How to Make Japanese Iced Coffee

Coffee preparation techniques besides espresso like pourover.
User avatar
Posts: 21944
Joined: 19 years ago

#1: Post by HB »

A couple weeks back, I read Peter's blog entry Why you should stop cold-brewing, and use the Japanese Iced Coffee Method and meant to mention some of his observations in the HB thread Iced Coffee. I forgot to post it due to the distraction of other life events, but was again reminded when a Twitter user linked this article in the New York Times: I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Oliver Strand wrote:It's iced coffee season, which in New York means hitting the cold brew.

If you don't know what cold brew is, then you haven't been paying attention. The steep-and-strain method of making coffee without hot water, a rare sighting in New York as recently as 2010, came into fashion last year, and now it's as easy to find as a sailor-stripe shirt: it's sold by the stubby and the growler, bottled as concentrate or already mixed with milk, available on tap or in an ice pop. Cold brew is now as much a part of the New York summer as the fragrant streets of Midtown and the Mister Softee jingle...

Ice brew is just a variation on drip coffee (what's called "pour over" these days), in which you brew directly over ice. The hot coffee drips onto the cold cubes and cools instantly - the hot water quickly extracts more flavor from coffee grounds (cold brewing takes longer, which is why it sits overnight), and the rapid cooling means that the coffee doesn't have the time to develop the unpleasantly harsh flavors you get from slowly chilling hot coffee in a refrigerator. The benefits? You get all the vivid, fresh flavors of hot coffee in an ice-cold drink.
Peter made a video to demonstrate the process:
I haven't tried this method, but will give it a go as the outside temperatures rise.
Dan Kehn

User avatar
ex trahere
Posts: 130
Joined: 12 years ago

#2: Post by ex trahere »

Ahh, yes, The good old Japanese style iced coffee, hailing from the far North Carolina :D (Have yet to see anyone in Japan employ this method).

I believe this method works exceptionally well for certain coffees, but is a complete dud for others. Beans with subtle aromatics and extremely volatile compounds will taste quite dull and flat prepared this way (I prefer the term 'flash brew' as it does not cling itself to a geographic region that probably has nothing to do with it other than the fact that the glassware, filters, and kettles used in this technique are all produced in Japan).

Anyways, sorry for the rant. Now for an accurately described drink that contextually clings to a particular region: ... cold-brew/
A posse ad esse

Posts: 2
Joined: 12 years ago

#3: Post by Arbadarchi »

Ice drip is the only way I brew iced coffee (except for when making new Orleans style I do cold brew). I find ice drip really highlights the roasted sugars as well as has nice acidity that's missing from cold brew. I really want to try cold drip coffee though...

Posts: 53
Joined: 12 years ago

#4: Post by oktyone »

I love this for making iced coffee.. the Hario Fretta is highly recommended for this method, it dilutes less ice than just simply brewing over a carafe filled with ice, since it has a water "diffuser" used right below the V60-02 brewer that prevents constant dripping over the same spot of ice.

User avatar
Posts: 918
Joined: 13 years ago

#5: Post by the_trystero »

"A screaming comes across the sky..." - Thomas Pynchon

Posts: 50
Joined: 19 years ago

#6: Post by PeterG »

Hi All!

I'm glad to address the "Japanese" part by telling the story:

As I mention in the video, I was a barista in the 80s and 90s, and iced coffee here was universally prepared in one of the following ways: 1. hot coffee was brewed and put in the jug in the refrigerator. 2. leftover hot coffee was put in the refrigerator. 3. "toddy" was made, although this was unusual in coffee shops as it was relatively labor intensive.

On trips to Japan in the 90s, I experienced coffees that had aromatics, flavors, acidity; all the things that were missing in hot-brewed refrigerated, or cold-brewed coffee. So I reached out to Mr. Hayashi, head of the Hayashi Coffee Institute, the most respected coffee institution in Japan. Over the course of about a year, Mr. Hayashi generously educated me about the history and practice of iced coffee in Japan, and focused on equipment that was designed to allow coffee to brew on top of ice, and allow the melting ice to dilute the coffee to the correct temperature. While it's not a huge logical jump, it was just not a part of the practice anywhere besides Japan. Particularly important was that in Japan iced coffee had a legitimate place in the coffee canon, whereas here it was thought of as a distasteful perversion of iced tea, and in Europe iced coffee was very very rare (with the exception of the transcendent Southern-Italian Granita di Caffe, but I digress).

In North Carolina, I adapted what I had learned from Mr. Hayashi to equipment I had handy; a Melitta carafe, a Bunn filter basket, an ice cube tray, and a Bodum kettle. (this was 2004, before you could easily get any Japanese coffee preparation equipment). I was trying to adapt the process built into Japanese iced coffee makers like the Hario Fretta and the Kalita Ice N Hot, which were unavailable in the states at the time.

I dubbed the process "the Japanese Iced Coffee" technique out of gratitude and respect for Mr. Hayashi and the insights I got from Japanese iced coffee. I get that the Massachusetts contingent perceives it as phony and romantic, but I think it comes from a good place. I'm sticking with that nomenclature, but I respect those who have renamed it "ice brew" or "flash chilled".

I haven't yet found a coffee that I think works better cold-brewed than Japanese iced. I am intrigued, however, by Lorenzo Perkins' hybrid method, I think he calls it "Hot Bloomed Cold Brewed" which probably has some potential, although there are some pitfalls there.

By the way, in my view, the all-time champ of Japanese Iced Coffee is Yirgacheffe coffees. The lemon-jasmine complements the method perfectly. Perfectly!

Happy summer, you guys.

Peter G
counter culture coffee

User avatar
Team HB
Posts: 4970
Joined: 18 years ago

#7: Post by RapidCoffee »

Thanks Peter. I enjoy iced coffee in the summertime, and this method works well for me.

BTW, I'm glad to see no mention of ice somehow "shocking" the coffee. That odd bit of folklore seems to be gradually dying away.

User avatar
ex trahere
Posts: 130
Joined: 12 years ago

#8: Post by ex trahere »

Hi Peter,

Thanks for catching everyone up on the 'Japanese' titling, and I hope my NC jab was taken as light-heartedly as I meant it. Light sarcasm is often difficult to connote on these forums. :D
PeterG wrote:On trips to Japan in the 90s, I experienced coffees that had aromatics, flavors, acidity; all the things that were missing in hot-brewed refrigerated, or cold-brewed coffee.
As I said before, I have made exceptional coffee using this method, and I agree with you that aromatics, flavors and acidity will shine in a Japanese/Flash extraction.

However I notice you neglected to mention mouthfeel, or viscosity, which is what I find missing time after time when making iced coffee in this manner. They will taste very bright and flavorful, but thin in texture.

I often will make a cold brew and flash brew of the same coffee and generally the results are the same;
they flavors are similar, but the depth and mouthfeel of the cold brew is far more complex and full.
A posse ad esse

Posts: 10
Joined: 12 years ago

#9: Post by the_winding_path »

This is my favorite method of serving coffee iced and I feel it is the same as hot coffee, just not as perceptible a flavor profile due to it being cold. So people have a recipe for this method (albeit a bit tricky) here is how I do it-

First off I calculate brewed mass according to a 19.5%ext & 1.5%tds (my taste buds like a 19-20% ext and 1.5%tds helps the flavor profile to be more easily distinguished as it is cold). Mojotogo will give you the amount of grounds or brewed mass according to the above parameters and your input of grounds or brewed mass.

I divide the brewed mass by 2.17 and fill my server with that weight (or slightly under) in ice. I then take the ice weight and subtract that with the brewed mass. I take that ice subtracted mass and add double the weight of grounds to it to get the amount of water I need to brew and adjust my grind slightly more fine to get the right ext/tds (flavor profile).

What I look for are about 4-6 half melted cubes left along with some almost totally melted ones. I use the large ice cubes from a traditional ice tray. The newer trays and ice machines tend to have smaller ice 'cubes' and you may need to get closer to half brewed mass consisting of ice if you use smaller ice 'cubes'.

Obviously this is merely a base for people that don't have a starting point or ones that are looking for something outside their own method to try. I've always loved quad shots (about 6oz of 'spro in a 20oz cup full of ice and topped with water) as an iced coffee drink and this is pretty close to that. That being said, I'm now curious what the tds would be of my traditional iced americano I used to get from Torreo in Phili back when they existed and had their cafe open. I miss those guys!!! Hope good things are coming your way Eric!!!


p.s.- now I'm going to have to try it at 2 and 3%tds and see how I like it!

p.p.s.- Patrick, try seriously updosing your QIB (quick ice brew) to a 2 or 3% tds staying in the same extraction window and see how that affects your perception of body and mouthfeel. Do you have any idea of the tds your QIB comes out at currently?
the perfect brew is a moving target