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Waiting for Trifecta - Part 3

March 26, 2012

It has come to my attention that there was some anticipation as to when I would be reviewing the Bunn Trifecta MB.  And the lack of any mention of said possible uber machine in this series of posts has been frustrating.

Look, I get it.  Waiting is painful for some--

 

...er, most of you.  

But please, rest assured, I promise that a detailed review is forthcoming.

And the fact that I haven't even laid hands on a Trifecta MB has not changed my original intention for this series--nope, not one bit.  And that intention is to see how long I can drag this out until you're all screaming bloody mur-- 

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Ok! Ok!  I was just kidding--stop with the glaring! I'll try to get some quality time with a Trifecta MB.  You see, I was going to get a chance to demo one, but the shop owner's been kinda busy. He just had a baby, you know?  His first, so it may be a while but I promise I'll get a chance.

Please, don't do anything hasty.

Ok?

Friends?

 ...   ...   ... 

There you go... I knew you couldn't stay mad for long!


Coffee, Audiophiles, and Paper Filters

For those who happily pondered my closing question from part 2, the answer is: #14 (see, now you have to go back and look it up--I can be cruel, eh?). But seriously, a tip of the hat to intrepid510 (see Hurdles of home brewing).  The best way for neophytes such as myself to improve our technique is to sample other people's coffee--preferably other experts' outstanding coffee.  As a self-proclaimed audiophile, I know the truth in this ever since my frenzied days of trying to buy the ultimate sound system on a budget (hah!).

In all things education-wise, the secondary goal is to try to eliminate the stuff you don't know. But even more important is to try to eliminate the stuff you don't know you don't know. Only by calibrating your ears/taste buds can you even know what goals might be possible as an audiophile/home barista.  For example, as an audiophile, I never knew reproduced music could sound so amazing until I heard the right recordings played through the right components. Ever since then, I'd always made sure to get a regular dose of listening to the good stuff before I dropped my sights to equipment within my spending limit.  At least I now knew what I was aiming for.

But I had forgotten that lesson once I turned my attention to brewing the perfect cup. I thought my technique with the CafeSolo was pretty close to flawless, barring some investment in grinder perfection overkill.  And if you had shown me that list from my previous post, I wouldn't have known where to start, much less thought any of it would have been worth the effort. Enter Jeff Dugan, once again, from Portola Coffee Lab (he added the "Lab" part once he opened an impressive establishment in Orange County). It was Jeff who gave me that last tiny push off the fence of complacency, and caused me to question whether my brew was really all that.

Now, Jeff likes his pour-over. Can I hear an AMEN! I say, Jeff likes his Hario pour-over. Tell it, sister! Are you listening? I'm saying the man likes his pour-over through moistened Hario paper filter, 'cause the grind still dominates the speed of flow much more than Chemex or other types of filter paper and none of that Kone metal filter if you want to taste the true bright flavors but just in case Jeff bought 3 Trifectas and 3 vac pots, and a Kyoto cold-drip, and he's got a Slayer so pretty much all the bases are covered.

Except French press or CafeSolo.  But I'm not hurt.  Just sayin'.

So, one fine day I have an unusually open mind and decide to pick up a Hario pour-over cone and a pack of Hario filter paper. Now, mind you, I've tried the pour-overs at Portola Coffee Lab. And the Kyoto. And even the Trifecta. Let's just say that I like my coffee a little bit stronger.  But by the time I get my new equipment home, do I start practicing pour-over? No! Instead, I make another batch of coffee in my CafeSolo and then proceed to pour half of it into some cups, and the other half into my prepped Hario filter. But the brew took too long to make it through the filter. The temperature was high enough that I got a triple shot of acidity by the time all of it trickled through. Unfortunately, the fine powder from my CafeSolo would choke the filter without any extra grounds in there to help trap and separate the fines.

So, my coffee tasted sour. But intriguingly so. I added a little sugar. Whoa--is that orangeyness? Still a bit too sour, so I added a little half n half.  Note to naysayers: did you know that if you accidentally get too much acidity, the dairy will counteract the sourness perfectly? But the point is not the super orangey goodness I was now tasting. Heck, I can get that anytime by manipulating the brewing temperature. The point was that I also became aware of the missing layer of bitterness. I tasted the unfiltered cup, then the filtered cup.  Back and forth, until toward the bottom, it became obvious that the bitterness was concentrated among the fines. And in the filtered cup: no bitterness, nada, zip.

So whereas before this experiment, I was willing to say I had conquered bitterness with my CafeSolo uber brewing technique, I now had to admit that I didn't know what I was talking about.

Still worse, my current technique was fatally flawed, and I could now taste the bitterness that I had never realized was there before.

Now we go back to those 14 items listed in part 2.  Next time, I start addressing them--that's right, all of them.



Previous: Waiting for Trifecta - Part 2

Next: Waiting for Trifecta - Part 4 






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