bitter syphon, help!

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bitter syphon, help!

Postby jossy » Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:14 pm

I purchased a Hario Syphon last week from Penny University and have been experimenting with it. Unfortunately since I am on holidays I have no thermometer and no portable gas burner so I must resort to timing and stove gas for my experiments. The results so far are not encouraging: there is a faint bitter note in every coffee I brew. These are definitely not bitter coffees (SqM Yirg, my own roasts of Coopedota Futura and Yemen Mokha Matari) and there is no bitterness at all when I brew them with the aeropress.

Can anyone help? Here is what I am doing:

1) pre-boil water, pour it into the bottom half, set up the top half, light the gas, wait for the water to be in the top half

2) wait 3 minutes, the time I estimate for the temperature to stabilise to somewhere around 85 celsius

3) grind using Hario Skelton on a relatively fine grind but nowhere near espresso, pour into water (dosage 60 g/l), stir for 15 seconds

4) stir again after 2 minutes

5) turn off gas after 3 minutes. The water will come down after 30 seconds and take about 5-10 seconds to drop back to the bottom part.

6) taste, wait a few minutes, taste again, etc.
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Postby Viernes » Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:09 pm

3 minutes :shock:

While probably what I do is not totally right, here it's:

For 3 cups > 30 gr. coffee.

Pre boil water > pour it > light the gas

When water is on the top half > stir 10 secs.

Drop coffee into the water and start the timer > stir about from 5 to 8 secs. Be sure that all coffee is fully saturated.

After 1 min. > turn off gas > coffee start to drop at 1:15 > coffee totally droped at 1:45.

Enjoy.
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Postby jossy » Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:20 pm

Thanks Oton will try RIGHT AWAY! :lol:
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Postby easylife » Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:29 pm

Don't have the same syphon brand as you, and also have a somewhat different process, which I think is pretty much the "standard". Not sure if that is likely to make much difference though.

Bring the water to the boil in the bottom pot in any way convenient. Put the filter and ground coffee in the top. When the bottom pot is boiling put the top part in place. Let the water rise (it should be pretty quick) then a quick stir but only enough to make sure all the grounds are submerged/wetted. Leave it for 2 minutes (absolute max) to bubble gently on its own (adjust the heat as necessary to achieve this).

Remove the heat and leave to descend.

I have never used an aeropress, but would not be surprised if coffees taste somewhat different when made by the 2 different methods.

Sounds to me like your grind is possibly too fine and the brew time is definitely a bit long.

Volumes have been written about using syphon brewers, and there definitely isn't such a strict set of rules as for espresso. Most people seem to find a method that suits their palate.

Don't know what type of filter your setup has. The cona devices are all glass - their marketing (hype ?) being that the brew is not tainted by anything metallic. Not sure if that has any substance, but I do use a glass spoon to stir.

IMO syphons makes the very best brewed coffee. Unfortunately it's also the most time-consuming method and not suited if you're in a hurry ;o)
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Postby easylife » Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:30 pm

PS - tend to use a lightly lower ratio of coffee to water than for drip. 50gm per litre. Not sure why !
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Postby Bombcup » Thu Jul 22, 2010 9:25 pm

I find temperature control difficult with the syphon, you would certainly benefit from using a quality digital thermometer when you get the chance.

In addition to the brew temp, I tend to find the serving temperature to be crazy hot and can take as long as 15-20 minutes to cool enough for the flavours to fully develop. Before then the brew often tastes thin and astringent. I guess it's down to the water being heated right until the draw-down, and draining into a vessel with next to no open surface area.
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Postby MW_SW19 » Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:24 am

Reading all the replies with interest.

I am using a cona at the moment but am still working with technique I used when I had my yama.

get the water in the bottom vessel to around 90deg then add the top half and wait for the water to go upwards.

Wait about 20-30 secs for the water to sort itself out and stabilise before adding the coffee and give it a quick stir.

brew for 3 min before taking the heat away and letting it drop down.

I don't know whether I am right or wrong but using this way has worked for me.

I managed to pick up a meat thermometer for £3 at Lidl which seems to do the trick really well for me in terms of temperature control.

One word of warning though, keep your pot away from clumsy people, my first one had a fatal accident that way.
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Postby Viernes » Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:45 am

Any luck, jossy?

You all should see Intelligentsia's video: http://vimeo.com/8977253
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Postby jossy » Fri Jul 23, 2010 12:25 pm

Any luck, jossy?


Much better already! The bitterness is gone as I reduced the brewing time (although I am surprised that long brewing time produces bitterness. Bitterness is usually a product of scorching at high temperatures, or bitter beans e.g. extremely dark roasts or robusta.) My first attempts after your hints gave a rather weak coffee, so now I am playing with grind level.

Is there a standard way of measuring grind size? I searched TMC and HB and found some threads about this but no conclusive methods. It's not easy with a Hario Skerton as there are no markings to remember your grind settings by...

Thanks to all posters for all your hints!
Quest M3 - iRoast2 - Mahlkönig Vario - PIDed Gaggia Classic at home - - Electric Cezve/Ibriki and Iberital MC2 at work - Aeroporess - Hario TCA Syphons - Hario Skerton and Porlex Hand Grinders - Chemex
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