Japanese Iced Coffee (What Makes It Taste So Good?)

Japanese iced coffee is a cold brew-style coffee made with coffee grounds, water, and ice. Usually, the pour-over method is used to make this style of coffee. 

Every person enjoys coffee differently. Some like hot black coffee, some like creamy chocolatey mochas, and some like cold brew iced coffee. There are tons of ways out there to brew your ideal kind of cuppa.

You can make coffee however you like. But when it comes to iced coffee or cold brewing, Japanese iced coffee has taken the world by storm. Anyone who drinks it once gets hooked on it immediately. But what is it about it that makes it so flavorful?

In this article let’s find out what’s the whole deal with Japanese iced coffee and is it better than regular coffee?

What Is Japanese Iced Coffee?

Japanese iced coffee is a cold brew-style coffee made with finer coffee grounds, water, and ice. The pour-over method is used to make this style of coffee along with ice. 

Coffee is a very complex drink that can be brewed in numerous ways. In recent times, coffee has gained a massive consumer base all around the world. With so many people drinking the same thing, so many new ideas are born to brew coffee.

There are endless machines for brewing coffee, different styles of coffees and so much more. The coffee industry has a lot to offer and satisfies each person’s taste palate. Now here is where our beloved Japanese iced coffee comes into play.

A very simple idea of adding ice to the brewing process makes for a different version of coffee which we call the Japanese iced coffee. It’s nothing too fancy. The same coffee grounds that you use for regular brewing are used along with water and some ice. That’s it.

You can enjoy this style of iced coffee on a hot summer day or even in winters if that floats your boat!

How Do You Make Japanese Iced Coffee?

Japanese iced coffee is made by the pour-over method. On a Coffee cone or Clever Dripper, the finer grind of coffee grounds is sprinkled over the filter. Then in the vessel below ice is added.

Hot water is slowly poured over coffee grounds, how normally it is done in the pour-over method. This hot brew drips on ice and instantly cools which is ready to be drunk. For a more detailed explanation of the pour-over method, you can take a look at my other article here.

I know the name sounds very intimidating and maybe it’s a strenuous process that needs to take place in order to make Japanese iced coffee. But that’s not true. It’s quite simple and similar to any pour-over method. But the key here is that you need to be mindful of the ratios.

This is because the addition of the ice can dilute the brew and ruin the flavor if the ratios are not correct. No matter what strength of brew you like, you need to be mindful that you use 5 grams extra of coffee grounds and 35% to 45% of the less water. The reduction in the quantity of the water will be compensated by the ice.

a person pouring a Japanese iced coffee in the glass with ice

Get Started

Before you get started here’s what you’ll need;

  • 36 grams of coffee grounds
  • 305 grams of hot water
  • 270 grams of ice ( large pieces)
  • Pour Over Machine like a Chemex or Hario v60
  • Paper Filter
  • A scale
  • A coffee grinder

Brewing Specs

Once all these things are ready let’s get to brewing. Here are the brewing specs to keep in mind.

  • Grind – Medium Fine
  • Brew Ratio – 16:1 (16 is water plus ice and 1 is coffee)
  • Water temperature – 195 F to 205 F (91 -96 C)
  • Total Brew Time – 5:00

Steps:

  1. Use the scale to measure 36 grams of coffee grounds
  2. Grind fresh coffee grounds into a finer style. You need fine grounds because the water quantity is reduced in this style and the finer grounds allow for the extraction process to happen quickly.
  3. Then heat the water and let it sit for 10 to 15 seconds.
  4. Place the filter while the water is resting.
  5. Then pour some water either hot or room temperature to rinse the filter. This eliminates the unwanted flavors of the filter. Then you discard the rinse water.
  6. Add the ice to the add vessel below. The large pieces of the ice will reduce slowly.
  7. Sprinkle the coffee grounds on the filter.
  8. Pour abut 70 grams of water and let the coffee bloom. It will rise but that’s the carbon dioxide getting released.
  9. Wait for 20 second then in concentric circles add the rest of the water slowly. This will take you about 1minute and 30 seconds in total.
  10. Let the coffee drip. Once the coffee is flat the brewing is done. It will take about 3 minutes and 30 seconds in total.
  11. Now pour the freshly brewed coffee into the cup of filled with ice and enjoy.

Watch this video to see how it is made.

What Does Japanese Iced Coffee Taste Like?

Japanese iced coffee tastes crisper and cleaner without the acidity and excessive bitterness of regular coffee. It has a rounded sweetness to it with hints of chocolate.

Typically, coffee is known for its bitterness and strong flavor. These notes are enjoyed by some and some prefer rounded and well-balanced flavors. People who prefer the latter, enjoy a cold brew. And when it comes to Japanese iced coffee, it’s an even more flavorful version of cold brew.

a cup of iced coffee in the sun

It is bright, crisp, and full of flavor. You still get all the advantages of hot brewing, since the actual brewing occurs with hot water. But since it drips over ice, it swiftly chills the coffee preserving the aromas and flavors without the acidity and bitterness. You might also get some chocolatey notes with hints of sweetness. So, overall, this coffee is jampacked with flavor.

Below is the nutritional content of Japanese Iced Coffee for an 8 oz cup

Content 8 oz cup
Calories67
Protein0.5 grams
Fats1.9 grams
Carbohydrates12 grams
Sugar0 grams
Sodium4 mg
Caffeine90 mg

Is It Better Than Cold Brew?

Personally, I think Japanese iced coffee is better than cold brew because of its flavor, and its overall brewing time. It is much more flavorful and brews in less time than a cold brew or regular coffee.

Japanese iced coffee is a wholesome experience of flavors that aren’t enjoyed in a regular cold brew. Now, I am not saying, cold brew is bad. I love to drink it from time to time. But Japanese iced coffee has many complex flavors shining through which aren’t as clear in any regular cold brew.

It is a mix of the flavor profile of slow drip, the simplicity of immersion, and the speed of hot brewed coffee all at once.

Usually, cold brews require a long time to brew. It is a long tedious process that takes up to 10 hours. The coffee grounds are submerged in cold water for longer periods of time to fully extract the flavors. But Japanese iced coffee does this in under 5 minutes.

You start off by brewing regular hot coffee but quickly chills the coffee as it drips of ice. What this does is that it brings out more complex notes which are clearer in cold brew.

Plus, this also eliminates the unnecessary bitterness and only extracts very fewer amounts of acids. Which aren’t even noticeable while sipping coffee.

Moreover, you get to enjoy all the goodies of a hot coffee and don’t have to go through the long-brewing process. So, it’s basically is a much more enhanced cold brew. But one thing to keep in mind is that you really can’t experiment with this brew.

But when it comes to regular cold brew, you can experiment, like add another ingredient like milk and cream, etc. I mean there is no such rule for Japanese iced coffee but people generally don’t. They enjoy it just as it is, with lots of ice.  

My Final Verdict

Japanese iced coffee

Japanese iced coffee is the enhanced version of regular cold brew or iced coffee. You get to taste and feel all of the slightest complexities of coffee while sipping on it. And making it for yourself is so easy. You can brew this coffee in under 5 minutes.

This is why people prefer to enjoy Japanese iced coffee because you get clean and crisp notes of coffee without any acidity or bitterness.

But if you are one of those who like to experiment with tons of flavors, you can try and add other syrups or ingredients like milk or cream. No one’s gonna judge! So, if you haven’t tried it, I would recommend that you do.

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Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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