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Frustratedcoffee

Help between sour and bitter differences!

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Hi all, 

I'm a tad ashamed to say im really bad at describing and also deciphering the differences in sour and bitter! 

I'm getting a double shot (ish) and adding milk for a flat white. I hate espresso on its own but always try it before I add my milk to try and learn where I can improve! It's not pleasant when I try it. It's got a strong sharp taste I'm leaning towards bitter but I can't be sure. 

Extraction time is out the window as I'm only using a bean to cup, however despite only taking 15 seconds it's leaving a slightly dry mouth feel and just starting to leave white on the crema the last few drops, so I wondered if its over extracting? Using a medium/dark bean so again thinking coarser grind? 

So in layman's terms how would you describe a bitter espresso and a sour one? Stupid question I know! 

I'm off to a local independent soon where I get an amazing latte and they roast thier own beans and are extremely helpful so I'm tempted to ask to try the shot so I can get an idea of a good tasting espresso (even if I don't like it!) 

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I had same problems not just with espresso!!! I described it as fruity and sour! I discovered a darker roast gave less problems. Went back to aeropress and got worse so returned to French press. I did a bit research and it was suggested making the mist exaggerated coffee either side of what you make. Then you get closer or further from the sour/bitter.


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No shame and it's not a stupid question, I wondered the same thing when I got started. Sour I liken to lemon, acidic and sharp. Bitter I envisage a 'flatter', more disagreeable taste like some beer, olives or raw cocoa.

I had those things in mind when I was trying to decide if my drink is over or under extracted. 'Is it like a lemon or like bitter beer?'. 

Lots of us don't like espresso here it seems!


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Forget bitter/sour, it doesn't make much difference if you can't tell them apart anyway.

You will struggle to over-extract French press, or espresso, so testing the extremes is pointless, as you'll likely only test one end.

Strong/sharp & 15s sounds like under extraction. If the grind is too coarse the colour will go pale quicker too.

Tighten up the grind and/or pull more weight in the cup out. Keep going until it tastes nice....if you can go so fine it starts to taste bad again, back off to where it was last nice.

 

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Sour doesn’t always mean under extracted 

bitter doesn’t always equate to over extracted 

taste and extraction are not linear 

it can do sour , sweet, sour , bitter , sweet , bitter 

so it’s always best to focus on taste imbalance rather than guess at where you are in the scale of measured extraction .

 

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I like the bitter beer and the lemon comparison! I think I can relate to that so I might give that a go when I try next.

Yea the machine I have has some complaints of being weak and not getting a very long extraction, but the dry mouth feel threw me so I wondered if was a sign of over. I did at one point choke the machine and get drip drip drip when going too fine. Maybe I need to get here again, dial back a notch and see what that gives me! 

I'm spending a fortune in milk and beans, but I know ill get there eventually, speaking of which time to place an order! 

 

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2 hours ago, Frustratedcoffee said:

Hi all, 

I'm a tad ashamed to say im really bad at describing and also deciphering the differences in sour and bitter! 

I'm getting a double shot (ish) and adding milk for a flat white. I hate espresso on its own but always try it before I add my milk to try and learn where I can improve! It's not pleasant when I try it. It's got a strong sharp taste I'm leaning towards bitter but I can't be sure. 

Extraction time is out the window as I'm only using a bean to cup, however despite only taking 15 seconds it's leaving a slightly dry mouth feel and just starting to leave white on the crema the last few drops, so I wondered if its over extracting? Using a medium/dark bean so again thinking coarser grind? 

So in layman's terms how would you describe a bitter espresso and a sour one? Stupid question I know! 

I'm off to a local independent soon where I get an amazing latte and they roast thier own beans and are extremely helpful so I'm tempted to ask to try the shot so I can get an idea of a good tasting espresso (even if I don't like it!) 

Don't think you are alone thinking that!

 

For me, I pulled a number of shots from very, very quick (under extracted) to very very slow (over extracted) whilst keeping the yield similar.

Doing this I got very sour on the quick shots and very bitter on the slow shots and a balance point somewhere in the middle. This helped me align my coffee compass.

I am still all over the shop pulling shots ATM but I at least identified my extremes which is a big help.

 

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A sour shot is characterised by its mouth puckering characteristics. The taste receptors on our tongue pick up sour notes on the sides. Bitter notes hit the back of the mouth. 

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I’m struggling with some new beans...there’s a good amount of fruit there but a tannin/tobacco note creeping through that isn't too tasty 😬

I’m brewing using an aeropress and generally get pleasant cups with most beans, using the same grind, temp and timings, so I’m not too sure where I’m going wrong here...have tried long steeps and finer grinds, plus giving the porlex a quick dismantle and clean up! 

Will persevere, but welcome any advice 🙏

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, Stu Beck said:

I’m struggling with some new beans...there’s a good amount of fruit there but a tannin/tobacco note creeping through that isn't too tasty 😬

I’m brewing using an aeropress and generally get pleasant cups with most beans, using the same grind, temp and timings, so I’m not too sure where I’m going wrong here...have tried long steeps and finer grinds, plus giving the porlex a quick dismantle and clean up! 

Will persevere, but welcome any advice 🙏

If it works fine with most beans, but not these, I'd suspect the beans in the first instance. What are they?

Have you tried going a little coarser?

Edited by MWJB
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You are not alone. Not helped in my case because I eat lemons sometimes and they taste a bit sweet to me. I kind of get bitter as in beer but I like that too. I find it very difficult to define what I don't like in a shot but I know what I do like. Sorry, that isn't very helpful to you or me. :)

 

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1 hour ago, MWJB said:

If it works fine with most beans, but not these, I'd suspect the beans in the first instance. What are they?

Have you tried going a little coarser?

I’ve contacted the roaster who took the feedback very graciously and offered some suggestions plus to make good on the bag, so I can’t really ask for more!

I tried a shorter brew today and there was still a bitter note - at least I’m fairly certain I’ve deduced it’s a bitter taste now!  I will try going coarser, my porlex throws out some boulders above 6 clicks so I tend to stay around 4 for a coarse sand grind consistency. 

It’s all part of the learning curve 👍 Your advice and guidance on this forum has been very helpful, thanks @MWJB🙏 

 

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I went from really happy dark roast Rhino hand grinder great consistency to a Feld47 and all over the place sour etc!!!! I’m keeping notes and going up and down the grind setting. Going back to old Coffee is just so burnt!!!


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7 minutes ago, Wha burst the ba said:

I went from really happy dark roast Rhino hand grinder great consistency to a Feld47 and all over the place sour etc!!!! I’m keeping notes and going up and down the grind setting. Going back to old Coffee is just so burnt!!!


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The grinder can't burn the coffee.

Go finer with the  Feld, or sanity check against another Rhino brew and tell us the details/results.

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The grinder can't burn the coffee.
Go finer with the  Feld, or sanity check against another Rhino brew and tell us the details/results.

I had always gone courser in the past thinking I was chancing away the bitter!! Someone posted it’s highly unlikely to over extract in French press so I’m hoping it’s sour I’m getting. Dropped from 2.4 to 2.1 and it wasn’t worse. Venturing into the 1.? tomorrow


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The grinder can't burn the coffee.
Go finer with the  Feld, or sanity check against another Rhino brew and tell us the details/results.

I had always gone courser in the past thinking I was chancing away the bitter!! Someone posted it’s highly unlikely to over extract in French press so I’m hoping it’s sour I’m getting. Dropped from 2.4 to 2.1 and it wasn’t worse. Venturing into the 1.? tomorrow


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The grinder can't burn the coffee.
Go finer with the  Feld, or sanity check against another Rhino brew and tell us the details/results.

Right! I screwed it down to 1.9. The sour kinda hit bc at the start of the tasting, not the end but was much less than before. The after taste of sour much hugely reduced.
Beginning to wonder if Rhino produced lots of fines in amongst the boulders! So basically I wasn’t on a rough grind before! It was a false reading. Cheers


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1 hour ago, Wha burst the ba said:


Right! I screwed it down to 1.9emoji3.png. The sour kinda hit bc at the start of the tasting, not the end but was much less than before. The after taste of sour much hugely reduced.
Beginning to wonder if Rhino produced lots of fines in amongst the boulders! So basically I wasn’t on a rough grind before! It was a false reading. Cheersemoji3.pngemoji3.pngemoji3.png


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The Rhino does have a wider distribution than a Feld, but that mostly means that if the larger particles are around the same size, yes, there will be proportionally more smaller particles in the mix & these will extract faster than the Feld...unless you make the Feld finer, as you have :-)

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https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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@MWJB cheers. I think I’m getting there. I haven’t got the same hour long puckered mouth this time!!! If that stays constant I could get to enjoy the wee soor taste at the start. Appreciate the help. Hope it helps OP too


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@MWJB cheers. I think I’m getting there. I haven’t got the same hour long puckered mouth this time!!! If that stays constant I could get to enjoy the wee soor taste at the start. Appreciate the help. Hope it helps OP too


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