Immersion Coffee Brewing 101: Why It’s Unique & Best Methods

If you’re a coffee enthusiast, you’ve probably heard about immersion brewing and how delicious it can be. But what is immersion coffee brewing? Are methods of coffee immersion brewing truly better, or is it just hype? And which immersion brewer is best if you want to start brewing at home?

Picture of an inverted AeroPress, a form of coffee immersion brewing

Since understanding the basics is crucial in specialty coffee, we decided to fully immerse ourselves (get it 🤪) in all things immersion coffee. We’ll cover the basics, why people love the flavors, and which methods are best!

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Immersion Coffee Brewing 101

Before we delve into specific methods, let’s start with the basics of immersion coffee brewing and why people rave about it. Also, while there’s no obvious winner between immersion brewing methods, each has unique qualities suited for particular situations.

What Is Immersion Brewing?

a picture showing the three most popular immersion coffee brewing methods

Immersion brewing involves fully immersing coffee grounds in water for a predetermined time. This method contrasts with percolation devices where water drips through the coffee. What sets immersion brewing apart is its ability to extract flavors from the beans through a more prolonged contact time.

You also have 100 percent control over this contact time since you can remove the brewed coffee whenever.

What Is Unique About Immersion Brewing?

As per its core definition, the most unique aspect of coffee immersion brewing is that the coffee grounds are completely immersed in water, allowing for a thorough extraction of flavors. This method imparts a rich, robust taste and a pleasant heaviness to the mouthfeel of your coffee. Whether filtered or not, the flavor differences are substantial.

And from a brewer’s perspective, the control over brew time in immersion coffee is a huge advantage. You have much fuller control over extraction yield. With percolation methods, you are at the mercy of how long it takes water to fall through the coffee grounds. Certain high-density beans—Ethiopian coffee, for example—can clog pour-over drippers and over-extract easily.

But an immersion method like the French Press gives you total control over steeping time. You can fine-tune extraction to dial in the perfect flavor.

Full Immersion Brewing Coffee Methods

Now that we have a better understanding of immersion brewing, let’s explore some of the popular methods used to achieve this remarkable style of coffee brewing:

  1. French Press: Perhaps the most well-known and widely used immersion brewing method, the French Press allows for a full-bodied, robust cup of coffee. Its simple design and ease of use make it a favorite among coffee enthusiasts.
  2. AeroPress: The AeroPress combines immersion brewing with gentle pressure to create a smooth and vibrant cup of coffee. It offers versatility of brewing techniques and is highly portable, making it a popular choice for coffee lovers on the go.
  3. Siphon: Siphon brewing, or vacuum brewing, utilizes vapor pressure and vacuum-driven suction to extract the flavors from the coffee grounds. This method produces a clean and nuanced brew, showcasing the intricate flavors of the coffee.
  4. Cold Brew: Immersion cold brewing involves steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period. The result is a smooth, low-acidity coffee concentrate perfect for iced coffee or dilution with hot water.
  5. Turkish Coffee: A traditional brewing method centuries old, Turkish coffee involves boiling finely ground coffee with water. It produces a strong and full-bodied brew with rich foam on top, which you drink unfiltered.

Immersion Coffee Brewing: How To Make It

Now that you know what makes immersion coffee brewing unique, let’s explore some specific brewing principles you should know when making it. we’ll cover ratios, water temperatures, and grind size.

What Is The Ratio for Immersion Coffee Brewing?

The coffee-to-water ratio is crucial in immersion brewing as it determines the strength and flavor concentration of the final brew. A commonly used ratio is 1:15, which means using 1 part coffee to 15 parts water (by mass). However, feel free to adjust this ratio to suit your personal taste preferences.

A wider ratio, something like 1:17 or 1:18, can extract a more developed flavor but with a slightly weaker mouthfeel. A larger dose, like 1:12, will taste bold and intense, but you risk under-extracting the brew with so much coffee.

But understand that the relationship between ratio, strength, and extraction gets far more complicated and is beyond the scope of this article. Matt Perger at Barista Hustle does a fantastic job of expanding on these topics.

The immediate takeaway, though, is that you should feel free to experiment with different ratios as you figure out the ideal flavor for you.

What Temperature Should Water Be for Immersion Coffee?

The water temperature plays a vital role in the extraction process. As a general guideline, aim for water temperatures between 195°F and 205°F (around 90°C to 96°C) for immersion brewing. To keep things simple, we always recommend boiling water and waiting 5-10 seconds before brewing.

Between the wait time and the heat lost in the first few seconds, your coffee slurry will end up in that 195-205 temperature range. But you can venture outside of that window to experiment with extraction.

As a general tip, consider using higher temperatures for lighter roasts and lower temperatures for darker roasts, especially if you’re struggling to get a delicious flavor.

Brewing Time

As we mentioned, one of the primary advantages of immersion brewing is the ability to control the brewing time.

immersion brewing time and the effect it has on coffee extraction

Depending on the method and preference, immersion brewing times can range from a few minutes up to even overnight for cold brew. Experimentation and tasting along the way will help you find your desired brewing time to achieve the flavors you enjoy.

We aim for four minutes on the French Press, two minutes on the AeroPress, and up to 24 hours when making a cold brew. You will be surprised at how much even 10-20 seconds of change in brew time can affect the total extraction. Use the general extraction flavors in the graphic above to help you adjust.

Immersion Brewing Grind Size

The grind size you choose plays a significant role in the extraction process. As you grind coffee finer, more surface area is exposed to the energetic water molecules, resulting in a higher extraction.

Our coffee grinding guide expands on this science, along with specific grinder recommendations.

immersion brewing grind size and extraction

For most immersion methods, a medium to medium-coarse grind size is recommended. This grind size allows for good extraction while minimizing the risk of over-extraction or excessive sediment in the cup.

But certain methods like AeroPress can work with finer grinds. Since it has a pressurized plunger and paper filter, you can extract more developed flavors in a shorter brew time (and without sediment in the cup!)

Troubleshooting: Why Is My French Press Hard To Press: 3 Causes & Fixes

Coffee Immersion Brewing Recipes

While we won’t go into full detail about specific recipes here, we want to highlight the uniqueness of each method and link to our full recipes. For any method without a recipe, sign up for our newsletter so you can be alerted when they come out!

  • French Press: Best for folks who like a bold and heavy cup
  • AeroPress: Ideal for people who want strong coffee like espresso with a clean/filtered mouthfeel
  • Cold Brew Coffee: The smooth flavor, low acidity, and convenient preparation are the primary draw here.
  • Turkish Coffee: Best for a small dose of caffeine and to brew with a centuries-old method that connects you to coffee’s long history.
  • Siphon Brewing: You will feel like a coffee scientist brewing on this device, and the depth of flavor can be incredible!

Best Immersion Coffee Brewers

When it comes to immersion coffee brewing, there are a variety of brewing devices available that each have unique features and advantages. Let’s check out the most popular brewers and our top recommendations from each category.

Best French Press: Bodum Chambord

This Bodum French Press is the overall best immersion coffee brewer

We recommend the Bodum Chambord French Press as the overall best immersion coffee brewer because it combines affordability with a classic design. Bodum is a reputable company, and this durable brewer skips all the fancy bells and whistles to stick with an affordable and classic design.

But feel free to check out our guide for choosing the best French Press coffee maker to see all the other options.

Best Turkish Coffee Pot: BCS 12 Oz Cezve

BCS best Turkish coffee pot for full immersion brewing

The traditional design of this BCS 12 oz pot with durable 2mm thick copper material at an affordable price made us choose it as the best overall. There is a 7-inch wooden handle for easy/safe handling, and you can brew up to four cups of Turkish coffee at a time. Turkish coffee is one of the most traditional ways to connect to the full immersion brewing method!

We also have this guide to the best Turkish coffee pots if you want to see the other options, including electric machines.

Best Cold Brew Coffee Maker

Ovalware Cold Brew Coffee Maker

Buying a cold brew coffee maker is not strictly necessary, since you can technically make cold brew in any container. But we recommend this Ovalware RJ3 cold brew maker for its simplicity. We also love the flavor of the Toddy® Cold Brew System.

But we’ve also made delicious cold brew in our French Press. So if you want one product that serves multiple purposes, maybe just buy a bigger French Press.

AeroPress Immersion Coffee Brewing

AeroPress immersion brewing coffee maker

Especially when you brew with the inverted method, the AeroPress combines full coffee immersion with the clarity of a filtered brew. This compact brewer is also convenient for traveling, and you can find endless recipes that will keep you constantly evolving.

Is an AeroPress better than a French Press?

It is common to find yourself stuck between choosing an AeroPress or a French Press. Of course, much comes down to preference. But we have a separate article dedicated to the French Press vs AeroPress debate. So jump into that rabbit hole if you want more!

Immersion vs Percolation

While immersion brewing is the focus of this article, you will better understand it through comparison to its primary counterpoint: percolation brewing. Percolation methods, such as pour-over and drip coffee, involve water passing through the coffee grounds.

Gravity pulls water through the grounds, which sit in a paper or metal filter. Percolation has its advantages, and we encourage you to read our debate between French Press vs Pour Over Coffee to better understand each side.

Immersion Coffee Drippers

For those who enjoy the characteristics of immersion brewing but also appreciate the clarity and cleanliness of percolation brewing, there are immersion coffee drippers available. These innovative devices combine elements of both methods, offering a hybrid experience.

The two most popular models are the Hario Immersion Dripper and the Clever Coffee Dripper. In both cases, a valve mechanism prevents water flow until you open it.

These drippers don’t solve the problem of slow dripping. However, they do extract more developed flavors characteristic of immersion coffee and may be the best immersion coffee brewer for some.

Immersion Coffee Brewing: Common Question & Review

What is immersion coffee brewing?

Immersion coffee brewing is a method where coffee grounds are fully immersed in water for a specific duration to extract flavors.

Is French press immersion brewing?

Yes, the French press is an example of immersion brewing as it involves fully submerging coffee grounds in water.

Is espresso an immersion?

No, espresso is not considered an immersion brewing method, even though it can taste intense and have a heavy mouthfeel. Instead of immersing coffee completely, espresso utilizes pressure to force water through compacted grounds.

Is an AeroPress an immersion Brewer?

Yes, the AeroPress is an immersion brewer, especially when you brew with the inverted method. But the plunger and paper filter allows you to grind finer and produce cleaner coffee than is typical with other immersion brewers.

Full Immersion Brewing: Final Thoughts

We hope this comprehensive guide to immersion coffee brewing has enriched your understanding and sparked a newfound excitement for this style of coffee. Whether you choose the classic French Press, the versatile AeroPress, or venture into the realm of Siphon or Turkish coffee, full immersion brings out flavors you just can’t get on a standard coffee maker.

Cheers to specialty coffee at home, and we hope you’ll come back for more coffee learning soon!

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