I’ll caveat this with I don’t have a clever brewer, but I recently started a barista hustle membership and am working my way through the courses. The immersion course included steep and release brewers, so I thought I’d share what they found in case it’s of interest to you.
Their baseline recipe was 18g coffee to 250g water at 93°C. Coffee first, add all the water in a single pour. Break the crust after 1:30. Allow grinds to settle for 30s, draw down (I.e. at 2 mins total time).
The sooner you break the crust the quicker the draw down (they compared 1:30, 3 min and 5 min). This did reduce extraction , but only by 4%., a major efficiency saving.
A 30s bloom increased the TDS.
Adding the water before the coffee gave much faster draw downs (coffee first was 39% slower), although it did reduce extraction yield (by about 10%). They were able to compensate for this by grinding finer (between espresso and pour over) and found that this was less bitter than coffee first. This gave them their favourite tasting brew.
Any way, I thought you might find these experiments interesting and give some ideas for your own brews.