Step Aside Cold Brew; Make Room for Japanese Iced Coffee
Yield: 3 to 4 cups
At its most basic definition, coffee is water and beans. But the method by which you make your coffee opens an entire world of possibilities, each vastly altering the result. Take the widely popular cold brew method, for example: steep grounds in cold or room temperature water, let it sit overnight, drain, serve over ice, and voila! It’s the perfect caffeinated drink for summer months.
Except, that’s not entirely true, at least for professional baristas. Blue Bottle Coffee Cafe Leader, Selina Viguera, describes the downside of this undertaking: “You’re typically brewing cold brew for a minimum of twelve hours. It can get pretty messy if you don’t have the right equipment at home. And the flavors are pretty muddled, and just blah.” Blah is not going to cut it if you’re after exceptional coffee.
Enter the Japanese iced coffee method.
Instead of making cold brew or waiting for hot coffee to turn room temperature and dump it over ice, the Japanese method (aisu kōhī) is making a pour-over coffee (with hot water) over ice—essentially flash-chilling the coffee during brewing, locking in maximum flavor.
“Coffee naturally has acids and sugars and bitter components present,” Viguera says. “And even aromatics. So when you’re brewing coffee with hot water, you’re actually able to pull those out.” When brewing a high quality specialty coffee, those nuanced flavors are only extracted with heat, so brewing with cold water won’t unlock a coffee’s full potential.
To get started with Viguera’s recipe for Japanese iced coffee, you’ll need equipment needed for making a pour-over style coffee. This recipe is adapted for the Chemex brewer, but you can also use a Kalita Wave, v60 or Chemex.
- Chemex (using 6-cup brewer for this recipe) with Chemex filter
- Kettle (preferably gooseneck)
- Hot water between 195 to 205℉
- 62.5 g. coffee beans
- 250 g. ice
- Grind the coffee to be slightly coarser than the grind setting for pour-over coffee; the grinds should resemble table salt.
- Place the coffee filter on the Chemex. Pre-wet it with the hot water, and then discard water. Tare the scale and add 250 grams of ice directly inside the Chemex brewer.
- Add the rinsed filter and tare the scale. Add 62.5 grams of ground coffee. Tare the scale.
- There will be 4 rounds of pouring. The first pour is the “bloom,” an essential step that opens up the aromatics. Start your timer and make sure your scale is at zero.
- First pour (the bloom): Begin at the outer edge of the coffee bed and work your way toward the center, pouring in quarter-sized circles in the center until you reach the target bloom weight of 125 grams. This allows you to fully saturate the coffee at the deepest part of the coffee bed. Wait 45 to 60 seconds before the next pour.
- Second pour: Pour in concentric circles starting from the center, spiral all the way out to the sides but avoiding the walls, and back to center. This helps saturate any coffee that may have dried up in the bloom process and makes sure all coffee is submerged in the coffee slurry. Pour to 250 grams.
- Third pour: Wait until the 2-minute mark for the third pour. For the last 2 pours, pour quarter-sized circles in the center of the coffee bed. This pour style ultimately helps with the draining process on a Chemex, which can be very slow due to the thickness of the filter. Pour to 375 grams.
- Fourth pour: The final pour should be done at the 3-minute mark. Pour until your scale reads 500 grams.
- Pour over a glass of ice. A large, old fashioned ice cube is recommended for maximum style.