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Topic: Coercing a drip machine (5 msgs / 115 lines)
1) From: Tom Gramila
With the recent discussion about preferred coffee making methods,
I'd thought I would add a few words about how I have improved the 
performance of my Braun auto drip maker.
Rather than begin a serious exploration of alternative approaches to
making coffee, I was motivated to try to see what I could get out of a
simple drip machine. Before you squirm with worry (or worse) about long
extraction times and under-heated water, please read on.
With a bit of tweaking, the Braun is able to do four minute brews with a 
temperature generally between 198 and 202 degrees F. (about 92 to 95 C )
The key is actually pretty simple: just preheat the water that you put
into the machine to about 120 degrees.  -- It would appear that the
difficulty with many home electric drip brew machines is that there
just isn't enough energy available (about 1200 watts) to heat the
water fast enough.  So only a little water is heated up at a time,
this lengthens the overall process and permits enough cooling that the
temperature is not quite right.  The 120 degrees that I use to fix
this has not caused any harm to the plastic or other elements of the
brewer, it just makes the water come out a lot faster.  But it does
make it so that you cannot use the integrated charcoal filter element
that sits in the water reservoir, since the collected impurities are
released at the higher reservoir temperature.
The other element of my brewing procedure involves turning off the
power with a fixed amount of water left.  As the level goes to zero,
the water that comes out of the heater is mixed with alot of steam
at a temperature that is too hot, and extends the brewing process
for a good while as the last bits of water and steam spit and spray
their way out.  But this is easy to avoid by just turning it off.
I have been struggling to obtain a brewing process that gives
reasonable and repeatable results, as I learn how to roast (I'm still
a beginner), and that my spouse is also willing to use.  I had been
stumped by a huge variability in the quality of the coffee that I
make, even though I think I have highly repeatable computer controlled
roastings.  -- I have to add that this list has been a great help
getting started on this road, with tips ranging from leads about water
quality to roasting profiling approaches.
Tom G.
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2) From: David Westebbe
Brilliant.  I love simple tweaks that work well.
What was happening before you started doing that?
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3) From: Tom Gramila
			-- Thanks!
	The objectionable flavors were sourness, bitterness, at various
times grassiness.  But I dont think that the "preheat" solution was all it
took to solve things.  I suspect those were also caused in good part by
the water that I was using.  I would sometimes get very good coffee as I
jumped from drip to french press and back, but never had consistency.  I
was changing alot of things at once, including water treatment methods and
sometimes roasting profiles.  I came up with the preheat solution in those
explorations, and thought it might be useful to others.
	I'm now using bottled water with this drip approach, and have 
finally had good coffee four days in a row -- for the first time.
Brita filters really only seem to work for a very short period of time, at 
least on our agricultural runoff, err, I mean, our city water....
The preheat does help ALOT with overextraction, though. 
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4) From: Angelo
It seems to that if you're going to monitor the process as well as tweak it 
as it move along, you'd be better off with the manual drip cone or a Chemex...
You would have control over the heat and flow...
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5) From: Tom Gramila
I considered going this route.  The primary thing I wanted was to get
repeatability, and I think the preheat approach does this very well.
Making the preheat water hotter shortens the brew time, but leaves the
brew temperature essentially alone.  The brew temp is 198 degrees very
quickly, and then rises slowly to a max of 202 at the end of the
cycle.  I didnt think that I needed to adjust this.  The approach is
simple enough and repeatable enough that the only thing I need to
monitor (having figured out that the approach works) is the
temperature of the preheated water.  Brewtimes are repeatable to
within a few seconds, and the brew temperature is dead on each time.
I was worried that I could not manually match this level of
repeatability with pouring the water in.  Is your experience
different?  Can I improve the coffee with a different brew temperature?
I'd be pleased to learn more.....
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