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Non-bitter coffee?

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UncleEbenezer
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Non-bitter coffee?

#76858

Postby UncleEbenezer » August 24th, 2017, 7:10 pm

Had a cappuccino in Costa this morning, and they asked me if I wanted the "new" coffee.

They explained the new coffee was 20p more, and "less bitter". Hmm, isn't bitterness one of the key attributes that makes coffee what it is?

Costa know their market, so presumably there is demand for it. But why would one want a coffee to be "less bitter"?

(and is this the first non-booze thread on this board?)

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Re: Non-bitter coffee?

#76869

Postby DiamondEcho » August 24th, 2017, 7:45 pm

UncleEbenezer wrote:But why would one want a coffee to be "less bitter"?


Decent coffee isn't bitter. This sounds like pitching to people who've only ever drunk bad coffee, giving them 'normal coffee', and charging them a premium for it.

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Re: Non-bitter coffee?

#76929

Postby JMN2 » August 25th, 2017, 7:07 am

DiamondEcho wrote:
UncleEbenezer wrote:But why would one want a coffee to be "less bitter"?


Decent coffee isn't bitter. This sounds like pitching to people who've only ever drunk bad coffee, giving them 'normal coffee', and charging them a premium for it.


I agree, for me coffee is just two cups in the morning to kickstart the system so I'm not fussed but I once had an excellent and expensive cup of coffee which was more "coffee-like/coffee'ish" than the swill I usually drink but very smooth.

bungeejumper
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Re: Non-bitter coffee?

#76931

Postby bungeejumper » August 25th, 2017, 7:38 am

DiamondEcho wrote:Decent coffee isn't bitter. This sounds like pitching to people who've only ever drunk bad coffee, giving them 'normal coffee', and charging them a premium for it.

It takes all sorts, I suppose. My daughter recently made some coffee for us, using some damned expensive Dutch coffee that she'd got from the trendy vegan co-operative around the corner. Wasn't it brilliant, she asked? That wicked touch of bitterness? All her friends were buying it.

I took one sip. "Aaah, good old Robusta", I said. "We've all got so used to the milder Arabica beans that we've forgotten how coffee used to taste before it all became so Starbuxed and bland." And sure enough, the packet revealed that it contained 25% Robusta.

Robusta is cheaper, stronger, contains more caffeine and will generally wake you up much faster than Arabica. It's more likely to be used in making instant "coffee" (cough), if only because it smells stronger. And Starbucks, for one, insists publicly that it never uses the stuff. (Whereas some Starbuxers allege that it's been slipping the evil R into its mix so as to save on costs. For shame!)

But I think the roasting temperature is at least as important. FWIW, we found it was really hard to get French coffee (in the retail packets) that was anywhere near as zingy as the Sainsburys Italian blend that has now become our breakfast staple. And yes, that's partially Robusta as well.

BJ

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Re: Non-bitter coffee?

#76933

Postby redsturgeon » August 25th, 2017, 7:57 am

I love a decent coffee, I only drink espresso so you get more of the flavour.

There are many steps involved in producing a decent cup of coffee and getting any one wrong will produce a sub-optimal cup.

- The right beans, either single variety or a blend...but they must be arabica

- The correct roast

- The freshness of the beans (the beans I buy have the roasting date on them and I try to use them within a couple of weeks of the roasting date)

- The right level of grinding, how fine will depend on the beans used

- The firmness of tamping, this will determine how long it takes the coffee to steep through the grounds

- The pressure of water forced through

- The temperature of the water

- The duration of the extraction

All of the above will affect the flavour of the finished coffee and that's just using an espresso machine, clearly different elements will be at work using other methods, French press, Moka pot, filter, aeropress or even cold drip.

In terms of bitterness, a decent cup should not be bitter and the most significant factor in terms of bitterness is over extraction.

Too fine a grind, water that is too hot and too long a duration of brew may all result in over extraction and a bitter cup.

If I take out my coffee from under the head at 10 seconds it will taste a lot sweeter and fruitier than if I leave it for 15 seconds. This is a ristretto rather than an espresso I suppose.

Also of course some beans will naturally have a more bitter taste than others.

John

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Re: Non-bitter coffee?

#77009

Postby DiamondEcho » August 25th, 2017, 12:34 pm

I don't frequent the coffee chains, since there are none where I live, plus I have my morning coffee prior to venturing out. I drink it strong so don't drink it beyond about 11am in case it prejudices sleep that night. We have a Nespresso machine but can't buy the capsules locally so it's used sparingly. When we first bought it it came with a box of perhaps 40 tubes of 10 coffee pods, as a promo. That was quite a deal as the coffee alone would have cost more than the machine on it's own. Anyway, having tasted my way through all the various blends I progressively narrowed down which ones suit me. My wife later bought another machine for her office and it too came with a similar promo box of pods, so I got to go through the process for a second time.
I've narrowed it down to three blends, from mildest to strongest - per my perception - they are: Dulcao, Volluto, Capriccio. When we had cases of the pods around I might have three in a morning going from the mildest to the strongest.

We're almost out of Nespresso these days, and some recent supplies I picked up on a trip to the UK, made by Dualit, seem to be pretty hit and miss. The machine does not like the plastic capsule casings vs the original thin Alu foil of the originals. So to start the morning I might have a go with one of the few remaining Dualit ones I have. If I want another then I'll brew it local style. Get a small 'saucepan', a local coffee pan used to prepare one cup. Put one cup of water in it and bring to a simmer. Add two heaped teaspoons of loose ground coffee to it. Stir, bring to the point of almost boiling, that's when a foam ring begins to form around the side of the pan. Take it off the heat, stir it, leave it a minute to brew/settle. Then decant it into the cup through a fine strainer. Locals don't use a strainer, they pour the whole lot in, but if you're distracted whilst drinking it and swallow the grounds it's no fun at all! Prepping it like that works very well, just takes time and care, as if you heat it too much then it gets bitter. I've used precisely the same method to make my morning espresso using the blend from Ikea - the results were good.

My grand-parents used to make coffee in a coffee-kettle on the hob. That was like rocket-fuel. Quite how they knew when to take it off the heat I don't know, since it had a lid on it...

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Re: Non-bitter coffee?

#77167

Postby Hallucigenia » August 25th, 2017, 10:42 pm

bungeejumper wrote:Robusta is cheaper, stronger, contains more caffeine and will generally wake you up much faster than Arabica. It's more likely to be used in making instant "coffee" (cough), if only because it smells stronger. And Starbucks, for one, insists publicly that it never uses the stuff. (Whereas some Starbuxers allege that it's been slipping the evil R into its mix so as to save on costs. For shame!)

But I think the roasting temperature is at least as important. FWIW, we found it was really hard to get French coffee (in the retail packets) that was anywhere near as zingy as the Sainsburys Italian blend that has now become our breakfast staple. And yes, that's partially Robusta as well.


+1 on the roast. There was a blind tasting organised by the ICO which saw people rate arabica from the Americas as bitter as robusta, whereas African arabica _was_ rated less bitter. I guess that's partly to do with the big companies. Costa come from the Italian tradition and have about 15% robusta in their house blend (I imagine the Sainsbury Italian is similar?), whereas Starbucks claim not to use robusta but seem to make up for it on the roast, which can hide a multitude of sins in cheaper arabica. It's a bit like how mulling wine loses a lot of the complexity and subtlety that justifies the premium for posh wine, or you might as well use cheap bread for toasting.

Interesting how Costa are now pushing a less-bitter line - to be honest I think they're more in touch with trends than your daughter. You can see parallels with beer - there was a big thing not long ago of packing IPAs with more IBUs than could be tasted by mere human tongues, now people seem to have realised that such unbalanced beers are just not that nice and it seems to have swung the other way with the New England, super-juicy trend. It's actually fascinating to see some of the techniques that are being used to achieve the juice bombs - I'm looking forward to when the trend swings back to the middle and brewers learn to make balanced beers using some of the techniques they've picked up from exploring the extremes.

I must admit, when I saw this thread, I thought it might be about cold-brew coffee. Which I've decided is great - but I just can't be arsed... ;)

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Coffee maker spares

#79740

Postby bungeejumper » September 7th, 2017, 6:19 pm

Sorry, I couldn't think of a better place for this post. Have just managed to get a new lid for the jug on my Krups 963 coffee maker. What's unusual about that is that the machine is around 30 years old. :P

£2.95 (plus postage) well spent. And a big Up to anothercoffee.co.uk for keeping such arcane stuff in stock. Happy first-time customer.

BJ

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Re: Non-bitter coffee?

#79766

Postby JMN2 » September 7th, 2017, 8:19 pm

My parents still use their early 60's stainless steel now vintage percolator but I'm happy with instant coffee and a kettle. After all, coffee's function is to kick-start the system in the morning.

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Re: Non-bitter coffee?

#79869

Postby redsturgeon » September 8th, 2017, 10:35 am

JMN2 wrote:My parents still use their early 60's stainless steel now vintage percolator but I'm happy with instant coffee and a kettle. After all, coffee's function is to kick-start the system in the morning.


In the same way as a 30 day dry aged grass fed Aberdeen Angus ribeye is just for filling an empty stomach or a fine Bordeaux is for quenching your thirst.

There is a lot of enjoyment to be had from appreciating the flavour of different blends and single estate coffees roasted well, freshly ground and brewed to your liking.

John

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Re: Non-bitter coffee?

#80224

Postby Midsmartin » September 10th, 2017, 1:05 pm

I'm the only coffee drinker in our house, so a machine is an extravagance, and waste of space.
I've got one of these Aeropress things - basically a large syringe that you load up with coffee and hot water, and then squirt hot water through a filter paper within it. It's great
They recommend that 84 degrees is an ideal water temperature to avoid the coffee being too bitter.
I find that if I do use water straight from the kettle, it can be bitter (and maybe I like it a little that way - like my beer).
If I pour boiling water into a mug to cool a little, and then into the coffee, it's much less bitter.

The aeropress is also fantastic in a campervan incidentally. It's compact, and leaves the coffee grounds in a nice tidy pellet you can eject into the bin, unlike a cafetiere which creates a nightmare mess of coffee grounds all over the inside of the van.

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Re: Non-bitter coffee?

#80230

Postby bungeejumper » September 10th, 2017, 1:21 pm

Whilst I wouldn't exactly say I make a religious experience of it ;), making my morning coffee with the machine is a little bit of precious "me time" at the start of the day. The whole process, from emptying the old grounds and refilling correctly, through to frothing the milk (while watching out for the superheated steam) demands my full and calm attention even though it's a predictable business.

And for a couple of minutes everything's on hold. In fact if it weren't for my coffee ceremony I suspect I'd need a tea ceremony! Of course, if I haven't got the time there's always instant. But that's only about twice a year. I can't imagine why.

BJ

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Re: Non-bitter coffee?

#80233

Postby swill453 » September 10th, 2017, 1:40 pm

Midsmartin wrote:If I pour boiling water into a mug to cool a little, and then into the coffee, it's much less bitter.

You can save time by putting a dash of cold water onto the coffee first, followed by the boiling water. Maybe experiment to see how much is needed. I tend to just switch off the kettle a few seconds before it would come to full boil.

Scott.

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Re: Non-bitter coffee?

#80234

Postby ReformedCharacter » September 10th, 2017, 1:43 pm

I make my morning brew with a 6 cup Moka pot. Sometimes I add double cream to it. I'm not a coffee connoisseur and I daresay the Moka pot may not satisfy the more discerning coffee drinker but I like the design of the pot and I enjoy the morning ritual of using it. A simple pleasure.

RC

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Re: Non-bitter coffee?

#80670

Postby Hallucigenia » September 12th, 2017, 3:50 pm

These days you can get kettles which "boil" to different set temperatures - there's even one that comes with a phone app!!!!!! See eg

http://www.independent.co.uk/extras/ind ... 79216.html

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Re: Non-bitter coffee?

#80678

Postby AleisterCrowley » September 12th, 2017, 4:28 pm

To save money you could get yourself to the correct altitude to boil water at the required temperature.
A trip up to ~4,680m will get you a reliable 84C boil

UncleEbenezer
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Re: Non-bitter coffee?

#80696

Postby UncleEbenezer » September 12th, 2017, 6:04 pm

My espresso machine came with instructions: when frothing milk, always do the coffee first, 'cos the water heats up hotter for frothing milk than for making coffee.

The bitterness is of course an essential element of the taste of coffee. Among the strongest of bitter tastes, behind perhaps some herbal liquors but ahead of beer. That applies both with old-fashioned filtering or percolating and with a proper espresso.


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