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Mastering Kyoto-Style Cold Brew: A Comprehensive Guide

Mastering Kyoto-Style Cold Brew: A Comprehensive Guide

Kyoto cold brew is a traditional Japanese way of making cold brew. It uses cold water that drips slowly over coffee grounds instead of full immersion. This produces the most delicious cold brew coffee ever.

With explorers traveling the world and discovering new, different cultures and traditions, they started to adopt them themselves. Same way, coffee has been spread around the world by such expeditions and adventures.

One such example is Kyoto cold brew. This flavorful cup is considered one of the best ways to enjoy a true cold brew.  So, in this article, I will be discussing Kyoto cold brew.

Let’s begin.

What Is Kyoto Cold Brew?

a glass of cold brew coffee

Kyoto cold brew is a way of making cold brew but Japanese-style. Very cold water gets dripped over the coffee ground, drop by drop rather than full immersion which is followed in typical cold brew procedures.

Before we begin with what it actually is, let’s have a little history lesson.

Coffee is a very popular drink worldwide. With billions of drinkers around the world and 65% of Americans hooked on it, it’s quite a well-known beverage.

But this delicious caffeine fix dates back to the 9th century in Ethiopia. But it didn’t quite spread across Far East countries like Japan. That’s until the Dutch landed in Japan, in the 1600s.

They brought coffee and the cold brew with them. It’s believed that Dutch taught the Japanese about cold brew. I have a separate article on the history of coffee if you’re interested in knowing more.

With that, Kyoto- style cold brew was born which was named after the place in Japan called Kyoto where it gained popularity. The origin of cold brew thus began in Japan.

Kyoto cold brew is sometimes called Dutch coffee, slow drip coffee, water drip coffee, and cold drip coffee. From Japanese iced coffee’s taking the world by storm, Kyoto cold brew is considered as of the best ways to make cold brews.

Cold brews have slowly gained a lot of fame due to the advancement in coffee machines and the flavor profile that they have.  With that being said, now what is Kyoto cold brew?

It is a way of brewing coffee using ice water. A large glass contraption does this cold brewing which is called the Drip Coffee Tower or Cold Brew Tower. Basically, ice water is dripped slowly – like one drop per second slow- over the coffee ground on a filter. This is done for at least 8 to 12 hours or possibly overnight.

The lower empty chamber catches all the dripped coffee and this is called Kyoto cold brew. That’s it.

Here is a super cool video that you can check out on Kyoto cold brew.

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How Do You Make A Kyoto Cold Brew?

Kyoto cold brew is made using a glass tower. This tower has three chambers. The first chamber gets filled with ice and a little bit of water. The second chamber is where coffee grounds are placed above a paper filter.

The water gets dripped slowly from the first chamber to the second one with coffee grounds, and the brew gets dripped in the last chamber. This process takes 8 to 12 hours.  

There are several ways of making coffee, whether a standard hot brew or a cold brew. With numerous inventions taking place each tweaking results in a new way of making coffee.

But when it comes to cold brew, usually a standard cold brew is made by the full immersion method. This means that the coffee grounds are fully submerged in the cold water for several hours. Then, it’s filtered and the result is a cold brew. So, when we talk about Kyoto cold brew, this is not the case.

A plastic cup of Kyoto cold brew getting splashed with ice.

Kyoto cold brew is made using a glass tower which is a large manual machine that does not need any power. It’s a simple three-component machine.

Each component is a chamber with the top one is filled with ice and a little bit of water to start the process. Then the second chamber has the coffee grounds above the filter. And the third and final chamber is the one that catches the dripping brew.

To begin the brewing here’s what you’ll need;

  • A Kyoto-style drip tower
  • A coffee grinder
  • Paper filter
  • A kitchen scales

For making this coffee you need to remember the ratio. For every 100 grams of coffee grounds, 1 liter of water turned into ice is required. And to start the brewing a few ounces of water are added to the chamber.

Also, keep in mind, that every tower also comes with its own suggestion of ratios according to the tower. So, you can tweak it but the general idea of the ratio is as what we’ve discussed. With that let’s start the brewing.


  • Coffee grounds 50 g
  • Ice (water – 0.5 liter)
  • 2 – 3 ounces of water


  • Measure the coffee and grind the coffee grounds to a medium coarseness
  • Then, wet the paper filter under running water and places it at the bottom of the second chamber.
  • Add in the coffee ground with little water to full dampen the grounds. This will start the brewing process.
  • Then, fill in the first chamber with ice and set the nozzle which is at the base of the reservoir at the dripping speed of one drop per second.  
  • Ideally, this will take about 8 hours to 12 hours.
  • After that it’s all ready. Pour it over ice and serve.
  • You can drink with added hot or cold milk or cream.
  • Enjoy!
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How Is Kyoto Cold Brew Different From Japanese Iced Coffee?

Kyoto cold brew uses ice instead of water for brewing whereas, for Japanese iced coffee, hot water is used to brew. But it gets flash chilled by dripping over ice instantly.

You must be wondering if both of these Japanese coffees are the same, right? But no, they aren’t. One similarity that they have is that both involve ice in the brewing process and the other is that both use the pour-over method.

This is why they both taste amazing without the harshness. Below I’ve discussed their difference in detail.


As mentioned earlier, Kyoto cold brew and Japanese iced coffee, both are brewed using the pour-over method. No full immersion process is used for brewing each of these. The difference lies in the fact of the mechanism.

Japanese iced coffee can be brewed in a regular Hairo V60 or Chemex-like coffee machines which are used to brew any pour-over coffee. Whereas, it can only be made in a Drip Coffee Glass Tower, just like how espresso can only be made in an espresso machine.


The duration of the whole brewing process for the Kyoto cold brew is very tedious and long. It can take up to 12 hours to make this style of coffee. For Japanese iced coffee, it is ready in under 5 minutes.

If you want a quick cold brew Japanese iced coffee is your coffee. And, if you want to stir something special up for when you have some extra time at your hands like weekends, you can start the brewing Kyoto cold brew on a Saturday and enjoy it on Sunday morning.

a landscape view of the city of kyoto

Ice & Water

For brewing Japanese iced coffee, you need a mix of water and ice. The quantity of water is heated which is then slowly and steadily poured over coffee grounds. And the ice is added in the empty chamber where the brewed cold coffee drips and instantly cools. This is called flash chilling the coffee.

And for Kyoto cold brew, the empty chamber is filled with ice which melts to produce the cold water that then drips over the coffee grounds one drop per second. A few ounces of water are added to the chamber to kick start the process, but other than that, nothing more.

Here’s the nutritional content of Kyoto cold brew for an 8 oz cup.

Nutritional ContentQuantity
Calories70 grams
Caffeine150 – 200 mg
Sugar0 grams
Sodium3 mg
Fats1 gram
Carbohydrates12 grams
Proteins0.5 grams

My Final Verdict

Kyoto cold brew is considered one of the best tasting cold brews on the planet. This is originally from Japan but has gained a massive following all over the world.

This sweet-tasting cold brew is very different from regular cold brews. You can taste even the subtlest note that coffee has to offer which are often not dominant in regular cold brews and even hot coffees.

But keep in mind it’s not the same as Japanese iced coffee. You can definitely enjoy both of these at different times. Brew Kyoto cold brew when you have hours’ time and make Japanese iced coffee when you have under 10 minutes. Then, just add in some ice and enjoy!

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