Run Notes

I had a really tough run today. I ran my intended distance of 10K, but was really struggling towards the end. It was the worst I’ve felt at the end of a run since November, when I was sick. I hope I’m not getting sick again, but my gut tells me that wasn’t the issue. I rolled out of bed at 6:30, and instead of my usual breakfast of egg bake, I started off with coffee and waited until around 8:00 to drink a protein shake. I started my run at 9:40, and ran until 11:00. It could be that I was dehydrated, could be I was low on electrolytes, or it could have been something else entirely. I don’t know. One thing of note was that instead of my usual Vibram V-Runs or Xero Terraflex shoes, I ran in Altra Escalantes. I’ve been battling some sensitivity in the outer area of my left heel that I suspect may be bursitis, and cushioning the area relieves the symptoms. The Altras have a lot of cushioning compared to my usual running shoes, and they’re very comfortable around-the-house shoes, but I didn’t really like running in them. Coming from ultra-minimalist shoes, I had a hard time getting used to all of the Altras’ extra cushioning in the forefoot area. It seemed like the cushioning was absorbing kinetic energy, to the point where I was struggling to maintain a fast cadence. The best analogy I can think of is that compared to my V-Runs, it felt like I was running through sand. After a while, I also felt like I was starting to let the shoes absorb impact instead of my leg and core muscles, and I could feel it in my knees after I finished. All of that said, this isn’t really a fair assessment, as I clearly was not 100% physically. The run might have gone much better if I had been. So, I really can’t write off the Altras as an option just yet. I’ll probably give them another chance at some point, but where the bursitis issue is concerned, I’m not sure they’re going to be an improvement over using minimalist shoes with heel cups. If anything, I may try adding metatarsal pads, as I’ve noticed that they seem to help a little bit more than just the heel cups alone.

Peet’s Major Dickason’s AeroPress

  • Beans: “Major Dickason’s Blend” (Latin America/Indo-Pacific)
    • Dark roast
    • Roaster: Peet’s Coffee (Emeryville, CA)
    • Roast date: 11/19/2023
  • Dark Roast AeroPress Recipe
    • JX grind setting: 11 to 12 (33 to 36 clicks)
    • Water temperature: 85°C
    • Steep time: 1:35
    • Ratio: 1:12.5 (20g coffee, 250g water)
    • Prismo with metal filter and 1 paper filter
    • Go easy on the stirring (3x or so before and after steeping)

I initially brewed these yesterday at grind setting 16, but it tasted a little bit watery/under-extracted. I tried again today using grind setting 15, and it was quite good. Some “fines” definitely make it into the cup at this setting, which doesn’t bother me, but if it did, I could add a paper filter to get rid of them.

12/30: Decided to experiment today and see how much stirring really affects extraction, as I’ve read in various places that more stirring == more extraction. I stirred at least 10 times at both the beginning and the end of the steep period. The result was a really watery and lifeless cup, which is not what I had been expecting. After the fact, I realized that I had used grind setting 16 instead of 15, which kind of invalidates the experiment. It does prove that no amount of stirring is going to make up for the grind being too coarse. It also makes me wonder if I should try grinding finer than 15. Not sure if I’ll try that tomorrow, or try the stirring experiment again.

12/31: Went to grind setting 14 and back to just 4-5 stirs. Kind of a weird cup, where the first half tasted full-bodied and pretty good, but the second half seemed like it had less flavor. I’ve noticed this phenomenon a few times before, particularly with darker roasted beans, and I’m not sure if it’s because of the coffee cooling down as I drink it, or my own taste buds getting desensitized, or both, or neither. It could be that the beans are past their prime, in which case I may have hit the point of diminishing returns. However, it seems that I’ve used grind settings as low as 12 with dark roasts in the past, so I will likely try to go a little finer next time and see what happens.

1/1/24: Grind setting 13 was an improvement over 14. Interestingly, the first sip had a slightly watery mouthfeel, but the rest of the cup was pretty nicely balanced, which is the exact opposite of what I noted yesterday. Once again, I’m not sure how much of it is related to temperature vs palate. Could probably go even finer if I wanted to..

1/2: Grind setting 12 today. This was a little better still than 13, at least until the last third of the cup, when I started noticing some bitterness. This cup also had noticeably more sludge in it. I may try adding a paper filter tomorrow, to see if filtering the sludge out eliminates the bitterness.

1/3: Kept grind setting 12 and added a paper filter on top of the metal Prismo filter. Good cup with no bitterness at the end and no sludge. I think I might brew the rest of the beans this way, unless I get the urge to tinker some more.

1/5: This was still good at grind setting 11. I wonder how fine I can grind these before they start getting bitter…

1/9: Grind setting 11, stirred a little bit more than usual (maybe 7 times or so back and forth before and after steeping). This cup tasted kind of like burnt ashes. Is this what over-extracted dark roast coffee tastes like?

1/10: Used setting 11.3 (34 total clicks). I added 1 click on a whim, but I doubt it’s enough to tell a difference from 11. Didn’t stir much this time — 3 rather leisurely back-and-forth stirs before and after steeping. This ended up being the best cup I’ve brewed so far. It was good, with no burnt-coffee taste, and the entire cup was consistent (no mysterious loss of flavor halfway through). Could the stirring (or lack thereof) really contribute that much to the flavor? Unfortunately, I only have 30g of beans left to experiment with, so I’ll have to pick this back up with the next dark roast I buy.

1/12 or 1/13: Used up the last of these. I got the best cups using a grind setting of 11 to 12, going easy on the stirring, and using a paper filter in front of the metal Prismo filter, so I’ve updated the recipe accordingly. Incidentally, I ended up with 8 grams of beans left, which was not enough for a full cup, so I brewed it at 1:10 (80 grams water) and added it to some hot chocolate. It was quite tasty!

Zeke’s Hippie Blend V60

  • Beans: “Hippie Blend” (Sumatra/Peru/Papua New Guinea)
    • Light roast (2/8)
    • Roaster: Zeke’s Coffee (Baltimore, MD)
    • Roast date: 12/11/2023
  • 16g coffee / 250g water (1:15.6) or 19g coffee / 300g water (1:15.8)
  • JX: 21 (63 clicks)
  • Water at 99°C
  • Recipe: Single Cup V60 Pourover

I went ahead and created a page for the single-cup V60 technique I’ve been using, and going forward, am just going to link to that in lieu of listing all the steps out in every post (unless I end up doing something significantly different).

I opened this bag on 12/25, and brewed my first cup at grind setting 20. I then tried setting 18 (finer) on 12/26. Both cups were 250g, and both had a hint of bitterness. Per above, I used a coarser grind today, and brewed a larger cup at the same ratio. Today’s cup was not bitter, and had a mild, mellow flavor to it. This seems like an OK starting point, but I may tweak this a little further. It’s worth noting that grind setting 21 is still slightly finer than what 1Zpresso’s chart shows as the “pourover” range, but I’m worried that if I go any coarser, the V60 will drain too quickly and the coffee will end up under-extracted. This might be one of those cases where I get better results by brewing 2 cups’ worth at a time, or possibly using the AeroPress, to get a longer immersion time. In any case, I have an entire pound of beans with which to experiment.

12/31: 300g water / 20g coffee / grind setting 22 (66 clicks). Probably the best cup I’ve had so far. Well extracted with no bitterness. On the strong side.

1/2/24: Might want to nudge this a little bit coarser still. Try 23 next time.

1/4: Grind setting 23 at 1:15 (20g:300g) was a very good cup.

1/5: Another decent cup at 23, but once again, could be ever so slightly smoother. Try 24?

1/16: The best grind setting seems to be between 24 and 25 (72 to 75 clicks), weighted towards 25, as 24 has occasionally tasted slightly bitter. The drawdown finishes very quickly at this setting, but I’ve noticed that this is the case with almost all of the beans I’ve brewed from Zeke’s. They also leave very little fine residue in the grinder. Part of this is likely due to the grind coarseness, but I wonder if it also has something to do with moisture content in the beans, which could be related to how they’re packaged — unlike most beans I buy, Zeke’s do not come in sealed bags.

1/25: Brewed at grind setting 25, and preheated the V60 with 95°C water from the kettle instead of using the insta-hot (I kept it a little cooler than the 99° brew water to avoid burning my fingers). This led to a lot more extraction — so much so that the cup tasted bitter. At this point, I definitely think I’m on to something — I need to either be using a plastic V60, or preheating the ceramic V60 from the kettle instead of the insta-hot. As for these beans, I only have enough to make 1 more cup, and I’m going to try it with a coarser grind.

1/27: Used up the last of these — slightly on the strong side at 21g coffee to 300g water. I preheated with kettle water again, and backed the grind all the way off to 27. This was a better cup than 1/25, but still got a little more extraction than I would like. I’m kind of wishing I had more beans to experiment with, now that I seem to have sorted out my ceramic V60 preheating issue. It’s interesting that these beans, as well as the other bag of Zeke’s I recently finished, seemed to want a much coarser grind than most others I’ve brewed. I’m sure I’ll eventually get things dialed in a little better.

This Morning’s Run

Rain in today’s forecast inspired me to get out early (for wintertime) today, as it was not raining when I woke up around 6. I got out the door at 7:30am, and although it was a little bit foggy/misty, overall, it was great running weather. The temperature was hovering around 44°-45°F, and I decided to pass on wearing a jacket. Instead, I wore a long-sleeve synthetic Under Armour athletic shirt over a short-sleeve wool t-shirt. Rounding out my wardrobe were my New Balance running pants, Vibram V-runs, and a fleece headband. I gambled and didn’t wear a windbreaker or rain jacket, and Mother Nature cooperated nicely. Due to the fog, I also ran with my flashing visibility vest, which I mainly use for bike commuting. The run started out a little cold, but I was quite comfortable once I warmed up, and I ran 9 miles at a pace of 10:20. As with last Saturday’s run, I was able to set a pace that was comfortable throughout the entire 94-minute run, avoiding pushing too hard at the beginning, and I was able to finish strong. It was a great run overall. I hope to do it again on Thursday morning.

Zeke’s Holiday Roast MMXXIII V60

  • Beans: “Holiday Roast MMXXIII” (Mexico/Uganda)
    • Medium roast (4/8)
    • Roaster: Zeke’s Coffee (Baltimore, MD)
    • Roast date: 12/19/2023
    • Purchase date: 12/22/2023
  • 20g coffee / 300g water (1:15)
  • JX: 23-24 (69-72 clicks)
  • Water at 95°C
  • Recipe: Single Cup V60 Pourover

12/24: I tried these for the first time yesterday at grind setting 20, and it tasted like I could go a little bit finer, so I went with 19 today. Interestingly, I didn’t notice much bubbling during the bloom phase either day. I’m not sure why some beans tend to bubble a lot, while others don’t. I’ll have to read up on that. In any case, this turned out pretty good. I may try some minor tweaks (a little bit finer grind, and/or hotter water) just to see how they affect the flavor, but this definitely works as-is.

12/28: A little bitter this morning at grind setting 19 with 300g water/20g coffee. Could be that the beans needed to degas. Could also be that the larger brew volume led to more extraction. Will try a 300g cup at setting 20 the next time.

12/30: 300g at setting 20 was good this morning. I’m wondering if the beans were too “fresh” on 12/24 and needed to outgas a little bit. The only difference is that I brewed a larger cup today. I’ll probably stick with this setting for a bit and see how the next few cups taste.

1/1/24: A little bit of bitterness creeping in at 20 today. Still not a bad cup, but I feel like there’s room for improvement. Try 21 next time.

1/5: Setting 21 still had a slightly unpleasant bitter flavor to it on 1/3, so I tried 22 today, and it was a reasonably pleasant cup. I suspect that 22 or possibly 23 will end up being the best setting, but I still have a lot of beans to experiment with.

1/6: Setting 23 was a very good cup, but I think it might be even better at 24. Recent experience with these beans as well as Zeke’s Hippie Blend have me wondering if I should tweak my starting grind setting for brewing light- and medium-roasted beans with the V60. I’ve typically started with setting 20 (2 rotations on the JX), but maybe I should try starting somewhere like 22-23 (or even coarser) instead. I still have a good amount of both beans, so it will be interesting to see what grind setting I ultimately end up at.

1/12: The past several cups have been really good at grind setting 24.

1/23: I’ve been using grind setting 24 for the past couple of weeks, and while the cups are generally good, I’ve felt like the last few could have been better. Hard to put my finger on it, but I’m wondering if it has something to do with the cooler ambient air temperature affecting the temperature of the brew water. As an experiment this morning, I brewed a single 300g cup using my size 2 plastic V60, instead of my usual size 1 ceramic V60. I kept everything else the same (grind setting 24, water 95C, same pourover procedure), so the dripper was the only difference. This cup tasted quite different than my recent cups, though. It was similar to earlier cups that I brewed using finer grind settings — not quite bitter, but a little bit over-extracted. Plastic is a much better insulator than ceramic, and even though I preheat the ceramic V60, I’m wondering if it’s still sucking too much heat out of the brew water. I’m curious to try this experiment again, although I’ll need to use different beans, as I only have 16g of these left.

1/24: I brewed the final 16g at grind setting 23 with 250g of water. This was not a stellar cup, but I think I figured out what was going on with my ceramic V60: the preheat water from my insta-hot tap is not as hot this time of year, so the V60 isn’t getting as hot, and the brew water is losing more heat. Usually, the insta-hot gets the V60 hot enough that it’s uncomfortable to handle for too long, but today, I noticed that it’s not getting that hot any more. The insta-hot tank is mounted under the kitchen sink, which is unheated and poorly insulated, and I doubt that the thermostat is all that precise, so the water in the tank likely isn’t staying as hot as it does during the warmer months. Today, I preheated with water from the kettle instead, and it got the V60 much hotter. I can’t put a finger on what was wrong with the coffee, but it may just have been the strength (1:15.6 vs my usual 1:15), or possibly that it was over-extracted, or possibly both. Too bad I don’t have more beans to experiment with, but I did get a lot of good cups out of these.

Running Report

Tuesday’s run: 4.46 miles

My plan was to go around 7 miles on Tuesday, but I had to cut the run short because of a severe acid reflux attack. I’ve been having off-and-on issues with this for a few weeks, but this is the first time it hit me during a run. It wasn’t so much a burning sensation, but more so an unpleasant feeling of something stuck in my esophagus. I had just eaten some sausage with lunch, so that may indeed have been part of the issue, but I’m not sure. I was able to walk the 2 miles to get back home, and the problem did eventually clear up after a couple of hours. I’m going to take it as a lesson not to eat a large meal so soon before running (and to properly chew my food). I also started a course of Prilosec OTC, which seems to be helping with the acid reflux.

Thursday’s run: 5 miles

I ran at UMBC on Thursday afternoon, during my final day of the year at the office. It wasn’t the best run, but I was happy to get out, it kept me on schedule, and I had no issues similar to Tuesday’s. I should add that I’ve been running with Tuli heel cups for the past couple of weeks, to help deal with what I believe is a mild case of bursitis in my left heel. They do help quite a bit, as does pretty much any kind of padding, but the nice thing about the Tulis is that they fit well in my Vibram V-Runs. I suspect I’ll be using these for the foreseeable future.

Today’s run: 8.01 miles

Today was my longest run in about 2 weeks, and it felt pretty good. I think I’ve been pressing a little bit too much at the beginning of my recent runs, which has led to “running out of gas” during the second half. I made a conscious effort to dial things back today, and had much better energy throughout the entire run. Ironically, I also ended up with a faster overall average pace (10:10/mile) than either of my past two runs. You’d think by now that I would just instinctively set an efficient pace for my runs, but it’s hard to overcome the tendency to try to press at the beginning of the run, when I have the most energy. I’ll figure it out eventually.

After running every other day since last Sunday, I think I’m going to give myself a couple of consecutive days off, so my next run likely will be Tuesday 12/26.

Frosty Rides

This morning, and last Thursday morning, I’ve taken advantage of hard overnight freezes to get some morning mountain biking in. We have had significant rainfall the past two Sundays in a row, and that, combined with the freeze/thaw cycle, has made the trails too muddy to ride any time later than about mid-morning. The general rule is that if you’re leaving tire tracks, you shouldn’t be on the trails. That rules out commuting in the afternoon, but if it stays below freezing for several hours overnight, there’s usually a window between sunrise and 9 or 9:30 when the trails will be frozen. I took advantage of that window on both days, riding 14 miles or so last week, and 10 miles today, and conditions were ideal both mornings. According to Apple Fitness, my ride-time temperature last week was 26°F and today was 25°F. By 9:00 today, things were warming up, and I could tell the window was closing, as some areas were starting to thaw (I liken it to Cinderella’s coach turning back into a pumpkin at midnight). We got close to 3 inches of rain this past Sunday into Monday, and all of the streams were still running high, with lots of evidence of water run-off on the trails. There’s no way I would have been able to ride had the trails not been frozen. I’m sure everything was a muddy mess in the afternoon, when temperatures got up into the 40s.

I have found that I have to dress differently for winter mountain biking than I do for road riding. On the road, the faster speeds make a windbreaker a necessity to stay warm. On dirt, the windbreaker makes me sweat more, because it doesn’t breathe well. So, I leave it home and wear several breathable layers instead. Today, I wore a short sleeve wool t-shirt with arm warmers, a thin synthetic “32 heat” long sleeve pullover, and my heavy Canari winter cycling jersey. On the bottom, I wore my Garneau cycling pants, Smartwool socks, and waterproof Altra Lone Peak shoes with warming insoles. I rode with Bar Mitts and medium-weight gloves (by far my preferred setup for winter riding). On top, I wore a balaclava under my usual MTB helmet. This setup keeps me quite warm and comfortable on the trails, but does get a little bit cold if I have to ride for any significant distance on pavement.

Bike Commute Notes

Today was most likely my penultimate bike commute of 2023. Unless I decide to go to the office an extra day somewhere, my final commute this year will be on Wednesday, December 20. The morning leg of today’s commute was pretty nice, with temperatures hovering in the low 30s and light winds. We’ll see how the afternoon leg goes. I was initially considering commuting by mountain bike, but ultimately decided to stick to pavement, mainly because we got a lot of rain this past Sunday, and have had a couple of freeze-thaw cycles since then. I figured that the combination of the two would be a recipe for muddy trails this morning. I am pretty sure I made the right call. The one or two areas in the park where I ride over dirt were not completely frozen, and rather soft. While other areas that see less sun were still frozen, this afternoon’s upper-40s temperatures will likely make them muddy for the afternoon commute. For optimal winter off-road commutes, you either need solid below-freezing temperatures all day long (rare, and even then, areas that get a lot of sun will still turn muddy), or you need several days with no overnight freezes and no precipitation (also rare). As a result, I end up braving the salty roads in the winter more often than not, and getting my mountain biking fixes in during “dawn patrol” sub-freezing rides before work on telecommute days. If it gets cold enough tonight (the predicted low is 26), and I can get myself out of bed, I may see if I can do that tomorrow morning.

Morning Run Notes

I ran this morning for the first time in four days. We got a couple inches of rain yesterday and overnight, and as a result, everything was really wet, with lots of standing water. Temperatures were in the upper 30s with a decent breeze, so I wore my cycling jacket as a windbreaker over a long-sleeve wool running shirt. Most noteworthy was that instead of my usual Vibram V-Runs, I wore my Xero Terraflex shoes, which I use more often for hiking. These may end up being my go-to winter running shoes. While they are not waterproof, they did a much better job than the Vibrams of keeping my feet dry on the wet pavement and puddles. They are definitely heavier than the Vibrams, and accordingly, my cadence was down by several steps per minute. I suspect it will pick up as I get more used to running with them. Combined with wool socks, they kept my feet pretty warm, but we will see how they do when the temperature is below freezing. I know they’ll be warmer than Vibrams and toe socks, and I suspect they’ll be warmer than my lighter Xero HFS shoes. They fit my feet a little better than the HFS or my Altra Escalantes (both of which are a little large) and I suspect I’ll have fewer issues with tripping and stumbling than with either of those.

On the nagging-physical-issue front… the right hamstring that I tweaked way back in late September still is not back to 100%, though it has improved, and while it’s not a major impediment to runs, it’s still tight if I try to really extend it during faster running. I’m kind of resigned that it’s going to take months to completely clear up. After my run last Thursday, I developed some tenderness on the outside part of my left foot. During COVID, I had plantar fasciosis in this foot that took two years to fully clear up, and I’m always worried it’s going to recur, but this is definitely not PF. I’m wondering if it could be an overuse issue (e.g. bursitis) but I’m not sure. Walking barefoot was initially uncomfortable, but improved after a couple days’ rest. Wearing heel cups and/or cushioned shoes has helped a lot, and I did wear heel cups for today’s run, and will continue to do so for the time being, as I continue to assess this.

Zeke’s Festivus Roast AeroPress

  • Beans: “Festivus Roast” (Indonesia/Central America/South America)
    • Dark roast (7/8)
    • Roaster: Zeke’s Coffee (Baltimore, MD)
    • Roast date: 11/27/2023

Initial Recipe

  • JX: 2 turns (Grind setting 20)
  • 83°C brew water / 99°C bypass water
  • 20g coffee / 200g brew water + 50g bypass water (1:12.5)
  • Two paper filters, pre-moistened
  • Recipe: An AeroPress Recipe by Tim Wendelboe
  1. Set AeroPress up in standard orientation and rinse filters
  2. Add 200g water to AeroPress and return kettle to base
  3. Stir 3 times back to front
  4. Insert plunger and pull up to stop dripping
  5. Turn kettle up to 99°C
  6. Steep for 60 seconds
  7. Remove plunger and stir 3 times back to front again
  8. Insert plunger and press slowly
  9. Add 50g bypass water

Best Recipe

  • JX: Grind setting 16 (1.5 turns plus 3 clicks, or 48 total clicks)
  • 85°C brew water (no bypass)
  • 18g coffee / 225g brew water
  • Prismo with metal filter
  • Insulated mug (Hydro Flask or similar)
  1. Set AeroPress up in standard orientation and add ground coffee
  2. Start timer and add 225g water, finishing at around 0:35, and stir 4-5 times back to front
  3. Cover AeroPress to minimize heat loss (I set the plunger on top)
  4. Steep until around 2:10 (1 minute 35 seconds)
  5. Stir 4-5 times back to front again
  6. Insert plunger and press slowly (I use just enough pressure to keep the Prismo valve open)
  7. Put lid on mug immediately to retain heat

The “initial recipe” turned out really good the first time I brewed it. Compared to the pourover cups I’ve been making recently, it was smoother and had more of a chocolaty note to it. It makes me wonder if I can tweak the pourover recipe to get a similar result. I used a finer grind setting for the AeroPress, but I don’t think I’d want to go much finer with the pourover, as it already had a slight edge of bitterness. The AeroPress cup had no hint of bitterness at all. It definitely seemed stronger than the pourover (maybe a little too strong, actually 😀), so I’m wondering if the longer steep time leads to more bean extraction at the lower water temperature. I suppose that I if I wanted to reduce the caffeine hit, I could skip the bypass and brew 200g water with 16g coffee, but I liked that the hotter bypass water brought the cup up to (what I consider to be) an ideal drinking temperature. I’ll have to give this some thought.

12/6: The same recipe with 18g coffee (1:14) had similar flavor, but (predictably) less body. I think I’d be best off brewing a little bit less coffee at a stronger ratio. A few possibilities:

  1. 200g water with 16g coffee and no bypass
  2. 160g water with 16g coffee and 40g bypass (total 200g)
  3. 180g water with 18g coffee and 45g bypass (total 225g)

All 3 recipes keep a 1:12.5 ratio. #2 and #3 are identical to 12/5’s recipe, just with proportionally less water and coffee. I think I’m going to try #3 tomorrow.

12/7: I’m not sure why, but option #3 (from above) turned out really bad. It had no flavor at all, and had I not known better, I would have thought I was drinking hot water. Maybe I did something wrong, as it seems like simply reducing all of the quantities by 10% shouldn’t have that big of an effect. Whatever the case, I’m probably not going to try #2 or #3 again.

12/8: The same recipe that was great on 12/5 (20g coffee at grind setting 20, 200g brew water at 83°, 50g bypass at 99°) was not good today. It was marginally better than yesterday’s, but still watery and lacking in flavor. Not sure what the reason is for the inconsistency. I thought perhaps that yesterday I had forgotten to tighten the filter cap on the AeroPress, but that was not the issue today. I don’t think there was much variation in my brewing technique, so I’m a little bit perplexed.

12/9: Decided to shake things up today: 18g coffee at grind setting 15, 200g brew water at 83°, 25g bypass at 99°. This is a much finer grind and a lower ratio of bypass to brew water. Due to the fine grind, there was less initial drip-through, and more plunging resistance. I pressed very slowly, backing off at any hint of back-pressure. This was a much better cup than either of the previous two. I guess the finer grind was the difference-maker, but it doesn’t explain why the first two cups at grind setting 20 were good, but the next two were under-extracted.

12/12: I’ve been brewing the 12/9 recipe for a few days now, and the main issue is that the coffee cools too fast after brewing, even when I brew it into an insulated Hydro Flask mug. I may try nudging the water temperature up closer to 90 to see what happens. If it ends up tasting bitter, I can make the grind slightly coarser.

12/13 and 12/14: I picked up a Fellow Prismo this week, mainly because I wanted to be able to brew “drip free” without having to invert the AeroPress. Yesterday, I brewed with 18g coffee at grind setting 20, 200g brew water at 85°, and 25g bypass water at boiling. It definitely had a different flavor from the same recipe brewed with the standard cap and filter. It had more of a smooth mouthfeel, but maybe not quite as strong. No hint of bitterness. Today, I tried 17g coffee at grind setting 20, 200g brew water at 90°, and no bypass. The cup stayed hot longer, but the taste had a little bit of bitterness to it. I am going to continue playing around with the Prismo over the next several days, and see if I can get something dialed in. (Note– did I actually use setting 20? Had been using 15 since 12/9).

12/15: 200g brew water at 85°, 20g coffee at grind setting 15 (confirmed), 25g bypass water at boiling. I meant to brew this at 1:12.5, but mistakenly used 250g as the divisor, and thus ended up at 1:11.25. Regardless, for whatever reason, this cup was watery and flavorless. The common thread among the bad cups I’ve gotten seems to be the 1:10 brew ratio. I found a really good article that discusses the relationship between water and coffee volume and how it affects strength vs extraction. It’s the best, most succinct write-up on the subject that I’ve found. In a nutshell, (more coffee with the same water volume) == (more strength but less extraction [flavor]). This would seem to explain why the coffee tastes better when I brew 18g coffee to 200g water, vs 20g to 200g. The article recommends dialing in the strength first, then adjusting extraction by varying grind size, temperature, and/or immersion time.

12/16: 200g brew water at 85° (overshot slightly, so probably more like 205g), 18g coffee at grind setting 16. I also added a (dry) paper filter in front of the metal Prismo filter. I steeped from 0:35 until around 2:05 (including the initial stir), which is about 30 seconds longer than I had previously been steeping. I stirred in a back-and-forth motion and pressed slowly. This was much, much better than yesterday’s cup. I tried it with no bypass water initially, but it was too strong, so I added around 20g which brought it to probably about 1:12.5. I think that the combination of lower ratio of coffee to brew water, plus longer steep time, led to better extraction. I’m not sure if the paper filter made any difference — I added it mainly to see if it would help with cleanup, but it was kind of a push. It saved me having to rinse off the metal filter, but I still had to shake the two out of the Prismo cap and pry them apart, which isn’t really any less messy.

12/17: Brewed the same recipe as yesterday, and got another very good cup. For the record, the exact steep time after finishing the pour was 1 minute 35 seconds (0:35 until 2:10). I left out the paper filter this time, and did not notice much difference. The longer steep time seems to be the big difference-maker with this recipe.

12/19: Decided to try brewing with the full amount of 225g water (at 85°) and no bypass. I kept everything else the same (18g coffee at grind setting 16, 1 minute 35 second steep time, slow press). I think this turned out a little better than brewing with 200g water + 25g bypass. However, it’s definitely important to use an insulated mug to keep the coffee from cooling too quickly.

12/22: Used up the last of the beans. I’ll likely use “best recipe” (above) as a starting point for the next dark roast I buy, and see how it turns out.