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Please help: bitter Aeropress coffee.

I got aeropress mostly because of Scotto's thread. Plus.. all the reviewers, including hardbitten baristas, said it was kick-***.

The first time I made coffee it was wondrous -- not a hint of bitter and plenty of flavor (sumatran bean, not fresh ground). I am not a coffee drinker, in fact I hate the bitterness of regular coffee. I usually order a mocha espresso wherever I go. So I got kinda hooked! My regular Droste cocoa was replaced by coffee in the morning!

But the last two days I made coffee it was *very* bitter. I mean ungodly bitter. Also very oily, I felt. I tried both the costa rican and the sumatra I had bought earlier (not fresh ground). So that put me off for a few days. Then I thought it might be the coffee, and today I picked up fresh celebes and sumatran from a local grinder/roaster (Java Joes in Des Moines).

I made coffee 4 times this evening, and even bought a meat thermometer. The first time I used an electric kettle and my coffee mug -- at 175F, bitter. Then I used the kettle at a lower temp after washing out the mug, again bitter. Then finally I thought it might be the kettle, and boiled water (that's what I'd done the first time with the Aeropress too) and thought it might be the mug (old coffee oils) and used a new mug (my regular cocoa mug). Again, horribly bitter (this time at 152F).

The flavor is there, this is definitely not ordinary supermarket crud coffee -- the bitterness mocks me, because other than that there's nothing wrong with it. I know I'd enjoy it if that bitterness went away!

What am I doing wrong? Could my troubles have started (maybe :redface: .. I'm not sure) after I reused one filter twice or thrice? Could I have irretrievably spoilt the plastic mesh screen or something? I have never had a good cup of coffee after that experiment (I'd read something about reusing filters and non-disposable filters -- curse the day!).

I'm using a less than espresso grind (fine grind, I believe it's called).

Any help is much appreciated. This situation is most distressing, especially now that I've had a taste of that great aeropress coffee. A fortnight ago, I wouldn't have cared. Now I have lovely coffee smells in my car and my house -- and I can't drink a damn cup!


*** EDIT ***

I just remembered, around the time of the reuse thing, I also made two cups of tea in it. The tea was great too, much less bitter and very flavorful -- I don't know if the type of tea matters but it might've been a stronger type (one was oolong, the other I forget).
 
Sorry I can't help directly with your problem as I usually buy drinks at the local coffee shops, but I wanted to clue you in on another coffee that I thought was surprisingly good - Caribou Coffee Obsidian.

This to me is just a few small steps below Kona and is much less expensive.

(I apologize if this has been covered since I have not read the thread you referred to above).
 

Jim

Moderator
Just a thought- you went lower in water temp, give higher a try 195 or just off the boil.

I do not reuse the filters.

What is your water to grind ratio?

Does the water you use taste good before you make coffee?
 
Just a thought- you went lower in water temp, give higher a try 195 or just off the boil.

I do not reuse the filters.

What is your water to grind ratio?

Does the water you use taste good before you make coffee?
Jim, the water tastes fine. I have not reused the filters since that ghastly day. As Scotto mentioned, I get quite a thick foamy slurry since I always make single cups, and fill the water to within the #1 circle or just near the top of the circle.

Personally I have a bias against using bottled water. I have also made coffee with water I boiled and let cool, so that should boil off any gasses/dissolved flavors?

The first time I made coffee (first 2 times) it was great. Then suddenly this change..

@Pete .. I will try the Obsidian, thanks. I used to hang around a lot in Caribou, playing Go (http://senseis.xmp.net) -- but of course, I drank generic mocha in those days..
 

Austin

Moderator Emeritus
Reread Scotto's thread. The level of water in the plunger determines the strength of the coffee. The inventor of the Aeropress addresses this issue.
 

Dinder1

Moderator Emeritus
First things first, the proper brewing temperature for coffee is 195-198F not 175F or below. I can tell you that I know of no coffee professional that would recommend brewing coffee at these low temperatures. Try a higher temp and see what happens, it should improve things..if not feel free to pm me and maybe I can walk you through the process step by step.
Good luck.
 

ouch

Stjynnkii membörd dummpsjterd
Moderator Emeritus
Personally I have a bias against using bottled water.
:lol: Me, too.

I recently read that the five most popular drinks, in order, are-

coffee
soft drinks
bottled water
alcoholic beverages
tea
 
I didn't notice you mentioning in your post about adding water after the brewing. Most people said they topped off the extracted coffee with hot water to make an "americano" of sorts.

I don't own an aeropress so I can't offer advice from experience. I just noticed you didn't mention that, and added hot water will definitely cut down on the bitterness.
 
First things first, the proper brewing temperature for coffee is 195-198F not 175F or below. I can tell you that I know of no coffee professional that would recommend brewing coffee at these low temperatures. Try a higher temp and see what happens, it should improve things..if not feel free to pm me and maybe I can walk you through the process step by step.
Good luck.
The Aeropress specifically recommends a 175F brewing temperature - even as low as 165F to avoid bitterness. According to Aeropress, higher temperatures are what lead to bitterness. The other cause would be too long of a brewing time - 10 seconds to mix, 20 seconds to press. The longer the grounds sit in hot water the more bitter acids are extracted. Drip coffee makers function at a higher temperature because the water looses a lot of heat as it passes through the bed of grounds, but as a result, the coffee is also more bitter.
All this from the aeropress website.
 
First things first, the proper brewing temperature for coffee is 195-198F not 175F or below. I can tell you that I know of no coffee professional that would recommend brewing coffee at these low temperatures. Try a higher temp and see what happens, it should improve things..if not feel free to pm me and maybe I can walk you through the process step by step.
Good luck.
The Aeropress specifically recommends a 175F brewing temperature - even as low as 165F to avoid bitterness. According to Aeropress, higher temperatures are what lead to bitterness. The other cause would be too long of a brewing time - 10 seconds to mix, 20 seconds to press. The longer the grounds sit in hot water the more bitter acids are extracted. Drip coffee makers function at a higher temperature because the water looses a lot of heat as it passes through the bed of grounds, but as a result, the coffee is also more bitter.
All this from the aeropress website.
Sorry, I think I would go with Dinder1 on this(He is a coffee guru). Being an engineer and an obsessive compulsive:biggrin: , I have experimented with the aeropress quite a bit since I got it and I can definitely say that brewing coffee in the range that Dinder1 specified is indeed the best temp.
 
This sounds like a very good controlled experiment project for someone. I'm sure it's been done someplace. Using the same coffee/grind change the water temps, level in AeroPress tube and stir/press times. Do you happen to pre-wet your grounds and let it sit before adding the rest of the water? Lots of variables but not insurmountable. I do the following:

2 AeroPress scoops of paper cone filter grind
Top of #2 on the Tube of just off boil water
Drizzle a little water into grounds and quick mix 5 seconds
Pour rest of water and stir for 8-10 seconds
Press for 12-15 seconds

Add hot water to taste. Works for me.
 
You didn't mention what grind you are using. If the coffee is ground for making espresso it will be too fine for a drip setup, and if you are using a french press it needs to be coarser yet.
Good Luck. KenS
 
Hi nichel,

It appeared to me that you're doing things correctly. But here are a few possibilities.

Are you dilluting AeroPress concentrate to make an American cup? Adding water is almost as effective as adding sugar! The ratio is about five ounces of dilluted brew for each scoop of grind.

Some people use the term "bitter" when it's actually sour. A light roast tastes sour (like lemon) not bitter. Lower water temperature does not help sourness. The cure is a darker roast.

Incidentally, the recommended water temp of 175F was determined with blind taste tests on a score of tasters, ranging from professionals ordinary folks.

I've never detected any taste difference with re-used filters, so that should be ok.

Hope you can get back to a tasty cup soon.

Alan
 

ouch

Stjynnkii membörd dummpsjterd
Moderator Emeritus
All I know is, I'm buying a whole lotta coffee these days. :w00t:

And loving it!
 
I had to read and reread the directions for the Aeropress in order to figure out how much coffee grounds per cup is needed. The way they are written, one line talks about using the scoop to measure the beans for grinding, another to use the scoop to measure ground coffee.

I finally settled on using one scoop of whole beans, which are then ground to pretty much an espresso grind. For pressing one cup, I measure the water to the top of the 1 circle in the plunger, pour it in, then quickly stir and start pressing immediately. The mug is topped up with hot water afterwards resulting in a smooth cup of Americano style.

The Aeropress allows you to control all parts of the brewing process including the amount of time that the coffee is allowed to steep in the water, which you haven't mentioned. I suggest that you reduce that time. Another thing that might help is to be more careful about washing it. While most of the time I simply rinse it under running hot water, I do pay attention to the face of the rubber plunger, the oils do build up on that and need soapy water to remove them.
 

ouch

Stjynnkii membörd dummpsjterd
Moderator Emeritus
I finally settled on using one scoop of whole beans, which are then ground to pretty much an espresso grind.
Try using 2 scoops of whole beans. The press allows you to make a cup at a level of concentration that would otherwise make you blow chunks. :001_tt1:
 
Hi JP,

A level scoop of beans or a level scoop of grind from a bag each weigh about 11.5 to 12 grams. However grind as it emerges from the grinder (not bagged) is a bit fluffier and weighs less.

Best,

Alan
 
Hi nichel,

It appeared to me that you're doing things correctly. But here are a few possibilities.

Are you dilluting AeroPress concentrate to make an American cup? Adding water is almost as effective as adding sugar! The ratio is about five ounces of dilluted brew for each scoop of grind.

Some people use the term "bitter" when it's actually sour. A light roast tastes sour (like lemon) not bitter. Lower water temperature does not help sourness. The cure is a darker roast.

Incidentally, the recommended water temp of 175F was determined with blind taste tests on a score of tasters, ranging from professionals ordinary folks.

I've never detected any taste difference with re-used filters, so that should be ok.

Hope you can get back to a tasty cup soon.

Alan
I soaked the plastic mesh in hot water and baking soda for a few hours to remove any possible contamination from the tea.

I will try the double scoop/level 2 water idea (thanks, qhsdoitall), and also your suggestion of adding enough water to dilute.

I will also try Dinder's 195F water, and probably his coffee too (if the 195F works, heh!).

Current procedure is:
- grind is one coarser than espresso
- prewet the coffee by drizzling in water, pour rest
- count to 5 while stirring (down from count to ten)
- wet plunger and press about 15-20 count (plunger seizes up, then releases)
- some foam in the cup

I will try adding more water to the cup after the press and then report back.

Thanks to all who replied.
 
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