Around this time of year, when flowers are blooming and shorts re-emerge from closets, lots of coffee drinkers stop drinking their piping hot joe and instead opt for an iced coffee to get their caffeine fix. Making iced coffee or cold brew at home can be a chore and it often results in bitter, less than smooth coffee.
Cold brew can take up to 24 hours to brew properly, sometimes requires special pitchers and getting good, rich flavor involves lots of variables and opportunities for things to go wrong. “Iced coffee” is a nice word for describing what happens when you dump day-old coffee over a cup of ice. Neither of these methods gives you a great tasting chilled beverage. Luckily, all we have to do is look to the land of the rising sun to discover flash-chilled coffee, a method for making quick and delicious iced coffee that’s guaranteed to satisfy.
Japanese Iced Coffee
The Japanese method for flash-chilled coffee is similar to the pour-over method for hot coffee but you’re pouring coffee directly over ice as it’s brewing. Japan’s specialty coffee shops have been serving much of their cold coffee using the flash-chilled method for some time but the technique didn’t make it to the U.S. until the mid-’90s and has mostly been a well-kept secret of coffee shops. The benefit of flash-chilling is that it produces a significantly more delicate and light-bodied drink without the usual bitterness associated with ice coffee.
Flash chilled to perfection
The subtle and smooth result of the flash-chilled method is not only preferred by many coffee experts, but it’s also easy to do!
1. Brew the coffee
First, as you’re brewing the coffee you want to cool it instantly by dripping the coffee directly onto ice. This cooling process locks in all the aromatics and sweetness. The best way to make this at home is by using the pour-over brewing method but other methods will work as long as you can drip the brewed coffee directly onto the ice.
2. Reduce water, add ice
For normal pour-over you use 16 ounces of water for every ounce of coffee, with the flash chilled method you want to use 8 ounces of water and brew the coffee directly over 8 ounces of ice (pro tip: most ice trays are shaped so that once cube is equal to one ounce). This keeps your coffee from being watered down.
The idea is that cooling the coffee instantly locks in flavor and reduces oxidation. The ice melts and dilutes the coffee to the perfect strength. This method leaves the coffee really sweet and really clean tasting. So the next time you’re thinking of making an iced coffee at home remember to try things the Japanese way, your tastebuds will thank you!