Slow Drip Vs. Immersion Cold Brewing

Blog-Compare-ColdBrew-10

Ah, the age-old question: Which cold brew is right for you?

We got this cool new slow drip brewer in the online shop today, and it spurred a debate on the best way to cold brew. There are two main methods: full immersion and slow drip. Before we get into the differences, here’s a breakdown of each method.

Full Immersion: In this method, coarse-ground coffee is fully steeped in water for up to 16 hours, then filtered for drinking. You can do this in any kind of vessel (French press, large jar, bucket), and you can use a paper or cloth filter.

Slow Drip: This method has gained popularity in Japan, and involves slowly dripping cold water over coffee grounds and through a filter. The coffee never sits in the water so there is less extraction, and the slow drip brewer takes care of the filtering step for you.

The Taste Test

To settle the matter, we prepared the same coffee on both brewers to compare. We used our For Haiti seasonal blend, because the chocolate, vanilla, and black pepper notes make a flavorful, bodacious cold brew.

For the full immersion brew, we used a Simple Brew Iced Tea Teapot, which is just like a French press without the plunger. We did a coarse grind and a 1:7 coffee to water ratio, steeped for 6 hours.

For the slow drip, we used our new Bruer, which features 3 chambers: one for the water, one for the coffee, and one to catch the cold brew. Since the water is flowing through the coffee, we went for a medium grind instead of coarse. The makers of the Bruer recommend using a ratio of 60g of coffee to 700g of a water and ice mixture, which helps keep the water flowing through the valve.

The Results

Full Immersion: Our tasters described this coffee as having stronger flavors and more body. Unless you double and triple filter, full immersion cold brew will always have a little bit more sediment and body than slow drip. Some people really like the sediment, which tends to produce more chocolate-y notes. Our folks also thought full immersion had a bit more acidity and bitterness (not always a bad thing).

Slow Drip: “Mellow,” “clean,” “tea-like.” The Bruer turned our dark roasted blend into a light, syrupy brew, extracting citrus flavors we had never tasted in the For Haiti before. Very low acidity and noticeable sweetness, uber smooth and uber clean (free of sediment), but not lacking in body. And the really nice thing about the Bruer is the convenience: you don’t have to remember to filter it, so you can just set it up and leave it until the morning.

So, which method wins? Well, like everything in coffee, it depends on your personal preferences. It depends on whether you like a clean cup or some sediment, chocolate notes or fruit notes, heavy body or light body. It depends on the weather, your mood, the alignment of the stars, what you had for breakfast. Above all, it depends on what tastes good to you.

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10 Comments on Slow Drip Vs. Immersion Cold Brewing

  1. I’m currently using the Haiti coffee in the Bruer and it is fantastic! We tried the Brazillian and much prefer the smoothness of the Hatian.

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  2. The Bruer looks awesome. I haven’t tried it, but have lately been using my Bonavita BV1800 in a similar way. I use enough grounds to brew 8 cups of coffee, ground almost espresso fine, and add to the brew basket with a filter. I then fill as much cubed ice on top of the grounds as possible. As the ice melts at room temperature, it slowly brews the coffee. It’s the smoothest cold brew I’ve ever tasted. Downside is that it usually takes 3 fill ups of ice to brew the total amount, and that takes about 16-18 hours. But the solution: brew a fresh regular pot on Monday morning, then immediately start an ice brewed pot, and it’s ready by Tuesday morning!

    I’ve tried this with Monaco and Yirgz, and both are excellent but the slight edge goes to Monaco.

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  3. Tim Carman // July 12, 2016 at 10:30 pm // Reply

    I can’t make up my mind. I think my favorite is immersion 12 hours. Then it is kegged and tapped using nitrogen. Add half and half and it is my version of a coffee milkshake.
    I’ve been told the version I like has 5 times
    the caffine of a cup of coffee.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the info. That was very clear and helpful. Appreciate the presentation.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy Bastille Day! // July 14, 2016 at 1:11 pm // Reply

    I am grateful for my Phocea on Bastille Day!

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  6. I use the Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Maker, and have tried the full cold brew with cold water over the grounds and let it sit in the fridge for 16-24 hours. I have also tried putting 12oz of ice water with ice cubes in the bottom and pour only 8oz of hot water, the top off with more ice water and let sit in the fridge for 16-24 hours. Both styles taste wonderful, I do like the hot brew to start it as it has a little more body than the cold brew only. I have not tried the slow drip out of our Yama Silverton.

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  7. Can you explain the 7:1 ratio of water and coffee? Is this by weight or measurement? If measurement, is it before or after grinding? Thanks! Love cold press!

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  8. So many different ways to make the cold brew, I am just glad it is more established now as a standard drink. I like the immersion method and use about a pound of coffee to ten cups of water and let it sit for 12-15 hours. Then just filter it, put it in the fridge and when you come home from work pour off the coffee carefully as the fine sediment will just sit at the bottom of your container (use plastic or a rougher surface than glass so it stays in place more effectively) then you have no sediment at all. You can even do that the second day if you really want, but it will give you a strong, clear coffee that you can mix with milk and anything else you like. The strength of the coffee is so much stronger than normal coffee that it holds up well to the milk giving you the best iced coffee around. I like darker roasts for this, the lighter roasts taste too winey but the quality and the taste of the coffee definitely comes through so use good water and good coffee.

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