July 10, 2012

Brewing with the Bunn Trifecta MB Single Cup Coffee Maker


Toward the end of our unboxing post we promised more detail on the Trifecta's features, ease of use, and effectiveness in terms of single-serve brewing. Now it's time to deliver. We'll do so in two parts: (a) today's step-by-step walk-through of how to make a cup using this machine, highlighting important points along the way, and (b) a summary post next week discussing pros and cons. Let's start 'walking through' already!

Step 0. Wake up the Trifecta, if necessary

After 6 hours of inactivity, the Trifecta's heater drops from 200 degrees F to 140 to conserve energy. A quick press of the brew button or movement of the latch (with brew chamber in place) will start the roughly 1-minute process of getting the machine back to its optimal brewing temperature.

Step 1. [optional] Pre-heat the Trifecta and your mug by running a water-only cycle

This step is marked 'optional' because the Trifecta makes great coffee with or without it. Pre-heating will give you a cup that's a few degrees hotter, on average; we're not confident at all that this difference consistently affects taste, though.

Step 2. Add water

The included beaker's markings in cups, ounces, and grams make this easy. Plus, the spout ensures an easy pour into the Trifecta's tall, slim water reservoir, which holds up to 12 oz.



Step 3. Grind

Bunn recommends 2 g. of coffee for every oz. of water. That's a good starting point. Here, as you see, we're using ever so slightly more coffee than that, e.g. 21.3 g. for 10 oz.


Finding the right grind might take some experimentation, but you'll be in the ballpark if you shoot for coarse drip, i.e. somewhere between your typical drip and press grinds, and then adjust to taste.


Step 4. Dose into the brew chamber and seat it

Pour your ground coffee into the brew chamber, seat it well by pushing the bottom edge fully into the brew chamber platform, and close the latch.

trifecta_ground_coffee_in_brew chamber.jpg

Step 5. Select settings

The Trifecta allows you to set infusion time and turbulence separately, affording home users some (but not all) of the flexibility that users of the commercial version enjoy.


About infusion time, the two longest intervals, 2:00 and 3:00, are designated for tea, though we've found 2:00 can work for coffee if you coarsen up your grind sufficiently (more on that next time). Our initial skepticism about the possible effect on extraction of 5-second intervals in the coffee range quickly faded when a spouse who shall remain nameless asked what we'd done differently after brewing on B-:50 instead of B-:45 (she preferred the relatively decreased body and lower extraction of the latter).

Concerning turbulence, A is the gentlest setting (no pre-infusion). On settings B-E, the pre-infusion water amount, pause time, and energy of the pre-infusion bubble cycle all change, according to Bunn; after pre-infusion, the on/off cycle time, intensity of air infusion (i.e. bubbles), and push-out force vary as well. Generally speaking, we find that a little turbulence goes a long way, so we tend to stick to B for fruitier coffees (enhancing perceived acidity) like Klatch's recent Fair Trade Rwanda Cafe Femenino and C for less fruity, more full-bodied coffees like Portola's Roney Diaz Villela (Brazil).

Step 6. Marvel

Watching the Trifecta's air infusion at work during the brew cycle is great fun, even for non-geeks. Here's a video of what you'd see on setting C-:50 with 6 oz. of water. We've chosen to show a water-only cycle because it makes the bubbles easier to observe.


0:03 start pre-infusion

0:08-0:12 pre-infusion turbulence

0:17 start fill

0:32-0:37 turbulence

0:48-0:53 turbulence

1:04-1:09 turbulence

1:19-1:21 turbulence (cut short)

1:22 start press-out

In case it's unclear, hot water enters the brew chamber from the sprayhead at the top, and turbulence is introduced from under the metal filter at the bottom.

A 10-oz. cup being brewed.


The coffee being pressed out into our cup through the filter.


A closer look at the filter (right) next to an Able DISK Fine filter (left) intended for the Aeropress reveals that the Trifecta's filter has smaller, more numerous holes. Note for Keurig users: both of these are finer-gauge than EkoBrew mesh.

trifecta_AbleDISKFinevsTrifectaMBbrew screen.jpg

Step 7. Clean up

We found cleaning up the Trifecta to be relatively hassle-free. 'Mess' is confined to the brew chamber for the most part.


Our usual practice is to knock most of the ground coffee from the brew chamber directly into the trash, at which point the bottom of the brew chamber looks like this.


Next, we hold the brew chamber under the faucet in the kitchen sink and rinse what's left down the drain (yes, we have a garbage disposal).

Finally, in order to completely eliminate post-brew drips into the machine's 1-cm.-deep drip tray, we use a cloth or paper towel to wipe away any water remaining on the sprayhead and soak up the small amount of coffee that tends to accumulate inside the black spout on the brew chamber platform.



Step 8. Sip

Time to enjoy the results! Despite Trifecta's thorough press-out, just under 1 oz. of liquid was retained by the ground coffee in this case, leaving us with 9 oz. of sweet, rich Counter Culture Variety: Bourbon coffee.


Fines at the bottom of the cup are minimal.


For example, here's the last sip. There's a light dusting of fine sediment around the outside in a ring. It's inconsequential enough in terms of texture and flavor that we routinely gulp this bit down without hesitation.


We hope the above has given you a better sense of what it's like to brew a cup using the Trifecta MB. The coffee this machine makes is truly spoiling us. To be continued...

More at Bunn Trifecta at Home

Read More in: Single Serve Coffee Machines | Whole Bean and Ground Coffee

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Posted by Jay Brewer at July 10, 2012 7:55 AM
Recent Comments

Those are indeed the glasses.

Posted by: ao at July 23, 2012 1:55 PM

As you should be! Do the glasses look like the one shown in the post linked below? http://m.trifectaexperience.com/Banterpost.aspx?id=17

Posted by: jbviau at July 23, 2012 12:48 PM

Yep, I wasn’t lucky enough to win the brewer or a coupon. However, I did get a pair of Bodum double walled Pavina glasses with the Trifecta logo on them so I’m pretty geeked about that.

Posted by: ao at July 23, 2012 9:21 AM

Nice, ao! I assume you didn't win one? Heard they were giving out coupons, too, to demo participants, so I guess that's not a bad consolation prize (if true).

Posted by: jbviau at July 23, 2012 8:16 AM

I finally got the opportunity to try one of these. BUNN was hosting a demo at Zingerman’s Coffee Company in Ann Arbor, MI. They had 2 home versions and a professional version set up. The machines were awesome, the coffee was awesome and the folks from BUNN and Zingerman’s were awesome. I’m amazed at the level of fine tuning that you are able to do with the Trifecta. You really get to know the bean and its characteristics.

P.S. jbviau – You’re right. The brew cycle is very quiet.

Posted by: ao at July 23, 2012 7:52 AM

Cynthia, I wouldn't consider the Trifecta to be a particularly loud brewer. My digital camera's mic was only a few inches from the machine when I recorded that video, and noisiness has been exaggerated as a result. In real-life usage, this unit passes the "sleeping baby" test (where said baby is upstairs). ;)

Posted by: jbviau at July 16, 2012 10:30 AM

When do they come out with a 'quiet brew' model? *LOL*

Posted by: Cynthia at July 16, 2012 7:59 AM

Yep...still jealous

Posted by: ao at July 10, 2012 9:39 AM
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