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Thread: Plunger crash course

  1. #1
    Senior Member prydey's Avatar
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    Plunger crash course

    Hi

    I'm going camping this weekend, and although i've been looking around at power free coffee options (moka pot, aeropress, minipresso etc) financially i couldn't really spring for it this time around. My wife found a 'as new' plunger at a second hand shop (savers) for $4, so thought i'd give that a go.

    after watching youtube clips etc, i've made a couple of drinks and to be perfectly honest, instant tasted better. obviously its going to be a different taste to latte, being mainly a long black with a bit of milk, but clearly there is some room for improvement with my technique.

    i adjusted the grind until there was some resistance when pushing down the plunger. i notice in my whirlwind research there were a couple of different methods to adding the water. some said to just add the total amount where others said to add enough to cover the coffee, stir, then add the rest. i did it the second way. i used a guide of a desert spoon of coffee per cup plus an extra one for the pot. left it to brew for 3-4min then plunged.

    when it comes to making adjustments to alter the taste i'm completely in the dark. it was quite watery so i'm guessing my coffee to water ratio is a bit out. other than that, i'm not sure what else to change. beans are fresh and make great latte in my BDB920.

    any help muchly appreciated.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Have you got any scales you could use? I used some cheap digital kitchen scales with 1g steps for this and it works well. I followed the method in the video below and it significantly improved my opinion on plunger coffee. That being said, it will never taste the same as espresso because it's an entirely different brew method, the same with aeropress. They're more of a "filter" coffee style. I can't speak for the nanopresso as it seems to actually involve pressure and I've never tried it.

    https://youtu.be/st571DYYTR8
    My recipe that I use when following method above:
    30g coffee at grind setting 53 on my smart grinder
    485g water
    4min then 4.5min.
    It's reasonably strong at that recipe, I have had it with half coffee half milk and it goes down well.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    And you can even do the milk in the plunger. Pour the coffee into something else, rinse the plunger, heat the milk to 60C however you like and use the plunger to foam the milk like this: https://youtu.be/icjkLDaPH6Q

  4. #4
    Senior Member prydey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post
    And you can even do the milk in the plunger. Pour the coffee into something else, rinse the plunger, heat the milk to 60C however you like and use the plunger to foam the milk like this: https://youtu.be/icjkLDaPH6Q
    yes, my wife bought a second smaller plunger for the milk.

    i can see already from watching a few clips that i can up the amount of coffee a fair bit. i ground 40grams but then went by the guides that said use 1 tablespoon per cup, which ended up being only about half the coffee that i ground, so probably 20-25g to 500g of water.

    more trial and error required. i'll be wired by the weekend...

  5. #5
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    You might be wired enough you won't need to take it :P

    If you haven't tried the method in the first video I posted above I recommend trying it at least once (not just the amounts of coffee and water etc). It's a bit different to a traditional plunger method and I've found it produces a clearer tasting result, rather than the thick muddy years of traditional plunger.

  6. #6
    Senior Member matth3wh's Avatar
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    Love mokka pots and plungers - quite good options as so many people are throwing them out... :-) And as you say, you can keep an eye out between op shops and garage sales and pick them up for $1-$5 :-)

    Keep on trying and adjusting coffee/water ratios and coarse grind.

    Couple of vids to inspire your latte art with plungers and mokka pot + french press combo

    https://youtu.be/lFBp_aqV8k8

    https://youtu.be/hywbrms5B1k

    another good plunger cheap way to practice latte art - https://youtu.be/mvHsiNYQdiU

  7. #7
    Senior Member matth3wh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post
    https://youtu.be/st571DYYTR8
    My recipe that I use when following method above:
    30g coffee at grind setting 53 on my smart grinder
    485g water 4min then 4.5min.
    It's reasonably strong at that recipe, I have had it with half coffee half milk and it goes down well.
    Thank you for the link L3N... hadn't seen that vid from James Hoffman before and it's really quite helpful french press brewing guide. Going to try it soon. Needs to be quite coarse for such a long brew time.

  8. #8
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by matth3wh View Post
    Thank you for the link L3N... hadn't seen that vid from James Hoffman before and it's really quite helpful french press brewing guide. Going to try it soon. Needs to be quite coarse for such a long brew time.
    No, that's the whole thing, it SHOULDN'T be too course. Chris Baca does a similar tutorial video and also recommends a slightly finer grind than what people have traditionally used for plunger/press. The idea is that if you follow the technique properly you maximise extraction and because you're not agitating it again after breaking the crust the grinds sink to the bottom and stop extracting. The long brew time is more to let all of as many of the grinds sink to the bottom as possible than it is to extract for the whole time. This is what leads to the clean, sediment free drink. I follow this method and it works a treat. I actually grind much the same for all soft brew methods, although occasionally I grind a bit finer for AP, and it would probably surprise some people just how fine that is. The only time I make adjustments is to suit different coffees.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member prydey's Avatar
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    Rather than use my current smart grinder pro, which is set up for espresso, I pulled my old 0480 out the cupboard. I started quite coarse but now have it at about the middle of the range. Like I mentioned, there was reasonable resistance when plunging but also I didn't end up with any sediment coming through into the cups when poured.

  10. #10
    Senior Member matth3wh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    No, that's the whole thing, it SHOULDN'T be too course. Chris Baca does a similar tutorial video and also recommends a slightly finer grind than what people have traditionally used for plunger/press. The idea is that if you follow the technique properly you maximise extraction
    Hi LeroyC... so yeah the time the coffee is in contact with the water doesn't matter so much ? 9 minutes contact time with the water in the Hoffman video. Grind fine/coarseness will affect extraction percentages.

    Just in the video from James Hoffman the grinds sinking were still looked like boulders to me.
    Then again... once the coffee granule / boulder has "given off its goodness" / become soluble in water as much as it can then there's not much more left to give.

    I wonder if this is what the Scott Rao grind quiz is going to show...

    Quote Originally Posted by ScottRaoQuiz
    Suppose you are to make these four brews using similar brewing ratios and a properly aligned EK grinder with settings 1–-11, with 1 being the finest setting, 11 the coarsest.)

    Cupping, to be sampled at 12 minutes
    v60, using 22g grounds and a 3:1 prewet plus one main pour
    French Press, 4:00 brew time
    Fetco, using 120g grounds, 2L of water, an appropriate basket size, 15% prewet, and 4:30 programmed brew time.

    1. Put the brews in order, from finest grind to coarsest grind AND tell me why, other than empirical evidence, you chose that order.
    2. Based on a v60 grind of #6, predict the grind settings needed to make all four brews extract to roughly the same percent.

    REF: to the Chris Baca french press video

    v60 pour over blog with Scott - and the v60 brew video itself
    v60 pour over with Chris
    Last edited by matth3wh; 28th September 2017 at 10:33 AM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member matth3wh's Avatar
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    Extra bit as some of the videos reminded me of the cupping process

    Quote Originally Posted by SCAA - cupping guide
    Grind particle size should be slightly coarser than typically used for paper filter drip brewing, with 70% to 75% of the particles passing through a U.S. Standard size 20 mesh sieve. At least 5 cups from each sample should be prepared to evaluate sample uniformity.
    REF: http://www.scaa.org/?page=resources&d=cupping-protocols

  12. #12
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Hello..
    FWIW my method is to pour a semi scientific amount of beans into the grinder (I use a Lido 2 so fill the beans to just on the bottom of the '2').
    Grinder is set at 16 turns past tight closed and produces a medium grind I would say. I pop into the plunger and allow the grinds to 'fluff up' - probably a technical term for this.
    Once fluffed I give a good stir, drop the plunger in and leave for a bit. The actual length of time depends on how quickly I remember I have coffee in the plunger.

    I find sometimes the grinds settle others not though to be honest I have not noticed a difference either way to the overall taste.

    Pour coffee into cup and enjoy... am yet to have a bad cup.

    One a side note I find that the lighter the bean the harder it is to grind. I prefer darker roasts so not so much of an issue.

    Cheers all and off to fulfill my daily quota for a longer life.

    Alastair
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