Japanese Iced Coffee: The Iced Coffee Method You'll Use Every Day

You don't need to purchase special equipment and wait hours on end to get great-tasting iced coffee.

You've probably heard the adage: the best things in life never come easy. Well, I'm here to tell you that, when it comes to making iced coffee, this saying is all wrong.

You don't need to purchase special equipment and wait hours on end to get great-tasting iced coffee. In fact, I would take it a step further and say that most cold brew compromises the flavor of your coffee, especially if you like to drink it black. So buckle up and get ready to discover your go-to method of making coffee this summer.

What is Japanese-Style Iced Coffee?

Compared to cold brew, which uses cold water to extract your coffee grinds, Japanese-Style Iced Coffee is brewed hot directly onto ice, rapidly cooling the coffee. This way, we more fully extract the coffee (hot water extracts soluble compounds better than cold water), leading to a more balanced cup.

Cold brew coffee is known for being low in acid with a full mouthfeel and sweeter flavor, which can be great if you like adding dairy or a non-dairy substitute to your coffee. But if you drink your coffee black, Japanese-Style Ice Coffee will bring out the brighter characteristics of the cup that contrast the darker notes of coffee.

However you take your coffee, I suggest you try out the Japanese-Style Iced Coffee method for yourself.

How do I make Japanese-Style Iced Coffee?

As stated before, you don't need any fancy equipment to brew coffee with this method. You can use any standard pour-over device like a Hario V60 or Chemex, or you can even use an automatic drip machine by putting some ice in the carafe before you brew. But, while this sounds simple, getting great results is a bit more complicated than it seems.

Brewing great coffee always begins with using great coffee. You'll want to use a coffee roasted within the last 2-3 weeks for optimal freshness, and, typically, lighter roasted coffees do better with the method as opposed to a dark roast. You'll also want to make sure you use a good burr grinder to grind your coffee to an even medium-coarse grind right before you brew.

After that, you just need to make sure your ratios are correct. Since you're brewing directly onto ice, you'll need to brew with less water than you usually would so that your ending coffee:water ratio is correct.

For example, in the recipe below, we make 340ml of brewed iced coffee by pouring 217ml of hot water over 20g of ground coffee 113g of ice in the carafe below. That's a 1:17 ending coffee:water ratio using two parts hot water and 1 part ice. I highly recommend using a scale that reads in grams to do this, and so that's how the recipe is written here.

Japanese-Style Iced Coffee

coffee brewing setup

What You'll Need

  • A pour-over device like a Hario V60
  • Paper Filter
  • A carafe or anything large enough to hold the iced
  • Scale
  • Timer
  • Kettle (gooseneck highly recommended)
  • 20 grams of freshly ground coffee
  • 113g of ice
  • 227ml of water
  • Additional ice as desired

The Method

  1. Heat your water to ~205° F.
  2. Place the paper filter in the brewer and pre-wet it to ensure no paper taste gets passed along to your final brew.
  3. Put 113g of ice in your carafe, place the brewer on top, add 20g of coffee to the brewer, and tare your scale.
  4. Start your timer and pour up to 50 grams over about 10 seconds.
  5. At 0:45 seconds, pour slowly and evenly in small circles around the center of the dripper up to 340 grams. After you've finished pouring, give the dripper a swirl to agitate the grounds and encourage proper drainage.
  6. Allow the water to drain through, remove the brewer, and swirl the carafe if there is any unmelted ice leftover.
  7. Pour the finished product over additional ice (if desired) and revel in the fact that you just made great-tasting iced coffee in a manner of minutes.
coffee draining into carafe
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