Bubble(?) and clean for vac pot?

French Press, Vac Pot, Drip or any other - air your views and results

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Bubble(?) and clean for vac pot?

Postby Fluffy » Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:58 pm

Feel free to shoot me down if this has been discussed before, but having benefited from the 'break and clean' method for FP, I'm wondering if something similar might improve my vac pot brews. You might have to bear with me if this gets a little convoluted.

I get a lot of fines when I use my hand grinder (I prefer not to disturb the grind setting on my mazzer for the occasional brew). Looking at the used grounds after the brew is done, I invariably find a layer of dust on top of the fairly uniform coarser grounds. I'm assuming that the fines float to the top after the bloom is disturbed when the bubbles come through from the bottom chamber and with some stirring.

So... if I were to scoop off the sludge from the top of the upper chamber (is there a constitutional reform joke in there somewhere?) would this make for a more consistent brew? Maybe everyone is doing this already and I just hadn't noticed, maybe it just wouldn't work, I don't know. Maybe I just need to work on nailing down the dose/grind/temperature/brew time matrix (is that the right word? Science makes my head hurt).

It's a bit late to try it right now, but I'll have a go tomorrow. Any thoughts?
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RE: Bubble(?) and clean for vac pot?

Postby Jasonscheltus » Thu Jun 25, 2009 1:11 pm

what kind of vac pot are you using?
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RE: Bubble(?) and clean for vac pot?

Postby Fluffy » Sat Jun 27, 2009 10:41 pm

Hi Jason, it's a Cona kitchen model, sort of. I got second hand, and when it arrived it turned out that the upper part was from a table model, and the seal didn't fit properly (I got it at Oxfam online - might feel a little bit miserly sending it back). I bodged it together with some tape though, which works fine and it was dirt cheap so I can't really complain.

Tried cleaning the sludge off today - didn't make any difference at all. Probably best to stick to getting the basics down...
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RE: Bubble(?) and clean for vac pot?

Postby quoad » Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:39 pm

IF really keen, I'd heartily recommend trying one of these: http://www.orphanespresso.com/index.php ... 0d81707ca5

I ordered one a month or so ago, and am (so far) qualifiedly impressed.

The shaft that links the handle to the top burr is enclosed in a rigid, tight-fitting plastic sheath. So instead of having a single harness point / a single place where the shaft is held still, the whole upper burr is (theoretically) supported completely still / held with no play.

The blerk from Orphan even claims it's suitable for espresso: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0e0ABtsARso

Positives: it's currently kicking the backside off the other manuals I've got. It's producing a far, far, far more consistent coarse grind than the two PeDe Turkish mills / one Zass box mill I've got. Virtually no dust (a wee tiny sprinkling). Come to that, it's kicking the backside off my Macap M7 too, and doing somewhat better than t'Mazzer Major. It's a coarse-grinding joy.

Concerns: the burr adjustment mechanism is vulnerable to abuse. Within 5mins of opening my Kyocera, I'd permanently borked the plastic ring used for tightening / loosening the grind. It relies on TINY nubbins of cheap plastic to give measured 'clicks' / levels of tightness. The nubbins (duh) are easily flattened by over-tightening. It's still functional, but that seems a pretty basic and easily remedied design flaw.

I'm also not entirely convinced it's grinding consistently enough for espresso. Uhhh... or, well... it isn't looking quite as consistent as I'd like. I haven't tried it yet, and have an inkling it MIGHT be ok in my MCaL (I'd be amazed if it worked in t'pump); but I've yet to try it.

Erm, it's been a really positive step forward in my filter / vacpot grinding, though.
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RE: Bubble(?) and clean for vac pot?

Postby Fluffy » Thu Jul 16, 2009 7:56 pm

Thanks, they look pretty cool, not sure my budget stretches that far at the mo though. On a side note, I tried a couple of brews today. The first was badly overextracted, so I coarsened up the grind a lot, and the pot stalled - fines migration? I might shelve this project for a while and return to it once I've improved my french press brewing...
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Postby al_bongo » Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:17 am

The glass rod Cona is a difficult beast to tame - very frustrating when it stalls. Much happier with the Hario/Yama syphons and the cloth filter - less affected by over all grind consistency although can still dreadfully over extract.

Not convinced though that FP, even using the "break and clean" method really mitigates the issue of an uneven grind. On the contrary I reckon the 3-4minute steep time with FP, when there are a lot of fines, results in some pretty vile brews.

No scientific data but from observation I don't think fines when immersed behave in a consistent way ie float to the top. Hence the emergence of techniques for sieving the ground coffee prior to brewing to ensure a good consistency of grind.

Personally with erratic grind I am tending to the conclusion you are stuck with a brewing method using some kind of filter be it paper or cloth (as in the Hario syphons).
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Postby zix » Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:21 pm

I must have been lucky with my Cona. Stalling it is hard, even at espresso grind it does run through eventually (not that I would recommend anyone to grind that fine... but I admit I have done it), and the only big difference from the Bodum pots is that I need to stir more and watch the glass rod as I do so, tipping it even slightly is not good.
But the coffee tastes a lot better in the Cona. Next up is to try gas heating with an old Primus campers kitchen. The spirit burner is the weak spot, I think.
Coming back to the problem of the fines, yes, you need a good grinder. This goes for mosts vac pots, I would say. The Kyocera is probably the best thing out there in hand grinders for price/performance, and I am with al_bongo here - I don't think you will get all the fines by scooping. There is a lot of convection going on in hot water in any container, creating vertical streams of water going upwards close to the center, and going down close to the glass walls were it is cooler. These streams drag the fines along with them, so my guess is you've got them everywhere real soon.

I´d say go for the Kyocera.
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