AeroPress Original on clear glass mug brewing hot coffee over ice

How to Brew a Japanese Coffee with AeroPress

Learn how to make a Japanese flash brewed iced coffee with your AeroPress coffee maker!

Introduction

We use many words in the coffee world. Sometimes it gets confusing.

Iced coffee. Cold brew. Flash brewed. Japanese cold brew. Japanese coffee. Similar terms often get used interchangeably by coffee lovers. But they are very, very different.

Iced coffee can be any type of cold coffee with ice. It is the broad category. For the longest time, iced coffee was little more than stale drip coffee that was drained into a pitcher and chilled overnight. It can even be a mix of other coffees, including hot drip coffee.

Cold brew coffee over ice with cream on wooden tray

Cold brew is made from steeping ground coffee beans in room temperature water for an extended period of time, typically 8 to 24 hours. This yields a concentrated, highly caffeinated beverage often described as smooth and chocolatey. It is often touted as low acid. The concentration is often poured over ice with a splash of cream or mixed with an equal portion of water to dilute to a drinkable strength. AeroPress coffee makers can make a good cold brew coffee.

Flash brew is concentrated coffee brewed hot that immediately drips onto ice to chill and dilute. Flash brewed coffee can be smooth like cold brew, and because it was brewed with hot water, it will still carry the lively traits of the regular, hot brewed cup. AeroPress coffee makers are exceptional at flash brewing coffee.

Glass mug of ice with AeroPress Original on top

Coffee in Japan: The Japanese Method(s)

Two methods get called Japanese cold brew. One is a tower system that slowly drips melting ice into a bed of grounds. The second is the same as making flash brewed coffee.

Have you ever gone into a coffee shop and seen a 6-foot-tall wooden tower that looks like it belongs in a laboratory? That is a slow-drip cold brew dripper. Sometimes it is called a Japanese cold brew tower because a Japanese company, Yama, created it.

The top chamber holds icy water which slowly drips as it melts onto a bed of coarse ground coffee. The grounds sit in a glass bowl with a filter hole in the bottom. As the water drips out the bottom, it is caught in a glass spiral tube before it lands in a decanter. This process takes approximately 8 hours. The water is continually being replaced with fresh water instead of leaving the grounds to steep in the same water as with traditional cold brew.

Hand holding up glass full of iced coffee

The legend of flash brewed coffee claims that in 1994 one of Third Wave coffee’s counter-culture pioneers was visiting Japan and saw a barista brew a hot pourover directly over ice. (It was called ‘flash brew’ because it is ‘chilled in a flash’ when the hot coffee hits the ice.) He was amazed that this ice-cold coffee still held the liveliness and freshness of regular hot coffee. The story continues that he brought this technique back from the Japanese coffee shop to the United States and the name ‘Japanese cold brew’ stuck.

AeroPress Iced Coffee at Home

No matter which brewing method you choose or name you prefer, you can easily make iced coffee at home with your AeroPress coffee maker - no need for a trip to Starbucks. Skip your regular coffee or latte and try Japanese coffee just like you’d get in Tokyo or Kyoto!

Brewing hot coffee over ice with the AeroPress Original coffee maker

Flash Brew / Japanese Cold Brew Style

The essence of flash brewing is brewing a very strong hot coffee directly on top of ice.

Some coffee drinkers worry that the coffee will ‘shock’ if cooled too quickly. This stems from the practice of slowly cooling or tempering espresso when making an iced americano. You have no need to worry about harming the coffee by cooling it too quickly.

Years ago, when I worked cafes, I was debating flash brewing with the person who created the largest cold brew program for one of the leading specialty coffee companies. He insisted that chilling the coffee too quickly creates harsh tasting chemical reactions. I replied by AeroPress-brewing a flash-chilled and a tempered iced coffee. He couldn’t tell the difference. Brew your coffee directly over ice with pride and confidence.

Brewing hot coffee over ice with AeroPress Original coffee maker

Given the versatility of AeroPress coffee makers to make unique coffee drinks, there are many ways to flash brew iced coffee. Here are two recipes. The first is highly precise and provides you ample opportunity to tune and control and brew a consistent result. The second holds less concern for numbers and control.

I suggest you try both and blend the two to find your preferred style.

Method 1: Highly Precise

Inverted Method (recommended, but not essential)

Double paper filter

Beans: 20 grams ground medium-fine

Add 150 grams of fresh, clean ice to a sturdy tumbler.

Stir in 170 grams of hot water (190°F - 205°F / 88°C - 96°C).

For dark roasted coffee, use the cooler range. Use a higher temperature for light roasted coffee.

Steep 1:30.

Cap, flip, and gently plunge onto ice.

Enjoy.

Gif showing the brewing process for iced coffee with AeroPress

Method 2: Nice and Icy and Quick

Standard AeroPress method

Single paper filter

Fill a pint glass or mason jar with fresh, clean ice up to two fingers from the top.

Assemble AeroPress coffee maker with the filter in the cap, set on top the ice-filled glass.

Add beans: One heaping scoop of fine ground coffee (slightly coarser than espresso)

Half fill AeroPress chamber (between the “2” and “3”) with hot water (190°F - 205°F / 88°C - 96°C) or half a minute off boil.

For dark roasted coffee, use the cooler range. Use a higher temperature for light roasted coffee.

Stir gently for 10 seconds.

Insert plunger and gently press (30 - 45 seconds).

Enjoy.

Glass of iced coffee next to dish of coffee beans

Slow Drip Japanese Tower Style

There is an add-on product called the PuckPuck which regulates melting ice water, turning your AeroPress coffee maker into a mini Japanese style cold brew tower.

Set up your AeroPress coffee maker in the standard style with a single paper filter on top of a sturdy coffee mug or mason jar.

Add 35 – 40 grams coffee ground for medium drip.

Assemble the PuckPuck.

Add 100 grams of ice and 400 grams of water.

Twist the PuckPuck to adjust the flow of cold water. It should be a little over a second per drip (approximately 50 per minute).

The PuckPuck takes up to 3 hours to finish brewing.

Four images showing progressive brewing of flash brew over ice

Finer Points of Flash Brew

Flash brewing makes an incredible cold cup of coffee without complications. If you already use AeroPress coffee makers for coffee brewing, you can flash press.

Flash brewing retains the unique flavors of the coffee, whether single-origin or coffee blend. When coffee is brewed with hot water, the lively acids, floral notes and fruit tones come through more clearly. Traditional cold brews tend to taste the same between varieties and origin.

Nearly any coffee will flash brew well. Because this method retains so much of the coffee’s flavor profile, you can use your favorite single-origin, roast, or blend without worrying that it might not taste right.

The process takes the same amount of time as making a regular AeroPress brewed coffee so there is no need to plan a day ahead for a great coffee experience.

AeroPress coffee makers travel so well, and the ability to easily make iced coffee on the road is a treasure.

It is just so much better than cold brew.

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