Japanese-style iced coffee
by Lucia Liang on May 11, 2023
The coolest way to cool your coffee
Certainly, Japanese coffee trends are no stranger to us! But this summer we would like you to try just one more. That would be the Japanese method of preparing iced coffee. This part-retro part-cutting edge method of getting your coffee as icy as can be is a fun, charming, and summer-friendly way to prepare iced coffee. A tried and true method perfected in Japan’s coffee havens and by avant-garde baristas across the islands. Let’s discover more about Japanese iced coffee!
The Origins of Japanese iced coffee
Iced coffee goes back ages, but Japanese iced coffee can be traced back to 1973 when the Coffee Syphon Company of Japan produced the first pour-over vessel, the ancestor of the V60 brewing vessel produced by companies like Hario today.
Originally used for hot brewing, the methods and modes of brewing coffee developed in Japan’s kissaten and other coffee houses. The method of preparing iced pour-over aka Japanese Iced coffee originally came from a method of brewing tea leaves using a pot of ice. Over time Japan’s coffee hot spots like those found in Kyoto and other cities would further develop and perfect the art of Japanese iced coffee brewing.
Today, this style of coffee is usually associated with a ceramic pour-over brewing vessel, a glass pot, and a gooseneck kettle. The way the coffee is brewed is by filling a carafe or pot with ice and allowing the hot brewing coffee to drip down onto the miniature glaciers of ice. As the hot coffee drips down slowly, it gets cooled off, rather than just melting all the ice outright. Many new iced coffee lovers make the mistake of just pouring their hot coffee onto the ice, creating a lukewarm mildly pleasing but mostly lackluster brew. The Japanese ice coffee technique avoids this, luckily!
Making Japanese Iced Coffee
The key to Japanese iced coffee is the use of the pour-over brewing vessel. Hario and other companies who helped develop and originate this style of coffee brewing continue to make exceptional brewing devices.
The way the coffee is brewed is by placing your brewing vessel on top of your chosen iced-up pot or carafe and slowly pouring your hot water over the coffee grounds. As the hot coffee is brewed and slowly drips down it will be cooled in the ice.
It is important to use a lot of ice to attain an enjoyable temperature and mouthfeel. Some key items that mean stellar Japanese ice coffee include a good brewing vessel and a good kettle for pouring. Usually, a Hario or other ceramic brewing vessel from Japan is ideal. As for kettles, the gooseneck is still the chosen kettle model for brewing Japanese iced coffee just as it is the chosen brewer for most other pour-over coffee!
What you will need
- Coffee beans of your choice (medium-coarse is great for pour-over)
- A brewing vessel such as a ceramic Hario V60, it is a classic choice!
- Paper coffee filters
- A heat-resistant glass carafe or pot
- Filtered or purified water
- A kettle-gooseneck is ideal because of the ease and dexterity at which you can control your pours!
How to brew
- The first key thing to do when preparing Japanese Iced Coffee is of course to make ice in advance. Use filtered or purified water for best results and be sure to make a lot. Bigger cubes are better as they won't melt as quickly!
- Next, select and grind your coffee beans. A medium-coarse grind is ideal so your brew is extracted enough but does not come out silty.
- Then, place your ice in your chosen carafe or pot. Once your pot is iced up, place your brewing vessel on top and line the inside with your paper coffee filter. For best results rinse the paper filter for more streamlined and cleaner brewing.
- Once your filter and brewing vessel are set atop the iced pot, now it is time to pour in your grounds
- Heat your water. 205 degrees is a good temperature for pour-over. After it has reached its boiling point let the water sit for 30 seconds so that it does not scorch your grinds.
- The water aspect of the pour-over is a really delicate art form. The first initial pour should be a short, quick circular pour. Do not pour too much as your grinds will then bloom. The coffee bloom is exquisite because it releases some fine aromas. It can also cause quite a mess if there is too much water being poured too quickly!
- After the coffee bloom has dissipated, you can resume your pouring. Again, each pour should be a quick circular pulse of water rather than a full-on steady stream. The water can easily overflow with pour-over and so this mode of coffee may take some practice and result in a few spills! The brewed java will drip down onto the ice and begin filling the carafe.
- When you think the carafe has enough coffee, carefully remove your brewing vessel and clean it properly.
- After that, you can enjoy your artisanally brewed pot of Japanese-style iced coffee!
Breaking the ice
You don’t have to head out to Kyoto for exceptional Japanese iced coffee. No, you can brew some at home. All you need is a handy brewing vessel, a heat-resistant pot, and a trusty kettle. The rest will be a breeze. Be sure to enjoy some Japanese-style iced coffee this summer season!
- “How to Make Japanese-Style Iced Coffee.” Serious Eats, www.seriouseats.com/japanese-style-iced-coffee. Accessed 8 May 2023.
- “Iced Coffee.” Wikipedia, 28 Mar. 2023, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iced_coffee. Accessed 8 May 2023.
- Nast, Condé. “When I Can’t Be Bothered with Cold Brew, I Make Japanese Iced Coffee Instead.” Bon Appétit, 30 May 2020, www.bonappetit.com/story/make-ice-brew-not-cold-brew. Accessed 8 May 2023.