February 1, 2015

How To Make Japanese Iced Coffee


Even though it’s getting colder outside I still love to drink iced coffee.  The days of waiting tirelessly for that fresh pot of coffee to cool only to leave a nasty stale beverage are long gone. There has been much talk in the past few years about the best way to brew cold coffee. The two main contenders are cold brew and Japanese iced coffee. Both are good in their own ways but offer two distinct means of enjoying coffee cold. Cold brew takes between 12 to 36 hours to steep and produces a syrupy, sweet, concentrated brew, while Japanese iced coffee is produced within minutes and has a bright, crisp, and refreshing finish.

Today I want to highlight the Japanese method. There are many different vessels to brew with ranging from the Hario V60 to the Aeropress each giving a slightly different cup. But first, it’s helpful to understand the different processing methods and how they influence the finished cup. The two main procedures when processing a coffee cherry are natural and washed. For brewing pour over iced coffees I tend to like washed coffees more.

Lee este artículo en español Cómo Preparar Café Helado Japonés

Sorting coffee cherries

Sorting quality naturals. Credit: Flickr, jackeliefer

Natural Process

Historically the ‘dry’ natural process has been the main method of processing the coffee cherry but requires more work and intentional focus. The cherries are dried with the beans inside and all their original layers left intact. This process takes time and yet produces very distinct, lower in acidity, fuller body, and more exotic in their flavors.

Washed Process

Unlike the natural method washed coffees are more consistent in their results and produce a brighter cup with lower body, cleaner flavors. Farmers begin by removing the outer layer of the cherry and wash it in water allowing it to ferment which breaks down the mucilage. Afterwards they dry the beans on patios before finally shipping them.

Drying patio for washed coffee.

Drying patio for washed coffee. Credit: Flickr, counterculturecoffee

So How to Brew Iced Coffee…

Brewing iced coffee doesn’t have to be difficult. For the most consistent cup the best advice is to invest in a gram scale and a burr grinder. I start with 1.5- 2 grams of coffee for every finished fluid 1 ounce. To keep a flavorful cup of iced coffee from getting watered down, the ratio of water to coffee is very important. I follow this simple equation as my starting point. The goal is to include the ice as part of the total water volume of the finished cup.

 32g of coffee + 8g 205* Fahrenheit water + 8g ice = 16 oz iced coffee

  1. Gather brewing vessel, ice, scale, coffee, grinder, and glass to brew into.
  2. Boil water. Be sure to get it between 195-205 degrees (Fahrenheit)
  3. Weigh beans and grind coffee.
  4. Brew directly over ice and swirl before serving.
Iced coffee made by Chemex

Iced coffee can be V60, Kalita, AeroPress.. Credit: Flickr, Dylan Fogarty-MacDonald

Perfect Daily Grind.