Giving up on Keurig, tried stove-top perc, want to try French Press

MntnMan62

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When I used the JH method a couple weeks ago, I recall that there weren't any grinds floating after 4:00; only foam. I found it tedious scooping out the foam using two spoons, and then the coffee was not to my liking anyway.
That said, I may try it again with the temp at 195 and steep time at 3:30, but I think I'll use a turkey baster instead of the spoon(s) to remove the floating stuff. I could use a straw, but then I'll get all that bitter stuff in my mouth :(

You don't need to use two spoons. Just scoop it off using one spoon and the edge of the carafe to get the floating grinds and foam off. It literally takes me all of about a minute or less to get it all up.
 
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OK. I'll try that next. I could also use a turkey baster to suck up the foam, but that might actually take longer than the spoon.
Last night, I thought I might have ruined my coffee beans, which are stored in the AirScape. Normally I keep the canister on top of my chest of drawers, but take it over to the top of my beer fridge (which makes a nice tabletop) to prepare my brew. So last night before going to bed, I thought maybe I could save some time in the morning by placing the canister of beans on top of the fridge. I awake a few hours after going to bed and there is a smell in the room that I can't place. It kind of smells like the coffee beans, but I'm not sure. So I remove the beans canister to the chest, and it feels warm in my hands. Not hot, nor very warm, but warmer than ambient (maybe 85-90F). I opened the canister and didn't notice anything strange by smell.
Then, in the morning when I ground my coffee, it didn't seem to smell as good as it had in the past, but then, these beans are now almost 2 weeks past their purchase date, so the aroma isn't like it was when I bought them.
The coffee tasted the same as yesterday, so I guess allowing the beans to get a bit warmer than normal didn't hurt them, but I won't be placing the canister on top of the fridge anymore - except for the few minutes it takes me to scoop them out into the grinder.

I Googled about warm coffee beans, and found an interesting blog which stated that some people warm up their beans just before grinding, as it seems to produce fewer fines.
But somehow, I can't get past the thought that if you can smell your beans in the room they are stored in, then they are losing flavor. Of course, it doesn't take much to create a smell, so I don't expect it would affect taste much.
It's just another thing I have to be anal about...
 
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You might want to rethink not scooping. According to Hoffmann, the grinds that sink to the bottom have fully extracted and therefore are no longer "brewing" or contributing to the taste. Those that are still floating have not fully extracted and therefore are still in the process of "brewing". Hoffmann explains that those floating grinds can lead to bitterness or overextracted coffee. In addition, the foam that is floating with the unextracted grinds is bitter. Pouring through that will have the potential to make your coffee bitter. Jes' sayin'.


Well, I did scoop off after brewing for 3:30 this morning. There was a lot of crust on top, along with the foam.
The coffee definitely tastes better. No bitterness or sourness at all, and seems to be more flavor as well. Not that scooping added any flavor, but it removed the mask that was covering it.
I think the time I tried the JH method, I stirred after 4:00, which re-settled the crust, so all I had left to scoop was the foam. That resulted in a bitter cup.
Apparently, JH does not stir at the start of the brew, but he does stir the crust after 4:00. I don't know whether that produces the same or similar results as stirring immediately after pouring the water and then scooping after 4:00. Whatever; I am quite pleased.
 

MntnMan62

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Well, I did scoop off after brewing for 3:30 this morning. There was a lot of crust on top, along with the foam.
The coffee definitely tastes better. No bitterness or sourness at all, and seems to be more flavor as well. Not that scooping added any flavor, but it removed the mask that was covering it.
I think the time I tried the JH method, I stirred after 4:00, which re-settled the crust, so all I had left to scoop was the foam. That resulted in a bitter cup.
Apparently, JH does not stir at the start of the brew, but he does stir the crust after 4:00. I don't know whether that produces the same or similar results as stirring immediately after pouring the water and then scooping after 4:00. Whatever; I am quite pleased.

Now you're getting somewhere. I always stir before scooping off the foam and floaties. Stirring doesn't cause anything to settle other than fully extracted grinds. I always am able to scoop out a fair amount of grinds with the foam after 4 minutes. For what it's worth, this is the first post of yours that I can recall that you said the coffee did not taste bitter or sour AND had flavor. That means you nailed it. Congratulations.
 
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Thanks MntnMan62;
Do you stir immediately after pouring the water onto the grinds, and again after 4 minutes?
I looked back on the last time I tried the JH method.
I stirred immediately after adding the water.
When I opened the lid after 4:00, there was no crust; only foam, which I scooped off.
Then I let it sit another 5:00.
The coffee wasn't great. Definitely not as good as it was this morning.
Now I'm a bit perplexed as to why there was no crust to scoop off with that brew, but there was plenty of crust and foam to scoop after today's brew.
But then I checked my database, and find that I used a grind setting of 30 on the JX Pro for that brew. Today I used 45. I guess the finer grinds tend to settle while the more coarse ones tend to float?
Should I keep the grind setting of 45 for the JH method, or go with something a bit finer?

I'm curious to know what difference it will make if I do stir (again) at 4:00 and scoop off only what is left floating. I guess I can try that tomorrow.
After that, I want to try the JH method again.

I have been keeping good records of everything I do, so it will not be difficult to return to a brew I made earlier if I decide it was the best.
I've got several more brews with the Legender beans, then will be using the Timor from Indonesia. That should be interesting.

Edit: I guess that unless I am using the JH method and am going to let it sit another 5:00 or so before pouring, stirring before scooping at 4:00 would not make any difference, as the grinds are going to be either out of the mix or on the bottom. Either way, they won't add or subtract anything from the brew.
 
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MntnMan62

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Thanks MntnMan62;
Do you stir immediately after pouring the water onto the grinds, and again after 4 minutes?
I looked back on the last time I tried the JH method.
I stirred immediately after adding the water.
When I opened the lid after 4:00, there was no crust; only foam, which I scooped off.
Then I let it sit another 5:00.
The coffee wasn't great. Definitely not as good as it was this morning.
Now I'm a bit perplexed as to why there was no crust to scoop off with that brew, but there was plenty of crust and foam to scoop after today's brew.
But then I checked my database, and find that I used a grind setting of 30 on the JX Pro for that brew. Today I used 45. I guess the finer grinds tend to settle while the more coarse ones tend to float?
Should I keep the grind setting of 45 for the JH method, or go with something a bit finer?

I'm curious to know what difference it will make if I do stir (again) at 4:00 and scoop off only what is left floating. I guess I can try that tomorrow.
After that, I want to try the JH method again.

I have been keeping good records of everything I do, so it will not be difficult to return to a brew I made earlier if I decide it was the best.
I've got several more brews with the Legender beans, then will be using the Timor from Indonesia. That should be interesting.

Edit: I guess that unless I am using the JH method and am going to let it sit another 5:00 or so before pouring, stirring before scooping at 4:00 would not make any difference, as the grinds are going to be either out of the mix or on the bottom. Either way, they won't add or subtract anything from the brew.

I don't have a thermometer on my kettle so I just wait until the sound of boiling stops, pour the water, swirl the carafe to ensure all the grinds are immersed and then I set the timer for 4 minutes. Then after the timer goes off I stir and scoop off the grinds and foam. Then I set the timer for another 7 minutes. As to crust, I think that term is a bit misleading. There really isn't so much a crust as it is just a mix of grinds and foam after the 4 minutes. I think you are right that the finer grinds probably sink because when I scoop the foam and grinds it is mostly larger sized grinds.

I think you should play with the grind setting. Make very small incremental changes and see if you like it. At this point you are just tweaking things.
 
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Well, maybe coffee brewing is rocket science after all...
https://www.researchgate.net/public...ale_methods_An_experimentally_validated_model
If you want to read the entire text, you must download the pdf. I did, but when I reached the point where they start discussing applied mathematics, I stopped.
What I took from all of this is that larger grinds will have a higher extraction than smaller ones. I had been thinking it was the other way around. That is why I started decreasing brew time when I reduced grind size. But then, they're talking extraction %, not extraction rate. I suppose that if you grind more coarse, the extraction process might result in higher extraction, but take more time than with finer grinds???

One thing I have learned though, is that human (or at least mine) taste is not only subjective, but it is variable in the same person. Some days I like the coffee, other days I do not; all the while using the same brewing parameters.
I think a lot of the taste has to do with what you have eaten or are eating while you drink the coffee. Eat a sugary doughnut with your joe, and it will taste more sweet. Eat a bunch of unprocessed walnuts, and it might taste bitter.
 
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Now this is interesting:
I reported on Friday that I had brewed my best cup yet. But on Saturday, the coffee seemed to be weak, and didn't have the hint of flavor I tasted on Friday. I had used the same process both days.
I thought it might have been what I was eating with my coffee. On Friday I had Raisin Bran cereal in milk. On Saturday I had Rice Krispies with sliced bananas in milk. No added sugar with either cereal.
Today (Sunday) I was eating Raisin Bran with bananas.
We all know how sweet raisins are. So this morning I tried something else: I took a couple sips of plain water, swirled around in my mouth and drank. Then I took another sip of coffee. The coffee tasted better than it did after a spoonful of the cereal. I guess that makes sense, as the cereal is sweet and the coffee tends towards bitter.
I suppose the best way to enjoy a good cup of joe is to drink it before eating anything. But I normally start eating my breakfast while I'm brewing the coffee. Perhaps instead of a bowl of (sweet) cereal, I should just eat a slice of toast with butter.

So maybe tomorrow I should try a slightly finer grind. I'm at 45 now, so perhaps 42 or 43?
It's either that or try increasing steep time from 3:30 to 4:00. Everyone seems to agree on the 4:00 steep time, but my barista recommended 3:30 for the beans I am using. I think he looked it up on an app.
 

MntnMan62

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Now this is interesting:
I reported on Friday that I had brewed my best cup yet. But on Saturday, the coffee seemed to be weak, and didn't have the hint of flavor I tasted on Friday. I had used the same process both days.
I thought it might have been what I was eating with my coffee. On Friday I had Raisin Bran cereal in milk. On Saturday I had Rice Krispies with sliced bananas in milk. No added sugar with either cereal.
Today (Sunday) I was eating Raisin Bran with bananas.
We all know how sweet raisins are. So this morning I tried something else: I took a couple sips of plain water, swirled around in my mouth and drank. Then I took another sip of coffee. The coffee tasted better than it did after a spoonful of the cereal. I guess that makes sense, as the cereal is sweet and the coffee tends towards bitter.
I suppose the best way to enjoy a good cup of joe is to drink it before eating anything. But I normally start eating my breakfast while I'm brewing the coffee. Perhaps instead of a bowl of (sweet) cereal, I should just eat a slice of toast with butter.

So maybe tomorrow I should try a slightly finer grind. I'm at 45 now, so perhaps 42 or 43?
It's either that or try increasing steep time from 3:30 to 4:00. Everyone seems to agree on the 4:00 steep time, but my barista recommended 3:30 for the beans I am using. I think he looked it up on an app.

At this point, given how much time and effort you have invested, forget what your "barista" tells you. At this point, you know more about your brew process than the barista. And not all baristas are super knowledgeable. He may be, but then again.....
 
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Yes, and taste is so subjective it's like when someone who is new to running asks me (an experienced marathonner) which shoes are the best. I usually just say that no shoe is the 'best'. It all depends on the mechanics of your feet, and other factors. Of course there are quality running shoes that cost upwards of $200, and those that shouldn't be used for serious running; just as there are good coffee beans and not so good ones, and good grinders and those which should not be used, as we discussed at the start of this thread.
I think probably the best thing I have done so far is what you suggested; to stir/swirl at the end of the steep and then scoop off what is left floating. This morning after swirling, there were still some floaters and foam, which I scooped off.
 
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During the past few days, I have experimented with the grind setting but left everything else:
I found that grinding at 2 full divisions (43 on the JX pro) finer resulted in bitter coffee. I brewed the same for two days, just to be sure it was the grind setting and not something else.
Today I went back to the setting of 45, and the bitterness was gone.
I'm not sure whether to try going the other way (more coarse) with the grind, or tweaking the timing. Maybe I should try 4:00 vs 3:30 that I have been doing.
I also want to re-try the JH method, but want to do the tweaking with the shorter method first.

I have been swirling the brew immediately after adding the water, then again after the brew time, before scooping off the floaters & foam.
 
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I think I've finally reached 'coffee nirvana'.
I have been experimenting with grind and timing. I found that 4:00 steep time was too long, so I dropped it back to 3:40. This was a compromise between 3:30 and 4:00.
Before this morning, I have been doing the 'short' brew; after the steep time, I scoop off the floaters and foam, then pour.
But today I decided to return to the James Hoffman method, and after the 3:40 steep and scoop, I let it sit for another 6:00. I then checked for floaters and foam but found none, so I poured.
The result was decisively the best cup of coffee I have brewed in the French Press!

Although i had tried the JH method before, there were other factors involved in my brew process that caused the result to be skewed.
I should be able to repeat this successful brew from this point forward, but if I don't then I will have to conclude that the problem is with my sense of taste.

I am going to leave everything as it is, and continue using the JH method. The only thing I will change is the beans I use.
I have been thinking of trying some "Lifeboost' dark roast. It gets excellent reviews but does come with a higher (about 2x the cost of my current beans) price tag. That said, I can get my first order at 50% off, so it won't cost me much more than what I am paying for my beans now.
 

MntnMan62

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Nov 15, 2019
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I think I've finally reached 'coffee nirvana'.
I have been experimenting with grind and timing. I found that 4:00 steep time was too long, so I dropped it back to 3:40. This was a compromise between 3:30 and 4:00.
Before this morning, I have been doing the 'short' brew; after the steep time, I scoop off the floaters and foam, then pour.
But today I decided to return to the James Hoffman method, and after the 3:40 steep and scoop, I let it sit for another 6:00. I then checked for floaters and foam but found none, so I poured.
The result was decisively the best cup of coffee I have brewed in the French Press!

Although i had tried the JH method before, there were other factors involved in my brew process that caused the result to be skewed.
I should be able to repeat this successful brew from this point forward, but if I don't then I will have to conclude that the problem is with my sense of taste.

I am going to leave everything as it is, and continue using the JH method. The only thing I will change is the beans I use.
I have been thinking of trying some "Lifeboost' dark roast. It gets excellent reviews but does come with a higher (about 2x the cost of my current beans) price tag. That said, I can get my first order at 50% off, so it won't cost me much more than what I am paying for my beans now.

Glad to hear you are finally satisfied with your coffee. Of course, I've been telling you to use the JH method since your first post. But I realize we all have to go through our own experimentation. Now that you have the french press down, here's another method you should try. Bialetti Moka Pot. I've gone back to mine and the one thing I'm doing differerntly is grinding my own beans instead of using store bought italian roast coffee. I think I like the Moka Pot coffee better than the french press. I've been using the moka pot for about 4 or 5 days now and have no desire at the moment to go back to the french press. At some point I'll brew some french press as a comparison.
 
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Had an interesting experience this morning.
I have been brewing using the JH method with brew time at 3:40, then scooping off floaters & foam, and waiting another 6min.
But this morning, I was working on my computer and didn't hear the timer. When I checked it, the time had gone 1:47 past the 3:40 I had set. So I brewed for 5:27. I scooped and let is sit for another 6 mins, fully expecting the coffee to be 'undrinkable'. But it was not. Yes, it was somewhat bitter, but not so bad as I had thought.
This result is contrary to what I found several days ago when I increased time from 3:40 to 4:00 and could taste the increased bitterness. I suppose that today's accidental 'experiment' could lead me to conclude that once past about 4:00, bitterness does not increase as fast as between 3:30 and 4:00. I am sure the water cooled a bit more, but my FP is stainless insulated, so not by much.

In any case, I drank the cup black and did not have any serious aftertaste.
 

MntnMan62

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Nov 15, 2019
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New Jersey
Had an interesting experience this morning.
I have been brewing using the JH method with brew time at 3:40, then scooping off floaters & foam, and waiting another 6min.
But this morning, I was working on my computer and didn't hear the timer. When I checked it, the time had gone 1:47 past the 3:40 I had set. So I brewed for 5:27. I scooped and let is sit for another 6 mins, fully expecting the coffee to be 'undrinkable'. But it was not. Yes, it was somewhat bitter, but not so bad as I had thought.
This result is contrary to what I found several days ago when I increased time from 3:40 to 4:00 and could taste the increased bitterness. I suppose that today's accidental 'experiment' could lead me to conclude that once past about 4:00, bitterness does not increase as fast as between 3:30 and 4:00. I am sure the water cooled a bit more, but my FP is stainless insulated, so not by much.

In any case, I drank the cup black and did not have any serious aftertaste.

I was reading another thread about french press and someone was good enough to post a link that I thought you should see. Also interesting that the author of the article feels that the James Hoffmann method yields the best coffee from a french press. But as I read the entire article I found there are some ideas I can use to tweak Hoffmann's method and hopefully help me improve my coffee a bit more. Check it out. It's definitely worth the read.

https://aboveaveragecoffee.com/how-long-should-you-brew-a-french-press/
 
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