Precise, filtered immersion brewing = superior to pour over?

Coffee preparation techniques besides espresso like pourover.

#1: Post by dsc106 »

What is the point of pour over percolation in light of precise and filtered immersion brewing? Watching a number of Hoffman's videos and thinking through extraction, I don't understand the point?

Immersion is very forgiving of grind size or inconsistency, ensures no channeling and perfectly even extraction that plateaus after about 4 minutes so you can't really get too high. You can adjust time reliably to taste, and if you measured can get a very precise strength.

Finally, you can filter (ie pour a French press through a chemex with a paper filter, or use a clever dripper) to achieve a clean cup and remove soluables.

Say for example the following:

French press
20g to 330g (1:16.5)
Steep 3-5 minutes to taste
Stir crus so sediment falls to bottom
Very gently press so as not to disturb silt
Pour through paper filter (ala Chemex)
(Adjust ratio, steep time to taste.)

Or, run the clever dripper with similar attention to detail.

What advantage could pouring a Kalita, chemex, v60 or otherwise possibly have? They are very sensitive to inconsistent technique or sub optimal grind, prone to channeling, etc. You can essentially hit your perfect ratio and extraction with immersion, and then filter for cleanness.

This must play a part in why aeropress popularity endures: it's immersion + percolation for the masses. Yet it still lacks imprecision for many people.

If we apply the precision we take with percolation to an immersion brew method, using precise weight and temps and times, maintaining excellent coffee and a quality grinder (even though immersion is more forgiving), and then filter it... doesn't it achieve absolutely everything a perfect pour over does, but with less error?

What am I missing?

dsc106 (original poster)

#2: Post by dsc106 (original poster) »

I would also like to add this article: ... different/

Which seems to indicate that the flavor difference in percolation may be a result of "cutting extraction short" and having some easier to extract flavors over represented in any percolation method, whereas in immersion you can extract the essence of the coffee more reliably and then merely filter for a clean cup?

You could also achieve a much higher EY without channeling or inconsistent extraction?

And one more: here Scott Rao says he wishes more shops would just use a clever: ... hand-pours

Now, what I still couldn't get at was why Rao would prefer a hard to obtain perfect percolation extraction over a filtered immersion? What is the science behind that? Perhaps with a re evaluation and debate with Gagne he would be shown otherwise, that perhaps he would always prefer to an immersion if the immersion was dialed in and filtered optimally in all parameters? Or that the preference may merely be coffee specific and that he may actually be *enjoying* the "over representation" of certain flavors in a percolation brew?

Could what we have been calling "clarity" in pour over actually just be over representation of certain easy to extract bright solubles?

What am I missing?

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#3: Post by Brewzologist »

I don't think you are missing much in your analysis.

IMO, percolation and immersion exist on a continuum with many brew methods. From a practical point of view I don't see one as superior to the other; but rather just different ways of enjoying the same coffee. I like being meticulous about my pour-overs and generally find I prefer the taste to immersion (Clever/AP) most of the time.

FYI; See related post here: Immersion vs Percolation - Hoffmann and Coffee Adastra


#4: Post by Mbb »

dsc106 wrote:What is the point of pour over percolation in light of precise and filtered immersion brewing? Watching a number of Hoffman's videos and thinking through extraction, I don't understand the point?

What am I missing?
You're missing taste.

I dont like immersion brews. They taste very broad and undefined to me. Murky.

I find a v60 focuses the taste that i like. Or perhaps the opposite maybe it omits taste that I don't like...... In any case I have a clever that I won't even use... French press as well.

And I don't know where you got the idea that pour over is sensitive to technique or anything like that it's not. It's actually very insensitive to it. The differences are very muted between extremes of how you do it. And it's faster than immersion as well . It's really exceedingly simple, even though many people try to pretend it's difficult and that you need a routine with 6 multi-step pours timed to XX seconds with YY water temperature, and a counterclockwise swirl every so often. Can't forget to "excavate "the bloom either.... Not stir. All that's ....hogwash.

Believe it or not there are people out there that make a living trying to tell you how to make coffee..... And that they know THE way.......

Got to be some kind of reason that all these Brewers championships are won with pour over and not immersion brewing.......


#5: Post by Mcnelis1981 »


Some readers may protest some of my ideas about hand pours because various brewers cup champions have used methods diametrically opposed to my recommendations here. There are a few problems with that line of reasoning:

It assumes the winners of competitions made great brews. Friends who have judged many championships have confirmed my suspicion that great cups are few and far between, even in the finals.

A competitor may get lucky with a brew during a competition, but not be able to reliably replicate the quality of that brew; my recommendations are designed to deliver great brews consistently. The best strategy for winning a competition is do something high-risk, high-return that will stand out from the crowd. (See: how a maniac won the Republican US presidential nomination.) That is not a good strategy for serving hundreds of consistently excellent coffees to paying customers.

Winners in different countries or different years may use opposite methods; if there is no pattern to what produces winners, it should make one suspicious of competition standards."

From Scott Rao.


#6: Post by Mcnelis1981 »

I don't think you're missing much. I find slight adjustments in my V60s make drastic differences. Usually these aren't for the better at first. I get a few less than ideal coffees out of a bag until I zero it in. This is kind of annoying with coffee that cost me 22 dollars a bag. The bonavita immersion dripper and the Clever are much more forgiving and consistent. I still get plenty of enjoyable coffee notes from the filtered immersion. Adding the grounds after the water is key. The drawdown is quick.


#7: Post by coffeeOnTheBrain »

Mcnelis1981 wrote:...

The best strategy for winning a competition is do something high-risk, high-return that will stand out from the crowd.
Winners in different countries or different years may use opposite methods; if there is no pattern to what produces winners, it should make one suspicious of competition standards."

From Scott Rao.
I agree that high risk high return is a strategy to win a competition, but is it the best? Maybe it is a good strategy if you are unable to produce something outstanding consistently, but the best strategy is obviously something that produces something outstanding consistently ;)
And there are actually examples for that in competition, like Kasuya or the 2nd placed Rolf from April. I personally don't like Kasuya's method, but it surely is consistent. I learned to like Rolf's method for very light roasts lately, after discarding it as nonsense when I first learned about it. His method is actually more consistent as any I know.

I believe you and Scott Rao made the wrong conclusion, if different methods lead to great coffee that doesn't contradict itself, it rather means there is more to the different methods than you understand right now ;)

I am not saying that the rules of these competitions aren't flawed or that every cup tastes great. The competition aren't aimed at making the best coffee, but rather the best performance. I would like to see that change, but I guess it isn't as easy as that, because the judges taste preference would make the winner rather than the competitors performance.

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#8: Post by coffeeOnTheBrain »

I believe if you like immersion better than pour over go for it. It surely is easy to master.
I personally never had an immersion brew that could rival any of the best cups of pour over I had nor batch brews for that matter.

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#9: Post by another_jim »

Coffee as a hobby, and certainly as a competitive event, has been taken over by romantics who want to make a grand, dramatic, and perfect production out of everything. Pour over brewing fits that bill (as does going full OCD with espresso ... but that's for another day). This is great if you are going for a barista trophy or the one perfect cup to rule them all.

I like to roast five or six coffees at a time, and by the time the bags are done, I want to know them all like old friends. I need simple, no fuss methods for roasting, brewing and shot making. For brewing, I use the Clever with a mesh + paper filter combo (fastest draw down), grind very fine for high extraction, and brew with fairly low temperature water (90C) to avoid bitterness

It all comes down to whether you are on the great coffee quest or just like to drink great coffee.
Jim Schulman
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#10: Post by baldheadracing »

I prefer methods that use cake filtration (the coffee cake itself serves as an additional super-fine filter that works before the coffee hits the paper filter).

While cake filtration happens by default in drippers and batch brewing, cake filtration and paper filters are also possible in immersion methods; for example, Aeropress and Syphon.

As for copying methods used in competition, "the competition starts when the rules are published." This is why, for example, you will rarely see manual agitation of the bed during Brewer's Cup competition. The goal is to get the most points, not brew the best coffee. (As an aside, roasting competitions also have this issue, as part of one's score is based on green coffee grading skills, not how good one's roast is.)
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann