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I recently received as a gift a pack of pre-ground coffee that was supposed to be incredible, but I just can't get it to work. I'm still getting used to my Moka pot, so its normal that I don't get a new coffee right in the first try, but this one is proving a challenge. No matter what I do, it ends up over-extracted (quite bitter).

My first suspicion is the grind, it doesn't look consistently sized:

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I'm not certain, but I think this grind is the main culprit of a lot of coffee sediment going through:

enter image description here enter image description here

I'm somewhat used to seeing a bit of sediment in my Moka coffee, but this is an outlier and I'm betting it is related to the bitterness. After trying different flame sizes (i.e. temperatures) and different amounts of water and seeing no change, I'm wondering if there's something else I should do, or some specific temperature/water level/method I should try - like interrupting the extraction midway with cold water as I've seen some people recommend.

Also, the extraction process is sputtering quite a bit, the coffee goes out on high pressure from the start. Maybe despite most of the coffee being quite coarse, it's still clogging the filter with the smaller particles? I'm definitely not tampering, don't even fill all the way through (like 90% filled).

Is my analysis correct and the grind is the biggest problem, or is there something else I should experiment with my Moka pot that may work? Should I reserve this coffee for some other method like pouring over, or just give up?

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  • Was the coffee labeled as “for Moka” or similar? What I am seeing in your first picture is not a Moka grind. – Stephie Dec 18 '20 at 15:24
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    It was not, and at this point I'm almost sure this grind was not intended for a Moka pot. Is it so visually obvious that this grind would not work? Can you tell that by the particles sizes alone, or are there more clues I'm not seeing? – villasv Dec 18 '20 at 18:38
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    Watery coffee, large particles and sediments. That are the visual cues I see. – Stephie Dec 18 '20 at 20:20
  • The grind pictured is not ideal for any brew method. Consistency of grind is important for all brew methods because fiber grinds will produce bitter flavors the longer brew time extends, while larger grinds need time to release their flavor. The grind pictured honestly looks like it was made with a broken grinder with misaligned burrs or maybe a short pulse in a blade grinder. – R Mac Dec 27 '20 at 4:17
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A Moka grind is a tad coarser than espresso grind and ideally finer than standard pour over. If it’s too fine, you’ll see the excessive sediments or - worst case - even clogging up.

The size of the largest particles in your first picture are French press or even cold-brew worthy: I can see the curved, smooth outside of the beans. If you also get sediments, it means you have a very inhomogeneous grind, I would suspect a blade grinder instead of a burr grinder was used. See that section of your first photo, with the extremes circled:

inconsistency

Considering the difference in particle size, you will always get over extracted and under extracted coffee j the same cup, independent of brewing method.

Your last picture shows a rather watery, thin coffee over the sediments, I would expect coffee from a Moka to be more opaque and possibly darker.

As a fix, you could try sifting the coffee to separate the various sizes a bit, but frankly, I never was particularly successful with that. Apart from that, I’d first try the batch in a pour-over setup and if that doesn’t work (e.g. clogging up the filter), move up to French press.

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    Thank you for the detailed analysis and tips. This is not the only allegedly premium coffee I have in my kitchen that does not specify its grind and intended extraction method in the label, so this will come in handy again soon enough. – villasv Dec 19 '20 at 22:45
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    @villasv Grind size is one thing that can be mitigated by choosing a different brewing method. Grind inconsistency is difficult to impossible to fix. – Stephie Dec 22 '20 at 7:15

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