I think have explored the boundaries of press pot coffee to my satisfaction. Probably hundreds of cups over a couple of years. I have a standard 32oz Bodum.
Fair warning: your mileage may vary! This is just based on my observations and measurements.
I have even aeropressed press pot coffee to get the fines out (I really do not prefer fines), and have perfected "double pressed" press pot coffee. Once you do the initial press, then pull the screen out and slap on a standard drip basket filter - you'll have to press hard, 'cause the fines create a stack of sludge that can easily plug up the filter - retract for a bit and re-press if the going gets tough, but the results are worth it.
The problem with a press pot (I've found) is the screen is really best for very coarse coffee. Very coarse coffee requires long (4min) contact times, and it is the most difficult by far to properly and consistently grind coarse grinds with anything less than a multihundred$ grinder.
Drip and finer will have lots of fines in the end result, and you have to modify the contact time accordingly. If I grind slightly smaller than drip, for example, I'll need to cut the contact time at about 1:30 to 2:30. At 4:00, it's overextracted.
Starting with the 5.5% brew ratio (or 6%, close enough), you'll produce normal strength coffee (around 1.25% strength) if your grind and contact time are properly matched. I have pushed to quadruple strength (about 5% or 6%) with no real effect on extraction (again, contact time and grind properly matched). Past that and extraction seems to suffer progressively, lower with higher brew ratios. These would be brew ratios exceeding 20%, and one of the issues (I think) is the temperature of the brew during contact time is affected by 1/5 of the mass being at ambient temperature.
Up to 5% or 6% strength, you can cut with hot water to desired strength, with no real difference in taste to brewing normal strength - so you can easily make a pot's worth of coffee with a single press on a 32oz, and diluting the results. You can share with friends, and you'll still get all of the amazement for people who haven't experienced well-brewed fresh-roasted coffee.
Keep in mind that water absorption for the Press Pot is higher than Aeropress method. It hovers around 1.8 to 2.0 (meaning up to 2X the mass of the coffee in water mass is trapped with the spent grounds).
So, for me the big issue is the filter limitations of the Press Pot. Hard to get good coarse grinds. Hard to deal with the extra fines and difficulty in filter plugging with finer grinds.
Keep careful notes of contact time and grind size as you go. That's how I learned what I was doing. I've over extracted, I've under extracted, and I've made lots of darn fine coffee along the way.
Using a Ditting, I can say these are my experiences:
1-3, you'll probably overextract. I figure contact times for these settings is on the order of recommended Aeropress (about 15-30 seconds), and the fines for me are unmanageable. Aeropressing the results is insanely difficult, as the sludge created makes is nearly impossible to refilter. Wasted a ton of coffee - well, a pound or two anyway - experimenting with these settings. Don't bother - it ain't right.
4-5 Contact time about 1:00 or so. Will overextract if you keep the contact time longer than 2:00 before pressing. Fines are pretty bad (my opinion) but overall a good cup of coffee.
6-7 seems to be in the realm that I try to be, it's a bit finer than recommendation, overextraction at 4:00 contact time. About 1:30 - 2:30 seems to be right for me, ranges extraction right around 20%. 6 is what I try to hit in appearance with my Hario Mini Mill, on the order of 600microns, for Aeropress brewing, btw.
8 needs about 3:00 contact time. Fines are reduced. Seems to suffer underextraction if you updose more than about 18% or so brew ratio.
9, believe it or not, is a full 4:00 contact time, and works well for the press pot. Fines are dependent on equipment - if grounds are from a sharp and calibrated Ditting, it'll be great. If you're doing it on a hand crank, your results may vary. I can do it fairly well with a modified Hario Mini Mill, impossible with a whirly blade. This size grind will tend to underextract if you push higher brew ratios.
The vast majority of my brews are just-off-boil water, 205°F water.
I can share some simple rules of thumb later, if interested. Makes figuring out how much coffee to use and how much to dilute easier.
------------------------------------------ ----------------------------------------- Le café doit être noir comme le diable, chaud comme l'enfer, pur comme un ange, et doux comme l'amour.
"There is no right answer with coffee. There is only the elixir in your cup at the moment you partake."
"...I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind;..." - Lord Kelvin RECIPES thread => http://www.coffeegeek.com/forums/coffee/machines/585708
germantownrob Senior Member Joined: 2 Dec 2007 Posts: 2,005 Location: Philadelphia Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Duetto 3, A Dead Oscar Grinder: Vario-W, Preciso w/Esatto,... Drip: Brazen Roaster: Diedrich IR-1, HT B
Posted Thu Jul 7, 2011, 7:04am Subject: Re: Has anyone experimented with up dosing and grind size for drip or french?
Even with 40 steps on my Virtuoso does not give much room for play here, 1-2 clicks finer or coarser are pretty drastic. The Vario should be up for the task and since it is time for my espresso machine to go into the my work shop for some new wiring I will re-callibrate the Vario for coarser grinding. 1-4 clicks on the micro switch of the Vario has a dramatic effect on a shot of espresso so I am thinking 5-10 clicks may have flavor changes with other brew styles with out getting into drastic over and under extracting. I am thinking press pot is where I will start, First I will dial in a 4min steep time paired with a grind that gives pleasing results, from there I will adjust the micro to try and change flavor profile. I am thinking a city+ roast with fruit flavor might be a good place to start.
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