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Sam noted how since it would be extremely difficult to determine the weight of the beans the TrueBrew uses nor the original volume of water nor the temperature in the brewing chamber, it’s a bit of a black box in terms of figuring out what’s happening while it makes coffee.

He could, however, measure the total dissolved solids (TDS), the amount of coffee grounds that actually dissolve into your coffee and denote a sense of the drink’s strength. At 3.99 TDS, it was like a half-strength espresso.

From there, we made two consecutive 12-ounce cups, which both poured a little under 10 ounces, which Sam found acceptable.

“Room for cream,” he declared cheerily.

(Note: Some online sources have found the consistency of the TrueBrew’s pour sizes to fluctuate. We didn’t have this problem, but keep an eye on user reviews as more people buy the machine.)

The TDS for both cups was around 1.40, which Sam called “kinda ideal,” but it didn’t taste right.

“Big Truck has a lot of acidity. This is weak and bitter. I want it out of my mouth,” Sam said. “It could be any coffee. You know that workplace coffee that nobody likes? It’s like that.”

Ouch!

We switched from the gold to the bold brew setting, and things got a little better, but it still didn’t taste right. Looking for a culprit, Sam’s mind returned to the machine’s messiness.

“I wonder if we’re getting flavors of over- and under-extraction. It’s dirty in there, so you’re essentially getting a bit of grounds that are going through the brewing cycle twice or more, which can make it taste over-extracted and bitter,” he hypothesized. Then he went further. “It might also be not extracting enough, which could have to do with grind size, water, temperature, and the amount of time water is in contact with the grounds.”

It felt like we were zeroing in on the worst of both worlds, so we switched coffees to Olympia’s William Rojas Pink Bourbon Micro Lot from Columbia to see if we could learn more. We did, but it was not good news.

“This took a really good coffee and brewed a mediocre cup,” Sam said. “It brews what it brews, and I’m confused. This is essentially a one-touch machine, but it doesn’t default to the good stuff. You’re kind of stuck with what it can do. This coffee should be exciting, and it isn’t.”

We had tried espresso-style, regular-coffee-style, light, gold, and bold and even switched the coffee itself, with little effect. We’d run out of ways to tweak our way to a good cup.

A little less than two weeks later, I pulled out the infuser to see how it was looking. A gumdrop-sized mound of wet grounds had accumulated behind the arm that sweeps spent pucks of coffee off of the infuser and into the used-grounds container, along with a scattering everywhere else on top of it. That was enough unexciting coffee for me. I packed up the TrueBrew and sent it back.

Freshly ground and not capsuled? Yes. Convenient? Sure! Perfetto? Sorry, Brad. It should be more exciting, but it isn’t.