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Has anyone experimented with bypass brewing for pour over?
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iHaveFeet
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Joined: 5 Oct 2008
Posts: 105
Location: Victoria, B.C.
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Mypressi Twist
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
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Drip: Hario Woodneck, Chemex/Coava...
Posted Wed Jan 15, 2014, 5:20pm
Subject: Has anyone experimented with bypass brewing for pour over?
 

This morning I was brewing a cup of Honduras La Colmena from 49th Parallel on the v60 when, during my initial blooming pour my scale battery died on me.  After the initial waves of terror subsided I decided to live on the wild side and brew coffee the way the cave men did.

I tried to follow my usual pouring routine as closely as I could: 4 pours of 75g in 15 seconds, for a total of 300g water by 2:30 and a draw down finishing at 3:00.  Well, my brew finished at 3:00 on the dot but after removing the cone I saw that my pours were light and my mug was only 2/3 full.  

I topped up my mug with hot water from the kettle and the resulting cup of coffee was delicious.  It brought out the strawberry jam notes of the La Colmena while providing enough caramel base notes and gentle acidity to create a perfectly balanced cup.  Possibly the best cup Iíve brewed from this bag of beans and definitely the best with the v60.  (The Kone made an equally good, but much different and more fruit-forward, cup.)

This has got me thinking about using bypass brewing as a purposeful technique.  For a while Iíve included it as one of the Aeropress methods Iíll use for when I want to make a full mug (my recipe is 20g coffee to 225g water, with another 75g water added post brew) and Iíve noticed it produces a very balanced cup with lots of flavour clarity but Iíve never really considered trying it with pour over.  I know that itís a common method used in Japan: in many videos of watched trying to find out what traditional ways to use cloth drips are, Iíve seen people brew a small amount of concentrate through the cloth and then dilute it with water.

Has anyone else experimented with doing pour over cups this way?  Are there any benefits or drawbacks?

Thanks,

Brendan
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johnnyb3
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Joined: 29 Mar 2010
Posts: 170
Location: Anaheim, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Baratza Maestro Plus refurb
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos
Drip: Chemex
Posted Wed Jan 15, 2014, 6:18pm
Subject: Re: Has anyone experimented with bypass brewing for pour over?
 

Indeed, how did the cavemen get by with only a V60, a Buono, and a digital clock, with no scale? It's a wonder they survived! ;)

I routinely use bypass with my Chemex, as I find it near impossible to nail the optimal brew time with that device, particularly for larger batches. I am happy with the brew I get in this way.

From what I have read on this forum, particularly from Netphilosopher (who seems to have left us and taken the wealth of wisdom in his posts with him), I gather that within fairly wide parameters, for a given method, grind, temperature, and brew time, the amount of dissolved coffee solids is basically independent of the amount of water. (Somebody should jump in and correct me if I'm wrong!) Thus, at least in principle, you should have produced the same cup you would have with fuller pours and the same brew time. I wonder whether the total contact time might have been a smidge shorter because there was less water to go through the grounds? Or maybe you disturbed the ground bed less? Not sure! But if that method works for you, for whatever reason, I can't see a "scientific" argument against it!
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MWJB
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Location: UK
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Posted Thu Jan 16, 2014, 8:56am
Subject: Re: Has anyone experimented with bypass brewing for pour over?
 

Brew ratios are designed to help you hit a preferred strength, at a ball-park yield. So if you brew with less water in smaller pulses, or with a finer grind (slower flow through the bed than your usual technique) you may hit that extraction yield at a higher concentration that you anticipated. So rather than keep adding brew water and risk overextaction, it's perfectly sensible to bypass to get to a preferred strength. I aim for around 70g/l in the cup if I do this.

Theoretically you could hit a given yield at vastly differing brew ratios & concentrations (this is one of the things Netphilosopher said, choose your brew ratio based on target strength), but if too much water passes through the bed the coffee maybe too weak to enjoy, so it can be safer to aim high (strength-wise) & bypass, rather than the other way around ...grind needs to be balanced against pouring protocol (coarser - pour smaller pulses, finer - pour bigger pulses).

Normally though, aside from happy accidents & protocols to make brewing large volumes easier, it's a good idea to stick to the appropriate ratio as close as you can & just play with grind, or pour.

An ideal extraction for a given dose will have about the same amount of dissolved coffee in it, whether it's a short espresso, or a long filter coffee.
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iHaveFeet
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Joined: 5 Oct 2008
Posts: 105
Location: Victoria, B.C.
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Mypressi Twist
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Vac Pot: Not yet
Drip: Hario Woodneck, Chemex/Coava...
Posted Thu Jan 16, 2014, 9:57am
Subject: Re: Has anyone experimented with bypass brewing for pour over?
 

Hah, johnnyb3: the caveman comment was certainly tongue in cheek. I find that from time to time it's a good idea to remind ourselves that plenty of people brew a decent cup of coffee without analyzing every singe variable, as we geeks do.

It is definitely a shame that Netphilosopher's information dense posts have disappeared; there was a lot of good stuff in there. If I remember correctly he primarily used the Aeropress for his experiments, I can't recall if he did much measuring of pourover extractions? (I certainly didn't read every single post of his...)  It would make sense that water:coffee ratios could be independent from extraction yield but I wonder if it's slightly different for drip/percolation methods? In pourover methods the two variables affecting extraction would be time and the degree of percolation/turbulence (affected by the amount of water flowing through the grounds).  When increasing the dose (or decreasing the water, in this case) then the water is percolating through a larger coffee bed and so each coffee particle is receiving slightly less percolation. Does that make sense? Am I correct in this thinking, or mistaken?

I did a bit of searching and I found some comments from Nick Cho suggesting that people experiment with bypass brewing for v60 and other cone shaped brewers. His reasoning was that it allowed for less turbulence. I'm not sure if he was referring to the lower turbulence by a more gentle pour, or more gentle percolation, or both.

Johnny, I had the same thought as you about the Chemex: it would be a useful technique to brew larger batches without worrying about overly long dwell times and/or overly coarse grinds.

Not sure if this will end up changing my standard technique but I think it's worth some further experimentation.

Brendan
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MWJB
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Joined: 1 Jun 2013
Posts: 120
Location: UK
Expertise: I like coffee

Grinder: Rocky, Lido, Porlex, Hario...
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Posted Thu Jan 16, 2014, 10:28am
Subject: Re: Has anyone experimented with bypass brewing for pour over?
 

iHaveFeet Said:

It would make sense that water:coffee ratios could be independent from extraction yield but I wonder if it's slightly different for drip/percolation methods? In pourover methods the two variables affecting extraction would be time and the degree of percolation/turbulence (affected by the amount of water flowing through the grounds).  When increasing the dose (or decreasing the water, in this case) then the water is percolating through a larger coffee bed and so each coffee particle is receiving slightly less percolation. Does that make sense? Am I correct in this thinking, or mistaken?

Brendan

Posted January 16, 2014 link

A specific yield can be hit with just about any coffee to water ratio, this is probably more true of percolation than for most steeps (where a large proportion of the yield is extracted in a short space of time).

Decreasing the dose, in this case, likely meant less pressure on the bed and a slower flow through it, extracting more aggressively per g of brew water. Grinding coarser to correct would have meant a quicker flow through the bed, so the same pour method would hit a comparable yield with more water, without the need for bypassing.

It's often just as easy to overextract a pourover with a high coffee to water ratio (unless you grind coarser to compensate), as the slurry is more concentrated to start with & slower flow means more aggressive dissolution.
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