Coffee brewing happens in many devices, with many processes, and with a wide array of results. It’s a lot to keep up with. However, when you break down coffee brewers into a few categories, it’s much easier to wrap your mind around how they work and what kind of coffee they make.
There are a few main types, but for this comparison write-up we’re just going to focus on the big two: immersion vs pour over. If you brew coffee at home, these are the two types of brewers you’re most likely to encounter.
Learning about these two types empowers you a couple of ways:
- You can anticipate what coffee will taste like from a certain brewer
- You’ll know which brewers suit your lifestyle when looking to purchase
- You’ll be able to dial in your brew with more confidence and precision
Let’s hop right in!
Immersion Coffee Brewing
Immersion brewing is exactly like it sounds—you immerse the coffee grounds in water.
But it’s not exactly that easy.
The key to immersion brewing is that the coffee and water interact until you say otherwise. Either you press down a filter and pour the coffee out or you unplug the hole to let the liquid coffee drain into a mug.
The important thing to remember is: you control the immersion.
Common Immersion Brewers
- French Press
- Clever Dripper
- Cold Brew Jugs
What Does Immersion Coffee Taste Like?
There’s a decent amount of diversity when it comes to immersion coffee flavor, but generally, you can expect a fuller, more rounded flavor.
The french press’s metal filter allows the coffee’s natural oils into your final cup, as well as some micro coffee grounds.This gives you final brew a very robust flavor and heavy body. The Clever’s paper filter, however, absorbs some of the oils and keeps micro-grounds out. It’s still full-flavored, but not quite as intense or heavy-bodied.
Is Immersion Brewing Easy?
Generally, yes—very easy.
With a french press, you mix the coffee and water, let it sit for a few minutes, press down the plunger, and pour out the coffee. It’s fairly straightforward. With the Clever, the process is basically the same. Immerse, steep, then set the brewer on top of a mug or carafe to initiate the draining.
The Aeropress is a more complicated brewer. There are hundreds of recipes that work well, but they all essentially follow the same principles: immerse, wait, then plunge the brewed coffee through the filter when you’re ready.
What Other Gear Is Needed For Immersion Brewing?
Because immersion brewing is such a simple process, you only need a thing or two extra to brew mind-blowingly delicious coffee.
- A Coffee Scale - This enables you to know exactly how much water and coffee you’re using, which gives you incredible control over your brew. It also helps you brew the same satisfying and balanced cup day after day after day.
- A Burr Coffee Grinder - This one’s an absolute non-negotiable. Coffee is only at peak freshness and flavor for 2-3 weeks after being roasted. Once ground, the coffee only has 20-30 minutes. Always buy whole beans and grind them just moments before you brew them for maximum flavor quality.
Other than that, you need hot water and coffee beans. Then you’re good to go.
Pour Over Coffee Brewing
This style of coffee brewing is just as beloved as immersion brewing, but it’s pretty distinct. It’s tailored to a different crowd because it’s a little more hands on.
With pour over brewing, you literally pour water over a bed of coffee grounds.
Of course, you also pour water over grounds with immersion brewing, but there’s a key difference: the water is pulled by gravity through the grounds, through a filter, and into a cup. The coffee and water aren’t waiting around for you to flip a switch or plunge a filter. The water’s flowing through on its own.
Common Pour Over Brewers
- Hario V60
- JavaPresse Dripper
- Kalitta Wave
- Drip Coffee Pots
What Does Pour Over Coffee Taste Like?
Pour over coffee isn’t typically the full-flavored brew that immersion coffee is. Generally, pour over coffee has a lighter body and a crisper acidity, and more flavor clarity.
Allow me to explain.
Since the coffee grounds aren’t sitting there in the water for minutes at a time, they don’t dissolve quite as many solids. This, along with the typical paper filter, produces a less heavy and dense mouthfeel.
Without these extra dissolved solids that actually attach to the acids, the coffee often has a brighter, crisper acidity that many enjoy, but some find a little too much. And thanks to the shorter contact time and paper filter, the coffee also has a more refined and clear flavor profile that’s not quite as bold or “muddy” as immersion coffee.
Is Pour Over Brewing Easy?
Making pour over coffee isn’t hard, but it’s not exactly as straightforward as immersion brewing.
There are really two reasons why
- You must pour water on all the grounds evenly
- The coffee ground size has to be just right
Unlike immersion brewing, there’s no “just pour it in because it will all sit together anyway”. You have to pour slowly and carefully so that all the grounds get saturated evenly.
The grounds have to be just the right size so that the water doesn’t drain too fast to produce sour, underextracted coffee—but also so that it doesn’t drain to slow to create bitter, overextracted coffee.
Sometimes it takes several brews to find that sweet spot grind size that produces a balanced flavor, which can be pretty frustrating if you’re not expecting it or if you’re not sure how to dial in the brew.
What Other Gear Is Needed For Pour Over Brewing?
Because pour over brewing is more finicky, you really need a couple extra tools to be able to master the technique and process. We’ve already talked about the coffee scale and burr grinder, but pour over brewing requires yet another tool.
- A Gooseneck Kettle - This specialized kettle slows down the flow of water so that you have complete control over the speed and placement of the water. With a kettle like this, you don’t have to wing it every time with a kettle that you can’t control and a flow of water that you can’t manipulate easily.
Once again, hot water and coffee are what’s left.
I hope this has made these two incredible coffee brewing types as clear as day for you. Now you can know which brewing type you may want to buy. Now you can buy coffee from cafes and sort of know what’s coming.
But don’t forget, you’re brewer’s only as good as the beans you put in it. Make sure you’re always using freshly roasted, specialty grade beans if you want to enjoy the best that your brewer and beans have to offer.
And the easiest way to do that? Get them delivered.
We source beans from the world’s best farms, then we roast and ship them to you on the same day. It’s very important to us that you get to experience the coffee while the beans are uber-fresh and super flavorful, because we believe a great cup of coffee can make a big difference in your morning and the rest of your day.Want to see how fresh coffee can get you started on the right foot? Check out the Club!