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I sometimes do use time when tuning. Light medium roast so much finer grind than I would normally use. Didn't know that at the time and wondered if the dose needed to be higher and also set much finer at the same time - 0 on Niche. 15g came out in 30sec 14.2 in. I ran it on for far more than I usually would for 30 odd out and forced myself to drink it. I should get green apple and did, cocoa not a trace just a taste I get of some medium roast that I'm not keen on. Looked at the puck and thought overfilled. So just cut back the dose to 13.7 and left grind as it is. The shot was 4sec short this time. Much better no bad taste maybe a touch of black current. Cocoa pass. Can't be sure until the drink has cooled. The initial mouth taste now is apple ish. It was the other one before. So now coarsen the grind a touch for the next shot probably later today. :) And so it goes on, longer or shorter times may came next all at that grind or maybe not. If I get it "correct" and don't like it I will attempt to get rid of what I don't like. I'll probably also try a larger basket. The thread that seems to be related to this style of bean also mentions  brew temperature - try doing that at the same time. You must be kidding.

Now it's cooled cocoa could be an after taste. Blackcurrent an after sensation on the tongue. :) I'm worried I might like it.

I wasted 2x14g due to grind being way off the range it is usually in.

John

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People are allowed to post it's down to you put them on the ignore list then.

2 rules to follow especially for sour espresso and new users: 1. Warm up machine properly, it must be on for at least 30 minutes before a shot, ideally longer. I personally have my machines on a

He's actually one of the good guys Tom. I saw the post that you may not have liked as very similar to DaveC's - it's very easy to over complicate and overthink coffee. He also mentioned an aspect that

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7 minutes ago, ajohn said:

I sometimes do use time when tuning. Light medium roast so much finer grind than I would normally use. Didn't know that at the time and wondered if the dose needed to be higher and also set much finer at the same time - 0 on Niche. 15g came out in 30sec 14.2 in. I ran it on for far more than I usually would for 30 odd out and forced myself to drink it. I should get green apple and did, cocoa not a trace just a taste I get of some medium roast that I'm not keen on. Looked at the puck and thought overfilled. So just cut back the dose to 13.7 and left grind as it is. The shot was 4sec short this time. Much better no bad taste maybe a touch of black current. Cocoa pass. Can't be sure until the drink has cooled. The initial mouth taste now is apple ish. It was the other one before. So now coarsen the grind a touch for the next shot probably later today. :) And so it goes on, longer or shorter times may came next all at that grind or maybe not. If I get it "correct" and don't like it I will attempt to get rid of what I don't like. I'll probably also try a larger basket. The thread that seems to be related to this style of bean also mentions  brew temperature - try doing that at the same time. You must be kidding.

Now it's cooled cocoa could be an after taste. Blackcurrent an after sensation on the tongue. :) I'm worried I might like it.

I wasted 2x14g due to grind being way off the range it is usually in.

John

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You're not 'using time', you're using different doses (could use changes in grind in addition, or instead of) to change extraction, the knock-on effect is changes in time.

Surely the shot was pretty much "correct" when it was, "much better with no bad taste"? If it is correct and you don't like it, how correct can that be?

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Just now, MWJB said:

You're not 'using time', you're using different doses (could use changes in grind in addition, or instead of) to change extraction, the knock-on effect is changes in time.

Surely the shot was pretty much "correct" when it was, "much better with no bad taste"? If it is correct and you don't like it, how correct can that be?

No I'm using time to achieve a ratio. The grind adjustment will be aimed at correcting the extra 4sec the ratio needed.  I usually use fixed timed shots and aim to get the same out every time. Lot of trouble as I think you mentioned once especially when I check weigh and stick the mug back on to top up by some amount. Once that is sorted out I use fixed time shots and just check weigh to see how "well" I'm doing. Not everybody's cup of coffee I know but I work that way.

True I shouldn't change 2 things at once but did as things were miles out and unsure why. My first ~14g gave 80 odd ml in 30 sec. 2nd one bought it down to 50. Anyway I did change 2 things at once but this time didn't waste 14g and gained useful information. The drink was "ok" after a fashion and showed some of the characteristics it should do.

The correct taste for me is a balanced one. At the moment I would say the final tongue taste lasts too long.

John

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I was frustrated for ages with my super jolly and gaggia classic (with PID).

What made a massive difference was my basket preparation (and some new burrs in the SJ, but that won't relate to your issues).

I grind into a small paper espresso cup, and whisk the grinds with desert fork for a bit. I then decant into the basket as evenly as I can, I got a distribution tool for Christmas so I then spin it a couple times to get an even puck, and then tamp quite lightly (compared to what I used to do). I use a naked PF and I get far less channeling than I used to.

Basket prep, and getting the PID installed made the biggest improvements.

I've also found blends to actually be easier for me than single origin. I'd recommend Heart and Graft Barnraiser which you can buy online. It's a light blend and I've had some really good shots with it.

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I got my naked PF (ECM one which is lovely). Plus an 18g VST basket. 
 

I wasn’t being that careful in distribution as I just wanted a flat white. Filmed my first extraction with this setup. It was much too quick (18 sec for around 40g of espresso). It wasn’t until I watched the video I noticed a little breakthrough spurt from a channel. 
 

tasted OK. I’m going finer on the grind tomorrow and will pay more attention to the distribution. 
 

https://share.icloud.com/photos/0WX8AFX5UaA_0IGkJn1AS0wHA#Burnham

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8 hours ago, M5Sime said:

I got my naked PF (ECM one which is lovely). Plus an 18g VST basket. 
 

I wasn’t being that careful in distribution as I just wanted a flat white. Filmed my first extraction with this setup. It was much too quick (18 sec for around 40g of espresso). It wasn’t until I watched the video I noticed a little breakthrough spurt from a channel. 
 

tasted OK. I’m going finer on the grind tomorrow and will pay more attention to the distribution. 
 

https://share.icloud.com/photos/0WX8AFX5UaA_0IGkJn1AS0wHA#Burnham

Don’t necessarily grind finer as that plus poor distribution can cause more problems. Or even more channeling.

Get your distribution right first, are you using a funnel? 
then start changing grind etc. 

 

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Don’t necessarily grind finer as that plus poor distribution can cause more problems. Or even more channeling.
Get your distribution right first, are you using a funnel? 
then start changing grind etc. 
 
Good point. Definitely get distribution and prep spot on first. On the other hand, flow looked alright, bit of work to do, but I'd bet that grinding finer is part of the answer.

For what it's worth here is my workflow:
Grind into Niche dosing cup. Swirl with Londinium tool (Christmas present - would have made DIY version otherwise due to cost, but it does a mighty fine job). Flip dosing cup into portafilter, shake, tap cup, tap pf lightly on tamping mat. Even mound out with finger. Tap sides of pf to get everything even - tapping of where bed is lowest e.g if the mound is built up at 2 o'clock I tap at 7 o'clock to even it out. Tap pf lightly on mat. Quick spin with distribution tool; set just firm enough so that it flattens the bed. Tamp till I can't tamp no more. Nutate tamper slightly - I do this because I was getting edge wormholes on my 18 vst basket. Polish whilst lifting tamper up - I don't know why, but I've read that polishing with force is bad for the puck.

Photo below of post-shot bed. Mmm, sexy. a23ebcaefed320ff7755df83b89ce202.jpg
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Thanks for the replies! My puck at 18g still seems to touch my screen once extracted.. this morning I tweaked the grind and prob went a little heavy on the tamp. 40 plus sec for 1:2 extraction of 18g of ground coffee. Espresso was not nice. Binned.

relaxed grind a little and less crazy on tamp. Quite a bit of faffing trying to distribute. Same dose extractions in 30sec .. Seems better to taste but made flat white anyway and they are ok in Milk. 
 

I am beginning to suspect these beans re the sourness. 

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3 hours ago, M5Sime said:

Thanks for the replies! My puck at 18g still seems to touch my screen once extracted.. this morning I tweaked the grind and prob went a little heavy on the tamp. 40 plus sec for 1:2 extraction of 18g of ground coffee. Espresso was not nice. Binned.

relaxed grind a little and less crazy on tamp. Quite a bit of faffing trying to distribute. Same dose extractions in 30sec .. Seems better to taste but made flat white anyway and they are ok in Milk. 
 

I am beginning to suspect these beans re the sourness. 

The earlier video you posted was kind of pointless to be honest. You can't check your distribution with a gusher. You need to get your grind right to see if you're getting channelling...when it matters anyway.

Why wasn't the espresso nice at 40 seconds 1:2? Bitter, sour? If it's sour increase to 2.5 or 3, if bitter drop to less than two maybe 1.5. Sourness could be down to low alkalinity of your water. Maybe drop dose to 17.5g too just to give that little bit more room. Don't worry about going heavy on the tamp so long as you tamp once and don't mess about with the puck after that -- i.e smashing it into the group, dropping it on the counter. Again change one variable at a time i.e don't change your tamp and your grind.

Distribution doesn't need to be faffing. Learn to tap the side of the portafilter to get a level bed. Quick firm taps, not so hard as to make the coffee flip up over to one side of the basket, then once down on the counter to see if it's level....a little channelling is probably not the cause of significant problems, you can still have perfectly drinkable tasty shots.

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4 hours ago, Rob1 said:

The earlier video you posted was kind of pointless to be honest. You can't check your distribution with a gusher. You need to get your grind right to see if you're getting channelling...when it matters anyway.

Why wasn't the espresso nice at 40 seconds 1:2? Bitter, sour? If it's sour increase to 2.5 or 3, if bitter drop to less than two maybe 1.5. Sourness could be down to low alkalinity of your water. Maybe drop dose to 17.5g too just to give that little bit more room. Don't worry about going heavy on the tamp so long as you tamp once and don't mess about with the puck after that -- i.e smashing it into the group, dropping it on the counter. Again change one variable at a time i.e don't change your tamp and your grind.

Distribution doesn't need to be faffing. Learn to tap the side of the portafilter to get a level bed. Quick firm taps, not so hard as to make the coffee flip up over to one side of the basket, then once down on the counter to see if it's level....a little channelling is probably not the cause of significant problems, you can still have perfectly drinkable tasty shots.

Glad you liked the video Rob! Appreciate the feedback in general. I’m getting convinced that the beans are part of the issue as my technique seems good enough to get what appears to be a good espresso texture - just sour to taste. More experimentation to come, and with different beans. 

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5 hours ago, Rob1 said:

The earlier video you posted was kind of pointless to be honest. You can't check your distribution with a gusher. You need to get your grind right to see if you're getting channelling...when it matters anyway.

Why wasn't the espresso nice at 40 seconds 1:2? Bitter, sour? If it's sour increase to 2.5 or 3, if bitter drop to less than two maybe 1.5. Sourness could be down to low alkalinity of your water. Maybe drop dose to 17.5g too just to give that little bit more room. Don't worry about going heavy on the tamp so long as you tamp once and don't mess about with the puck after that -- i.e smashing it into the group, dropping it on the counter. Again change one variable at a time i.e don't change your tamp and your grind.

Distribution doesn't need to be faffing. Learn to tap the side of the portafilter to get a level bed. Quick firm taps, not so hard as to make the coffee flip up over to one side of the basket, then once down on the counter to see if it's level....a little channelling is probably not the cause of significant problems, you can still have perfectly drinkable tasty shots.

Oddly enough I once thought about adjusting be brew ratio to troubleshoot taste issues but all the literature tells you to lock in the dose and adjust elsewhere first adjusting ratio as final option. Are there any generalities with brew ratios for lighter/darker roasts?  

Love the Hoffman series on dialing in recipes but without a good palate I find it difficult. Sour and bitter should be obvious on paper but when its hot espresso is that unpleasant lingering after taste sourness or bitterness?? Is that not bad but something missing thin shot sour or bitter? It gets hard guessing how you should adjust if you can't accurately quantify the output. Wondering if doing a local barista course would help with the palate or if its more the mechanical skills they offer. Sorry for digressing its been an interesting thread.  

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After a recommendation from here i'm currently using rave signature blend and have been really enjoying it. Seemed to dial in really easily and i don't think i have had a bad coffee out of it so far. Might just be my peasants palette, but my brother was here last week for the week and he really enjoyed it too. 

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1 hour ago, GazRef said:

Oddly enough I once thought about adjusting be brew ratio to troubleshoot taste issues but all the literature tells you to lock in the dose and adjust elsewhere first adjusting ratio as final option. Are there any generalities with brew ratios for lighter/darker roasts?  

Love the Hoffman series on dialing in recipes but without a good palate I find it difficult. Sour and bitter should be obvious on paper but when its hot espresso is that unpleasant lingering after taste sourness or bitterness?? Is that not bad but something missing thin shot sour or bitter? It gets hard guessing how you should adjust if you can't accurately quantify the output. Wondering if doing a local barista course would help with the palate or if its more the mechanical skills they offer. Sorry for digressing its been an interesting thread.  

See above and generally less output for darker roasts more for lighter. Though you'd adjust based on taste. A bad aftertaste could be bad beans, tainted grinder or machine with old oils, or over or under extraction but 'bad' would need to be defined. Drying and weird back of the throat kind of bitterness I would say indicates over extraction, just bitterness might not be and could just be roasty flavours. A shot that lacks something is probably not bitter, might not be sour, just means you can grind finer and push extraction up. Again could be water with very low or very high alkalinity. Should also say you can push through a bland slightly bitter espresso, push extraction up even further and end up with something that is near as good as it will get.

@M5Sime I hope you're stirring the espresso and the crema. Some people skim it off. Taking a sip of crema will always taste awful. Very unlikely to be anything wrong with the beans. Rave are very popular, have a tonne of experience, and this is their signature blend. It's possible of course, but very unlikely. Could always drop them an email with the batch number and see what they say.

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FWIW I have drunk a lot of Raves signature blend. It has always been an easy go to choice if I wanted somthing cheap and pretty easy.

I do fine I like it most after it has rested for around 2 weeks and I also pull it a little longer than they reccomend.

I like it around 20in 45out in around 35secs

However I'm kind of done with it.... I have a bag of their seasonal decaf for at night and walks all over the signature blend IMO...

I'm going to give Red Brick a go, have had it out and about in coffee shops but never at home. If for no reason other than to throw a bit back towards James Hoffman who's YouTube content I really appreciate.

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2 hours ago, GazRef said:

Oddly enough I once thought about adjusting be brew ratio to troubleshoot taste issues but all the literature tells you to lock in the dose and adjust elsewhere first adjusting ratio as final option. Are there any generalities with brew ratios for lighter/darker roasts?  

Love the Hoffman series on dialing in recipes but without a good palate I find it difficult. Sour and bitter should be obvious on paper but when its hot espresso is that unpleasant lingering after taste sourness or bitterness?? Is that not bad but something missing thin shot sour or bitter? It gets hard guessing how you should adjust if you can't accurately quantify the output. Wondering if doing a local barista course would help with the palate or if its more the mechanical skills they offer. Sorry for digressing its been an interesting thread.  

Hi - I’m glad the thread has been interesting! I am grateful for the replies and I don’t seem to be unique that the path well trodden is a not necessarily quick one

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9 hours ago, M5Sime said:

Hi - I’m glad the thread has been interesting! I am grateful for the replies and I don’t seem to be unique that the path well trodden is a not necessarily quick one

No not quick and also constantly changes. The problem with coffee and more so espresso is the number of variables is just ridiculous.

If you ‘assume’ the beans are well roasted you then have 

Resting time, 
storage (access to O2 etc.)
grinder type
grind setting 
hopper/SD
grind amount...

haven’t even got near the machine yet! 
 

Then at the end of the day it’s taste that matters. I have a coffee that I love and literally everyone I know dislikes it. 

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30 minutes ago, TomHughes said:

No not quick and also constantly changes. The problem with coffee and more so espresso is the number of variables is just ridiculous.

If you ‘assume’ the beans are well roasted you then have 

Resting time, 
storage (access to O2 etc.)
grinder type
grind setting 
hopper/SD
grind amount...

haven’t even got near the machine yet! 
 

Then at the end of the day it’s taste that matters. I have a coffee that I love and literally everyone I know dislikes it. 

Espresso isn't any harder than other brew methods.

Half the things you list as variables aren't.

Machine & grinder aren't variables, just keep using the same ones :-)

Hopper/SD - stick to one or the other.

Get your dose sorted. Grind is the variable you use most often to effect changes. Use brew ratio, if that isn't working. This will take care of bean ageing, storage, Saggittarius rising, or notable events in the Mayan calendar.

 

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1 hour ago, MWJB said:

Espresso isn't any harder than other brew methods.

Half the things you list as variables aren't.

Machine & grinder aren't variables, just keep using the same ones ?

Hopper/SD - stick to one or the other.

Get your dose sorted. Grind is the variable you use most often to effect changes. Use brew ratio, if that isn't working. This will take care of bean ageing, storage, Saggittarius rising, or notable events in the Mayan calendar.

 

I hope you aren't in a position that requires the giving of feedback. 
Ever heard of the Sh1T sandwich? Clearly not. Here goes. 

You make some valid points, particularly around the variables you can fix/control.

However just because variables can be temporarily fixed, doesn't mean they aren't variables. 

You finish on a nice helpful summary of how someone might move forward

 

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I've seen evidence that when a hopper is used there is a need to stick with it and the bean for a longer time than many would before it gives fairly constant doses. Do that and adding the grinds may be as simple as it looks in most cafe's especially if there is a nice evenly placed load in the portafilter. There will be dose variations and also drift due to other factors. That means weight still needs to be checked. The dose varies so shot time will for some required ratio. A cafe is probably using a volumetric machine which will alter the shot time itself. At home people often weigh out - same thing. There has been talk of gravimetric machines - rather than volume they weigh out. Suspect they are wishful thinking and don't exist.

I had my period of channelling. I put it down to a marginal situation. fixed an no more. Grinds expand as water goes in, insufficient space and water has part way found it's way through. Where it does that it also exerts pressure on the grinds - net effect a channel forms and lots of water goes through it, often at or near the edge. I have use a funnel that fits into the portafilter also a 58mm tamper. Neither of those caused it. I changed to a funnel that didn't fit into the portafilter because I wanted a taller one with the lowest possible diameter and that is what was available. I changed to a 58.5mm tamper to stop needing to offset the 58mm one against the basket and run it around like that to firmly polish the edge - that left less traces of grinds behind when the puck was knocked out. I still offset a 58.5mm "distribution" tool so may as well have stuck with the 58. Baskets widen towards the top. I might have found a low fill needs the 58mm tamper.

Personally I see time as another variable. I use it for my wife's drinks - risteretto. She gets 20sec, I use 30. I could use any numbers I like. Main problem is that adding other variables that can be used to that leaves too many to look at when I'm trying a new bean. On the other hand if some one is using stepless that isn't easy to finely adjust or a stepped grinder the only way to find out what a change in time does is to try it and find out. The same applies to ratio and significant time changes do push the taste in the direction they should go. Maybe ideal may not be.

Of late people always stir grinds. That can with some beans leave a worse distribution than leaving them as is.

John

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2 hours ago, TomHughes said:

I hope you aren't in a position that requires the giving of feedback. 
Ever heard of the Sh1T sandwich? Clearly not. Here goes. 

You make some valid points, particularly around the variables you can fix/control.

However just because variables can be temporarily fixed, doesn't mean they aren't variables. 

You finish on a nice helpful summary of how someone might move forward

 

There is no bad, or unpalatable news in my post. 

However, you seem to be suggesting that the factors that lead to making a decent cup of coffee are so numerous & untrackable, that it sounds like a lottery. This strikes me as an unavoidable negative that we're expected to just  live with. You forgot the sandwich, you're just giving us the filling :-)

Sure, there will be off cups, but they shouldn't be the norm.

If you like a coffee that other folks don't, that's totally fine (as far as taste is concerned, the coffee itself is the biggest variable, but that's why explore). You know how to make what you enjoy, they're free to pass up the offer of a cup. You have invested the time & money in your pursuit, you need to enjoy it. Do these other folk make you a cup of coffee that you perceive as great? Do they worry about that? Other people make coffee for me on a daily basis, they don't use coffee that I would buy, they make it the way they make it & mostly I am thankful for their kindness (I'll make a polite request/suggestion if I think I can fix a serious, repeated problem).

 

 

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Tom, I think it's easy to overthink the whole process. After a while it becomes almost automatic, those "multitude of variables", become no more difficult that the ones involved in making a cup of tea, opening a front door, or the hugely complex process of driving the car to the local supermarket.

Just like the things above, I don't really need to think too much about making an espresso. For me the only variables I actually notice are, the output weight, grind setting and perhaps temperature. Oh and of course, which machine I happen to be using that week a problem not usually experienced by others. Apart from that everything else remains constant enough, not to have a huge effect.

 

Even If you are using profiling, then there is another variable set but by then your experience will be such that "driving the machine" isn't what you need to think about, tweaking the profile is. Much the same as learning to drive a car, initially you have to learn how to control the car and drive it smoothly, once you are competent you only think about how to get to your destination.

 

Nothing here...

 

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2 hours ago, DavecUK said:

Tom, I think it's easy to overthink the whole process. After a while it becomes almost automatic, those "multitude of variables", become no more difficult that the ones involved in making a cup of tea, opening a front door, or the hugely complex process of driving the car to the local supermarket.

Just like the things above, I don't really need to think too much about making an espresso. For me the only variables I actually notice are, the output weight, grind setting and perhaps temperature. Oh and of course, which machine I happen to be using that week a problem not usually experienced by others. Apart from that everything else remains constant enough, not to have a huge effect.

 

Even If you are using profiling, then there is another variable set but by then your experience will be such that "driving the machine" isn't what you need to think about, tweaking the profile is. Much the same as learning to drive a car, initially you have to learn how to control the car and drive it smoothly, once you are competent you only think about how to get to your destination.

 

Hi Dave, thank you for the post but I don't think you really got entirely what I was meaning. 

I was never stating those things were negative, in fact I think they are what makes coffee so fascinating. 
I am scientist by trade, with a past life in medicine and more recently triathlon coaching. 

Many people think of those variables as 'problems' (negative) they HAVE to solve, I think of them as 'problems' (positive) I GET to solve. 

Personally (and this is only my opinion) if you go into coffee thinking that finding the right bean/setup/method etc. is going to be easy then you might as well get a fully bean to cup machine or a pot of instant. 


The fascination is in the experimenting. Its in the tweaking, it's in the buying new fun things that you pretend you 'need' to make a great coffee. 

I do this because unfortunately life circumstances mean I can no longer pursue fiddling with bikes. Instead I'll fiddle with coffee bits. 

 

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1 hour ago, TomHughes said:


Personally (and this is only my opinion) if you go into coffee thinking that finding the right bean/setup/method etc. is going to be easy then you might as well get a fully bean to cup machine or a pot of instant. 

 

Well, what you want to get out of coffee is up to you, enjoy it how you please. But in a thread specifically discussing frustration, permanent experimenting might not be the goal?

We're not pushing envelopes, discovering new horizons, we're making cups of a well known & regularly consumed hot beverage. This happens millions of times a day. People on this forum have done it many thousands of times, so perhaps some of us can choose when we want to experiment & when we want to take a carefully grown, processed & roasted coffee, reasonably realising its potential in the cup (we're making tiny, tiny batches so some variability is to be expected). The real hard work has been done before the coffee arrives with you/me.

Most bean to cups are designed around convenience at a price, rather than consistency/quality. You don't even need that to enjoy coffee, you don't need any machines beyond a grinder & way to heat the water. As to method, they're all essentially the same, we grind the roasted coffee & introduce it to hot water to extract the solubles...some methods make coffee stronger than others, some are faster/slower.

If instant was available at a reasonable price & tasted good, like perhaps a well extracted cup of the Kenyan SL28 & SL32 I'm drinking right now, I'd be happy to give it a shot, or use it to introduce friends & relatives to an alternative coffee experience. But it's not, it's cheaper & more convenient for me to make it at present.

I love to experiment, but there's a time for that. When people are asking for help, giving solid advice that will cut down time & coffee wasted is probably more apt.

Edited by MWJB
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