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  1. #71
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Central North Carolina
    Big changes and you should definitely see a huge difference in flavor AND likely will really enjoy drinking it with nothing added. It's hard to beat a dialed in press for the coffee flavor, texture and price.
    I'm a legend among my own kind... you my friend are just a legend in your own mind. Later!

  2. #72
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Hey guys;
    Please bear with me on this long post, as I have been doing some experimentation with my new 1ZPresso JX Pro grinder and fresh beans.
    I hope that you understand I am still a newbie in the coffee brewing game. I am going to make mistakes, misunderstand the science of the process, and probably read some misleading info in online blogs. So here goes:

    I chose a medium/dark roast (recommended by the shop where I purchased them). The beans were roasted on-site but I don't know exactly how long they were sitting in the bag; my guess would be not more than a couple of days. They smelled absolutely delicious when I first opened the bag.

    I have been experimenting with the variables; mostly grind and brew time.
    I purchased an electric kettle, which displays temperature just before I start adding water to the grounds in the FP.
    For all of my brews so far, I have set the kettle to 194F.

    I started with a setting of 45 on the 1ZPresso JX Pro. This is midway through the recommended grind for French Press. Finest is 42, coarsest is 50 - the max coarse setting for the grinder.
    I used a ratio of 1:12.3, using 480g water and 39g coffee beans.
    I brewed my first cup by the simple method - no blooming, but I did stir after adding all of the water.
    I timed the steep for 4 minutes.
    The result was that I could not really detect any of the aromas this coffee is supposed to have, but the taste was ok. I drank it black.
    There wasn't much bitterness (or sourness) but I thought there should have been a bit more flavor.

    For my 2nd brew, I changed the grinder to a slightly finer setting of 42 (vs 45), but i also changed the ratio to 1:13.5 (increasing water by 5g and decreasing coffee by 3g). I realize that I should not have changed two values at the same time, but this was only my 2nd brew with the fresh beans.
    I steeped for 4 minutes, as before.
    The coffee seemed slightly less bitter, but still not as much flavor as I thought it should have.

    I have been tweaking the steep time over the past few days, and getting some confusing results.
    It seemed that when I decreased steep time, while keeping grind and ratio the same, I was getting a more bitter cup. This seemed contrary to what I have been reading.
    I was thinking that a shorter brew time would produce less bitterness.
    Then I got the idea to go a bit finer with the grind, notching the JX Pro down to 40. This is out of the range for FP (according to the 1ZPresso chart that was included with the grinder), but I figured that I didn't mind some fines in my cup.
    At the same time I ground finer, I also reduced time to 3:00.
    This seemed to produce a cup that was less bitter, and with a bit more flavor.

    Today, I decided to do some experimentation with smaller amounts of coffee and water.
    Grind: 45 (coarse)
    Water: 120g
    Coffee: 9.2g
    Ratio: 1:13
    Water temp: 194F

    After reading this blog:
    I began experimenting with steep time; no bloom, but stirring after all water had been added.
    The purpose of this experiment was to detect the difference between bitter and sour. I feel that I have been confused about this.

    4:00. Some bitterness (or was it sourness), but not too bad.
    8:00. Very bitter, yuk.
    2:00 sour
    5:00: Now I can smell some citrus aroma from the cup, but I cannot taste it.

    I believe I can now tell the difference between bitter and sour. This should go a long way in helping me dial-in the settings.
    As I now understand it, under-extraction causes sour, while over-extraction causes bitter.

    Now another point I am confused about:
    Until now, I have believed that when using a finer grind, you need to reduce steep time to prevent bitterness. The reason being that more surface area of the ground bean is exposed to the water, thus extraction will occur more rapidly.
    But further down the page in the same blog I linked to above it states that a finer grind will slow down the extraction process. This is exactly the opposite of what I was lead to believe from other blogs and videos I have seen.
    That said, James Hoffman does a 9 minute brew with finer grounds. But since he is scooping off the foam and whatever doesn't sink after stirring at 4:00, I don't think I can really compare his method to the more simple one so far as time goes.

    At this point, I am somewhat confused, but still very interested in this process, and 'dialing-in' my perfect cup from the French Press. In my younger days, I might have given up in frustration, but I have a lot more patience now that I am older (and hopefully wiser). Doing the experimentation with much smaller brews has helped me understand what I am doing, without wasting too much coffee or getting me too jacked up on caffeine. Yes, I am drinking the coffee I brew during my experimentation.

    Thank you for reading. I greatly appreciate all of the good advice you guys are giving me.


  3. #73
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    New Jersey
    You might want to keep everything the same but scoop off the foam and floating stuff after the 4 minute brew time. And you should actually taste the foam so you can see that if you are getting some bitterness you'll see that it could be coming from the foam and floaties. It sure tasted bitter to me when I tasted it early in my search for a good process. Keep playing with it. You'll eventually find something that works for you.
    Absurdity is the only reality - FZ

  4. #74
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Thanks for that. Makes sense, as that is what JH does before he continues his brew for another 6 mins.
    I guess one caveat of having a stainless steel pot is you can't see what's in there before removing the lid.
    I'm thinking what I will start doing is to brew two 8oz pots rather than one 16oz each morning, until I nail it. That will give me two chances to experiment without spending too much time on it.

  5. #75
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Firstly, let me apologize for the horrendously long post. I didn't realize how long it was going until I posted, but I do want to provide all the pertinent information.

    I did not detect any difference in taste when I scooped off the crust after 4 minutes brewing. I was only able to scoop the crust, not so much the foam. The spoon I was using made it difficult to scoop the foam, but there wasn't much foam anyway; just a bit around the edges. There was quite a bit of grounds floating on top though.

    I did a bit more experimenting today. Tweaking steep time, grind size, and then water temp - one value at a time.
    I started with a grind setting on the JX Pro of 45, which is about midway in the zone for French Press, according to the chart supplied with the grinder by 1ZPresso. The coarsest setting is 50, and the recommended range for FP is 42-50.

    Since my coffee seemed to be turning out sour, I decided to first change the grind size a bit finer, from 45 to 40 on the JX Pro. My thinking here is that a finer grind will extract faster, and thus less sourness with the same brew time.
    Still steeping 4:00, the coffee was still sour, but not so much as with the grind at 45. I could detect a hint of citrus in the aroma, but not in the taste.
    Next, I started playing with water temp, while keeping everything else the same.
    It is difficult for me to know exactly what my water temperature is. My Hosome electric kettle has a temp display on the side, but it isn't so accurate. When comparing its readout to a Klein MM200 digital multimeter with thermocouple probe, the pot was always about 4F lower than the meter.
    My meter was calibrated at the factory, but it is fairly old, and I have never had it checked against a standard.
    I can say however that when its probe is immersed into boiling water it does read 212F. So I guess it's good enough.

    One problem with the electric kettle is that once it reaches its setpoint (it has four settings), its display locks and will continue to display the set temp regardless of the actual water temp.
    That said, it is quirky. When the setting was reached, the display jumped from 199 to 194 and it beeped. At that point, the multimeter was reading 203F.
    This pot will always bring the water to a boil before dropping it back to the selected temp. This is a good thing, as it allows me to pour for my brew at a higher temperature than what i set.

    I also measured the temperature drop when the water is poured from the kettle into the French Press; both preheated, and not preheated.
    When I did not preheat the FP, the water temp dropped 10F from boiling to 202F (measured with the multimeter).
    But when I preheated the FP for about 3 minutes with boiling water, the temp drop from the kettle to the FP was only 6F, when I poured water measured with the multimeter at 207F in the kettle.
    I suppose I could skip preheating the FP if I pour water that is boiling, as it will immediately cool to 202F to start the brew.
    Note that when I did the temperature drop experiment, I did not use any coffee. I would expect that the grounds will absorb some of the heat, so the drop might be slightly higher.
    I may use the thermocouple probe in the FP for my next brew, but I have a thing about sticking a 'foreign' object into my coffee. Not that I ever used the probe for anything bad. I suppose I can wipe it with isopropyl alcohol before I use it in the coffee.

    Would starting a brew with boiling water into a non-preheated French Press cause any problems with the coffee?

    I also did a test to find how well my FP holds the heat.
    I first preheated it with boiled water for 3 mins, then dumped the water and dried the FP. I don't think drying the FP is really necessary, but it has become a habit.
    When I started with about 12oz water in the 34oz FP at a temp of 201F without grounds, the temp was 193F after 4 minutes with the cover on. I think that's more than acceptable.

    When I started the brew with hotter water, the coffee seemed to taste less sour, had the citrus aroma, but still no real taste.
    I finally increased steep time to 5:00, leaving all other values alone. The result was less sourness, a bit more aroma, but I still could not taste the flavor in the coffee.

    I think I will next increase brew time to 5:30 or even 6:00, but I will brew only about 4oz to start with. Then, once I get some flavor, I'll brew 8oz or more.
    About the lack of flavor: I don't think my beans are at fault, since they are definitely fresh.
    I have thought about changing the ratio from 1:13 to 1:14, but from what I have read, the ratio isn't going to affect whether the coffee tastes sour, bitter, or neutral. It will only affect how much of each flavor is present. So I think I need to tweak the other values before I change ratio.

    I suppose that my taste buds could be off. Or, perhaps I need to go finer with the grind?

    But based on my last experiment this morning, I believe I am going in the right direction.

    One final note: After drinking a small amount of my experimental sour coffee, I swooshed a mouthful of pure water and detected some sweetness in it.
    I Googled, and sure enough, it does seem that pure water can taste sweet after drinking something sour.
    I don't know whether the water would taste sweet after drinking something bitter, but I suppose I will find out soon enough, when I pass the neutral and get into bitter brew.
    Interestingly, sometimes when I run hard or long, I notice a slightly sweet taste from the pure water in my bottle. I also Googled that, and it does seem to be a 'normal' thing for athletes.

    I am considering sending an e-mail the the store (a local roaster) where I purchased my beans, and asking them for advice on this particular roast, which is called 'Legender - Brazil - Medium' from Roast'd Coffee in Ft. Lee NJ. Tasting notes: Dark chocolate, walnuts, citrus, smooth finish.

    While all of this experimentation may be taking a bit of my time, I am enjoying it. I think that after all of the time and effort I am spending on this, I will enjoy my coffee all the more once I hit the 'sweet spot'.

  6. #76
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    New Jersey
    I didn't read through your entire post but I did read the first half. When you mentioned that there was little foam, only around the edges, that makes me wonder how fresh your beans are. But I checked the website for Roast'd and I'm betting the beans you are getting are fresh. I don't think a few degrees of heat loss will make any difference either. I do recall hearing that you may be plunging the plunger all the way down. Not only does Hoffmann recommend NOT plunging but I found a random method during my Google search for french press method and if you look at the instructions, paragraph 7 says to only lower the plunger to just under the surface of the liquid. I place mine just above the surface. Same difference. Hoffmann says plunging only leads to bitter coffee. Not sure about sour though. Here's the link to the site I found.

    Here's another thought on the subject of sour tasting coffee. I did a Google search using "what makes coffee taste sour". The answer I got was that it is typically from underextracted coffee. The beans were not able to brew enough. Which gives some credence to Hoffmann's approach at allowing the coffee to sit for an additional amount of time, 5 minutes, 6, minutes, 7 mintues after the first 4 mintues. Apparently two different sites said that longer brew times allow the acids to calm down and the natural sweetness to come forward. Below are those links.

    They also say if the brew water is not hot enough, that could cause underextraction as well. But it seems like you are above 195 degrees F, which is where you want to be. Between 195 and 205. So that's probably not yoru problem. I hope these two additional links help.
    Absurdity is the only reality - FZ

  7. #77
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Thanks for the good info and links. I read all of it, and bookmarked the sites for future ref.
    I still seem to be having a problem determining whether I am tasting sour or bitter. Perhaps it is a deficiency of my sense of taste.

    This morning I brewed a total of 4 cups. The first two were for experimental purposes only, and were very small. The following is a summary of my results:
    All brews used a grind setting of 40 (on scale of 0-50) on the iZPresso JX Pro grinder.
    Water temps were measured first in the electric kettle immediately before pouring, and in the French Press immediately after water was poured onto the grounds, using a Klein Tools MM200 multimeter with thermocouple probe.
    The French Press was preheated for at least 3 minutes using boiling water before each brew.

    #1 120g water, 9.2g coffee. Water temp in kettle: 207F, in FP: 190F, steep time 5:30. Result: Much better than yesterday. Less sour, some flavor.
    #2 120g water, 9.2g coffee. Water temp in kettle: 210F, in FP: 193F, steep time 5:30. Result: Same as #1. I did not expect any real change increasing water temp by 3F.
    #3 240g water, 18.5g coffee. Water temp in kettle: 212F, in FP: 198F; Note: Poured from kettle at boil. Steep time about 5:45. Started timer a bit late, and almost went to 6:00 but tasted a sip at 5:30 and it was already bitter, so poured remaining coffee.
    #4 240g water, 18.5g coffee. Water temp in kettle: 206F, in FP: 194F, steep time 5:30. Much better than #3. Did not detect as much flavor as #1 and #2, but aroma might have a slight hint of chocolate (but not citrus).

    Notes: For brews #1, #2 and #4, I started the timer immediately after or while the water had been poured into the FP. For #3 I was a bit slow starting the timer, and due to the longer time it took to pour the water, the actual steep time was closer to 5:45 than to 5:30.
    For #4, I started the timer as I was pouring water into the FP.

    #3 was by far my worst brew of the batch. I believe that by pouring right off the boil, I scorched the coffee. Even though the temp was at 198F (in the FP) when I measured it, there was a brief time when the grounds were subject to boiling water. My thinking was that the water would cool fast enough from the boil not to scorch the coffee. I guess I was wrong. I used 2x the water for #3 that I did for #1 and #2, thus the water cooled more slowly. I should have been able to figure that out; it's basic chemistry.
    So this has me thinking that by doing very small brews (120g water) I am not going to get a true representation of what I will get when I increase the brew size significantly. Originally, I had been brewing 475g water with 36g coffee.

    I bought some (0-6) PH strips, thinking that I might be able to measure the difference between under and over-extracted coffee, but after further reading on the subject, I'm not so sure. I should have the strips for tomorrow's brewing, so I will leave the last couple of sips in my cup and test the ph of each brew. I am not adding anything to the coffee, so should get an idea of the true PH.
    Perhaps I need to do some taste testing to determine the difference between sour and bitter. A lemon and a piece of bakers chocolate should be good samples.
    Last edited by Ultrarunner2020; 09-15-2020 at 02:58 PM.

  8. #78
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    New Jersey
    I have a question. What coffee have you ever had that you recall taking a sip and saying to yourself, "Damn, that's some amazing tasting coffee."? What was the brew process for that coffee? You might reflect on that memory and take some cues as to what you like and how to go about replicating it. I know that when it comes to just coffee with some milk, I once went to a diner in god only knows where, ordered a coffee and recall taking one sip and thinking that was the most flavorful and delicious cup of coffee I've ever had. Since it was a diner it was clearly drip coffee. But I should be able to replicate it with french press. But I haven't........yet. I may get there but I at least remember the flavor that make me take notice. I'll know it if I ever can make it for myself. Rather than focusing on being able to taste the same things that the roaster says the coffee tastes like in their tasting notes, just worry about whether you like it. Nothing more than that. For what it's worth, I never taste all those things described in the flavor descriptions. I just know what I like. Same goes for wine. I can't taste roof tar, asphalt, elderberries and cigar ash like they say in this wine descriptions. LOL. As for water temps, I do think you want to keep the temp around the 205 range. Play with your coffee to water ratios, steep times, rest times, and size of your grind. Chainge only one thing at a time. Eventually, you should get there.
    Absurdity is the only reality - FZ

  9. #79
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    I recall while driving home to NJ from San Francisco with my brother and his wife we stopped at a Denny's for breakfast. I took one sip of the coffee black (I usually sip it black before adding anything) and it was so good that I drank it black. I don't recall the flavor, but it was very smooth. No sourness or bitterness. I have had excellent coffee at IHOP as well.
    When I get a cup at a Starbucks or DD, I always order a more fancy drink such as a latte, so I'm not so conscious of the taste of the coffee itself.

    This morning I made two batches, each 240g water and 17.1g coffee (reduced coffee from yesterday).
    Brew #1: Water: 240g, temp in kettle: 204F, temp in FP after water had been poured: 190F
    Coffee: 17.1g grind 40 on the JX Pro (same as yesterday)
    Time: 5:30
    Result: Just a tad on the sour side. No real flavor

    For my 2nd brew, I decided to go a bit finer on the grind, hoping to extract a bit more flavor.

    Brew #2: Water: 241g, temp in kettle: 205F, temp in FP after water poured: 191
    Coffee: 17.1g grind to 35
    Time: 5:30
    Result: Less sourness, smoother. Spicy aroma, but could not taste any real flavor.

    I also poured a small amount of coffee into a separate cup so I could measure the PH with the litmus paper i received yesterday.
    I waited for that sample to cool to room temp as instructed.
    The coffee measured was higher than 4.0 but lower than 4.5.
    These strips have a range of 0-6, and have 0.5 steps.

    I made the PH measurement for both brews, and it was the same.
    I also measured the water in my kettle (after a sample had cooled) and it measured greater than 6, which was the same as my tap water. (my strips cannot read higher than 6, so I assume the PH was close to 7).

    One final note: I have always used filtered water for my coffee. I have an under-sink dual filter system that is much better than something like the Brita pitcher system.

    I suppose I will continue going finer with the grind until either I start to get bitter coffee, or there is too much mud in my cup. So far, with a grind setting significantly finer than what is recommended for French Press (according to 1ZPresso), I have not had much mud in the cup.
    Once I reach a point where the coffee is bitter, I will try reducing brew time in 0:30 increments.
    Last edited by Ultrarunner2020; 09-16-2020 at 08:27 AM.

  10. #80
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Just had a thought: Maybe I should try brewing a cup or two in a percolator, just to find if I can taste any more flavor. I have an electric percolator. I would of course use the correct grind for the perc.


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