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  • Bitter coffee??

    Hi all

    A quick question.

    I am getting quite a bitter shot (with lingering bitter after-taste). I am grinding it myself from fresh locally roasted beens...the flow rate appears to be pretty close to the mark...the crema is quite dark and reduces from around two thirds of the total volume of the shot to around a 3-4mm covering by the time that I have textured the milk.

    Being relatively new to thinking seriously through the coffee making process, Im not even sure I really know what a "good" coffee should taste like...however I know what I enjoy (if you know what I mean )

    This is a new coffee (havent tried this one before)...could it be the coffee contributing or mostly down to my technique?

    I guess it wasnt really a quick question in the end :-?)

    Dave

  • #2
    Re: Bitter coffee??

    Gday Dave,

    I realise I should probably know this :-[ but what sort of hardware setup do you have again? Might be helpful in trying to help you diagnose whats happening ..... Also, do you know the varietal details of your beans, what sort of roast, when they were roasted, etc? Yeah I know, questions, questions and more questions..... Sorry about that ,

    Cheers,
    Mal.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Bitter coffee??

      Theres two considerations;

      1. Temperature. Too high brew temp will produce bitter shots. It doesnt matter if your extraction is spot on volume/time wise. It will even look like a good shot. If its too hot, it will be bitter/burnt.

      2. Definition of bitterness. Some people will tend to refer to "bright" coffees as bitter. This is more on the sour end of the scale. Bitter shots will often have a "drying" effect on the palate. Think about what it tastes like to chew on a panadol or aspirin, now thats bitter.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Bitter coffee??

        Gday Mal...

        Gaggia Classic (backflushed...cleaned...descaled etc ) OPV mod and Silvia wand
        Sunbeam 0480 grinder
        Beans...the place that I purchased these from roast three times a week...as to the blend :-? (For what its worth its called Tropicana

        Hi nunu

        Your point 2 highlights my thought that I still need to learn just what a good shot is...the after-taste could possibly be described as drying to the palate

        thanks to you both
        Dave

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Bitter coffee??

          Yep,

          nunus got it pretty well covered 8-).

          I guess you could try a bit of temperature surfing with the Classic to identify whether it is a temperature related phenomenon or something else. Maybe if you know someone close by who has a decent home espresso setup, you could try pulling a couple of shots on their machine with your coffee and compare (just to make sure its not the coffee itself as some roasts can make for bitter shots).

          In case it turns out to be the coffee, try pulling a couple of shots with a very slightly more coarse grind, so that the shot pours in about 20-22 seconds. This will often tame a slightly bitter roast by reducing the extraction of the bitter elements of the coffee and may be one way to overcome any perceived bitterness.

          Anyway mate, see how you go and let us know the outcome....

          Cheers,
          Mal.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Bitter coffee??

            Will do...thanks Mal

            I guess like any learning curve...you dont really appreciate how much there is to learn until you kick it off and hook in

            Cheers,
            Dave

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Bitter coffee??

              The Classic runs notoriously hot - try running a cooling shot of water through the machine before extracting the coffee.

              When I had th same machine I only used the double handle and got much better shots.

              The machine is also very sensitive to dose, tamp, and grind - so dont add too much coffee, try adjusting you grind, and tamp with firm but not too much strength

              And over-extraction is another cause of bitterness. How long are you running your shots for? 30 ml max for a single and say 45ml max for a double will help to reduce this. Make sure you also place the clean handle back in the machine very shortly after extracting the shot - run some water through it and jiggle it back and forth to flush out any built up grind.

              Then give the shower screen and surrounding area a wipe down with a clean cloth

              Ohh.. and make sure you always wipe out the basket of your handle before adding fresh coffee

              Hope this helps - Pat

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Bitter coffee??

                Thanks for the informative response Pat...cleanliness is indeed next to coff-liness...the rinsing and wiping that you suggest have become part of my ritual.

                Along with Mals suggestion, I am going to work on the grind, tamp and pour (if that is the right term) time...over-extraction could well be a contributer.

                Thanks
                Dave

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Bitter coffee??


                  FYI: My most memorable shot came from a Classic (with PID control and OPV adjusted, MDF grinder). It tasted like chocolate mousse. Ive never had anything like it since. So the machine is definitely capable of delivering.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Bitter coffee??

                    Dave_D

                    Yup what they all said......
                    Also, if you really want a bitter taste experience, .....lick a sudafed!!!!.

                    Suggest you ask the cafe/roaster to pull you a shot with the same blend.
                    This will be you benchmark, on how it should taste.
                    If it still tastes bitter, thats probably reflective of their blend


                    There is an infinite variety of all kinds of roast blends and they can "tailored" for different characteristics: eg Sweet, Chocolatey, fruity, fruity [sour], etc.
                    Many blends are designed to "cut through" milk and generally these will have a higher bitterness, also "robusta" is often added to blends [to increase the caffiene kick] and this also adds bitterness.

                    So you ideally you should be able to discuss your taste preferences with the roaster/cafe.

                    Suggest you try coffee from here, ie: Coffeesnobs Brown: Andys espresso "wow" is very impressive, rich complex and not too bitter.
                    I can also vouch for site sponsor: Veneziano Cafe: try their "Estate" or "Bella Vita".

                    <======There are many other CS Roaster/site sponsors over here,
                    and all will be able to guide you/provide you with great coffee.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Bitter coffee??

                      Thanks to you all for your suggestions and information...

                      I have been trying a slightly coarser grind and marginally less firm tamp and probably about 50% of the bitterness has disappeared - this has rendered the quicker shot that Mal alluded to earlier.

                      The crema is still a bit bodgy (ah that word from my youth :).

                      Not sure but it seems that the real edge to the taste is actually in the crema as against the dark liquid of the coffee.

                      Have also tried running a cooling shot through prior to the actual shot...so perhaps it is a combination of many suggestions that is helping.

                      Actually...it is now about half an hour since the last shot and the bitterness is still hanging around...

                      anyway - thanks again

                      Dave

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Bitter coffee??

                        bodgy

                        Coincidentally I used the word in conversation today.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Bitter coffee??

                          Hi again Dave,

                          Id try changing only one thing at a time rather employ all of the changes, things to try, etc in one go. Try the Temperature Surfing/Cooling Flush for a few shots and see how that performs, then very slightly coarsen the grind..... Not to forget trying your coffee on another decent machine, just to make sure the coffee itself is not intrinsically bitter. Stranger things have happened

                          One thing I do if Im trying someone elses coffee for the first time, is to to make a plunger brew or direct in cup, to get a feel for the overall flavour characteristics. At least this would ensure you get a heads-up warning of any unsavoury nuances before getting stuck into an espresso.

                          Cheers mate ,
                          Mal.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Bitter coffee??

                            Gday Mal...

                            Thanks again for the response.

                            I would have sounded a bit eager...but I was in fact only trying one adjustment per shot (after reading that somewhere else here ).

                            Great idea on the plunger though.

                            My wife went down to the supplier and had a chat and they gave her 250gm of a different blend for free to try - so that was pretty fair I guess.

                            It seems OK so far.

                            cheers mate
                            Dave

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Bitter coffee??

                              Id be trying a ristretto to see if the basic bean is bitter. Caffeine is very bitter and a ristretto (try for 20 ml espresso in about 20 seconds) has less caffeine than a standard espresso.
                              You can also check this by running the first 15 ml in one cup and the second 15 ml in a second cup. Try both and taste the difference, then combine them and taste again.
                              Greg

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