Four sweet words on a hot summer day that are like music to a coffee lovers ears “full immersion cold brew“. A cold brew is a fantastic alternative to simply enjoying a cold coffee and much better than having iced coffee, a coffee packed with ice cubes all melting as you slowly sip away, diluting the flavor and taste of the brew.
Full immersion rather than the drip cold brew is the preferred way and more common way to enjoy a cold brew coffee. After surveying a wide range of coffee shops, I found 70% of coffee drinkers preferred full immersion.
In this article, I will provide you with the ultimate guide to full immersion coffee!
Let’s immerse ourselves!
What Is Full Immersion Cold Brew?
The simplest and easiest, most effortless way to make coffee is full immersion cold brew. Just immerse your coffee grounds in cold water and let them steep for 10-12 hours or longer. It is very difficult to screw up this brewing method.
Only one of two mistakes can be made during the process and that is not immersing your beans for long enough. Naturally, this is easily corrected by just allowing your grounds to steep for longer.
The other error that you can make is using the wrong grind or using too fine a grind. The only way of correcting this is by being aware of the grind size and using a coarse grind that is the size of sea salt.
If you have used too fine a grind, you may be able to rescue your brew by reducing the brewing time by a few hours.
The brew time will need to be monitored and adjusted depending on what roast you are using. Lighter roasts will need a longer extraction time than darker roasts. According to a coffee expert I was speaking with, this is due to the coffee oils still being deeper in the light roasted beans.
Read: Best coffee to make cold brew with
What Is The Difference Between Full Immersion Cold Brew And Drip Cold Brew?
The clue to the difference between a full immersion cold brew and drip cold brew is in the names of the different ways in which the brew is elaborated.
A full immersion cold brew is made by immersing the grounds completely in water while it is brewing. Drip cold brew is cold water or ice water (literally ice melting) and dripping over the coffee grounds and into the brewing container below.
Often, a drip cold brew is made using a special cold brew maker or device that is designed into 3 parts. The part with the water reservoir or ice reservoir at the top, the coffee grounds with the paper coffee filter in the middle and the brewing container at the bottom.
A third type of cold brew is the Japanese flash cold brew which involves brewing with hot water instead of cold water which drips on to the coffee grounds which then drips on to ice to cool it down in a flash.
Read: Does cold brew need to be refrigerated?
The Benefits Of Full Immersion Cold Brew
One of the benefits of this coffee drink is the smooth balanced, light low acidity and mellow flavor. Easy to make and hard to over extract and over brew this rather pleasant drink.
Easy To Brew
Full immersion cold brew is one of the easiest coffee drinks that you will make. You literally can’t go wrong when making this coffee. You just need to immerse the coffee in cold water and wait!
Wait anything from 10-12 hours or even up to 24 hours and your coffee is ready. No specialist cold brew coffee maker is required, but there are some cold brew makers that make the process much easier.
The specialist cold brew makers often come with a built in filter for you to place your grounds for immersion, an area for the water, in which the filter remains immersed. The larger ones come with a spigot at the bottom for ease of pouring.
It is a set it and forget it method of making coffee.
Low Acidity And Smooth Mellow Flavour
Full immersion cold brew coffee is not a favorite because it is easy to make. It is popular due to the smooth, well-rounded, mellow flavor that, for some is the tastiest summer time coffee to have.
Due to the long brew time, full steeping of the coffee grounds and low temperature you end up with one of the tastiest cuppa Joe’s.
This technique of brewing allows for the low temperature, lower flavor compounds and oils to be drawn out creating a brown sugar caramel-cola taste.
That is why 70% of cold brew drinkers prefer full immersion cold brew than drip cold brew.
The Cons Of Full Immersion Cold Brewed Coffee
Not everyone in the world of coffee culture world is a fan of the immersion cold brew method, with the most common complaint being the taste.
This method creates a flavor profile that is very different from the same beans if they are brewed with hot water, muddling together the regular coffee taste with the lighter flavors resulting in a more balanced middle of the road flavor.
None of the complex flavors get drawn out.
Other complaints are it can be a messy way of making coffee if you are using a cheese cloth, cloth filter or the coffee sock.
The immersion method is less effective if you don’t have something to suspend the coffee grounds and extract more of the coffee oils and compounds. If you don’t, they just eventually sink, and you are not getting the full benefit from them.
It Can Get Gritty
If a proper filter is not used, then the resulting brew can end up being quite gritty. At Latte Love Brew we like to avoid when we can is the use of paper filters as these remove the oils from the brew as well as the ground, resulting in a less flavorsome drink.
I encourage you to use a cloth or a metal filter where possible and retain some or all of the oils in your coffee and get a better Cuppa Joe just by making that one change.
Long Brew Time
Unfortunately, cold brewing is not a brewing process that will have you enjoying your coffee right away! In most cases, you will be lucky to enjoy it on the same day!
This one you will need to make the evening before to enjoy the next morning.
How Do You Make Full Immersion Cold Brew?
Getting down to it and elaborating a great tasting full immersion cold brewed coffee is an absolute walk in the park. There are only a few simple steps to it!
- 1. Fully Immerse your freshly ground coarse grounds in ice-cold water
- 2. Place your clean container with your brew in it in the fridge and keep it well covered
- 3. All for 8-10 hours or as long as 12-16 hours to brew.
- 4. Keep checking your brew every few hours for flavor to ensure it is well brewed.
- 5. Strain the grounds once ready with a metal strainer or cheese cloth.
- 6. Serve in a mason jar and enjoy your coffee!
This is all there is to it. As you can see from the steps above, it is super simple to make. It is very hands-off and does not require any special brewing vessel or brewing device unless you really want to use one.
Due to the long brewing time, make a few days to a week’s batch at a time.
If you want to, you can even make a cold brew coffee concentrate by using a stronger coffee to water ratio.
Should You Stir Cold Brew While Steeping?
while it might sound like a good idea to stir your grounds while they are steeping, but if you do, you will not get a nice even distribution of flavor while they are extracting. If you stir them, you will end up with a watery brew.
Can You Make Full Immersion Cold Brew With Full Beans?
using full or whole bean coffee is an option that you have for making this kind of coffee. I have not tried it personally, nor do I advise you to. In my experience, and the opinions of coffee community experts, is that using whole bean coffee you will need to let your coffee steep for much longer than the regular 10-12 hours sweet spot for coarse grounds.
If you are determined to try out full beans, then I suggest using a dark roast, even an espresso roast or French or Italian roasts as these are much darker and will help you to get the coffee soluble and flavorsome compounds out of them sooner.
Lighter roasts for whole beans will feel like it takes you forever to get something that resembles the flavor of coffee.
Worthy of note, if you go the opposite direction and aim for a finer grind, you will end up with a stronger brew in considerably less time and can end up very bitter tasting. Not to mention the sludge of mud like coffee grounds that you will end up with.
What Happens If You Steep Full Immersion Cold Brew For Too Long?
You will end up with a bitter-sour over extracted and over brewed coffee that is not at all nice to drink. You will barely even get away with adding sugar or watering it down.
Not at all nice tasting at all and a waste of grounds. Keep an eye on your brew time and taste frequently.
Frequently Asked Questions About Full Immersion Cold Brew
How Long Is Too Long To Steep Cold Brew?
How long to steep cold brew coffee is best determined by your taste buds. TAFO – Test And Find Out! Making great coffee and great food is as much about following a known process and recipe as it is about testing and tasting a lot.
16 hours to 24 hours is a good time frame. Taste test after 16 hours and then every 2 hours there after until you get that perfect taste.
Why Is My Homemade Cold Brew Bitter?
There are two main reasons why your cold brew is bitter. You used too small a grind size and your coffee over extracted and made it bitter.
Solution: Use a larger grind size. A coarse, even grind size is what is needed for a cold brew coffee.
The other reason is you used the correct grind size, but your brew time was too long. You need to keep an eye on the brewing time, the result is over extracted coffee. Monitor your brewing time: 16 hours to 24 hours is long enough. Taste it to find out if it is brewed to your own liking.
When it is ready, remove the coffee grounds from your brew.
Does Cold Brew Coffee Get Stronger The Longer It Sits?
If you fail to remove the ground coffee from your cold brew when you are brewing it will continue to extract and get stronger. If there are grounds in your cold brew coffee, it will get stronger the longer it sits.
It will also eventually over extract and start to taste bitter. If there are no grounds in your cold brew coffee it will not get a stronger flavor the longer it sits and no extraction is taking place.
Should I Steep Cold Brew In The Fridge?
It is your own choice if you steep and brew your cold brew coffee in your fridge or not. I advocate brewing with ice cold water and steeping cold brew in the fridge as you will get all the low temperature flavor compounds in your coffee.
Use an airtight container while steeping your cold brew in your fridge.
Why Does My Cold Brew Taste Like Cigarettes?
If your cold brew, or hot coffee for that matter is tasking ashy, ash like and like cigarettes it is probably because you have used a very dark roast like a French roast or an Italian roast.
Coffee roasted to this roast level, particularly an Italian roast, is almost burnt, which produces an ashy taste. Brewing with water that is too hot also produces an ashy taste as you end up burning some compounds from your coffee that produce the flavor.
Can You Reuse Cold Brew Grounds?
Yes, but not for brewing a second cup or batch of coffee. If you are able to get a second cup of coffee out of your coffee grounds, no matter what the brewing method is, it is a sign that you are not getting the maximum amount of flavor into your cup of coffee during the first round of brewing.
There are many other ways in which you can reuse your coffee grounds. For your garden to revitalize your soil, for your compost pile, a body or hair scrub and many more.
Frappé-ing It All Up – Full Immersion Cold Brew!
Full immersion cold brew is one of the easiest and, in my own personal enjoyment, one of the best cold coffee‘s you can enjoy during a hot summer and chillaxing and sipping away. Enjoyed on its own or, if you must, with milk. I prefer mine straight up, how do you like yours?
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