Serious Eats: Drinks

How To Make Japanese-Style Iced Coffee

Sure, we're all excited about the sandwiches at the upcoming Serious Eats All-Star Sandwich Festival. And, okay, the beer's pretty thrilling, too. But aren't your taste buds just dancing at the thought of drinking cold, caffeinated, and delicious iced coffee all afternoon—brewed by Yours Truly?

To entice you even further (e.g., Have you bought your tickets yet?), I want to teach you how to make the perfect cup of iced coffee at home, using the same genius technique my colleagues and I will employ on the 23rd.

Come with me, iced-coffee lover. Before we all go to Governor's Island, we're going to (theoretically) visit Japan.

Now, I know you people love your cold-brewed iced coffee: Everyone is always talking about it. But I'll argue that iced coffee brewed in the Japanese style is not only easier and tidier than its long, slow, cold-brewed counterpart, it's also significantly more dynamic flavor-wise. And there's a good reason for that fact: Certain of the brighter, more nuanced aromatic compounds and solubles in coffee simply won't dissolve in cold water.

Think of it this way: When you add sugar to cold iced tea, it all sinks sadly to the bottom, and you have to sit and stir a long, long time to get it to dissolve even a little bit. Not so in a cup of hot tea, which absorbs the sugar in a flash. That's because sugar has much more miscibility with hot water. When water is heated, its molecules move faster, creating more energy to actively break down the solids in soluble materials like sugar, salt, and, yes, coffee.

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When you brew with hot water, however, the hot water extracts an appropriate amount of the tasty solubles—and if you brew double-strength with hot water over ice, the melting cubes not only lock those delicate flavors in your cup, but they also perfectly dilute the concentrate while instantly cooling it for your refreshingly immediate consumption.

Want to try it? Well, click through the slideshow for detailed instructions—and then come pick up a frosty cup of it from me on Saturday, July 23!

About the author: Erin Meister trains baristas and inspires coffee-driven people for Counter Culture Coffee. She's a confident barista and an audacious eater, but she remains a Nervous Cook. She also whips up fresh content—of the inquisitive variety—at the blog Inquiry Diary.

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