How To Make Japanese Iced Coffee: The Easiest Iced Coffee

How To Make Japanese Iced Coffee: The Easiest Iced Coffee Hack

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It’s summertime. It’s already hot outside at 7am.

And you forgot to prep your cold brew last night.

It happens.

But before you decide to crawl back under the covers and give up on the day, try making an iced coffee Japanese style instead.

Wait, what is Japanese iced coffee?

Japanese iced coffee is quite literally the easiest and fastest way to make iced coffee. It’s ready in 10 minutes or less and, spoiler alert, is as delicious as cold brew (gasp!).

But before we get to how to make Japanese iced coffee, let’s take a look at some differences between the Japanese iced coffee brewing method and other iced coffee brewing methods.

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Japanese Iced Coffee vs. Cold Brew

Cold Brew

Don’t get us wrong, we love cold brew. It’s one of our favorite ways to make iced coffee, and we keep a jug in the fridge all summer long.

However, cold brew requires planning. And let’s be real, there are times when even the best-laid plans go to hell.

It’s in those moments that we’re grateful we know how to make Japanese iced coffee.

So, what’s the difference between cold brew and Japanese iced coffee?

The term “cold brew” actually refers to the brewing method and not to the serving temperature.

Cold brew coffee is brewed with cool or room-temperature water, which is one significant difference between iced coffee and cold brew.

Cold brew coffee is also smoother and less acidic than traditional iced coffee.

Cold brew is steeped slowly (like 12+ hours slow), allowing the fruity, bright notes to be extracted from the coffee grounds without bitterness.

It’s a time commitment for sure, but cold brew might be the best iced coffee to make at home because it is so easy, and the result is so delicious.

No special equipment is needed to make cold brew. In fact, our favorite method for making cold brew is the french press.

Additionally, you can store cold brew in the refrigerator for up to 14 days! So you can make a big batch and enjoy it all week long.

Japanese Iced Coffee

Japanese iced coffee, on the other hand, requires zero preparation. Huge points for this.

The Japanese iced coffee brewing method involves brewing hot coffee directly onto ice, thus immediately cooling and diluting the coffee.

Thanks to the instant cooling process, the result is a bright, clean-tasting brew that’s more complex than traditional iced coffee.

Cooling the coffee instantly, instead of refrigerating before pouring over ice, avoids oxidation and locks in flavor.

Japanese Iced Coffee Vs. Iced Coffee

The critical difference between Japanese-style iced coffee and traditional iced coffee is the brewing process.

Traditional iced coffee is brewed just like any other hot coffee, using various methods (pour over, french press, drip, etc.)

The hot coffee is then poured over a glass of ice and served. Or, alternatively, the hot coffee is cooled briefly in the refrigerator before pouring over ice.

Allowing the hot coffee to cool is not the best idea, however. 

Hot coffee starts to deteriorate the moment it begins to cool.

The longer it cools, the less flavorful it is. (read: tastes like garbage)

The Japanese iced coffee brewing method is appealing because it eliminates the risk of oxidation since the coffee is flash-cooled upon brewing.

How To Make Japanese Iced Coffee

Japanese iced coffee is incredibly easy to make.

That said, there are a few pieces of equipment that make the brewing process even easier.

Here’s what you’ll need to brew Japanese iced coffee:

  1. Kettle (gooseneck style preferred)
  2. Pour Over coffee maker (Chemex, Hario, or any other variety works great)
  3. Filter (paper or otherwise)
  4. Scale
  5. High-quality coffee beans (30g)
  6. Grinder
  7. Ice Cubes (225g)
  8. Filtered water (225g)

If you don’t have a pour over coffee maker, don’t worry. You can still learn how to make Japanese iced coffee.

Simply use a carafe or container that can hold 16oz of iced coffee instead.

Coffee to Water Ratio

Like every other type of iced coffee, learning how to make Japanese iced coffee requires some finessing to get the coffee to water ratio just right.

Because you’re diluting the coffee immediately with ice, you’ll want to brew a double-strength batch of coffee to ensure the flavor isn’t lost once it hits the ice.

I’m using a 1:15 coffee to water ratio here (including the ice). Start here and adjust as desired.

I prefer to use equal parts water and ice for my iced coffee ratio, and I use large, cocktail-style ice cubes.

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How to make Japanese Iced Coffee:

Step 1: Heat Water

Set the kettle over high heat and bring water to a near-boil (around 205 degrees).

Step 2: Measure & Grind Coffee

While the water is heating, use your scale to weigh 30g of coffee and grind to a medium-fine consistency

The grind size will resemble Kosher salt. Depending on your brewer, you may need to adjust the grind to be finer or more coarse. Start with medium-fine and go from there.

This grind is finer than what you’d use for cold brew.

Step 3: Prep Brewer

Set your pour over or carafe on the scale and tare the scale to zero

Add 225g of ice to the carafe and place a filter on top. 

If using a paper filter, wet the filter paper first and discard wetting liquid before adding ice to the carafe. This process removes any paper flavor from the final product.

Use large ice cubes if you have them. The larger the ice cube, the slower it will melt and dilute the coffee.

Add the ground coffee and tare (or zero) the scale again.

Step 4: Brew Coffee

Bloom the coffee first by pouring just enough near-boiling water to saturate the grounds. Stop before the water flows into the carafe. 

Wait 45 seconds.

Begin brewing by pouring water in a circular motion, keeping the dripper about ½ way full at all times.

Continue slowly adding water until the scale reaches 225g

Total brewing time should take about 2:30-3 minutes.

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Step 5: Enjoy Japanese Iced Coffee

Once all of the water has drained through the filter, discard the used coffee grounds.

Serve the iced coffee over additional ice (if desired) and add milk and/or sweetener to your liking.

That’s it!

Now that you have learned how to make Japanese iced coffee, we’re guessing you’ll be making it all summer long.

While cold brew certainly has its advantages, knowing how to make Japanese iced coffee in a pinch can really save your day.