I recently did some research on the process of making Japanese Iced Coffee. It was something I have seen mentioned from time to time while reading about coffee making processes and I thought it was time to give it a shot. I am a big fan of cold brew and as a coffee hobbyist I am always interested in trying out new methods of making coffee. In my searching I found this article on why people should switch from cold brewing to icing their coffee. It makes some good points. I have been learning more about the extraction process and what is happening chemically to the coffee. Having a good scientific understanding of the coffee brewing process sounds like it will lead to better brewing and will also be super fun. In that article it points out some things that happen only when the coffee is brewed hot that doesn’t happen with cold water.
This was noticed by coffee brewers in Japan and there this method of icing while brewing was developed. If you’re not familiar with it the process is basically brewing coffee hot as you would normally, but replacing some of the water with ice that is placed at the bottom of your brew vessel. Then you brew the coffee as you normally would with hot water. The hot water pours down onto the ice and melts it. The water from the ice becomes part of the coffee and finishes off the coffee:water ratio while also cooling it down. In my research on this method I found this video demo from Counter Culture Coffee that does a good job of demoing how it’s done.
I took that process and adapted its method into a recipe I got from Victrola Coffee recently on their Instagram feed. Looking at the Counter Culture recipe I saw they were using 1/3 of the weight of their water in ice and then boiled the rest. I took that to use 264 grams of ice and then used 536 grams of boiling water to make the 800 grams of water the Victrola recipe calls for. Other than that I didn’t change the Victrola recipe. If you’re going to attempt this I would suggest using crushed ice or at least very small cubes as it should make accurate weighing much easier, I had to get creative with finding some small pieces in the back of my ice machine. It will also make it easier to get ice down through the neck and into the bottom of your Chemex or other brewing vessel. Once I had the ice weighed out I put it back into the freezer to keep it frozen while I got everything else going. Everything else was my usual process for making coffee in my Chemex. After rinsing the filter I poured out the water and removed the filter to place the ice.
I was skeptical that the ice would melt, but as I hit the 4:30 mark the cubes were all gone for the most part. Giving the coffee a swirl as I normally do finished them off completely. This is another part where smaller bits of ice would do better. I had one cube that was particularly larger and I was worried it wouldn’t melt all the way, but thankfully it did.
Once I had it done I poured some glasses to try it out. I noticed that the Chemex was pretty cold, but wasn’t totally chilled everywhere. If I wasn’t going to be drinking it right away I would definitely chill it in the fridge to get it completely cold. Since I was trying it right off I poured it over ice to finish off chilling it and I must say that it was super tasty. The aromas of a hot brewed coffee were totally there, which isn’t always apparent from a cold brew. I do wonder how much of that will stick around. I stored some of this coffee in our fridge in the Chemex and had it the next day. It was still good, but the aromas weren’t really there any longer. This is more likely due to the fact that I stored it in the open Chemex as a container. The flavor notes of the coffee were very present. The coffee I made was a Colombia from Bows & Arrows that has a really nice apricot flavor that really came forward. I am interested in trying this out with other really fruit forward coffees.
I am definitely a fan of this method after my first try and I will be trying it out again. It wasn’t too difficult to adapt my coffee making process to make it work. I am considering using a bowl of ice next time to place the Chemex in and still use my normal amount of water. This should still chill the coffee as it falls down into the bottom of the vessel, but then I don’t have to worry about adjusting my coffee:water ratio to account for the ice I use.
Have you ever had Japanese Iced coffee? Have you ever made it yourself? If not, I would definitely recommend it. If you have I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on it and what your approach to it was.