For you stalwart inquirers into the art of brewing the absolute best cup of coffee, and whether said holy grail is (shudder) even approachable utilizing the Bunn Trifecta MB, and furthermore whether patiently following this particular blog will eventually pay off in erstwhile long-promised carefully qualified prose deriving from empirical evidence of Trifecta goodness, badness, or meh-ness, take heart:
I have finally met the Trifecta and it is more than good. It is so good as to completely eclipse my own efforts using the CafeSolo.
"And how does that make you feel?"
"Bad, Doc, really bad."
"Can you elaborate on this feeling?"
"Like, inadequate, you know--"
"Impotent? Perhaps undersized?"
"Hey, I said inadequate!"
But I'm getting ahead of myself...
The Final Seven
As you recall from Part 4, we were halfway through the list of details one might want to attend to in the effort of improving their brewed coffee.
8. Infuse with oxygen to improve flavor rendering
Unfortunately, I was never able to verify this empirically. But based on anecdotal evidence from blogs and the fact that my coffee tended to improve after it sat a while, I felt there was no harm in giving the thermal carafe a good shake after sealing it.
9. Use better quality water with optimal mineral content
I had wrestled with this one for some time. Imagine how disappointed I was to learn that my brand new state-of-the-art ion exchange filter was producing water that was deemed too pure for proper flavor extraction. So, even though our own filtered water tastes good to me and my wife, we use bottled water (Fiji water) for all our coffee brewing. Empirically, the results were too close to be attributable to just the water. Even though I felt there might have been an improvement, it might have been psychological. And the fact that we add cream and sugar could actually result in compensating for the pure water. I have read at least one person's post suggesting that flavor extraction continues to such a great extent from solids in your cup, that adding the minerals after the fact might make an appreciable difference. As I've said, I think the mineral water does help, but the results are too close for me to tell without a single blind A/B test.
10. Refine execution of grinding and measuring so grounds don't sit a long time and get stale in the few minutes before you use them
Yup, saw this in a blog somewhere, too. So I now make a point of trying to get the grinding done within one minute of brewing. Just in case. Maybe all these little tweaks add up, right?
11. Use dissolved solid density analysis to evaluate success
Many of you will undoubtedly have read the fearful tales of using "Extract Mojo" or similar iPhone or Android apps in conjunction with a TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) meter or a refractometer or a hydrometer or some other expensive laboratory equipment to obtain precise readings leading to the golden cup. But after reading a good sampling of these on Sweet Maria's or Coffee Geek, I have found that there are perhaps only a handful of professed experts in the bunch using such tools, with the vast majority of well intentioned wannabees trying to achieve similar reproducible results and failing. Not just once--a lot. So much, in fact, that your typical post seems to be on the order of discussion about why someone's results don't make any sense and blaming it on their false assumptions about the accuracy of their measuring technique and maybe they should try a more elaborate distillation process or buy a more expensive piece of equipment but hey if we just assume there's always a 12% offset in the calibration then the results make sense so let's just go ahead and make that assumption and never mind the departure from scientific validity we want to feel good about our process regardless of the outcome. And all the while, even these people must bow to the inevitable truth, which is...
12. Taste your own coffee to evaluate success
Of course, I have to use cream and sugar. Bummer. So when I want to know how good my coffee is black, I do the next best thing...
13. Have other people taste your coffee
Seriously. To me, what often tastes one-dimensional before I add sugar tastes amazing to others. No exaggerration--I get the heads shaking in disbelief, the spontaneous volunteering to pay donations if I just keep making more, etc. On a relative basis, I can tell when my coffee has improved. But I'm usually clueless as to whether I'm making it too strong to drink black. So I keep relying on my coworkers to give me feedback. To my surprise, they've all told me not to change a thing. Go figure.
Which brings us back to where this all started...
14. Taste other peoples' coffee
And what happened when I tried my first cup of Trifecta coffee brewed extra strong, the way I like it.
To be concluded.
"Is that all you've got?"