Bunn Trifecta Home Review

by Coffee Kevin on February 6, 2012

Bunn Trifecta Home
As one of the earliest manufacturers of an autodrip coffeemaker, Bunn is not known for change. The Trifecta Home is going to wake up Bunn’s critics. It is not an extension or variation of any previous design of theirs or anyone’s. It is a totally new concept. It is bold.

The Trifecta Home takes the best from several coffee brewing methods, elevating the art of control during brewing. It steeps coffee like a French press. It agitates the brewing chamber during contact and forces finished brew through the exit hole upon completion, emulating the best of vacuum coffee brewing. In fact, the Trifecta Home appears to be everything except what Bunn is most known for, that is a drip coffeemaker.

Let’s get this out of the way early: The Trifecta Home is not Bunn’s new home espresso machine, and to me that’s a good thing. What is the Trifecta Home? It is a new coffee high-extraction brewer that wrenches every precious bit of acidity from coffee, allowing some very focused user control over some physical variables for the first time in an automatic coffeemaker. Why am I happy that it is not an espresso machine? Acidity = the high notes, the most expensive flavor ingredient of the best coffee beans. Light roasted single origin coffees fired out as espresso shots give you acrid, overlit flavors. These same coffees in the Trifecta and will give you beautifully extracted balanced coffee with the full spectrum of tastes.

Perhaps the Trifecta Home will be compared mostly to the commercial Clover machine. I’ve tried both side by side and the Clover accentuates a low bitter note in almost every coffee I’ve tried in it, and the Trifecta does not. I limited my comparisons, but it may be naught anyway since Clover, after being bought outright by Starbucks, appears to be all but gone. Certainly, no one has suggested a Clover Home is forthcoming.

Meanwhile, apparently Bunn’s years of underextracting grounds using shorter-than-average contact times has paid off. The Trifecta Home’s contact time is short, a minute or so. The two longer settings are for tea. I did try doing coffee at the tea setting, but preferred the three coffee settings overall.

The brewing contact temperature is smack dab at 200°F, as usual for a Bunn machine. An ‘instant on’ steady temperature is especially important given its brief grounds/water contact time. Bunn is known for good, consistent water temperature, and the Trifecta Home is no exception. Unlike most earlier Bunn drip machines, the Trifecta Home has no onboard heated tank. I found even if I unplugged the Trifecta Home and plugged it in a minute before brewing, the temperature and startup time remained roughly the same. If it is not instant-on, it is very, very close to it.

The Trifecta Home injects air to agitate the brew. The number of times it does this during brewing is one of two user adjustments. Bunn claims varied agitation tilts the body versus acidity of the coffee. More agitation reduces acidity; Less agitation reduces body. My tastings confirm this. Turbulence in coffee is just like it is on an airplane flight… air bubbles that shake things up. Bunn’s promoted its use of turbulence in brewing for a while now. The Trifecta has finally convinced me they know how to use it to make better coffee.

Turbulence!
At the brew cycle’s conclusion the coffee is forced from the brewing chamber down into the supplied beaker/carafe with such vigor the spent coffee grounds are almost completely dry. I suspect they are using air pressure to force the liquid out so thoroughly. Regardless of how, the combined turbulence and efficient separation of the grounds and brewed coffee do the best job of extracting and leaving no liquid behind in the grounds of any brewer I’ve yet tested, matching vacuum brewers and espresso machines.

Interesting: Bunn recommends using coarse ground coffee. I’ve suggested this for years. Maybe we’ve both learned something from each other. Interestingly, after a month or so I found I backed off from the recommended 22 grams of coarse grounds per 12 ounces water brewing formula. I got my best results using 18 grams fine grounds per 12 ounces water. This is my preferred Trifecta Home recipe with almost any coffee I’ve yet tried as of this writing.

The cups are so good, so rich and full-flavored, nothing is missing. The amount of coffee produced, between one and two six-ounce cups, is just about perfect for two. Considering how many people have one or two cups, it’s, from a ‘mileage’ point of view, economical, and doesn’t fill trash heaps like the Keurigs do. It’s worth noting that the Bunn Home Trifecta also does a single 6 ounce cup with equal aplomb. Few machines so equally match taste when you change batch size.

Oren’s Daily Roast’s Ethiopian Longberry Harrar had all the flower you could ask of it and, believe me, this is one beautiful floral bomb! Stumptown’s Guatemala Antigua Buenavista did itself proud with the unique black cherry and milk chocolate notes I so enjoyed in this bean. I Have A Bean’s Uganda Bugisu Kapchorwa, which I’d brewed recently in a manual pourover, just burst forth with cinnamon and malt flavors and a powerful complexity that justified this machine’s ability to carefully agitate the water while in contact with the grounds in controlled doses. I could literally dial in this complexity to alter the balance. Consider that once I adjusted the settings just so, I could repeat these perfect cups in succession reliably, almost casually. This is a significant benefit. Before the Trifecta Home, I felt I could have perfection or consistency, but typically not both. And that’s the Trifecta Home’s true greatness.

Some folks will ask me, “Kevin, do you really expect me to put $500 into a coffeemaker during these economic times?” Hey, I’m not a 1%’er. Yes, $500 is a lot of money, even to me (ha!). I believe you can probably match the cup quality, although I’m honestly not certain, using your best vacuum, Chemex, Hario, Aeropress technique. But, every time? The Trifecta Home is for the coffee aficionado who wants the best, wants it consistently, and wants ease in achieving this perfection. And, I do mean perfection.

The cost of entry is high, but to someone who spent $500 on a DSLR camera, a plasma TV, or other top consumer gear it’s in line. How about a decent prosumer home espresso maker? If you like coffee, single-origin coffee as much as I do, you’ll just accept it as the cost of entry to a big step up in our hobby. Let’s put it this way. If you own one of these, I’ll never again worry about giving you coffee for your birthday and wonder if you will begin to taste what I can taste when I brew it. Let’s see: a state-of-the-art, made in America machine that brews coffee like a top café barista. What more do you want?

It’s the machine I’ve waited for since I started drinking coffee. If you can afford one, it’s a no-brainer. Bunn knocked it out of the ballpark with this one. The Bunn Trifecta Home almost deserves to rename a cup of coffee a Trifecta, it’s that outstanding. It defines the state-of-brewing-art according to me and The Coffee Companion.

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve G February 19, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Where is this sold for $500? Everywhere I look online has it in the $2300-3000 range. Way to much for any single cup brewer. $500 is way too steep when I can boil water and manually pour for almost free.

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Coffee Kevin February 19, 2012 at 10:40 pm

I believe you are confusing the Trifecta Home with a Commercial version. The Home will be introduced this Saturday at CoffeeCON. The $500 price seems fair to me, but each must decide his own price limit and the value one places upon convenience, performance and repeatability. I think the Trifecta ushers in a new era in high-definition brewing. If you get the chance, try it. I’m not convinced you can necessarily match the Trifecta as easily as you claim, but it would be fun trying.

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glen poss February 24, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Looks super Kevin, would be interested to see how it and its price point is received.

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LIz May 30, 2012 at 8:40 am

We’ve had the Bunn STX coffee maker for a coulpe of months now. It replaced out 10 year old Bunn BT-10 that develop a leak. Pluses: Design. It’s gorgeous! Looks like something Jonathan Ivee of Apple would design. Form follows function here (always a good thing) but form is fantastic! Good hot coffee fast. Less than 5 minutes for a carafe full of perfect coffee. Can’t beat that. Customer service. As good as it gets. Minuses: The carafe. You cannot pour out all the coffee in the carafe without taking the lid off. Towards the end of the carafe, coffee will start to come out of the hole in the lid. And the rubber seal in the top of the lid was not well thought out. It comes out easily. I washed the lid in the dishwasher (top rack) and it must’ve come out. I didn’t notice it till later. I emailed Bunn customer service and they sent me two of them for free. I love their customer service. With the old BT-10, the deliming tool was a steel spring-type contraption. Ours got rusty and Bunn customer service sent us a new one free of charge. So, would I buy it again? Yes. I only wish the carafe was more like our old BT-10.

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Coffee Kevin September 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm

For what it’s worth, I prefer the old lids too, Liz.

JeffPersson February 26, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Kevin,

I’m curious to know how the Bunn trifecta MB did on its debut at CoffeeCon. From your article it sounds very promising. I’ve been sitting at the checkout screen on the Bunn site for hours hoping to hear some feedback from CoffeeCon before taking the plunge.

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Coffee Kevin February 26, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Hi Jeff, Well, I was a bit busy at the event, but I did meet some folks coming out who’d bought one and they seemed pretty happy. The Bunn Lab was packed all day – the one time I peeked in, they had increased the number on each machine to three and there was a line. I suspect they’re discovering a market for a machine like this that, until now, the appliance industry suits thought didn’t exist. Even the Bunn folks seemed surprised at the response. My review speaks for itself and I’ve got nothing but good things to say so far and I’ve been using one for roughly 4 months now.

Good luck.

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JeffPersson February 27, 2012 at 12:00 am

Thanks for the quick response Kevin. You are always a wealth of knowledge. I re-read your review just now and watched one of the vids that has hit YouTube and I’m sold. Just finalized my order and look forward to giving it a try. It should pair well with the Baratza Vario-W I’ve been planning to buy to grind for my various drip/pourover brew methods and the Mini Vivaldi II.

Thanks again.

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Coffee Kevin February 27, 2012 at 12:25 am

Great, Jeff. I probably shouldn’t kibbutz, but if you haven’t yet decided on the Vario, I’d recommend checking out the Preciso conical burr grinder. The conical burr does a better job with most drip and coarser grinds. The Vario-W does better with espresso due to the flat head design. I don’t pay that much attention to prices, but the Preciso may actually be less expensive. Hope this is helpful.

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JeffPersson February 27, 2012 at 12:41 am

Thanks for the heads up.

Rajeev May 29, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Review by Eric Lindstrom for Rating: We purchased our unit at Thanksgiving wannitg the usual Bunn benefits of a quick brew at the proper temperature. It delivered as expected until the past two weeks. At about the 60 day mark the underside of the brew chamber where the spray head is attached started coming loose and we had to snap it back in. Well today it just crumbled into pieces, seemed to be brittle from the heat. If I did not see it happen it looks like someone took a hammer to it, the power switch is just hanging loose in front of the unit. Frankly, I love the coffeemaker and the new swivel lid, it eliminates the need for the pitcher which I like. I agree with other reviews that the carafe lid is flimsy and first appears to not fit well but as it gets warm it settles in place. This does give an initial impression of cheap manufacturing. If not for the meltdown of the whole body of the unit I would have rated it a 5 star brewer.

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Matt Willson February 27, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Would a Breville Smart Grinder be able to grind coarse enough for your preferred grind? I’m disabled, and it would seem to be easier to get a more consistent dosage when dialed in.

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Coffee Kevin February 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Yes, I think so. I used close to a Chemex grind which is slightly coarser then drip. I found it worked well. The ideal grinder is a conical grinder, but any decent grinder should get you there. My guess is you will be fine. One advantage to a steep method, especially one that uses pressure to force the coffee out, is that it is the less grind dependent than say a drip maker.

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barkingburro February 29, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Kevin,

Thank you for the excellent review. After refining my technique using the CafeSolo and Sowden Softbrew, I think the Bunn Trifecta may even be a step up and certainly a lot more fun to use and improve my technique on a daily basis.

I had a link to your old wordpress site and so thought you had stopped blogging. I was happy to stumble across a link to this site. Of all the coffee reviewers, I think I enjoy reading your posts the most. Thanks again!

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barkingburro March 1, 2012 at 12:23 am

Kevin,

I forgot to ask: how has the plastic brew chamber held up in the four months you have been using the Trifecta? Is there noticeable discoloration or abrasion?

Thanks again (again).

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Coffee Kevin March 1, 2012 at 5:22 am

Thanks for the kind words, barkingburro. No issues so far with the slide-in brew chamber. The metal filter inside seems fine too, even after a few trips through the dishwasher.

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Vishad March 9, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I just got my Trifecta MB. I ground some Klatch Costa Rican coffee. I used the suggested A setting for turbulence and 40 sec infusion time. However, the coffee came out rather light colored and tasted stale. The beans are only a week old and have been stored in a sealed bag. My cheap drip machine gave me more robust flavors. I next changed the settings to D and 2 minutes; the coffee tasted a little better, but still not what I thought it used to taste like.

Do you know what could cause this? Alternatively, do you think that maybe my drip machine has just left me with the wrong taste of coffee?

Thanks for the help.

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Coffee Kevin March 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Hello. I think you have three things going on. 1. The coffee you are tasting is going to be fine, but I think you need to be prepared to play with the parameters. Small setting differences can make big flavor differences. The coffee sounds pretty fresh, so that should not be an issue. I do want to suggest that some coffee flavors that give a homogenized taste in your batch drip maker may be very different as you perform a higher resolution extraction. I may have mentioned this in the review, but I know my first session with the Trifecta was disappointing. I needed to play with it. Keep trying and also don’t be afraid to play with the grind. I used a fine grind for a while, before moving towards a coarser grind. Strange as it sounds, as I’ve lived with it, I’m finding I prefer it less strong, as I detect and enjoy the subtler flavor notes.

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Vishad March 9, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Thanks for the info. I’ll keep trying different settings. Funny enough, once the coffee cools below 200-degrees, I can taste the subtle differences–which I obviously couldn’t through drip machine.

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Barb March 17, 2012 at 10:39 am

Hi Kevin, We recently purchased the Trifecta after visiting it at coffee-con and just picked up some Uganda Bugisu Kapchorwa at I Have A Bean. We’re curious to know your thought about what grind and settings might be a good place to begin experimenting from. Thanks and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Coffee Kevin March 17, 2012 at 11:19 am

Hello, and congratulations. I would try 1/4 cup beans, which is around 20-22grams of coffee and use a slightly coarse grind. Note that the Trifecta is less grind dependent than a drip coffeemaker. Grind has almost no effect on the contact time. I use a scale and for a while I was using 18grams of coffee and a finer grind. I finally decided the coffee was slightly better with a bit more coffee and less weight. As far as settings, I found I liked the longest coffee time setting almost without fail. I played with the turbulence and finally decided this is the control that varies most depending upon the coffee itself.
Hope this is helpful. Feel free to touch base and let us know your progress.
Oh yes, Happy St Patrick’s Day to you as well.

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Vijay June 1, 2012 at 8:54 pm

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barkingburro April 16, 2012 at 12:22 am

Kevin,

I finally got a chance to try the Trifecta MB, and I was blown away. I have it on order and hope to take delivery soon. Please feel free to see my review in the link.

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Coffee Kevin April 16, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Hello. So pleased to hear it. I will look at your review.

Warmly,
Kevin

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Erik April 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm

What are the dimensions of the machine? I’m sold, I just want to make sure it fits!!

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Coffee Kevin April 18, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Mine aren’t exact but roughly 16″h x 10″w x 12″d. I’d contact Bunn for exact dimnensions.

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Erik April 19, 2012 at 6:30 am

Thanks for the info Kevin. It is much appreciated!

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tom barber April 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I read the second consumer review of the machine on the Bunn Website and am concerned by the follwing comment: “The first time you try the brew, it will taste weak. Indeed, the coffee will be a lot less dark than you would normally get from another type of machine. This is how it is supposed to be..” The review then goes on to say how we’ve been bombarded with strong flat coffe and that the weak brew will be a welcome change once you get used to picking out the distinct notes. I really don’t like weak tasting coffee no matter how distinct the notes are. I like my coffee bold and strong. I was ready to purchase, had my card out, then read this. Can you tell me if this review is accurate?

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Coffee Kevin April 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Hi Tom, Tough question because strength is very personal. I understand that that review is saying. Bunn has always erred on a non-bitter cup. To some, this is weak as bitterness does mean strength. Ok? Let me assure you it is very possible to get a very strong cup of coffee using a Trifecta. If necessary you can move it into the “tea” brewing setting, which prolongs the brew and ups the strength. You can also up the grounds-to-water ratio. You will find the coffee plenty strong. What you will not find is bitterness. Does that help? I hope so.

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tom barber May 2, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Absolutely. Thanks so much!

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barkingburro April 26, 2012 at 9:58 am

Tom, I saw that same review and felt it was counter to my own experience as well as the consensus among several other reviewers. Granted, I do updose, but in comparison to my other brewing gear, I was impressed by the increase in flavor. I would call that a stronger brew–with none of the downside that word implies.

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barkingburro April 28, 2012 at 9:01 am

Ok, I just wanted to insert this addendum. Since taking receipt of my new Trifecta, I have tried brewing twice under suboptimal conditions. I didn’t use the right water (mine is pure like RO water) and I ground too coarse. Also, the second time I did not updose, using approx. 12 grams for 6 ounces of water. Both times the coffee was exceptional and the flavors were bold. Perhaps someone can show me how to brew a poor cup using the Trifecta, because God knows I’ve tried and failed.

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tom barber May 2, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Ok, sounds great. Now I’m excited.

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Coffee Kevin May 2, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Keep us in the loop, Tom.

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Coffee Kevin April 28, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Good point. Removing the gravity versus grind resistance variable inherent in drip brewing was a big step forward in my opinion.

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tom barber May 5, 2012 at 10:38 am

Got it today. Makes great tasting coffee. Had an initial issue with one of the brew chambers leaking as soon as water hit the brew chamber, but think I have that under control after removing the screen and check valve and flushing. The other brew chamber seems fine. One question though : when selecting turbulence b through e, machine goes through the initial infusion, then goes through 3 turbulence cycles regardless of whether I choose B,C,D,or E. Is this normal? Is it the velocity of turbulence that the switch controls or the number of cycles? The time switch works and the time varies just fine when adjusting this switch. Tried to call the number on the instruction book with the machine but got a rapid busy signal.

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Coffee Kevin May 7, 2012 at 9:13 am

Okay, Tom. I decided to consult with Bunn. Here’s what they told me…

“Selecting turbulence A has no pre-infusion.

Selecting turbulence cycle B-E are all different.

The pre-infusion water amount, pause time and energy of the pre-infusion bubble cycle all change.
Once brew cycle continues, the on/off cycle time, intensity of the air infusion (bubbles), and push out force all vary.

As we developed the “recipes” we learned the on/off total times only varied by a few seconds.
For instance, on/off for C is 6/10, and on/off for E is 5/12, for total times of 16 and 17 seconds, respectively.

Entirely likely you would see the same number of on/off cycles when switching between those
turbulence cycle settings. The min and max total times for all settings are 13 to 17 seconds.

The fun thing is the often dramatic differences in the brewed cup you will note as you change
those turbulence cycle settings. Small adjustments in the air infusion cycle will amplify and highlight
different notes in the great coffees you are brewing.

Happy Brewing”

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tom barber May 7, 2012 at 10:43 am

Thanks so much for finding all this out for me!

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Janoko May 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Review by FOBO for Rating: We just bought this Bunn cfeofe maker to replace one that had been in use for almost fifteen years. We average two pots of cfeofe per day. Prorate $100 over 15 years. Not real expensive per year. Our old Bunn failed because I didn’t use common sense when handling it. I picked up the unit by the upper plastic portion of the cfeofe maker when moving it for cleaning, etc. With the water in the reservoir there’s too much weight to pick it up that way. This broke some of the internal joints and caused leaking. Be smarter than me pick it up by the base or vertical center section when its full of water. That’s the main thing I wanted to say to those owning this cfeofe maker.The other reviewers have stated all the great features of Bunn cfeofe makers, so I won’t detail them again. This is our third Bunn and I wouldn’t consider anything else. Well ..to be honest, I was tempted to buy a Bunn commercial cfeofe maker like the VP17-1. Good luck.

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Carlo June 3, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Thanks for the great review and all of the opinions and feedback. I’m close to pulling the trigger but have a question about water. The online instruction manual says to not use “mineral-free” water like RO or distilled, so what are people typically using? And any problems with scale buildup? Thanks.

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Coffee Kevin June 3, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Hi Carlo, Bunn likely follows the industry’s 100 tds (total dissolved solids) recommendation. The concept is a certain amount of minerals adds some flavor. I would follow it, but I really suspect the industry made those recommendations based upon devising simple brewing formulas using the most commonly available water. For instance, I have brewed coffee with very low mineral bottled waters such as Poland Springs with no problem. So far, no scale buildup problems for me at all, but I haven’t been using it a year yet.

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Carlo June 12, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Hi Kevin – Thanks for the info.

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Jon September 28, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Thanks for the detailed review. I ordered mne yesterday and can’t wait for it to arrive. Hopefully, I’ll finally taste those mythical fruit and chocolate undertones in my coffee.

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Coffee Kevin September 28, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Hi Jon,

I think you’ll be very happy. I have now used the Trifecta for many months now, even today, and it really lives up to its potential. Please share your experiences good or otherwise if that happens.

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Jon September 29, 2012 at 4:45 pm

With all of your experience with the Trifecta, what settings do you now recommend for grams of coffee and type of grind?

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Coffee Kevin September 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Jon, I’m starting to sneak up the volume. I tend to use between 24 and 30 grams using 12 ounces of water. I use a medium-fine grind, virtually identical to what I’d grind for a Chemex. That is, not as coarse as a French press, but coarser than usual for drip.

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Jon January 29, 2013 at 8:44 pm

I’ve had my Trifecta for a few months now and am making some excellent coffee with it. I usually grind 25 gr. of coffee at about halfway between drip and a French Press and brew for 50 seconds. I’m starting to do a little more experimenting. It makes a great cup of coffee, although I’m sure I can still do better.

Kerry December 10, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Kerry,
I’ve got a Trifecta MB on order after reading your review an the raves on another website. Can you tell me what kind of grinder you use?

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Coffee Kevin December 10, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Hello. I have used several grinders. Given the recommendation to use a coarser grind, I’ve most often used a Baratza Preciso. But the Bunn Trifecta is less grind-sensitive than most other brewers. Traditional drip makers use the grind as a flow regulator. The Trifecta does not. It is closer to a vacuum maker in its being unaffected by grind in controlling contact time. Grind’s sole purpose is to expose more or less surface area. But the Baratza is still a good match and would be my first choice.

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Coffee Kevin December 27, 2012 at 8:09 am

Did I miss this one, Kerry? Sorry. I think the Trifecta is less grind sensitive than usual. That said, I use a Baratza Preciso as it has has so far outperformed every other consumer grinder I’ve tried in the coarse grind range. Bunn recommends a coarser grind than usual. I set it two notches finer than a Chemex grind, probably midway between drip and a French press grind.

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brake repair in algiers January 4, 2013 at 6:58 pm

At this time I am ready to do my breakfast, afterward having my breakfast coming
again to read further news.

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