My current iced coffee method

A few people were asking on twitter about my iced coffee method (technique seems a little too much promise for something so simple).

I’m still trying to work out cold brewing (i.e. brewing using cold water), and since I read Peter Giuliano talking about the Japanese iced coffee method that has been a method of choice.

The idea with this is to brew double strength coffee straight onto ice.  As the ice melts it chills and dilutes the coffee back to more normal strengths.

Often this is done with pourover or filter brewers.  The problem I had with this is that as you double the amount of coffee to your amount of water then it is going to be harder to properly extract it as you have less brewing liquid.  You can certainly grind finer but I found the window of tasty a bit too narrow.

So recently I’ve been starting with a french press brew.  I like the french press for this because it isn’t as sensitive to dose because it is an infusion rather than a percolation.  You have a better chance of hitting a 19% extraction (in my very limited experience) with less brew water available, when working at very high ratios (120g/l).

However, I don’t really like sludge in my iced coffee.  So I’ve chosen to filter it before it hits the ice.  So for now here is the recipe I used today to make coffee for all of us in a very hot roastery:

– 80g of coffee ground coarsely. (But not too coarsely)

– Add 660g of hot water (around 92-93C is good)  I’d recommend preheating the brewer as normal.

– A quick stir then a 4 minute steep.  You could steep for longer if your grind is coarser but the heat loss starts to bother me.

– At 4 minutes stir the crust on top, then scoop off the remaining foam.  It may seem pointless to go through this if the brew is going to be filtered anyway – but you want the least possible fines to block the cloth and let that part be as quick as possible.

– Plunge and leave for a moment.  Again – fines settle and are less likely to clog up the cloth.

– Find a large vessel, and add 660g of ice.

– Find a clean cloth, like those used in woodneck drip pots.

– Pour the press pot through the cloth directly onto the ice.

– Clean the cloth.  Clean the press pot.  Enjoy the coffee.

You could use a paper filter to clean up the brew – a V60 or Chemex filter maybe.  I love cloth though – I love a cloth pourover already.  I love the enhanced mouthfeel and intensity – had a lovely, juicy sweet cup today that I really enjoyed.

I quite fancy playing with the aeropress next, which I haven’t really done with cold/iced coffee.


42 Comments My current iced coffee method

  1. rob berghmans

    Sounds as a very good idea James.
    For me Aeropress is a good brewer for stronger coffees and also for colder brewing, so your coffee is not shocked so much on the ice and comes out really sweet.

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  3. Justin Tuley

    Greetings from the Lone Star State! We @sugarbrowns tried out the method and thought it would be helpful to post our results. It’s extremely sweltering in west Texas so any form or refreshment is quickly experimented with.

    Coffee Used: El Salvador: Finca El Retiro (Roasted from Brown Coffee Co. in San Antonio, TX.)

    We used a slightly finer grind so we wound down the time to 3:30 instead of the suggested 4 minutes. We also used a chemex filter to strain the final sediments out before enjoying. The filter worked well but was a little time consuming as the stream flowed through quite slowly.

    The results were very positive. The brew itself was sweet, lacking bitterness, with buttery and citrus overtones. Some even said that it was akin to a strongly brewed iced tea. Overall it was enjoyable and quite refreshing.

    A regular posed a question that we were thinking as well. How long can the pressed iced coffee sit without going bitter and/or sour?

  4. Dustin Mattson

    At Octane Emory in Atlanta we’ve actually been using iced Aeropresses in order to still have a “cup to order” experience even for the iced coffee. The method is by no means perfected, and we actually are debating whether to keep it or go back to Japanese pourover, but here are the rough numbers/method:

    28-32g coffee
    hot water up to “4” line on Aero
    fill pint glass to the brim with ice
    pour over ice, serve

    don’t have the exact weights of the hot coffee, or ice (gasp!), but it can taste pretty nice, and is rather quick/painless to prepare in a shop setting. If anyone else is doing this and has better/more specific params, I’d certainly be interested.

  5. Aaron Ultimo

    We do the french press Japanese iced coffee method at Ultimo, but rather than filter it we use our Luxus urns to do the filtering for us. After filling the urn with ice, we pour in two double strength 50 oz. press pots. Since the exit hole is slightly raised from the base of the urn this allows fines to settle out and remain at the bottom of the urn while the coffee coming out is cool and delicious and remarkably clean. To date I still think our iced coffee is one of the best things we offer. I’m in love with it.
    Since we’re on the subject, can someone please explain to me the joys of cold brew? I’ve not had much tasting experience with it, but the few times I have it tastes like old coffee (12 hour brewing process?) that is relatively flat and without all the nuance that I love in coffee. Anyone want to clarify on what it is about cold brew that makes you prefer it?

  6. Jay C.

    At The Spro we used the Japanese Style Iced Brew Coffee via Counter Culture for three years with good results. However, last summer we started using the Japanese Style Cold Water Drip Tower and then went whole hog with the system with the opening of Spro Hampden in March. Turns out that it’s a fantastic way to brew iced coffee that is visually exciting for the customer and opens the door to further discussion about the coffee.

    The downside is the 10-12 hour brew time for a gallon batch – meaning that we’re currently running four towers to keep up with daily demand of iced coffee. But day in and day out, people come in asking about the towers or excitedly telling their friends about the towers. And when you’re running iced coffee for $3.50 a cup, there’s little debate as to the value.

  7. Jasper

    Make mine a AP on the rocks too.
    (still a bit puzzled how the AP can produce good coffee within the huge range of 80-95 degrees)
    Had a leftover of cuppingsample Nicaragua COE (94,14 pts) the other day, brewed at 80degrees pushed directly on ice) Zingy, crispy and juicytimes! Something i’ve never encountered with coldbrew

  8. James Hoffmann

    It would be worth weighing and measuring at least once . I’m sure its pretty damned tasty – but you might find a little inspiration in the recipe to make it even tastier!

  9. Aaron

    I tried it this morning. I like it. Tastes a lot smoother than some of the iced americanos I’ve made lately.

  10. Jesse Raub

    I’ve still yet to play with a Clever, but I’ve heard good things, and like the Aeropress, it sounds like it’s made for this type of brewing — immersion, but still filtered.

    Also, what about doing a double strength siphon and pouring that over ice?

    I generally like double strength over ice better than I like toddy style cold brew, but it’s a trickier recipe to follow.

  11. Lee Sill

    Thanks for the post. Been thinking about doing a french pressed iced coffee for a while, but been enjoying the pourover method too much! Look forward to trying it soon.

    I’ve had a great taste experience using an Aeropress. I like to grind very fine, slightly coarser than for espresso, and using similar dosage for espresso (7-11g for 30ml water). I’ve found that while the aeropress is in no way espresso, using similar paramaters produces similar notes. Lately I’ve been doing 24g, 100ml, 30 second total time at end of press, over about 380ml of ice.

    If anyone tries it I would love to hear your thoughts!

  12. Benjamin Schellack

    We use cold brew with a heavier coffee (e.g. Sumatra) because, quite frankly, it tastes really delicious (dark chocolate, heavy bodied, mellow brightness) and goes well with customers. The best cup of cold brew I ever had was Idido Misty Valley; it tasted like cold, delicious, iced blueberries.

    We’ve been experimenting with Japanese hot brew methods a la CCC and Peter Giuliano’s suggestion, but so far no success. Proper extraction has been elusive: there’s a very distinct, highly unpleasant astringency that seems to always emerge with the parameters I’ve followed from Counter Culture.

    It makes total sense, however, that infusion could fix that! James, brilliant brilliant brilliant! I can’t wait to try it out on some Michy mich I might steal off our cupping table… >:]

  13. Michael

    I’ve recently played with iced coffee after agreeing to an outdoor farmer’s market here in sweltering Alabama.

    I’m using the hot brew method. I had meant to try it with my chemex but left it at home the day i was preparing 3 gallons of iced coffee. So i ended up with a macgyver type set up:
    Using a strainer that fit perfectly on top of a big 2 gallon pitcher and a wide, commercial basket, paper filter.
    32oz of ice in the pitcher.
    a little more than 32oz of bodum heated water (my bodum is marked off in minutes not ounces so once i dialed in on a taste i liked, i know where the water line needs to be, not sure how many oz it is exactly).
    And a cup and half of Ground Coffee.
    Now the Grind: i wasn’t thrilled with the extraction time or the inconsistent taste. What has worked best for me is to continuously (slowly) adjust the grind between regular drip and just below my french press setting, back and forth as i grind.
    Haven’t had any sludge.
    I think the fact that i’m making three gallons makes for an interesting “blend” if you will, of many batches of aforementioned coffee.
    I find it very yummy and has been a big hit at the market.

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  15. albert duncan

    I used to live in scotland and can say I never drank ice coffee till I moved to asia. Here it is drunk far far more than hot coffee as a means to cool down. Love the recipe, now experimenting with differant types of creamer.

  16. Jay C.

    Benjamin – perhaps trying other coffees will yield better results. On a general level, I don’t find Indonesian coffees very appealing for iced coffee, but Eastern African coffees seem to produce pleasant results. It’s really a matter of trying different coffees, and we’ve even found that one year’s Yirg doesn’t taste as good as others when cold.

  17. Elise

    Iced coffee is perfect for the summer months. I love coffee, during the summer months in the midwest I prefer iced coffee because it’s still flavorful, but I can enjoy it much more.

  18. Benjamin Schellack

    Hey Jay – thanks for the note! I’m down in Baltimore once every couple ‘o months and always make it a point to stop by Spro; those are two fantastic cafes!

    The Sumatra we’ve got works well cold-brewed, not hot brewed over ice. In June, we spent quite some time with a washed Yirga Cheffe, Ethiopia Michicha, and a plum-tart, micro-lot Nicaragua using the Japanese hot brewing method, but with little success. I tried Michicha yesterday following James’s recs and it was noticeably better!!

    The astringency I taste in the jhbm has more to do with the brewing parameters than the coffees although you are 100% correct: different coffees yield different results! We’ll keep experimenting. Brew. Enjoy. Observe. Repeat.

    Oh. And I meant no slang on CCC; I love them. In fact, I’d cite them as one of the main reasons I got into specialty coffee…or any coffee for that matter!

  19. MarcT

    Inverted aeropress, 24g coffee ground for 2min 30 dwell, turbulent pour of 200ml water, invert to press over 200g of ice.

  20. Tommy

    Thanks for addressing the elephant in the room, Aaron. here in NY, the popularity of cold-brewed coffee totally throws me off guard. I feel the same way you do about it, and when I ask fans of the method about it here, its as if I’ve offended their sensibilities.

  21. Dozier

    try using this method with an aeropress, i have been working on it for about a week, my problem with iced coffee is the up dosing needed in an effort to make a concentrate which you then add ice to. ive been working on a purely cold water brew method where you use the same dose of coffee and only use a finer grind, increase agitation and brew time. like i said still working on it but i got really close to a perfect extraction using it.

    use ice water
    18 grams coffee
    very fine grind ( “Turkish” )
    228 grams water
    brake pour up into 4 parts
    1st – 40 seconds with full agitation
    2nd – 10 second with agitation
    3rd – 10 seconds with agitation
    4th – 1 mintute agitation
    allotting time to put on cap flip press etc. end press at 3 minutes

    you may have to increase brew time or increase time allotted for 1st pour (the agitation used here is where you really get your extraction i do believe) to get that perfect 1.3 tds reading but give it a try

    think of the final product like a good cold beer no ice needed

    let me know what you think


  22. Al

    Well, my process is very simple. I use a filter system called Filtron Pro. (see I grind about 4 pounds of my coffee of choice and add 2 gallons of chilled filtered water. I used a fabric filter to hold the grounds and there is a second felt filter at the bottom of this system to filter out the sludge. I allow it to brew for 24 hours. Of course it becomes room temperature at some point but nonetheless it produces about 1.5 gallons of lovely cold brew coffee. We use it in the same ratio as espresso. My customers love it.

  23. Peter G

    I have a theory about iced coffee. It has to do with oxidation.

    As we know, oils- including coffee oils- have a tendency to take on oxygen, creating flavor byproducts we call “rancid”. This is the awful aroma of unclean grinder hoppers and supermarket bins. Oxidation/rancidity is accelerated by heat. I have always felt that one of the benefits of the Japanese process I always talk about is that, since the hot coffee is exposed to air for such a short time, oxidation/rancidity is minimized. I certainly noticed that right away when I was first experimenting with my Japanese method: aromatics and acidity were emphasized, oxidation/rancidity were de-emphasized dramatically.

    This was a huge thing for me, as most iced coffee I had tasted up to that point had a pronounced oxidized/rancid note. I believe that in slow-cooling coffee, the longer exposure to air while hot creates lots of these compounds. That’s why I believe that the faster the cooling the better, always. (that’s also why I believe holding hot coffee in thermoses and such is a bad idea, but that’s another post). Also, in cold-brewing coffee, though the water is never hot, the coffee/grounds are exposed to air for a long amount of time. I taste a cold-brew coffee and not only do I miss acidity and aroma, I am confronted with a powerful oxidized/rancid note.

    Now perhaps this is a personal sensitivity to this particular note. The worst culinary experience I ever had was when I cooked with slightly rancid lard one time. I once made a pot of beans with a slightly oxidized hamhock and it was awful to me. Others, even food lovers and taste professionals, don’t seem to be as hypersensitive as I to rancid/oxidized flavors. It may very well be one of those personal things. I’ve gotten really weird about buying small amounts of oils because I hate the smell of the oxidized oil, even when only half the bottle is gone. It is possible that the lovers of cold-brewed coffee aren’t as hypersensitive to this note. I have also noticed that I am personally more sensitive to this aroma at cool temperatures- it’s not as noticeable when the brew is hot. I feel like this is why it is particularly important for me with iced coffee.

    Anyway, for me the whole thing is cooling as quickly as possible and minimizing exposure to oxygen. When I have tasted coffee from the slow-drip Japanese units I taste the oxidized taste again. In my mania to reduce the “hot time” of the coffee and reducing oxygen exposure, I have even gotten to the point that holding coffee in a french press seems long, and pouring through a second filter might be risky. But then I admit I may be going overboard a bit.

    James- here’s a suggested modification. Follow your recipe exactly, except put the ice INSIDE the cloth filter rather than below it. You pour the hot french press coffee over the ice, and then it flows through the filter after it has already cooled. Remember, cold coffee is much less susceptible to oxidation than hot coffee, and it is less likely to be oxidized as it drips down (which is a really dangerous time- that dripping and splashing and bubbling). I’ll try it when I get home myself!

    Peter G

  24. Al

    Perhaps we should add rancid to our coffee description when serving :)

    I started making ice americano’s by placing my shots into a metal shaker and ice (shaken not stirred). The rapid cool down seems to make the espresso taste a bit sweeter. It reminds me of cold brew, but with more acidity.


  25. Marcus

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ve never been keen on cold-brew coffee and have seeking alternatives for a sweet cup of brewed iced coffee that maintains the aeromatics.

    I’ve had some limited success with a Technivorm following George Howells methodology (, have been experimenting with Chemex with the resulting challenges of consistent extraction, Aeropress, and am hoping to spend time with the Hario V60 Ice-Coffee Brewer (

    The problem in each instance above is that I find a consistent astringency to the final brew. I suspect this may be the result of brewing directly over ice. It seems that slightly diluting and cooling the extract prior to introducing ice somewhat avoids this taint.

    Either way I’m inspired to pull out the french press and take a new stab at the problem.

  26. Benjamin Schellack


    We’ve played around with your recipe several times, and we’ve gotten some amazing tasting iced coffee!! Thanks!

    Peter, we tried the recipe by adding ice before the cloth filter and ran into one problem: not all the ice melts, and it gets left in the filter! Otherwise, though, it worked great and tasted great.

    The non-melting ice raised a question in my mind: if not all the ice melts, is the resulting brew the correct strength?

    Re: cold brew. We brew c.b. in the fridge in an impermeable container with a small, snap-close, rubber gasket sealed top. Wouldn’t that minimize oxidation (cold temps, limited airflow)? To cut down on mark outs, some cafes cold brew really old coffee; and that cold brew coffee tastes like really old coffee: stale and rancid. I wonder how much of the oxidation is due to old beans rather than the 12-20 hr brew process…

    Also, and I may be way off here, wouldn’t coffee brewing in a french press be somewhat immune to oxidation while brewing? If it’s fresh roasted, it should be giving off CO2 and other gases (bloom) that would create something of a barrier; there’s also the crust of grounds on top, which James is scooping off, to create an additional barrier.


  27. Stewart

    I do not know anybody know or not,
    one established cafe in Japan are not uses the “ice”
    when they serves the Ice Coffee, but they uses the
    “Coffee Ice” – they made it with coffee.

    Anybody want to try it?

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  29. Joseph Crosby

    So here is an option which lends itself to functionality; I also start with a press but increase my grind by 1/4 normal volume to hot water.
    Make an oversized pot that AM( as I do many days). After I press it, I leave what ever I don’t drink that AM in the fridge for an incredibly smooth yet rich iced coffee in the afternoon or evening.

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