Sunday, October 17, 2010

Grind Size, of Course. But What About Dose?

Maybe it's just me, but I have been having a lot of trouble with my brewed coffee lately. Part of the problem comes from heightened awareness of the particulars in the process of brewing. I am a perfectionist when it comes to coffee, especially when I am the one "behind the bar." The other part of my problem comes from a lack of information/thought on the issue at hand.

When brewing with a pour-over, the general consensus on the coffee weight to volume of water ratio is about 2 grams per ounce. I generally agree with this assessment.  Another often talked about factor is water temperature, which is expected to be within the small window of 195-204 degrees. Here, I agree as well. Grind size is of course, paramount. Everyone knows this and adjusts accordingly (for pour overs, somewhere between "espresso" and "drip" is expected).  But after following all the guidelines and suggested measures, I still find myself disappointed with some brews.

Maybe some of the coffees I use just suck? This is possible, but not likely. I roast my own to my own taste (usually around the city to city+ range, a standard roast  level for the American taste bud). If  I'm not drinking my own, I'm drinking Kaldi's Coffee or Northwest Coffee, both artisan roasters in St. Louis. Though artisan, their coffees are very different. Kaldi's roasts lighter, Northwest, darker (around a full-city).

When I use these same coffees in pour-over brews, I am almost always disappointed with the Northwest brews. This is the coffee the most unlike mine or Kaldi's, so some taste difference is expected.  My disappointment goes beyond taste though, it is almost always linked to its characteristics affected by brewing.

The Northwest Coffee seems sharp, biting, and aggressive- way too intense for such dark roasts.  I am beginning to think that using the same brewing parameters for coffees with different Agtron ratings should not be done. If we adjust grind size for roast level (I have heard this suggested many times, most recently from a link posted by Tim Wendelboe, by Dr. Brew from Bunn) why not also dose?

I have decreased the grams/ounce to 1.7g/oz when using these darker-roasted coffees, even coffees of my own. So far, the change has been fairly noticeable.  In my coffees, the brew seems under-extracted, but the body seems to be just where I like it.  Here, my problem is trying to manipulate body when I shouldn't. When brewing Northwest coffees, everything checks out just like it should.  So, therefore, I do think there is something to changing the dose, and grind size, for significantly darker than average roasts.

Check back soon for my post assessment of Kaldi's Coffee's newly cupped and rated coffee Guatemala  San Pedro La Laguna, a 91 by the Coffee Review!  Even though I don't agree with such subjective rating systems, I do appreciate the chance to try an excellent coffee.

Lord, thank you for this beautiful Sunday morning. Bless the ministers around the world as they bring Your Word. Keep my head deflated and on straight. Here we go.

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