Have you ever made iced coffee at home and wound up disappointed that it didn’t taste as good as the coffee you get when you’re out? If you brew coffee as you normally do and then add ice to it, the result is a weak, watered-down cup that lacks the bold kick you’re used to. You could brew your coffee hot and let it cool in the fridge for several hours, but who has time for that?
Enter Japanese iced coffee. Instead of brewing coffee and then adding ice, Japanese iced coffee – sometimes called Japanese cold brew or just Japanese coffee – is hot coffee brewed directly over ice. A smaller amount of water is used to account for the melting ice, and the result is a cup of iced coffee that is as flavorful as a regular hot coffee and tastes more like the iced coffee you might get in a café.
In this guide, we’ll teach you how to make Japanese iced coffee at home. Don’t worry, it isn’t that hard and only requires equipment that you might already have if you regularly brew pour-overs at home.
The Best Japanese Iced Coffee Recipe:
1. Weigh your ingredients
Before you do anything else, you need to weigh the coffee, water, and ice. We recommend starting with equal amounts of water and ice. Use the kitchen scale to weigh 1 oz (25 g) of coffee and 7 oz (200 g) each of water and ice.
2. Boil the water
This recipe requires water fresh off the boil. For the best results, we recommend using a gooseneck kettle like the Hario Buono.
3. Grind the coffee (optional)
If you have a grinder, grind your coffee to a medium consistency. A good starting point is the grind size you would use for a traditional hot pour-over. If you are using pre-ground coffee, you can skip this step.
4. Rinse the filter and add ice
Whether you are using V60 or Chemex filters, make sure you rinse the filter before brewing. Rinsing the filter eliminates a papery taste that can otherwise linger and also preheats the brewer for optimal extraction.
Once the filter has been rinsed, add the ice to your carafe.
Add the coffee to your brewer. Start your timer pour about 2 oz (60 g) of water over the grounds in a concentric pattern, spiraling outward as you go. The goal here is to wet the grounds evenly. Wait 45 seconds.
6. Pour the rest of the water
Once 45 seconds have passed, pour the rest of the water – 5 oz (140 g) – over the coffee slowly, again in a circular pattern. Focus on making sure you pour evenly across all of the coffee grounds. You don’t want to linger for too long in the center.
7. Give it a swirl
After you’ve poured the rest of the water, you want to give the whole brewer a quick swirl. Some grounds can get stuck to the sides of the filter, and you want to make sure they get knocked back into the water. Grounds that are “high and dry” are wasted and don’t contribute to the coffee’s flavor.
8. Serve and enjoy!
You’re done with the hard parts now, and all you have to do is wait for the water to drain through.
Japanese Iced Coffee Tips and Tricks
This is our go-to Japanese iced coffee recipe, but there are a few things you can adjust to suit your own taste. We think this is a great starting point but encourage you to experiment on your own to find what you like best.
The first thing you should change if you don’t love the coffee you make is the balance of coffee and water. If your cup is weak, you can try increasing the amount of coffee while keeping the amount of water used the same. On the contrary, if your cup is too strong for you, slightly more water can help. If you’re only making small adjustments, keep the amount of ice the same. It might have a small effect on the taste, but it shouldn’t be much.
This one is a bit trickier. In general, we get good results when the ice is almost completely melted when the water has finished draining. This means using the same amount of water and ice for our grind size and filter choice, but your results might differ slightly.
If you find that the ice takes a long time to melt, you might have to decrease the amount of ice in favor of more water. As an example, let’s say you notice that your ice takes two or three minutes to melt and that the cup you wind up with is weak. Instead of using 7 oz (200 g) water and 7 oz (200 g) ice, you could try using 7¾ oz (220 g) water and 6¼ oz (180 g) ice. It’s important to keep the total amount of ice and water – 14 oz (400 g) in this case – the same. Changing the total amount of ice plus water will change the strength of the cup and throw the flavors out of whack.
Another tip? Make coffee ice cubes instead!
We always run into trouble trying to communicate grind size, but you can use whatever you normally would for pour-over in this case. The extraction happens the same way in Japanese iced coffee as it does in a regular pour-over, so if you already have your grind size dialed in, you should be good to go.
If you’re unsure about the grind size, then start in the medium range and change based on taste. Adjusting your grind size based on taste is always the best option, but it does mean that it might take you several cups before you get it right.
We love making Japanese coffee, and it is our favorite way to make iced coffee at home. Regular iced coffee can be flat and flavorless, but Japanese iced coffee packs all the punch of hot coffee in a refreshingly cool package. Once you try Japanese iced coffee, you won’t ever want to make regular iced coffee again.
We hope this guide has given you a place to start your iced coffee experimentation. We put a lot of time into perfecting this recipe, but everyone’s taste is different. These aren’t hard and fast rules as much as they are suggestions and guidelines to help you find your own way. So what are you waiting for? Grab a filter and some ice and get brewing!
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Featured Image: Unsplash
Table of Contents
- The Best Japanese Iced Coffee Recipe:
- Japanese Iced Coffee Tips and Tricks