Cold Brew or Japanese Iced Coffee: Which is Better?

Cold Brew or Japanese Iced Coffee: Which is Better?

Cold Brew or Japanese Iced Coffee: Which is Better?

When the temperatures soar, sipping an iced coffee is a great way to cool down while getting a caffeine fix. It’s easy to make iced coffee at home, but you’ll have to decide which method to use.

Two options have attracted many followers: cold brew, which is steeped in cold water overnight, and Japanese-style iced coffee, made by simply pouring hot coffee over ice cubes.

Cold brew

Despite its name, this drink can be brewed at room temperature or in the refrigerator. It is usually made in a concentrated form. This means that its flavor will not be diluted by additional ingredients like ice, milk and ice water.

The process requires an approximate ratio of coffee grounds to water of 1:4. Commonly used brewing containers include mason jars, a French press, or a dedicated container cold brew coffee maker. Brewing is complete after the coffee grounds have steeped for 12-24 hours. The last step is to strain the infusion from the solid grounds.

The result is a super strong liquid that is smooth, silky smooth and without any trace of bitterness or acidity. If the thought makes you thirsty, check out our full guide to how to make your own cold brew.

Japanese Iced Coffee

This style of iced coffee sounds simple but it’s quite ingenious: you brew the coffee in a pot or carafe full of ice.
you can add less to increase the coffee to water ratio to around 1:11. That’s more potent than the typical 1:16 ratio for drip coffee.
Besides not requiring the hours of steeping that cold brew requires, you’ll want to increase the ratio by a third – or to around 1:11.
This helps kick the power up a notch. compared to standard drip coffee, which is usually a

Hot blooming is a great way to get fresh coffee quickly.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

I like to use 70 grams (one-third cup) of ground coffee to 851 grams (3 1/2 cups) of water, a ratio of about 1:12.
The beauty here is that the ice in my liter carafe compensates for the stronger drip. In the end, you end up with a well-balanced, flavorful, and chilled drink.

Japanese-style iced coffee brews quickly.

Taylor Martin/CNET


Cold brew coffee takes a lot longer to brew, by far. The 12-24 hour brew time requires the kind of advance planning that isn’t for everyone.

In contrast, Japanese-style iced coffee brews in the same time as regular drip coffee (5-8 minutes). This alone makes it the top choice for busy morning coffee drinkers.

Winner: Japanese Iced Coffee


It depends on your personal preferences. Many seek out a cold brew for its unique sweetness and lack of acidity. The brewing method also tends to evoke deep chocolate notes, especially from roasted beans.

If you like light to medium roasts of coffee, cold brew probably isn’t ideal. Coffee roasted this way often requires the shine of the acid to bring out its full flavor profile. And that can only happen during hot brewing.

Winner: Draw


Cold brew seems easy to make. You simply add coffee grounds to cold water and wait. No heat or special infuser required. Even so, separating the brewed liquid from the solid coffee grounds can be a pain. Unless you invest in a self-contained cold brew gadget, straining floors and cleaning is often messy.

Filtering out solid coffee grounds is a necessary part of cold brew coffee.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

However, hot pour over iced coffee is almost as convenient as brewing a regular drip. Simply pour hot water over your floor through a filter and you’re in business. You can even use an automatic coffee maker for this task. You’ll need to have plenty of ice on hand, but if you already have a competent ice maker, that’s less of an issue.

Winner: Japanese Iced Coffee

The verdict

I’m definitely a big fan of cold brew coffee. I love it for its potency, smoothness, and caffeine punch. However, relying on cold brew is impractical because my daily summer morning shake is impractical.

It’s hard to beat the instant gratification of Japanese-style iced coffee. I can whip up a cold carafe in minutes. And tasting all the flavor of hot coffee in a cold drink is the icing on the cake. I just hope my ice maker can keep up.


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