With the popularity surge of cold brew just a few years ago, our caffeine prayers were answered: We finally had a cold coffee drink that bested the watery, bland version consisting of refrigerated regular joe poured into a huge cup of ice. Since, the method has expanded to include Bulletproof-style beverages, and one company has even applied the process to matcha tea. But there’s another (quite underused) technique that cold-caffeine fiends can try: a Japanese approach that one expert contends offers a better-tasting result than even cold brew.
Flash-chilled coffee, or Aisu Kohi, has been around in Japan since the early 1900s but only made its way to the United States in the early ’90s, according to Marcus Boni, head of coffee at roasted-beans and equipment company Trade (AKA the coffee matchmaker). Hot water is used to extract as much of the rich, complex flavor as possible from the grounds; then the hot liquid is dripped over ice so it’s immediately chilled. (You can do this at home by placing ice at the bottom of your Chemex or in your mug on which your single-cup pour-over is placed.) Cold brew, on the other hand, is when coffee grounds steep in cold water for a lengthy period of time, and according to Boni, this doesn’t do the coffee justice.
“Cold brew is made with room temperature or lower water, so many of the volatile compounds that contain coffee’s bright, fruity, and nuanced flavors are not extracted.” —Marcus Boni, head of coffee at Trade
“Cold brew is made with room temperature or lower water, so many of the volatile compounds that contain coffee’s bright, fruity, and nuanced flavors are not extracted,” Boni tells me. “It also requires a very long process; the low temperature necessitates an extended contact time between water and grinds. The result is a smooth, low-acid cup that may not exude all of the flavor potential in the coffee.”
If you’re worried that dripping hot coffee over ice would create the same flavorless effect as old-school iced coffee, have no fear: “Because it’s immediately cooled, the coffee does not suffer from the staling and chalkiness that ‘regular’ iced coffee is infamously known for,” Boni assures me.
While this doesn’t mean you have to straight-up throw out your cold brew, keep in mind that if you’ve splurged on a truly special roasted bean, you could experiment with this brewing method in order to optimize the taste. Or, if you’re just looking for quick yet delicious way to brew iced coffee at home, this method is definitely way faster than letting cold brew chill for a few hours in your fridge. It’s summertime, after all, and you have outdoor soirees to get to.
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