from
what you wrote that this is primarly my grinder, but it sounds like
the regular filter basket will be a good investment as well.
Thanks again
Jamie
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9) From: ries van Twisk
On May 7, 2008, at 3:00 PM, Jamie Dolan wrote:
<Snip>
Hey jamie,
I also have a cusinart burr grider (here anything else costs around  
$500-700 and up)
and was wondering how I can move the burr heads closer? I did open it  
myself
but didn't see much but a total enclosure.
I was also thinking lowering the speed of the headers, not sure how  
yet... a 110V lamp may be in series with the engine?
Ries
<Snip>
Ries van Twisk
tags: Freelance TYPO3 JBoss JasperReports Flex Blaze-DS WebORB  
PostgreSQL DB-Architect
email: ries
web:  http://www.rvantwisk.nl/skype: callto://r.vantwisk
Phone: + 1 810-476-4193
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10) From: Jamie Dolan
<Snip>
Very good point, isn't that always the way it is, we look for an upgrade. LOL
Does your puck "knock" out clean when you have a proper grind?  I
often have to really work at it to get the used coffee out of the
portafilter basket.
Jamie
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11) From: Barry Luterman
Clean, easy,dry looks like a hocky puck. Not only do you need a good
grinder for that but also a 3 way valve
On Wed, May 7, 2008 at 12:22 PM, Jamie Dolan  wrote:
<Snip>
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12) From: Tom & Maria - Sweet Maria's Coffee
<Snip>
You have had some good answers - in roasting it can be several 
things. One is scorching coffee, i.e. a too-hot roast chamber and the 
other is a form of baking coffee where you actually overroast the 
interior in relation to the exterior. We saw this once on a new 
Porbat sample roaster in Costa Rica, and all the coffee lacked 
sweetness, was incredibly bitter. You can do this a few ways, but one 
would be a very small charge of coffee in the roaster. Bitterness in 
roasting can come from trigonelline which degrades as the roast 
reaches darker stages, but then carbony flavors kick in. Coffee seed 
cellulose structure = wood essentially, which is why old starbucks 
tastes like yesterdays campfire. There's some other bittering 
components (quinic acids I think, other acids) but trigonelline is 
the one I have seen most talk about, because a fast roast would not 
degrade it enough...
Tom
--
                   "Great coffee comes from tiny roasters"
            Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting  -  Tom & Maria
                      http://www.sweetmarias.com                Thompson Owen george_at_sweetmarias.com
     Sweet Maria's Coffee - 1115 21st Street, Oakland, CA 94607 - USA
             phone/fax: 888 876 5917 - tom_at_sweetmarias.com
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13) From: Jamie Dolan
<Snip>
Hello;
I have wondered if I have run with too hot of a grill with the RK.  I
normally take a 45,000 BTU grill all the way to high, and let it warm
up before I put the drum in.  I have not done much with "ramping up"
or "ramping down" the temperature with the RK because my grill does
not seem to have very good control over the temperature output.  I am
sure this is one of the reasons to buy commercial roasters.
My understanding is that the baking happens more when you run your
temperature too low?  But perhaps I am scorching the coffee with too
high of temperatures?
My roast times have varied greatly in the RK, with one coffee getting
into a rolling 1st crack around 11 minutes, and most recently, the
yemen taking a bit over 19 minutes to get into a rolling 1st crack.
Should I try to ramp my temperature up more slowly or vary it during
the roast?  Any suggestions as to the best way to approach this on the
grill with the RK?
Upon reflection, I should have taken one of the SCAA roasting classes,
maybe in the future.
Thanks
Jamie Dolan
<Snip>
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14) From: raymanowen
Actually, the position of the Cuisinart burrs is bad, if within ten feet of
your coffee beans. The best adjustment is a relocation back to the store.
(Costco?) -ro
-- 
"When the theme hits the bass, I dance the Jig!" - -Virgil Fox at the Mighty
Wichita (ex- NYC Paramount) WurliTzer- 1976
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15) From: Jamie Dolan
<Snip>
After my experiance with bitter espresso and now knowing that it is
due to the grinder, I don't want to reccomend this grinder at all.
That said, you just take it apart, starting by unscrewing the hopper,
then remove one of the burr plates, then you put something under the
burr plate to gap it.  Something very thin, as in paper or at most a
very thin postcard.  I used a very thin lightweight post card.  I cut
it to size with an exacto knife, and then put it under the head, and
put it all back together.
Once your done, be careful, as moving the grinder to the finner
settings will now cause the burr heads to hit together and make metal
grinding noise.
<Snip>
No real clue on the best way to approach this, I am sure it is an AC
motor, so it would not be well suited to direct changes in voltage the
way many small DC motors are.
Honestly the grinder is so low end, that I can't really see it being
worth it to modify very much.  I just did the burr mod for the heck of
it, knowing that the real solution was going to be a new grinder at
some point.  The worst part is that the modification made me think the
grinder was working a lot better, when in fact I now know, it was very
likely being deciptive and causing my coffee to taste bitter.
Jamie
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16) From: ries van Twisk
Hey Jamie,
currently it's all I have.. I wish that here in Ecuador that stuff  
(imported items) is cheaper.
Often we pay double the price or more for something imported, so we  
bought this one one day for $80 here,
better something then nothing....
Thanks for the advice, I will try it anyways
Ries
On May 7, 2008, at 9:17 PM, Jamie Dolan wrote:
<Snip>
Ries van Twisk
tags: Freelance TYPO3 JBoss JasperReports Flex Blaze-DS WebORB  
PostgreSQL DB-Architect
email: ries
web:  http://www.rvantwisk.nl/skype: callto://r.vantwisk
Phone: + 1 810-476-4193
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17) From: Allon Stern
On May 7, 2008, at 5:33 PM, Jamie Dolan wrote:
<Snip>
It isn't a "regular" portafilter; however, all I did was remove the  
backpressure device from the portafilter that came with the machine.  
It comes off for cleaning. I just didn't reinstall it :)
-
allon
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18) From: raymanowen
"...at least you will be able to zero your resources..."
I'm there.
"...what kind of results will I see if I use a Mazzer with my cheap-o
espresso maker?"
Let me tell you- I have those exact results on my counter top currently. You
want I should leave them in situ for ORI?
The toys in your process will become obvious. The Mazzer is not one at all.
To those that throw up their hands and slap their brows when real machines
are
My Capresso Genuine Klassik Expresso maker was a nemesis to clean out after
each shot, but it made the right pressure and temperature for proper
extraction. Maybe too much unrelieved pressure for shots into a blocked
filter. Or I was paranoid about a clean blank shot. I bought it new- now
it's busted.
The Mazzer burrs were 10 years old when I got it. New burrs, and the beans
don't know from new grinder.
A metal fabricator might use machine tools weighing several tons to
fabricate pieces weighing just several grams. By the same token, the grind
particulate size must be homogeneous within 0.0001 inches or they will
extract differently. Small variations at the espresso grind size make huge
extraction differences that can't be corrected any other way than replacing
the grinder.
Prize for anyone that can put their 16 pound grinder over 20 feet-
Iechyd da, Mabuhay -RayO, aka Opa!
Got Grinder?
On Wed, May 7, 2008 at 2:55 PM, Jamie Dolan  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
"When the theme hits the bass, I dance the Jig!" - -Virgil Fox at the Mighty
Wichita (ex- NYC Paramount) WurliTzer- 1976
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19) From: raymanowen
"To those that throw up their hands and slap their brows when real machines
are" [proposed- Gesundheit! Grind 'em and weep.]
On Wed, May 7, 2008 at 10:50 PM,  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
"When the theme hits the bass, I dance the Jig!" - -Virgil Fox at the Mighty
Wichita (ex- NYC Paramount) WurliTzer- 1976
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20) From: Dave Kvindlog
On 5/7/08, raymanowen  wrote:
<Snip>
I have one too (temporarily) and fully agree.  This is a crappy grinder.
I'm saving up for a real one.
-- 
Dave Kvindlog
iHomeroast
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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21) From: Allon Stern
On May 7, 2008, at 5:45 PM, ries van Twisk wrote:
<Snip>
I bought my RR45 for $100, new burrs for $35 or so.
You don't have to spend a lot of money, if you don't mind buying  
used. And commercial grinders hold up exceptionally well. Just clean  
it completely and replace the burrs and you've got as good as new.
-
allon
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22) From: ries van Twisk
Hey Allon,
for my curiosity, you did by the RR45 in Ecuador or somewhere else?
Ries
On May 8, 2008, at 1:03 PM, Allon Stern wrote:
<Snip>
Ries van Twisk
tags: Freelance TYPO3 JBoss JasperReports Flex Blaze-DS WebORB  
PostgreSQL DB-Architect
email: ries
web:  http://www.rvantwisk.nl/skype: callto://r.vantwisk
Phone: + 1 810-476-4193
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23) From: Allon Stern
On May 8, 2008, at 2:07 PM, ries van Twisk wrote:
<Snip>
Heh. No.
Bought it at a pawn shop in College Park, MD back in 1993 or so.
-
allon
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24) From: ries van Twisk
Hey Allon,
here in Ecuador that stuff is horribly expensive....
But I have good news!! I could modify my cusine art, and in two weeks
I am for 6 weeks in the USA so I can buy and bring it back :)
Ries
On May 8, 2008, at 2:45 PM, Allon Stern wrote:
<Snip>
Ries van Twisk
tags: Freelance TYPO3 JBoss JasperReports Flex Blaze-DS WebORB  
PostgreSQL DB-Architect
email: ries
web:  http://www.rvantwisk.nl/skype: callto://r.vantwisk
Phone: + 1 810-476-4193
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