No Bypass Coffee Brewing: A New Way to Make Better Coffee
When brewing a pour over, have you noticed the bit of residual water that seeps around the filter into the dripper? This is called bypass and makes brewing a great cup of coffee more difficult.
This is why no bypass coffee brewing has increased in popularity over the past few years. No bypass coffee brewers ensure you get every drop of flavor from the coffee bed. Keep reading to learn about no bypass brewing and how to do it.
What Is No Bypass Coffee Brewing?
No bypass coffee brewing has become very popular in the past few years. It describes any coffee brewing method that forces all the water through the coffee bed. All the grounds are evenly saturated, resulting in a more uniform extraction and consistent cup.
In other filter coffee brewing methods, like pour over, some water bypasses the coffee bed. It seeps around the paper filter and the brew chamber. This yields a less consistent cup because the water bypass dilutes your coffee.
Water bypass impacts extraction and the water-to-coffee ratio (1).
[Water travels] around the coffee bed, around the filter, and not traveling all the way through the coffee. That water is called bypass. It is bypassing the brew bed.
Water bypass weakens the final cup and makes your brew more unpredictable in flavor. When dialing the water-to-coffee ratio, you have to account for the water bypassing the brew bed to arrive at the perfect recipe.
No Bypass Coffee Brewers
The NextLevel Brewer and the Tricolate Brewer are marketed specifically as no bypass coffee makers (2). But any brewer with straight sides can be hacked for a similar purpose – for example, the Aeropress or the Vietnamese phin used for making Vietnamese coffee (aka caphe sua da).
These no bypass coffee makers have similar characteristics. They all:
- Have a self-contained brew chamber with straight sides
- Rely on filters covering the bottom of the brew bed
- Have dispersion screens and a relatively narrow diameter
All these design features ensure that no water leaves the brew chamber without first passing through the coffee bed.
To learn more about the NextLevel Brewer, check out this video from Home Grounds’ Steven Holm.
Uneven water distribution, usually caused by pouring too hard over a coffee bed, can cause water to channel. This leads to poor extraction and a cup with harsh, unpleasant flavors. One way of preventing channeling is through dispersion.
Dispersion—or the act of spreading something over a wide area—prevents forceful water streams from exploiting weaknesses in the coffee bed.
No bypass brewers rely on dispersion screens, discs with tiny perforations that sit atop the coffee bed. These perforations divide the stream of water from your kettle into minuscule droplets, which fall gently and evenly over the coffee bed. With a dispersion screen, you don’t even need a gooseneck kettle.
No bypass coffee brewing is an easy and efficient way to yield a fantastic cup of coffee. Because coffee particles are suspended in water and brewed directly in the brew chamber, no water can bypass the coffee bed and weaken the cup. Whether you use the Aeropress, the Vietnamese phin, or other no bypass brewers, like the Next Level Brewer, try out this method of coffee brewing for a richly flavorful cup.
You can use a metal Aeropress filter as a dispersion screen. When you’re brewing, measure your grounds into the Aeropress brew chamber, gently shake and tap to settle the coffee bed, place the metal filter on top, and pour your water.
No, dispersion screens aren’t necessary if you’re using a smaller no bypass brewer. Because no bypass coffee brewers have straight, cylindrical walls, any water droplets splashing up onto them will fall back onto the coffee bed. And because the coffee bed’s surface area is relatively small, there’s a high chance you won’t have any issues quickly saturating the grounds.
Yes, brewing with Aeropress attachments is still considered no bypass coffee brewing. Because all the coffee is brewed within the brew chamber and the attachments lock into the bottom, no water can bypass the coffee bed. With attachments like the JoePresso or Fellow Prismo, the only variable that has changed is the pressure applied to the coffee grounds.
- Gagne, J. (2021). The Four Rules of Optimal Coffee Percolation. Retrieved from https://coffeeadastra.com/2021/03/04/the-four-rules-of-optimal-coffee-percolation/
- Bryman, H. (2022, May 16). The NextLevel Brewer Takes Zero-Bypass Brewing Up a Notch. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2022/05/16/the-nextlevel-brewer-takes-zero-bypass-brewing-up-a-notch/
I stopped using the Tricolate because once the filters are wet, they expand, leaving gaps around the sides. The result is terrible bypass. You can see the water trickling down around the coffee bed as you brew.
Interesting on the no bypass concept, but how different is the result compared to a quality French press?