Japanese Iced Coffee VS Cold Brew Coffee: 3 Key Differences-Alternative Brewing

Japanese Iced Coffee

Cold Brew Coffee

Summer’s here and iced coffee season is in full swing. If you’re looking to jump into the iced coffee action, you’re about to enter a new realm of coffee experiences. There are really two great ways you can make iced coffee: cold brew coffee and Japanese iced coffee. These are both incredible methods for brewing iced coffee, but they produce different results.

These results from these methods are sometimes so dramatically different that you may love one style of iced coffee and not the other. That’s why it’s important to understand the main differences: by knowing the things that make each method unique, you are able to make informed decisions about what products you purchase and how you approach iced coffee.

The goal of this blog is simple: give you the knowledge you need to walk into the incredible world of iced coffee with confidence and understanding. To do that, let’s dive into the differences between Japanese iced coffee and cold brew coffee.

Differences Between Japanese Iced Coffee and Cold Brew Coffee

1. The Brewing Style

 Japanese Cold Brew Coffee


Japanese iced coffee and cold brew coffee may both be forms of iced coffee, but the brewing processes are very different. One style is rapid, the other takes hours. One is very hands-on, the other is quite forgiving.

Japanese iced coffee is brewed by exchanging some water for ice when brewing coffee via the pour over method. The ice, when placed in a carafe immediately under the draining coffee, “flash chills” the coffee, rapidly cooling it and preserving volatile aromas. Just like with any pour over recipe, you use hot water and the process takes somewhere between two and four minutes.

You can make Japanese iced coffee using any pour over cone, such as the Chemex. However, there are quite a few products that are designed to thrive with this type of coffee brewing specifically. One of these is the beautifully designed Hario Glass Iced Coffee Maker.

Cold brew coffee, on the other hand, is a slow method. Since cold water doesn’t extract all the coffee’s natural acids, aromas, oils, and solids from beans as quickly as hot water, cold brewing can take anywhere from four to eighteen hours.

 Cold Brew Coffee


The simplest way to make cold brew coffee is to immerse coarsely ground coffee beans in cold water for twelve to eighteen hours. While, technically, any food safe vessel can accomplish this, the Hario Cold Brew Coffee Pitcher and Fellow Duo Steeper sure make the process at lot easier with built in filters.

The second way to make cold brew coffee involves dripping ice cold water of coffee grounds for four to twelve hours. For this method, you’ll need special equipment. Check out the Hario Cold Dripper or Bruer Cold Brew System.

No matter which way you make cold brew coffee, it brews as a strong concentrate that can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks and cut with water and ice whenever you’d like a glass of iced coffee.

If you’re interested in having the ability to brew up a quick glass of iced coffee, Japanese iced coffee is the way to go. If you’d like to be able to get a big batch of iced coffee started and not have to finish it till twelve hours later, cold brew is your solution.

2. The Flavor Experience

The differences in flavor are quite dramatic as well; so much so that many have very strong feelings about which method is better.

Japanese iced coffee is often bright, crisp, and full flavored. Since the actual brewing happens with hot water, you still get all the good stuff you would get with any other hot brewing method, including bitter compounds and acids.

 Japanese Cold Brew vs. Cold Brew


The difference is all the extracted yumminess is flash chilled immediately, preserving the aromas and causing your tongue to interpret some of the flavors as more refreshing. This style of iced coffee can be just as well-rounded as any other hot brewed coffee.

Cold brew coffee is the odd duck of flavor experiences. Its uniqueness can easily be tasted by the noticeable lack of bitterness and acidity. The experience is smooth and calm. This is largely because cold water doesn’t break down and extract the coffee’s natural acids and bitter compounds as effectively as hot water, therefore reducing their concentration in the final brew.

Cold brew coffee has exploded in popularity in the last couple years and have turned many coffee skeptics into coffee lovers. It’s something you absolutely have to try for yourself to truly understand how different and pleasant it is.

3. The Versatility Factor

When you think of iced coffee, you probably don’t think of versatility as a key factor in its value. Iced coffee is iced coffee, right? Yes, it is, but one of these methods has the option to be so much more.

Japanese iced coffee is essentially iced pour over coffee. It brews a rich and balanced glass of chilled coffee that you can enjoy immediately. It’s delicious and fun to make, but there aren’t many ways you can adapt it to create new drink experiences.

Cold brew coffee, however, can be used in a myriad of ways. Since this type of iced coffee is brewed as a concentrate and can be stored for up to two weeks, you have options as to how to use it.

The obvious choice is to cut the concentration with cold water and ice to make a glass of iced coffee. It’s a great choice, but there’s also nothing stopping you from cutting the concentrate with hot water instead to make a mug of hotcold brew coffee.

Try cutting the concentrate with milk and ice to make an iced cold brew latte. You can even get a little crazy and mix the cold brew concentrate with simple syrup and soda water to create a simple cold brew coffee soda. If you’re up for something tart, mix together the concentrate with simple syrup and fresh lemon juice to make a cold brew sour.

There are hundreds of cold brew coffee mocktails and cocktails to get creative with.


Both Japanese iced coffee and cold brew coffee have their place in the world, but they aren’t the exact same place. The brewing, the flavor experience, and the versatility factor are all quite different between these two methods.

Which do you think will fit your lifestyle and flavor preferences more? There’s really only one way to find out. Check out our iced coffee makers and start exploring.