What is Japanese Cold Brew? How to Make at Home? Guide

Halime Yılmaz


Have you ever prepared iced coffee at home and been disappointed that it didn't taste as wonderful as the coffee you get when you go out?

If you make coffee the way you usually do and then add ice, the cup won't have the same strong taste you're used to. Although it is possible to let your hot coffee chill in the refrigerator for many hours, who has the time to do that?

Here comes the Japanese Cold Brew.

Instead of making coffee and then adding ice, hot coffee is made straight over ice to make Japanese iced coffee, which is also sometimes called Japanese cold brew or just Japanese coffee. To make up for the melting ice, less water is used. This gives you a cup of iced coffee that has the same flavor as regular hot coffee and tastes more like iced coffee from a café.

Here, you'll learn the steps for making Japanese iced coffee at home and the differences between Japanese cold brew and standard cold brew.

Don't worry, it's not that difficult and simply takes equipment that you may already have if you brew pour-overs at home every day.

What Is Japanese Cold Brew?

Japanese cold brew, as the name suggests, is a cold brewing coffee method unique to the Japanese.

While standard cold brews require a long steeping time of 12-20 hours depending on the equipment used, Japanese cold brew can be prepared in just 5 minutes.

The most significant reason for this is that Japanese cold brew involves the filtered coffee coming into contact with ice during the brewing process, allowing it to cool rapidly without developing any salty flavors.

Read More: Americano vs Filter Coffee: A Clash of Brewing Styles

What Are the Differences Between Japanese Cold Brew and Standard Cold Brew?

The most significant distinction between these two methods lies in the steeping time of the ground coffee.

Japanese cold brew can be prepared in about 5 minutes using a V60 or a Chemex, while standard cold brew is brewed with cold water in a cold dripper for 12-20 hours.

So, Japanese cold brew allows for significant time savings, allowing a you to easily prepare and consume it whenever you desire.

When making standard cold brew, coarse-ground coffee is used for the lengthy steeping process to prevent bitterness. In the Japanese cold brew method, on the other hand, medium to fine-ground coffee is used to ensure that all its aromas can quickly infuse into the water.

In standard cold brew, micro coffee particles mix with the water, resulting in a fuller, more robust coffee. In Japanese cold brew, the coffee passes through a fine filter and steps into an ice-filled pitcher, resulting in a much clearer and smoother brew.

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How Is Coffee Used in Making Japanese Cold Brew?

Coffee plays an important role in making Japanese cold brew, contributing to its unique flavor, aroma, and overall characteristics.

In Japanese cold brew, coffee is prepared using a specific method that involves rapid cooling and minimal contact with water. Here's how coffee is used in making Japanese cold brew.

The type of coffee beans you choose will significantly influence the flavor of your Japanese cold brew.

Look for high-quality coffee beans with flavors and aromas that you enjoy. Light to medium roast beans are commonly used to highlight the coffee's natural brightness and complexity.

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Here is the best recipe so that you can see how coffee is used in making Japanese cold brew.


How to Make Japanese Cold Brew

If you wanted to brew Cold Brew yourself, it’d take hours. But with the Cold Brew recipe we're about to share, all those troubles are left behind!

Now you can easily brew Japanese Cold Brew in just 5 minutes at home or in your office and enjoy the refreshment whenever you want. It is the method that truly deserves all these praises: Japanese Cold Brew!

Ingredients for Japanese Cold Brew

  • 25 grams of medium-fine ground coffee
  • 200 grams of water - 205 F (96 C)
  • 200 grams of ice

Japanese Cold Coffee Equipments

  • Kettle
  • Kitchen scale
  • Timer
  • Coffee grinder
  • Brew time: 3-4 minutes
  • Pour-over coffee brewer (Hario v60, Kalita Wave, or Chemex)
  • Carafe

Further Reading: Everything You Need to Know About Coffee Capsules

Step-by-Step Japanese Cold Brew Recipe

Step 1: Measure Your Ingredients

To begin, accurately weigh your coffee, water, and ice.

We recommend you to start with equal parts water and ice. Use the kitchen scale to measure 25 grams of coffee and 200mg each of water and ice.

Step 2: Boil the Water

For this recipe, you need freshly boiled water. 205 F/96 C. For the best results, consider using a gooseneck kettle.

Step 3: Grind the Coffee

If you have a coffee grinder, grind your coffee to a medium consistency.

A suitable starting point is a grind size similar to what you would use for a traditional hot pour-over. Pass this step if using pre-ground coffee.

Step 4: Prepare the Filter and Add Ice

Whether using V60 or Chemex filters, ensure you rinse the filter before brewing.

Rinsing eliminates any papery taste and preheats the brewer for better extraction. Once rinsed, add the ice to your carafe.

Step 5: Blooming

Put the coffee in your brewer. Start the timer and pour around 2 ounces (60 grams) of water over the grounds in a concentric pattern, spiraling outward as you pour.

The objective is even saturation of the grounds. Allow it to bloom for 45 seconds.

Step 6: Complete the Water Pour

After 45 seconds, gradually pour the remaining water – 5 ounces (140 grams) – over the coffee in a circular shape.

Focus on distributing the pour evenly across all the coffee grounds, avoiding excessive pouring in the center.

Step 7: Give it a Gentle Swirl

Following the water pour, give the brewer a quick swirl. This action helps dislodge any grounds clinging to the sides of the filter, ensuring they are reintroduced into the brewing water.

Do not use "dry" grounds that do not contribute to the coffee's flavor.

Step 8: Smell, Drink, and Enjoy!

With the more complex steps complete, patiently wait for the water to pass through the coffee grounds and enjoy your Japanese cold brew.

Read our blog for more about the alternative brewing methods and brew guides:Freshly Brewed Coffee Blog!

How to Serve Japanese Cold Brew

Japanese cold brew coffee is one of the best enjoyed freshly brewed. Here is how to serve Japanese cold brew:

  • Put 70 grams of ice cubes into your server before you start brewing.
  • Aim to complete each pour within a 10-second timeframe.
  • Pour the third time with a gentle touch.
  • From the third pour onward, you're fine-tuning the strength.
  • Ensure all the ice cubes in the server are melted before serving.
  • Serve the Japanese cold brew coffee with extra ice cubes.

Also Read: How to make Cappuccino: Step by Step

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  • What is a Japanese cold drip?

A Japanese cold drip is a method of making cold coffee by slowly dripping cold water through coffee grounds over an extended period of time, resulting in a smooth and less acidic cold brew coffee.

  • How long does a Japanese cold brew stay fresh?

A Japanese cold brew can stay fresh for about 1 to 2 weeks when stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

  • What does Japanese cold brew taste like?

Japanese cold brew tastes bright, smooth, and less acidic compared to traditional cold brew. It highlights the coffee's natural sweetness and delicate flavor notes.