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Melitta Manual Coffee Maker: Suggestions, Please

Hi Hounds,

I recently purchased a 2-4 cup Melitta manual coffee maker, and I was very excited about my purchase (given all the great reviews I've read), but I have to say, 6 cups of coffee later, I'm finding the results a bit weak.

Now, in case you're wondering, it's not the beans. I've been buying freshly roasted beans at Whole Foods (French Roast, Italian Roast, Mocha Java, and Columbian), grinding them myself, and following the tried-and-true method of 1 to 1 and a half tablespoons of coffee to 6 oz. boiling water.

While the coffee I've made has mostly been nice and smooth, it's also been weak. What am I doing wrong? Should I use a fine or espresso grind? Pour the water into the cone very slowly?

Suggestions for a richer, stronger cup of coffee (which is not to suggest that I'm interested in bitter, sludgy coffee) would be much appreciated!

Thanks in advance for any and all help...

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  1. "Should I use a fine or espresso grind? Pour the water into the cone very slowly?"

    I hate to say this, but what do the instructions say?

    1 Reply
    1. re: yayadave

      The instructions say, "measure 1T to 6oz boiling water; pour water over coffee grinds."

      That's what I've been doing.

    2. How were you brewing coffee before?

      1. greetings, there are a few diffferent possible solutions. Your grind might not be fine enough--finer particles will increase the surface of exposed coffee to the water, intensifiying the extraction. Are you using a blade grinder? If so, grinding finer might not quite do it, because it's really chopping the particles, not crushing the beans which distibutes and releases the volatile oils and aromas differently. If you have a coffee roaster that retails in your vicinity that grinds the customers' coffee in a good burr machine (as is likely), buy from them and tell them how you make your coffee for the proper grind. Trial and error might be required of course since a too-fine grind keeps the extraction from passing through the filter at a reasonable flow.

        If you have the blade grinder but still want to grind your own, try five ounces of water to the same amount of coffee (this is what i use for my manually dripped, paper melitta filter coffee. I do have a semi-professional grade burr grinder, however).

        The freshness of the roasts at WF probably varies with their turnover of each variety. Very freshly roasted coffee (I roast at home) reacts to the water in what is termed "bloom", because it is nearly effervescent in quality, the grinds rapidly expand and expell gasses. If the coffee isn't doing that, it's at least 10-14 days past its roasting time and not truly "fresh roasted". Tis is another reason to buy from a retailer that roasts on-site, if there's one in your area. have fun

        1. Without knowing what you previously used, I don't know what "tried and true" means, but you may well want a slightly finer ground. Since home machines vary so much, it's hard to compare "settings" - I've been using a 4 1/2-5 commercial machine grind for Melitta paper filters for years or the equivalent when I grind at home. It's rather coarser than espresso grind, but much finer than the "all purpose drip" grind in the cans, if that helps anyway... it feels like sharp grit/medium sand, not the the fine sand of an espresso grind. On the other hand, if you can handle a little extra bitterness, you will get a very strong cup if you use a finger grind and toss in a little extra "for the pot."

          As for measurements, I know it probably sounds weird, but since my scale sits out on the counter anyway, I've gotten into the habit of weighing coffee - I find it easier than spoons since I can just pour right out of the bag or jar - and to the extent there are "official" standards, it's 7g ground coffee per 6 oz cup, if you want to double check your volume measurements...

          1. Pour a little water in the filter first to wet all the grounds. After that has gone through, pour in some more water and when that has gone down a bit, pour in the rest. When I pour all the water in at once, the grounds float around and the water goes through the filter without much flavor.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Leslie

              I do what Leslie does. Also, I buy fresh beans and grind (at the store) using a setting of 4 1/2 as mentioned above. It's just a little coarser than Expresso grind. Works well for me.

              1. re: Leslie

                I've been using a manual Melitta carafe for years. The first thing is to use an EXTRA FINE grind for your beans. I also agree with Leslie--you have to wet the grounds in a circular motion and let it soak in completely. When you pour the rest of the water it brews much better. As you probably know, Melitta also sells coffee under its own name. they have a roasting plant nearby me in Cherry Hill, NJ. Smells great driving by on Rte. 295! Their packaged ground beans are extra fine.

                1. re: medford

                  I'll third (or fourth) that - it does make a big difference. There's actually a name for the process but I can't bring it to mind...

                  1. re: MikeG

                    I'll fifth it. This is definitely the problem. This is the method developed by Chemex, way back when. You have to thoroughly moisten all the grounds first and then add the remaining water maybe a cup at a time.

                2. re: Leslie

                  Increasing the contact time increases the strength.

                  I normally make a 12oz mug in a #2 filter. As others suggest, I first wet the grounds (this can even be done with cold water). Then I half fill the cone, and slowly pour the rest of the water in. Some times I'll also stir the grounds in the cone. Between the stirring and pouring I try to wash most of the grounds toward the bottom of the filter. Grounds that are left high and dry on the sides of the filter are not contributing any more flavor.

                  To increase steep time even more, you can add the grounds to the water in the pan, and then just use the filter to separate them. This gives the strength of a French Press without the sediment. But also without some of the oils. Some French Press directions call for steeping as long as 4 minutes.

                  The trick is to increase the steep time to maximize flavor, but not to the point that you introduce bitter notes.

                  paulj