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How To Make Japanese Iced Coffee | #1 Easy Iced Coffee

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It’s summertime. It’s already hot outside at 7 a.m., and you forgot to prep your cold brew last night.

It happens. But before you decide to crawl 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, it’s 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.

beaker of coffee with large ice cubes and pour over dripper on top sitting on wood surface, japanese iced coffee vs. cold brew

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.

However, cold brew requires planning. And let’s be real; sometimes, even the best-laid plans go to hell.

In those moments, 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” refers to the brewing method, 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. It is steeped slowly (12+ hours), allowing the fruity, bright notes to be extracted from the coffee grounds without bitterness.

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It’s a time commitment, 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 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, which immediately cools and dilutes the coffee.

Thanks to the instant cooling process, the result is a bright, clean-tasting brew that’s more complex than traditional iced coffee. Instead of refrigerating the coffee before pouring it over ice, cooling it instantly avoids oxidation and locks in flavor.

fellow opus grinder
The Fellow Opus Grinder

Japanese Iced Coffee vs. Iced Coffee

The critical difference between Japanese-style and traditional coffee is the brewing process. Traditional iced coffee is brewed 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. Alternatively, it can be cooled briefly in the refrigerator before being poured 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.

Fellow Stagg EKG Kettle
Fellow Stagg EKG Kettle

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 (40g)
  6. Grinder
  7. Ice Cubes (240g)
  8. Filtered water (240g)

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

Use your dripper over a carafe or container that can hold 16oz of iced coffee instead.

Coffee to Water Ratio

Like every other type of 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.

We’re using a 1:12 coffee-to-water ratio here (including the ice). Start here and adjust as desired. We prefer to use equal parts water and ice for our iced coffee ratio, and we use large, cocktail-style ice cubes.

gooseneck kettle pouring water over coffee grounds in pour over dripper taken from above, pour over iced coffee, how to make iced pour over coffee, best ratio for pour over coffee

Step 1: Heat the 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, weigh 40g of coffee beans on your scale 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 coarser. Start with medium-fine and go from there.

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

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Step 3: Prep Brewer

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

Add 240g of ice to the carafe and place a filter on top. 

If using a paper filter, wet the filter paper first and discard the 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 enough near-boiling water to saturate the grounds. Stop before the water flows into the carafe. 

Wait 45 seconds.

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

Continue slowly adding water until the scale reaches 240g. Total brewing time should take about 2:30-3 minutes.

Airscape vacuum coffee canister in matte black
Airscape Stainless Steel Coffee Canister

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 make it all summer.

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


Heather Calatrello

Heather Calatrello owner of ShedLight Coffee Roasters