New to coffee - Problem with weak brew

dbadalam

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May 28, 2023
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Greetings,

I wanted to get better coffee at home so I upgraded by gear and educated myself. I still have a lot to learn and hope someone can help me improve my current issue.

Problem: The coffee I'm getting is very weak.

Coffee: Intelligentsia House blend light roast - opened 5 days off roast - First time not buying generic coffee from grocery store. Signed up for classic subscription.
Grind: Baratza Encore set at 13/14
Ratio: 475ml Water and 26.3g coffee ( 1:18 )
Brewer: Breville Percision automatic brewer - Cone basket - Gold setting

I feel like I'm at the recommended settings on everything. Maybe it is just a weak coffee. I would appreciate any advice on how I can improve this brew. Which variable should I change?

Regards,
David
 
That ratio is a touch high if the coffee is light (and your perceive it light). Drop it down to a 1:16 and try that. In general if too light, add coffee or grind finer.
 
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Thank you Musicphan, for the advice.

Not having read your reply yet, I tried the strong brew setting on the Breville brewer this morning. That setting is supposed to increase the temperature and adjust the brew time for a stronger cup. I did get a more flavorful cup, but the intelligentsia house blend may be just a very light coffee. Its new for me. It still is a bit tea like.

I will try your suggestion tomorrow morning.

The Breville recommends 1:18 but doesn't take the coffee roast level into account.

So far I've read the variables are
1. increase brew temp/time
2. adjust ratio as you suggested.
3. adjust grind as you also mentioned

I'm trying to learn if there is a reason one variable is suggested over another for a light roast coffee? Or does any one of thoes three things lead to the same outcome? I realize some of it is going to be preference.
 
Thank you Musicphan, for the advice.

Not having read your reply yet, I tried the strong brew setting on the Breville brewer this morning. That setting is supposed to increase the temperature and adjust the brew time for a stronger cup. I did get a more flavorful cup, but the intelligentsia house blend may be just a very light coffee. Its new for me. It still is a bit tea like.

I will try your suggestion tomorrow morning.

The Breville recommends 1:18 but doesn't take the coffee roast level into account.

So far I've read the variables are
1. increase brew temp/time
2. adjust ratio as you suggested.
3. adjust grind as you also mentioned

I'm trying to learn if there is a reason one variable is suggested over another for a light roast coffee? Or does any one of thoes three things lead to the same outcome? I realize some of it is going to be preference.
I'm not in the camp of ever adjusting the temperature (I'm a bit surprised they do, to be honest). Typically you want your water at 202 degrees. Ratio and grind size go hand in hand - they both can be minor adjustments to tweak your brew preferences. I always first adjust my ratio.. I find that it has the largest swing in brewing.

Something to be aware of, most commercial machines are made for the general US customer using "grocery store/mass market" coffee. Specialty Coffee roasters like Intelligentsia and myself are trying to highlight what the farmer has grown. As you continue to roast dark and darker, you lose the flavor nuances of the farm. So, in general, we roast much lighter than normal grocery store coffee. The darker a coffee is roasted, the more the cellular structure of the beans breaks down. When the cellular structure is broken down, you can extract more from the beans. However, that's more of the good AND the bad. Often darker roast coffees, your tasting more of the char than the bean itself. So with most Specialty roasters you want to use a touch more coffee.
 
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Thank you Musicphan, That was very informative. That explains why the single origin are almost always light roasts if you are trying to experience very specific notes.

I wonder why the Breville Precision brewer recommends 1:18.2 ratio and gold setting unless they are expecting you to use mass market coffee. I tried a 1:16.6 ratio today and back to the gold setting and it did make a noticeable difference that was more preferable to the 1:18 and strong setting where they increase water temp and brew time.

I appreciate the information,
Regards,
David
 
And to make it more difficult for consumers there is no consensus on a light and dark roast. My 'Dark' roast coffee is barely starting to show coffee oils in many mass-market coffees that would be considered light or medium... it's ridiculous.

I often compare coffee to steak to help explain... do you want a filet mignon well done? Why not? Because it's lost its juiciness and flavor because it's been dried out and overcooked. Still steak, just not a delicious steak. And the lighter you cool a steak the more beefy and juicy it tastes.
 
It may have something to do with the brewer. I had a brewer that applied the water to the grounds in a narrow stream. If I did not tamp the grounds in the basket, the water would erode a narrow path through the beans, and as a result most of the coffee never touched the water. And the resulting coffee was weak.

I don't know your brewer, but I now use a brewer that has a wide shower head approach, applying water more evenly over all the grounds. I still tamp the grounds in the basket beforehand. I have never had the problem again.

Just a thought.
 
This is a very interesting topic for me and I see good recommendations here. Recently, I really liked drinking coffee, but I still don't make it myself. Recently, I contacted boathouse on the bay customer service to order a table for me and my mother, and there I tried the most delicious coffee in my life. I am very happy that I got there, now I will visit this place more often
 
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