I'm presently drinking Liberacion, a single origin coffee from Union Blend. I've been impressed by every coffee I have had from Union so far. This coffee is different. I've struggled to detect the flavors written in the tasting notes. I've found a few of the cups I have brewed to be flat. This has made me somewhat doubt my brewing skills. I have felt like I've taken a step back in my journey to brewing better coffee.
I read an article earlier today about keeping a coffee journal. I tried taking detailed tasting notes of every cup I consumed and the process quickly got out of hand. I could not keep up with taking notes on the two cups of coffee I consumed each day. I mostly gave up because I was not getting any value out of the process. Coffee became more about taking notes about what I was tasting than enjoying each cup. My take away from the article was that changing up my brewing process is not something I should avoid. I can experiment.
I've stuck with the same Aeropress recipe for the last few months. It took me a while to refine my recipe. My recipe is a mix of many tips I've read in the past. I let the coffee bloom for 30 seconds before I pour all the water into the brewing chamber. I stop pushing as soon as I start to hear a hissing sound. I've written about my brewing process on this blog before.
My dissatisfaction with the coffee I am brewing has prompted me to change my tune. I decided that I'd change my brewing process.
Using a New Recipe
Earlier today, I went for a more radical change. I looked to see if Steampunk had an Aeropress brewing guide on their website. I found one. The main difference between their recipe and mine is that their recipe does not call for blooming as a separate part of brewing. Their recipe encourages the brewer to pour all the water into the chamber. I wanted to try their recipe to see whether it would help me get more out of the Union Coffee beans.
I found that the recipe did not work well for this coffee. The cup I made tasted somewhat flat. I struggled to taste any of the flavors listed on the tasting notes. I know, the problem may be that everyone tastes differently. I have considered that as an option. I do not always taste all the flavors written on a bag of coffee. This time was different. I felt like the coffee had more to offer. I just was not extracting enough flavors.
Increasing the Brewing Time
I mentally noted that one of my recent brews tasted somewhat sour. This is characteristic of beans that have been underextracted. My grinder is using the same setting as I've used for other beans. I have had no problems with my grind size. I use a medium-to-fine grind with my Aeropress, about the coarseness of sea salt. Grind size could not be the problem.
I decided to return to my original recipe this afternoon. I did make one change. I lengthened my brew time by 15 seconds. I hoped that this would let me extract more flavors from the coffee. I did not want to lengthen my brew time by too much otherwise I could have made the coffee taste bitter. I was on board for changing my recipe but I want to make incremental changes. I knew something was not quite right. I was not sure what the issue was.
The cup I made this afternoon tasted fruitier. I started to get more prominent grape notes in the flavor. I cannot taste the dark chocolate or custard creams that the tasting notes say. That is fine. I am happy that I'm able to get more of a fruity flavor. The coffee tasted a bit sweeter. This may be because I was eating a KitKat Chunky alongside my coffee. I do think that the coffee itself had a bit of sweetness. Coffee sweetness and sugar feel different to me.
I am going to increase my brewing time by a further 15 seconds tomorrow. I feel like I am heading in the right direction. I've unlocked more from the LIberacion coffee. This change has increased my confidence in my ability to brew good coffee. I've learned that a one-size-fits-all recipe may not work. Some beans may need more attention from me. I've given the Liberacion beans attention because I've just opened the bag. I do not want to drink subpar coffee for the next week or so just because I'm reluctant to experiment with my brewing process.
I've refrained from writing about this coffee because my thoughts are inconclusive. I had a good first experience but I've thought something is missing ever since I opened the bag and brewed my first cup. I want to write a full review of the Liberacion beans once I am confident I have extracted them to their prime. I wonder whether increasing the brew time will help me get more out of other coffees I drink. I'll need to experimentr.
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