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Topic: Forced plurimodality (7 msgs / 288 lines)
1) From: Doug Hoople
hee hee....
Only here and a few other places would I expect people to know what the
subject line meant even before reading.
I'm a minority coffee drinker, an avid dedicated drip fan, and my preferred
grind is coarse.
Over the years, reading grinder reviews, it's always piqued my interest to
read reviewers saying "It's an espresso grinder.  It's not a drip grinder'
about some of the best grinders out there.
I thought I knew what that meant, and "plurimodality" sort of captures is
(Ray-O, where are you when we need you?).
A proper drip grinder, when grinding coarse, will deliver consistently
coarse grinds, with very vew fines in them.  An espresso grinder will
deliver a substantial number of fines amid the coarse grinds, hence
"plurimodal"... there are at least two bands of particle size
concentration.
That's not an issue at all with espresso, as espresso is generally fine
ground, and as long as it's fine, the output is "monomodal," meaning all
the grounds are fine.
But it is an issue if you're looking for consistently coarse grounds, as
the fines mixed in with the coarse grounds compromise your control of the
output.
You can see this if you run your beans through a high-quality Ditting
grinder.  The output is very consistent, and nearly all the particles are
similarly large-sized.
As it turns out, the Baratza Vario is also capable of delivering a
consistently coarse grind, too, something I was aware of because I've been
using one for a few years now.
But I had a little trouble with the Vario, and before I realized I could
fix it easily, I found myself in possession of a Compak K6, a big cafe
grinder with 64mm flat burrs that compares favorably in espresso with the
Mazzer Super Jolly, and easily surpasses the Mazzer Mini.
What I found immediately interesting was that, at a coarse setting, the
output was decidedly mixed, with lots of fines as well as lots of coarse
grouinds.
Comparing the output was like comparing night and day.
Even more interesting was what was in the cup.  I was surprised to find
that I liked the coffee produced by the K6, and that it was very different
from the same coffee ground coarse in the Vario.  It had more bite, more
edge in the front of the palate.  But it also had some of the roundness and
sweetness that I valued in the true coarse grind.  All in all, a very nice
cup of coffee.
So I went back to the Vario.  At my normal setting, it was all roundness
and sweetness, and no bite.  By comparison, maybe even a bit boring.
 Hmmm... maybe I needed to jazz it up a little.
But looking at the wetted-out grounds left in my vacpot filter, it was
clear that the Vario grounds were consistently coarse, and that the K6
grounds were consistently mixed.
If you're wondering where the "forced plurimodality" comes in, here it is...
With the Vario, changing the grind is a breeze, and you can go from coarse
to fine while the grinder is grinding in a simple subsecond sweep of the
coarse lever.
So I started on the usual coarse setting (about 8) and ran for a timed 27
seconds (usually a 44g yield).  But with 10 seconds to go, I swept up the
lever to the fine setting (about 2), and let it finish up that way.  Voila,
"forced plurimodality"!
The results in the cup?  It was much, much closer to the cup I was getting
from the K6!!  I was able to simulate a coarse grind from an espresso
grinder by mixing the grinding levels on a drip grinder.
I've since moved back from very coarse to medium coarse on the Vario, and
and there's a bit more of that satisfying bite to my brews, but it still
have all that lovely roundness and sweetness.  It's monomodal, but not
quite as extreme as before, and the compromise is a bit more satisfying.
And if I want that jazzy, edgy cup of coffee, I can just sweep the lever
whenever I like.
But an interesting experiment, a real eye-opener, I thought.
Doug
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2) From: j3r
On 12-09-27 04:35 PM, Doug Hoople wrote:
<Snip>
In my understanding you could also adjust a different variable to 
achieve the same result, and that is the time that the coffee is exposed 
to the water. With a finer grind you need less time for proper 
extraction, since there is more surface area exposed to the water. 
French press has a longer extraction time than a brew method using a 
finer grind.
So, although you have found your "sweet spot" already, you could 
probably take the output from almost any grinder and adjust instead the 
brew time according to the composition of the grind. If the coffee is 
uninteresting this could point to an underextraction due to too little 
brew time (or too cool water, or not enough coffee), too bitter or 
strong would be overextraction.
Good info here for the geekshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee_extractionJeremy
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3) From: miKe mcKoffee
Bottom post:

4) From: Doug Hoople
Hi MiKe,
"Very wrong" is probably a little strong, and, I'd venture to say, very
strong, relative to what's being measured.
When grinding very coarse and getting fines mixed in with the coarse (as
with an espresso grinder, as evidenced by the K6), the bands of plurimodal
concentration are far wider apart than the bands of plurimodal
concentration that you'd find when grinding for espresso.
I'm not an espresso brewer myself, but from what I've read, most espresso
brewers set their grinders fairly fine.  So, by definition, the bands of
plurimodal concentration would be much, much closer together.
To me, the proof was in the cup.  When I deliberately forced the "espresso
grinder" coarse/fine plurimodality, I got a cup of coffee that tasted a lot
like the K6 coarse grind without manipulation.
Doug
On Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 12:27 PM, miKe mcKoffee  wrote:
<Snip>
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5) From: Doug Hoople
Hi Jeremy,
Very good points, and I think you've put your finger on what was making my
cup a little less interesting than it could have been.
After discovering the not at all (unpleasant) sensation of a completely
different cup from the same coffee, I realized that I had dialed the
consistent coarseness out a little too far, which probably led to the
underextraction you're describing.
Once I dialed it back in a bit, the cup lit up, which is always nice. I'm
glad to have had the wakeup call.
Doug
On Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 8:50 AM, j3r  wrote:
<Snip>
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6) From: gin powell
let us not forget the MOST important issue, love it when the pro's all TELL
you what is bet, PERSONAL TASTE RULES...
ginny
On Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 1:50 PM, j3r  wrote:
<Snip>
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7) From: Doug Hoople
A quick word of explanation is probably in order...
A couple of years ago, some charts circulated on the Internet comparing
"espresso" grinders to "drip" grinders.
They contained an analysis of the distribution of particle sizes.
As I was interested in the properties of coarse-ground coffee, those were
the charts I focused on.
In the chart for the "drip" grinder, it was mostly flat and low, but there
was one pronounced spike toward the coarse end, indicating that the bulk of
the grounds were coarse.  There was also a discernible bump in the fine
area, indicating the presence of at least some fines, but it wasn't all
that big.
The the chart for the "espresso" grinder, the chart looked very similar.
There was a pronounced coarse spike that looked very similar to that of the
"drip" grinder.  But, in place of the bump in the fine area, there was a
spike that was nearly as pronounced as the coarse spike.
So the "espresso" grinder was always going to deliver a fine spike no
matter what setting the grinder was set to, but the "drip" grinder would
allow for a consistently coarse grind without any fines.
These charts had me wondering for years, and I was always curious as to how
to validate this in the real world of cups of real coffee.
What sent me digging through all this again was the experience of looking
at the output of the Compak K6 and the Baratza Vario side by side.
And of tasting the difference.  The difference in the cups is huge.
In the end, what really fascinated me was the ability to simulate the
"espresso" result using a "drip" grinder.  It certainly lent weight and
credibility to the results in those particle-size charts.
Which one is better? The cup ground at the pure drip coarse setting? Or the
cup at the espresso coarse setting (real or simulated)?  I haven't decided
yet.  They're both nice!
At the very least, it adds an intriguing dimension to the pursuit of the
perfect cup of coffee, a pursuit that never ends!
Doug
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