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HELP: Bitter coffee in the plunger!

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  • HELP: Bitter coffee in the plunger!

    Hi All

    I have been a long time plunger user but lately i have been having an awful time trying to get a nice cup of coffee. I feel like more coffee is going down the sink than into my system! Ive had plungers since about 2004 and never have i had this much trouble. Hopefully someone can help?

    My method:

    - Using a 3 cup plunger, I dose with 1 - 2 heaped scoops of coarse ground coffee.
    - I wait for about a minute after my kettle boils and then pour the water in
    - Give a little stir
    - Steep for four minutes
    - plunge

    Recently i have changed both my grinder and bean supplier so maybe these have become an issue at play? I got a Breville smart grinder and am grinding within the plunger setting...and i am using beans from the coffee works. As far as i know the beans are fresh, i have only had them since Wednesday. I have a Kenyan blend and Brazilian blend and both taste disgusting after ive plunged!

    If anyone can offer some advice, it would be much appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: HELP: Bitter coffee in the plunger!

    There is a few plunger threads here that might help.

    Couple of thoughts is it bitter or actually sour you are tasting. Sour can be caused by using to cold a brew temp. If you have a digital meter or even a decent thermometer (not a milk one) check your brew temp.

    Ignore any written settings on a grinder they should really only be considered relative grind size. For mine I run 8-9g/100ml of Raw sugar sized coffee. quick stir after the initial bloom and only steep about 90 seconds (varies a bit).


    • #3
      Re: HELP: Bitter coffee in the plunger!

      Temperature maybe - I thought that pouring boiling water onto coffee burns it creating a bitter taste.


      • #4
        Re: HELP: Bitter coffee in the plunger!

        Some interesting reading here on Bitterness a bit geeky but worth the read. For those who didnt see Joseph Rivera at Cafebiz its worth it if you get the chance to get the scientific view of taste if you run across his writings on the net too.


        • #5
          Re: HELP: Bitter coffee in the plunger!

          Ever thought of trying the Aeropress? Ive been very happy with it for my coffee at work. I was never able to get good coffee from a french press.


          • #6
            Re: HELP: Bitter coffee in the plunger!

            a) Grind the coffee finer than is indicated on any grinder for plunger / infusion pot setting, they are always set too coarse. An actual "filter setting" is better, and even finer can suit some depending on the individual.

            The only reason for such coarse settings is because people in this market dont like to have "mud" come through the filter and it is (mistakenly) thought this will stop it happening. Problem is it does anyway so may as well grind finer and get much better coffee.

            You may be interested to know that some individuals or ethnic groups will grind the coffee so fine for their plunger that it is almost pulverised, so there is no set rule for type of grind, it is what suits you.

            b) play around with your dose for any given grinder setting and coffee origin and see where you like it best.

            c) I dont wait 1 minute from boiling point as I think it allows the water to cool too much before steeping. My own technique is to let the jug boil then simply flip the lid and watch for the boiling / bubbling to cease. At that point I pour in the water, and I have never had any indication of that burning the grinds.

            I also steep for about 4 minutes and stir the grinds often before plunging.

            Hope that helps.

            very first CS site sponsor.


            • #7
              Re: HELP: Bitter coffee in the plunger!

              I think youre letting the coffee steep too long. My plunger method is to remove most of the froth off the top after pouring in the water, then stir a little and plunge pretty much straight away.

              I also have a Cuisinart kettle with the temperature gauge on the side and never heat the water over 95 degrees. If youre only waiting a minute or two for the water to come off the boil, it might actually be heating up more before it cools off and so you might have to wait a little longer for the water to cool.

              I dont think that Im using as coarse a grind as beanflying either. Might be a bit finer not saying one is better or worse, just that you can get away with a finer grind in the plunger too.

              These days, Im mostly putting Espresso Wow into the plunger (yes, strange I am) but its just as good in there as through the machine.


              • #8
                Re: HELP: Bitter coffee in the plunger!

                If you have changed beans and the grinder, it is difficult to have any idea which may be an issue. Strongly suggest you go back to previous beans and see how they compare, it may or may not reveal something relevant to your taste issue.

                As noted above, there are many ways that you can successfully use a plunger, the only extra comment I can make is, if you are waiting for the just boiled water to cool slightly, it might be worth pre-heating the plunger with some water from the kettle, before you put the grinds in. I also agree with some of the other comments posted above, try finer grind settings and slightly shorter brewing time might also help.


                • #9
                  Re: HELP: Bitter coffee in the plunger!

                  My plunger MO usually takes about 3 mins in total. Once the waters boiled, preheat the pot, grind the coffee then proceed to brew. Stir with a wooden spoon for about 90s. Insert filter and plunge slightly, wait 30s then plunge and serve. Rich brew with some crema! Delicious ^^


                  • #10
                    Re: HELP: Bitter coffee in the plunger!

                    One of THESE could be worth a shot.


                    • #11
                      Re: HELP: Bitter coffee in the plunger!

                      Originally posted by 786E736A796E6F316F69726E756F791C0 link=1308369459/0#0 date=1308369459
                      Using a 3 cup plunger, I dose with 1 - 2 heaped scoops of coarse ground coffee.
                      This could be an area to modify. The "right amount" in my learning and experience, is use enough coffee grinds to give a finger depth thickness in the bottom before swirling the (not too hot) water in. Stir with a wooden spoon for a while, let steep for about 3 min, plunge and enjoy.