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When it comes to coffee brewing, one would ask themselves, what kind of a brewer are you? Do you want something quick and easy? Or something which would require more time and attention when brewing. Not to mention the investment needed to brewing coffee, from the brew tools itself to the various items needed to brew! In this blog, we will cover the most basic of the basics of brewing - they are the immersion and the percolation type of brewing, at least in the home brewing space. At the end of the blog, we will also cover something unique which may be deemed as a hybrid between both brewing techniques!
After learning between the two brew styles, you will then be able to identify what kind of a home brewer you are as well as be able to identify what kind of flavours you will expect from each type of brew tool.
Immersion brew is exactly what it sounds like, it is when you immerse your coffee grinds in water and is then steep for a set duration in time and then extracting the liquid otherwise known as coffee.
As easy as it sounds, it isn't exactly easy as well. Immersion brewing typically results in over extracting, this is because as you immerse coffee in water, the entire bean that has been grinded is in full contact of water thus resulting in extracting the full flavour of the coffee itself.
Some tips to take note of when brewing with an immersion brewer are to grind your coffee on the coarser side, what this means is that it should be coarser than sand, as if it is too fine, it would lead to a heavier body, and sometimes an over extracted cup of coffee, thus resulting in an unpleasant cup of coffee. If one is to grind their coffee slightly too fine, a way around it would be to use more water than what you’d usually use in your usual brew ratio. As the coffee is very fine, it will extract too much flavours and as a result it would be too strong, or gao to some.
Common immersion brew tools would include
What would you expect from a cup of coffee brewed from an immersion technique? That would be a very straight forward answer. The answer to that question is one would expect a fuller, more rounder cup of coffee ( in a technical sense ), in a simpler way to understand it would be a stronger, more robust cup of coffee with a good kick to start your mornings.
Percolate or the pour over technique that is known to some is essentially water that is pour over a bed of coffee and it flows through a vessel, as a result the coffee then comes our from the other end of the vessel as water is filtered through the bed of coffee which results in coffee having flown out of the grounded coffee.
This does not need to be steeped as the water is flowed through completely.
As simple as that may be, it can get very technical and complex due to the various techniques and recipes available out there for in this blog we will not be covering that. For pour over coffees though, there is a tendency to under extract the coffee which will result in it lacking flavour and thus producing an unpleasant drinking experience. Some would relate it to a biting, dry mouth feel drinking experience.
When brewing your pour over coffee, one thing you can take note of is to ensure it is of a medium grind size, how would you justify what a medium grind would be for one to do a bit of trial and error. As vague as that may sound, it is very true, this is because everyone’s coffee grinder will have a different setting between a manual and an electric grinder. A tip you can remember is that one is brewing their coffee is to take note of the residue your coffee grind leaves behind. Does it look like a puddle of wet sand or a nicely formed crust? If you see a nicely formed crust, that would be an indicator to an ideal grind size. Another indicator would be when you brew your coffee, the flow rate is also a consistent flow, there is no choking or restriction in the flow of water when brewing.
Common percolate / pour over brew tools would include
When brewing with a percolate brew method, you would generally expect a cup of coffee that is not necessarily a full flavoured cup of coffee. However, despite it not being a full flavoured cup of coffee, you would expect a lighter body with better clarity in flavour with a delicious acidic note to their brew. This kind of brew is a nice way to perk up one's afternoon, as it is a slower more comforting form of brewing.
Now, we have mentioned how these two items are primarily an immersion brew tool. But the unique thing to it is it can function as a replica to a percolate and an espresso machine. The tools that we are talking about are the Aeropress and the Clever Dripper.
The Aeropress is such a versatile tool whereby once the coffee has been immersed in water, as you insert the plunger in to extract the coffee, the individual is forcing pressure through the grounds and in turn extract oils from within the coffee, similar to what one would expect from an espresso beverage. Now, this is by no means a exact replica to an espresso shot but it is somewhat similar, one will be more than able to find recipes with a small amount of liquid to the amount of coffee used for the brewer to extract a liquid strong enough to be similar to said espresso.
The other brew tool as mentioned is the Clever Dripper. This tool like the aeropress is also an immersion whereby one would steep the coffee in the vessel filled with water, what makes this similar to a percolate method is that the coffee will be drawn down through a stopper at the bottom of the tool. This brew method is one of the simpler ways also because all you’ll need is to just steep the coffee and allow the extracted liquid to flow out. The result of the coffee brewed with this tool is typically of a balanced cup with a fuller body but at the same time has a delicate crispness to it because of the use of a filter paper. This filter paper will remove the oils from the beverage and as a result have clearer flavours similar to what a V60 would have.
Albeit it being a unique brew tool as compared to the more straightforward ones, don't forget that one would still require filter papers for these two, however within the market that are many options in regards to the types of filters used, whether it be a metal filter or a paper filter and as well as the matter of using a thicker or a thinner type of filter paper.
At the end of the day, being a home brewer is not something that should be shunned on nor should it be glorified. As coffee is slowly becoming more and more popular in the local Malaysian scene, you should factor in your lifestyle and daily habits too. Would you want something quick and easy like a drip bag which is able to replicate a filter coffee or would you want something which gives you more control in terms of flavour, temperature, brew method and so on forth.
What we want to say is, know what your needs are and step forth in the world of home brewing, as we truly understand that it is not necessarily a cost effective hobby and ritual.