Melitta Manual Coffee Maker: Suggestions, Please
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...
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
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...
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.
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.
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.
The SCAA (www.scaa.org), as well as most specialty coffee retailers, recommends two tablespoons coffee to six ounces of water.You're not using enough coffee.
Rather than recommending a specific grind, I suggest you adjust your grind so your brewing time takes 3 - 6 minutes.
Lastly, don't use boiling water - let the water cool a bit before pouring. The ideal temperature range is 195 - 205 degrees F.
Whole Foods web site recommends roughly the same thing:
The key is patience. You've only just begun and there are so many variables that this may take you awhile before you hit your stride and find how to make coffee exactly the way you want.
I've been hand dripping my coffee my whole life just life my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother but don't use the old French porcelain on steel pot that they used with the sewn muslin filter. I use a Melitta with a gold filter - lets the oils through that the paper filter doesn't so the coffee is much richer and fuller with a better mouth feel.
The advice given above on water temperature is crucial. Let the boil settle down before your first pour. Then wet the grounds gently and thoroughly, letting them "bloom" for a few seconds. Then keep dripping little by little, continuing to wet down the grounds, always washing down the sides and keeping the grounds constantly wet and in motion. Don't stop even if the phone rings. Never let the grounds cool. Steady and patient. There's sort of a rhythm to it. You're dripping, not pouring.
I really can't address the type of coffee you might prefer. I use French Market Coffee with Chicory City Roast, always have. They do a drip grind that looks like cornmeal. Never have ground my own. The directions for this and other coffees sold in South Louisiana advise using half as much as for regular coffee and that works. Three scoops for six cups and it's rich and strong. When I have run out of my preferred coffee, I have had good success at a local Ethiopian coffee shop with one of their darker roasts with a fairly coarse drip grind. But that's me.
Keep trying until you find what you like. As I said, there are lots of variables. Once you get it, you'll never go back.