3

My Baratza Encore grinder has been the worst purchase I've ever made.

Don't get me wrong, the machine does its job perfectly - it transforms big pieces of coffee into little ones with consistency and speed. The problem is, every pot of coffee I make with freshly-ground beans comes out thin and watery. Or, if I add more coffee (or modify the grind size) over-extracted and watery. I don't have this same problem with using pre-ground stuff from the supermarket in the same coffee maker.

I use a pretty standard Hamilton Beach drip maker on "Regular" setting. Pre-ground coffee usually comes out between "ok" and "pretty alright" with one heaping tablespoon per "2 cup" marker on the tank.

Once I got the grinder I started experimenting with grind size and bean. I've since brewed more than 20 pots have not yet had a single one that I wanted to finish; I've varied grind sizes, coffee portions, tried different roasts...nothing comes out right. I've tried both exacting measurements and seat-of-the-pants tablespoons but always come up short. I've compared my ground beans to the store-bought stuff to make sure it's the same but still no luck. The only coffee to come of the grinder that was drinkable is the coarsely-ground coffee I've made into cold brew. I also experimented with a french press but gave up in frustration there as well.

I like a good cup of coffee but also don't want much fuss in the morning. So far, the experience of trying to grind my own coffee has been nothing but an outrageous frustration. What am I doing wrong?

2
  • This should be a comment, but I'm new here, sorry! You might need to be more precise as to what pre-ground coffee do you like and what whole beans are you trying? It certainly seems it should be the beans if the grind size is the same and the machine is the same and the water is the same... The grinder by itself shouldn't make that big of a difference especially if you compare using the same size... unless it's unusually dirty or something strange like that... Look here, this might Jul 21 at 8:37
  • I'm addition to the below answers, I also want to point out two things: first, that there's no accounting for taste, and second, that, for most people, an appreciation for the taste of coffee is an acquired taste. Of course there are differences between fresh ground coffee and packaged, processed coffee, but without knowing what you like about your packaged, processed coffee, we're kind of shooting blind. It's kind of like asking if someone can tell me why I like the color green better than orange.
    – R Mac
    Jul 31 at 13:16
3

The issue I want to highlight that isn't covered by the other answers is subjectivity. There is a consensus that fresh ground coffee is always better, but this is not necessarily the case.

As many online sources will tell you, coffee "rusts" when exposed to oxygen. When grinding you increase the surface area of your coffee, thus exposing more of it to oxygen, meaning more of it can rust. This is why you're always recommended to brew as quickly after grinding as possible.

Using freshly ground coffee like this means the oils have not yet oxidised resulting in a more tangy, fragrant cup that highlights the different individual notes of the bean. Using pre-ground oxidised coffee results in a more bitter flavour, that has a more consistent taste with less notes. Most people will prefer the added flavour over the bitterness, but this is not the case for everyone.

From the issues you describe, you might personally prefer the bitterness and consistency of the pre-ground over the tanginess of fresh ground. Which might mean your grinder was indeed a waste of money. However not all is lost, there is two ways you can test this: The easiest way is to grind your coffee the day before, leave it to sit overnight, and use it to brew in the morning. If you prefer the result over a freshly ground pot, there's your answer.

The other way is to keep experimenting with different coffee beans, especially with darker roasts for the more bitter flavour. If you keep going for similar roasts as you were before, the notes of bitterness will not be present and the grind will always be disappointing. For example: when I switched to a fresh ground bean-to-cup machine from a pre-ground drip machine, it took me trying over 20 different beans until I found one I liked. Whereas all the pre-grounds I used previously all ranged from various stages of "fairly acceptable".

1

Or, if I add more coffee (or modify the grind size) over-extracted and watery. I don't have this same problem with using pre-ground stuff from the supermarket in the same coffee maker.

I use a pretty standard Hamilton Beach drip maker on "Regular" setting. Pre-ground coffee usually comes out between "ok" and "pretty alright" with one heaping tablespoon per "2 cup" marker on the tank.

It might also be that you're not measuring fairly. A tablespoon of pre-ground coffee may have a different weight to a tablespoon of coffee you grind yourself. To be more consistent, I suggest using weight-based ratios. For example 1:15 which means you use 1 part coffee to 15 parts water (both measured by weight).

One way to explain a watery result is that you're using too little coffee for the amount of water you're adding. If it tastes over-extracted when you increase the dosage (the amount of coffee) then you might be grinding too fine. An easy way to check for this is by grinding coarser and sticking to the aforementioned brew ratio. If it tastes over-extracted at that ratio then it means your grinds are too fine.

1

An issue not mentioned. After coffee beans are roasted they out-gas CO2 for 1 or 2 days. During this period, if ground, the grounds are rather hydrophobic and make a very weak beverage in any drip system. Using very recently roasted beans might explain your symptoms.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.