Japanese Cold Brew

There are many ways to prepare cold coffee, from just adding ice cubes to the drink to a whole 24-hour cold brew setup at home.

However, some people claim that cold brew has a poor, bitter taste, especially if the wrong beans or roast were used. Plus, cold brew takes a long time to prepare.

Japanese iced coffee is an interesting, fairly simple alternative to cold brew. Keep reading to learn what it is, how to brew it, and its advantages and disadvantages.

What Is Japanese Iced Coffee?

Japanese iced coffee is coffee brewed with hot water, poured directly over ice. It is most often prepared by the pour-over method and is also called flash-brewed or flash-chilled iced coffee. The main difference from regular iced coffee is that the coffee is additionally diluted with water released when the ice melts.

Japanese iced coffee is called aisu kohi in its country of origin, appeared in Japan a long time ago, and is one of the most popular drinks in Japanese coffee shops. It is served in a tall glass with a bit of sugar.

Brewing coffee with hot water allows you to reveal the taste of the coffee beans much faster than when brewing with cold water and, as a result, to notice more aromas and tastes in your drink. By brewing over ice cubes, you can just get a chilled drink without having to wait for several hours like you would for cold brew. It's very simple!

Taste of Japanese Iced Coffee

Japanese iced coffee has a lot more flavors and aromas than regular iced coffee and cold brew. You'll notice subtle hints of caramel, chocolate, and berries.

And the pleasant, delicate aromas hidden in the coffee beans are more pronounced when using the Japanese brewing method than when using the same beans for cold brew or regular iced coffee.

When brewed properly, Japanese iced coffee will be richer, brighter, and more complex than regular coffee. You can also get different results by adjusting the pouring speed and grind size.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Japanese Iced Coffee

Japanese iced coffee advantages and disadvantages

Without a doubt, the method is the best because when properly prepared, you extract the best the coffee that has to offer.

Key benefits include the following:

  1. It hardly takes any time to brew. Gather up a pour-over coffee maker, coffee beans, and a glace with ice, and you'll have a delicious, refreshing drink in 2-3 minutes.
  2. It has a bright taste with notes of berry, fruit, and chocolate. You can even use light-roasted coffee, which wouldn't work well for normal cold brew.
  3. It hardly requires any equipment. You just need a pour-over device or something similar (Chemex, V60, AeroPress), a grinder, a glass, and ice cubes.

The disadvantages of this brewing method include:

  1. You can't make much coffee at once.
  2. While the brewing method is simple, it can be a bit complex to learn at first. You have to pay special attention to the coffee-to-water ratio. But with practice and experimentation, you'll get great at making Japanese iced coffee!

Making Japanese Iced Coffee

Let's start with our favorite alternative brewing device, the Hario V60 funnel. It's great to make Japanese iced coffee with this Japanese-made device.

To make Japanese iced coffee at home like a barista, you will need:

  • Scales
  • Coffee maker (preferably a Hario V60 or a Chemex)
  • Grinder (preferably manual)
  • Whole coffee beans (we recommend using varieties from Africa)
  • Hot water (not quite boiling), preferably purified or filtered
  • Regular-sized ice cubes

Choosing Coffee Beans

It's best to use a light or medium-light roast so notes of fruits and berries will unfold in a unique way.

Some coffee lovers recommend varieties of beans from Ethiopia and Kenya, and wet processed beans, since these have bright floral, citrus, and berry notes combined with pleasant acidity and a sweetish aftertaste.

Combined with ice cubes, this sweet coffee will keep you cool for a long time. It's a great addition to a hot summer day.

Recipe 1. Hario V60

Coffee: 22 grams

Grind size: Medium

Hot water: 205 mL

Ice cubes: 187 grams (6.5 oz)

Coffee-to-water ratio: 1:18

‍Instructions:

  1. Pre-wet the filter and drain any remaining water from the cup.
  2. Add 187 grams (6.5 oz) of ice to the cup.
  3. Add all the ground coffee to the funnel and pre-wet by pouring in 20-25 mL (.67-.8 fl oz) of water, soaking the grounds completely. Let brew for 30 seconds.
  4. Pour in up to 100 mL (3.3 fl oz) of water in a circular motion around the funnel. Wait about half a minute.
  5. Pour in the remaining water (up to 205 mL/7 fl oz) and let the coffee drain out of the funnel.

Recipe 2. Kalita Wave

Coffee: 20 grams

Grind size: Medium-coarse

Water: 350 mL (11.8 fl oz)

Ice cubes: 175 grams

Coffee to water ratio: 1:26

Instructions:

  1. Place the filter in the Kalita Wave device.
  2. Moisten the filter, then drain the water from the device.
  3. Add 175 grams of ice to the carafe.
  4. Pour 20 grams of ground coffee into the filter.
  5. Pour in about 40 mL (1.35 fl oz) of hot water (195 to 205°F) to bloom for 30 seconds.
  6. After blooming, continue slowly pouring hot water into the ground coffee to get 350 mL (11.8 fl oz) of ice and water in the carafe. Ideally, the coffee should brew for 3 minutes. The pouring rate should be the same as the rate at which the coffee drips through the filter.
  7. Stir and pour into a glass with ice.

Recipe 3. Chemex

Coffee: 40 grams

Grind size: Medium

Water: 422 mL (14.3 fl oz)

Ice cubes: 239 grams

Coffee to water ratio: 17:1

  1. Rinse the filter and drain the Chemex.
  2. Add 239 grams of ice to the bottom of the Chemex and replace the filter.
  3. Pour the ground coffee into the filter and add 30-40 mL (1-1.35 fl oz) of water, making sure that all the ground coffee is evenly wet.
  4. Let the coffee bloom for 30 seconds.
  5. Pour water in a circular motion over ground coffee, up to 250 mL (8.5 fl oz).
  6. Wait for 20-30 seconds.
  7. Pour the remaining water (up to 422 mL/14.3 fl oz) in the same circular motion and let the coffee drain from the filter. The final brew time should be 3:45.

Recommendations

While Japanese iced coffee can be brewed in a variety of devices, each of which requires its own recipe, there are a couple common rules to remember:

  1. Select a coarser grind size than usual. Why? It's very simple. You're brewing the same amount of coffee as usual, but with 2/3 the amount of water to allow for dilution from the ice. The less you grind your beans, the slower and smoother the brewing process will be.
  2. It is better to use larger ice cubes as they will melt gradually, cooling your drink.
  3. Start with a 1:18 coffee-to-water ratio and reduce the amount of water based on the fact that you will add ice.
  4. If you want a softer drink, add a little more water (a 1:23 ratio); also grind a little finer than for a standard pour-over.
  5. If you are a fan of a brighter coffee taste with a pronounced density and a little bitterness, then reduce the water (many baristas recommend a 1:17 ratio) and use a standard grind level with a brewing time of 2:45.