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Coffee: Articles: Tips & Tricks for the BUNN Pour-0-Matic
I'm a big fan of the Bunn home coffee brewer. I use mine
every day -- several times a day, most often. Among the available
auto-drip brewers on the market today, I think it stands head and
shoulders above the competition. It has a fairly large brew basket, it
offers pretty good brew turbulence, and, it consistently brews at an
optimal temperature... usually right around 195º-197º F. Even so, it's
not without its quirks.
For one thing, its brew time is just a bit too
fast. While this does minimize the morning wait for that first cup of
strong, black coffee, it does so at the expense of optimal flavor
extraction. And while the brew basket is passable large, it's not quite
large enough to contain a filter filled to SCCA recommended proportions of
eight standard coffee measures [SCM] for a full 8 cup pot. [Since most
folks tend to use half of that amount of coffee - or less - this isn't an
issue that affects everyone.]
I've collected a number of tricks along the way
that I use to get the best possible coffee from the Bunn. And while each
is little more than a minor tweak, together they can add up to a
substantial improvement in your coffee cup.
Keep the exposed bits clean. Really clean. While the
shape of the Bunn carafe is something of a challenge, it's nothing a
flexible brush can't handle, and baking soda makes an easy-to-rinse
scrubbing agent. Every now and then, give the works a good soak with
Urnex or Purocaf, commercially available coffee cleansers. Don't
forget to scrub the filter-basket, which has lots of nooks and
crannies where old coffee oils can collect. You can attack this with a
stiff nylon brush, or again go for a good soak and scrub with a coffee
Keep the inside clean, too. Especially if
you've got hard water. Lime-scale buildup is an almost certain
eventuality... it likes to collect in the spray-head where it will
block the spray outlets and diminish turbulence in the filter basket.
Lime-scale can also build up in the water reservoir, effectively
insulating the heating elements. Serious build-up can reduce the brew
temperature of your Bunn, which will result in underextracted [weak,
To de-scale the water reservoir, unplug the
brewer, pour in two quarts of white vinegar and let it soak for at
least three hours to loosen the scale. When it's done soaking, flush
the vinegar [and dissolved scale] out with at least a dozen pots of
water--and be prepared to keep flushing with fresh water till you
can't taste vinegar anymore.
Use good water. Bad tasting water makes bad-tasting
Grind your coffee as fine as you can without the
grounds spilling over the filter into the brew basket [and eventually
into the carafe.] Because the Bunn's brew cycle is so short, it's
important to maximize the extraction that does happen. Finely
ground coffee helps. If you see coffee grounds in the carafe, grind a
bit more coarsely next time.
If you're using very freshly roasted coffee
[for example, coffee you've roasted yourself] allow a few extra
minutes between grinding and brewing. By allowing the ground coffee a
bit of extra time to out-gas CO2 you decrease the likelihood of
creating carbonic acid in your brew -- a sharp-tasting compound that
is just spiffy in soft drinks, but not so good in coffee.
Use the Bunn brand coffee filters, which are a bit
taller than their generic counterparts. Taller filters mean you can
grind more finely, or load more coffee in the filter, or both.
Rinse the paper filter in fresh water before you load
it with coffee. While there's no particular reason to believe there
are nasty chemicals and such in the filter, there's every reason to
believe that it's coated in paper dust that would eventually find its
way to your cup.
When your coffee has brewed, pour it into a pre-heated
thermal carafe -- don't use the built-in warmer. There are few flavors
worse than coffee that's been cooked for an hour on a warmer plate
[except maybe coffee that's been cooked for two hours on a
While you can't brew a full 8-cup pot at the specialty
coffee trade recommendations of two tablespoons per cup [the filter
basket will overflow - big time] you can brew a 6-cup pot. Use
a Bunn filter [for the added height] and load your filter basket with
six standard coffee measures [12 tablespoons of ground coffee] and
pour 36 oz. of water. If you've been grinding very fine [see #4] you
may need to back off a bit, and grind a smidge more coarsely to keep
the basket from overflowing.
While loading the basket to specialty coffee
proportions for a 6-cup pot will give you the best extraction possible
in your Bunn, the resulting brew may taste a bit strong. Simply dump
the used grounds from the basket, reinsert the empty basket, and pour
over another 6 ounces of water. Voila! You now have 8 cups of
great-tasting, perfectly extracted coffee.
That's all... for now
There you have it... ten tips for brewing better coffee with your Bunn. If
you've got tips to contribute, I'd be happy to increase this list
accordingly. After all, the world doesn't need another top ten list... it
needs better coffee.