Immersion Brewing: The Most Foolproof Way to Brew Great Coffee?

Immersion Brewing: The Most Foolproof Way to Brew Great Coffee?

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Brewing coffee can be a daunting task for those who are new to the process or don’t have a lot of experience. However, with immersion brewing, you can have a delicious cup of coffee with ease. 

But don’t take our word for it - there’s scientific evidence to suggest that you physically cannot ruin an immersion brew. Read on to find out more!

It’s Nearly Impossible to Make a Bad Immersion Brew - Science Says So

This research paper found that if you wait long enough for an immersion brew to reach equilibrium, you end up with roughly the same equilibrium Extraction Yield (EY) of about 21%, regardless of what ratio, grind size and water temperature you use.

Now, 21% EY is quite comfortably within the Specialty Coffee Association’s (SCA) Golden Cup Standard of 18-22%. In our own tests, most of the brews we considered good fell within this range as well. Could this mean that, if you wait long enough, any immersion will become a tasty brew? Well, there’s some caveats.

Limitations of the Research

Limited Parameters were Tested
The paper tested brews with the following parameter ranges:
  • Ratio of 1:5 - 1:25
  • Brew temperature of 80°C - 99°C

These ranges cover typical brew recipes that people would consider palatable. But there’s no telling if you’d still get an EY of about 21% if you used a ratio that was tighter than 1:5, or a brew temperature that was lower than 80°C, so maybe don’t do anything too unusual.

You Might Have To Wait a While

At its fastest, the researchers had to wait 20 minutes for a 99°C brew to reach equilibrium, and up to 60 minutes for a 80°C brew to reach equilibrium. That’s a long time to wait for your coffee, and in that time, it might have cooled to a temperature that’s not as hot as you might like.

But don’t fret! The researchers didn’t agitate (i.e. stir/mix) their brews in their experiments. Agitation dramatically increases the speed at which immersion brews extract. So, by stirring, you’ll probably be able to reach equilibrium in times much faster than 20 minutes.

Key Takeaways for a Consistently Tasty Immersion Brew at Home

  • Choose a coffee:water ratio that gets you the strength you want. The research implies that ratio affects your equilibrium brew strength (concentration), but not EY, so you’ll be able to get a good flavour profile regardless of what ratio you use.
  • Don’t be afraid of extracting your immersion brews for too long, especially if you’re using light- to medium-roasted coffee. It’s almost physically impossible to over extract the coffee! 
  • Use boiling water for your coffee - you’ll extract faster! (exceptions: you may want a lower temperature if you’re using dark-roasted coffee to avoid excessive roasty flavours)
  • Stir your brew to speed up extraction even more!
  • Don’t feel obligated to wait for your brew to reach equilibrium before you start drinking! In our experience, our immersion brews are enjoyable even with as little as 5 minutes of brewing time. There’s no reason to have to wait for things to reach equilibrium. Rather, take comfort in knowing that no matter how long you wait, your immersion brew is probably never going to over extract and always going to taste good.
We hope these tips help make your coffee brewing experience much more stress-free! Enjoy immersion brewing, knowing that it’s going to give you a great cup without you having to fuss over every little detail.