Immersion Brewing 101 – From French Press, Areopress & Siphon

By now you’ve noticed how popular immersion coffee has become. But did you know that it’s not new? It happens to be the oldest method for making coffee that predates modern methods for drip filter coffee by 200 years. But times are changing in our digital world and what was old is new again.French Press is the most popular immersion brewing method.

Enter the Immersion brewed coffee that brings in an era of flair to the coffee houses across the globe. Staunch lovers of espresso coffee won’t be swayed much since this method uses pressure and heat to bring out the flavor. Immersion coffee introduced more subtle flavors with less acidity. Soon you’ll learn why.

Immersion Brewing Basics

What makes immersion brewing unique from other traditional brewing methods like drip coffee and pourover is the fact that you dictate the brew time. For example, with a French Press you complete the brew by pressing down on the plunger and with an immersion brewing device you unplug a hole that allows the brewed coffee to flow.

You don’t need fancy machines to make immersion coffee for yourself. You will need to learn the basics of why this is not similar to how coffee is normally prepared. You can become an expert without having to learn how to be a Barista.

You will need some key components that make this work smoothly and all together won’t hurt your pocketbook either. The first is choosing the type of equipment that best suits your liking. You don’t need to drop down to Crate and Barrel either, most of these items are readily found online. Before we get into brewing devices, let’s talk beans.

Type of coffee beans

gif of buying coffee

Remember the Pulp Fiction scene when Jimmy says “I’m the one who buys it, I know how good it is”? Well despite his garage situation, he does enjoy his gourmet coffee. And this is also your important rule to learn. It all starts with the coffee beans. If you don’t have a favorite bean type yet, this section is a great crash course on types of coffee beans.

Arabica

Arabica

An Arabian coffee often called mountain coffee’ and was first discovered in Yemen when Arab scholars remarked about its’ properties. It was further spread around by the Egyptians and Turks. It makes up 60% of the global coffee that is exported all over the world.

Robusta

Robusta

It is grown in sub-Saharan Africa and offers double the caffeine than Arabica beans. Roasters in Italy would commonly mix their beans 50/50 with both Arabica and Robusta to produce their famous Italian coffee.

Liberica

Liberica

A coffee bean that was native throughout Africa until it was imported to Indonesia to replace Arabica trees that died-out. It’s produced also now in the Philippines and Malaysia. These beans are prized since the trees grow up to 9 feet tall and yield larger-sized beans likewise.

Excelsa

Excelsa

Often being confused with Liberica, this bean has specific flavor profiles that remind most people of tart of ripened fruit. It is often blended with Arabica or Robusta to create deeper combined flavors. These are usually called House Blends.

Special roasts

Special roasts

Roasting is a special process where the beans are placed into large vats and heat is applied. The beans need to reach an internal temperature between 356-400 degrees. Before that time they begin to crack and release moisture from inside. Continually they are stirred by a mechanical arm to ensure they all conform in color through the roasting process.

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The longer they roast, the darker the bean becomes. You’ll see names that go with how dark the bean becomes such a light roast or dark roast. French roasts and Italian roasts are the darkest of the bean colors.

 

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Tools you’ll need

Grinder

Grinder

This simple item can be as fancy as you like. It can be as simple if you prefer hand grinders too. Electric coffee grinders need to have settings built in to control the coarseness. Hand grinders allow you a direct feel that electric models lack. There’s also something nostalgic about the old-fashioned grinder. Whatever it is, make sure the grinder setting allows from a course through fine ground settings. See our value burr grinder, the Capresso.

Immersion device

Immersion device

I’m sure this one section could deserve its category all by itself. The sheer number of brands that vary from makes and models is astounding. They all offer different functions and immersion settings. Your best bet is to look around and gage upon the value for your money. Space-age Immersion kits like Siphons are nice, but you don’t need to pay a hundred bucks on something you can pick up for twenty bucks that works just fine. Grab an Areopress or French Press and you’re well on your way.

Digital scale

Immersion device

Just about any online retailer has an efficient gram scale that has a tare button. This is needed when you weigh your beans and your water. Some Immersion devices add this scale to their design. These scales aren’t expensive, so save yourself the extra expenses.

Timer

digital timer

A digital timer such as a stopwatch or simple digital kitchen timer is all you need to time your brewing. This comes in handy to make sure the Immersion brewing time is reached and then you can drain your ground beans.

Kettle

Kettle

You’ll need any kind of kettle to boil the water. It doesn’t need to be top of the line. You just need to get the water to be hot enough to be between 192-205F. Water temperature is important, so we’ll discuss this more about that later in this article.

Coffee mug

Coffee mug

Just add your favorite coffee mug and you’re ready to go. Nothing too fancy, just whatever you like to put your coffee into.

Filters

Filters

Filters are another issue that needs to be discussed, this just helps keep the coffee grounds out of your coffee. Depending on the type of container you use to immerse your coffee Immersion kit, it will need the correct filter.

 

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Brewing Tips

Tips

Immersion brewing ratio

Stick to the correct brewing ratio so you don’t overdo it. If you use the right amount of water and the right amount of coffee beans, that’s sufficient enough.

Normally for one cup of coffee, you’ll prefer about 20 grams of beans. It also comes down to choice, so 20-25 grams at most. If you like a stronger cup than 25 grams is perfect. Use the digital scale to weigh the beans out in the filter chamber. Be sure to tare-off the weight of the filter cup. The next step is very important.

Grinding your beans

Place the contents of your beans into the grinder and set the grinding ratio. How course should it need to be? Think of rough sand as a reference. Not to fine like powder, but granules that roll around in your palm. This is the Immersion method for grinding and is often called a rough or coarse grind.

The water

Begin to boil your water and allow it to reach the maximum temperature of 200°F. If you have a digital thermometer, this can help. Not boiling but steamy enough.

The filter

Place your filter into the filter vessel and wet out the filter with the hot water first. Then you add your coffee grounds. There’s no need to pack them down, let them settle with a slight tap or two. Make sure the vessel drain chamber is closed and begin pouring the water in a slow circle around the edges.

Once you reach the top of the vessel stop pouring. Use a stir stick to allow the coffee to be the brewing process. Set your timer for three minutes and allow the hot water to brew the coffee completely. Your Immersion kit might have a top lid to cover the vessel, so use this to keep in that heat. Once three minutes are done, you can open the vessel drain into your coffee cup.

The factor that affects the flavor

Once again, the hot water is your major influence on how the coffee flavor will turn out. If you cannot keep the water temp at a constant 200F, you should look at your filter vessel. This brewing chamber should be made from a material that holds heat well, at least for three minutes. Be sure to find a paper filter that is meant for coffee brewing.

Full immersion brewing

You might as well try them all. This experience is the same as Immersion brewing except the grounds is more finely ground. The beans must be ground at a medium-fine grind and texture. Then the brewing process begins. The result is more coffee-like brew with a slightly higher acidity than you might be used to. The finer that you make the grind, the bolder and stronger a flavor you’ll get.

Cold Brew Immersion

This is a newer invention similar to iced coffee. It works similarly to Immersion brewing except the water is cold. The time difference is a lot longer as well. Once you put the coffee grounds into the water, it must stay in there for 6-24 hours to extract the flavor. This means starting a new batch a day before it’s served.

Many people enjoy this kind of coffee since it has pronounced flavors with acid levels reduced by 67%. Then again some opponents don’t like the lack of acidic flavor and are missing the brightness of brewed coffee. We think each should have their own opinion.

“The immersion method allows for complete saturation of the coffee grinds for an extended period of time. This method creates a super smooth, low acidity coffee with lower flavor notes such as caramel, brown sugar and cola.” -Susan Kennedy, Tend Coffee, Shirley, NY

Conclusion

You might have your reasons for liking or not liking Immersion coffee. Some people prefer the smoother less acidic flavor, while others feel the coffee lacks robust flavors. Try different beans and blends to achieve the flavor you like most. After all, it’s your coffee, not theirs. Immersion coffee has benefits that allow those with weaker stomachs to enjoy coffee. Especially those with acid reflux problems moreover.