You might know of Bonavita purely by way of its superb BV1900TS automatic coffee maker, but the company's $40 Immersion Dripper can whip up outstanding joe too. While this gadget is relatively simple and has few moving parts, it has the power to brew cup after cup of intensely flavorful coffee.
The Immersion Dripper looks like what it is, a large cone-shaped filter basket. Its circular mouth tapers down to a triangular funnel that connects to a wide base. At the foot of the base is a switch to open and close a small valve. This valve controls the flow of water (or brewed coffee) through the filter.
Aficionados of pour-over style brewing will appreciate that the Bonavita Immersion's filter basket is made from porcelain and not plastic. The ceramic is preferred for its ability to retain heat, unlike the thin plastic found in a similar product, the Oxo Good Grips Pour-Over.
Another significant difference between these two coffee makers is how easy (or not) they are to use. The Oxo's water tank, for example, is marked with volume labels, so you don't need to weigh out your brewing water. By contrast the Immersion Dripper is completely manual and much more involved to operate.
Assuming you have coarsely ground coffee (hopefully processed through a burr grinder), first drop a type #4 paper filter into the funnel and add your grounds. Next, set your coffee cup on a kitchen scale and then place the Immersion Dripper over it. Now pour in hot water just off the boil (with the filter switch closed) to match the amount of coffee grounds you'll brew -- use the scale to measure.
I recommend an electric kettle with adjustable temperature settings to heat your brewing water. According to the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America), water for brewing shouldn't exceed 205 degrees Fahrenheit. I also used 23 grams of coffee to 12 ounces of water, the ratio as instructed by the manual.
After a minute, stir the filter's contents, cover with the brewer's lid, and wait two more minutes. Finally, flip the filter's switch to the open position. Brewed coffee will quickly flow downward, taking about 30 to 40 seconds to drain into your cup.
As with the Oxo pour-over gadget, coffee from the Bonavita was consistently rich and intensely packed with flavor. I enjoyed the coffee I made in this Bonavita gadget more since I found it even more deeply layered and complex. The coffee was also sweet and had no trace of bitterness.
Refractometer readings of my samples confirmed their quality and returned an average TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) percentage of 1.5 percent. That translates to an extraction percentage of 21 percent and is right in the sweet spot of what the SCAA's classifies as ideal for its "golden cup", a range between 18 and 22 percent.
No matter how delicious the coffee from the $40 Bonavita Immersion Dripper brews, it might not be your cup of tea. Brewing with it requires some effort, practice, not to mention a scale plus a fancy kettle and grinder for best results.
Unless you want to hone your barista skills, I suggest the $16 Oxo Good Grips Pour-Over that is dead simple to use and costs less. For full pots of great joe, consider the $100 budget-minded Braun BrewSense KF7150 and our Editors' Choice winning $190 Bonavita BV1900TS.