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upgrading and experimenting with multiple variables in full immersion brewing
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philopsych
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Jul 2009
Posts: 58
Location: Costa Mesa, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Krups Mini (steam)
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso
Vac Pot: AeroPress
Drip: Melitta cone
Roaster: n/a
Posted Sat Nov 27, 2010, 5:52pm
Subject: upgrading and experimenting with multiple variables in full immersion brewing
 

It looks like I’m about to embark on a new coffee “trip.”

I had been planning to buy a grinder and solicited advice about the Vario and Maestro Plus.  I decided to split the difference and today I ordered a Virtuoso (refurb).

For the last year and a half or so, my most frequent brew method has been the Aeropress, though occasionally I pour over a (small, single-serving) Swiss Gold filter.  I own a (small, single-serving) French Press, but haven’t used it much over the last couple of years—primarily because I haven’t had a good grinder.

I will have a larger French Press as soon as replace the carafe (later this week).  I’ve also been thinking for a while about getting a Chemex—mostly so that I can brew more than one serving at a time.  Since the larger French Press will also allow me to brew larger batches, I’ll have to think about whether I need both a large French Press and a Chemex.

This is the thread that is going to send me into experimentation mode over the holidays:

"French Press - simplified and revolutionized"

The basic idea I took away from that thread is that longer steep times can work well with full immersion brewing.  The discussion in that thread mostly involves the French Press; once I get my grinder and new carafe, I’ll be experimenting with them along the lines suggested in that thread and its linked blog posts.

I want to try double-filtering my coffee, too.  I’ll try the Swiss Gold filter for that.  And I also want to try filtering through paper.  Chemex would work for that, but I could also just buy some paper filters (haven’t bought any since I got the gold filter) and spare myself the expense and space required for a whole new brew system.  I guess I can even use the paper filters from my Aeropress—since the grounds will have settled and the coffee will already have passed through the French Press screen, there shouldn’t be much for the filter to catch anyway.

Here’s the new question I want to explore: can the ideas from the thread above be used with the Aeropress, too.  After all, it is also a full immersion brew method.  In fact, there isn’t anything super special about the Aeropress apparatus (so far as I can figure); what accounts for the particular qualities of Aeropress coffee, I think, is the high coffee-to-water ratio and the lower brew temp.  I suppose I could brew with that ratio and water temp in my small French Press and end up with the same concentrated coffee, right?

So the basic experimental setup is full immersion brewing and the variables are: grind fineness/coarseness, water-to-coffee ratio, water temperature, steep time, agitation, what else?

I really wish I could conduct a proper experiment that would give me lots of data points and allow me to plot taste as a function of those variables.  I don’t have time or resources to do it properly myself, so I can only hope to approximate that ideal and get what data I can.  Are there any coffee labs that conduct this sort of experimentation in a truly scientific, carefully controlled manner?
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