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Chill Out with an Iced Coffee: Cold Brew or Iced Pour Over?

Time to beat the heat with a cup of ice cold coffee. Whether you like to drink it on a hot day or all year ‘round — yes, those people do exist — there are different ways to make cold coffee. Of course, you can simply make a batch of drip coffee and cool it in the fridge, but we’re going to discuss iced pour overs and cold brew. Both are great ways to prepare a refreshing cup but vastly different.


Iced pour over using Chemex

Iced Pour Over

Our personal favorite is the iced pour over or Japanese-style iced coffee. Popularized in Japan, this is when a pour over method is used, starting with hot water and brewed directly over ice — flash chilling the coffee. If you love making pour over coffee — like Chemex, V60, etc. — then making an iced version is simple. The key is to factor in ice into your coffee to water ratio so you don’t end up with diluted coffee. You’ll also need a slightly finer grind than you would normally use for pour over. If you’re not familiar with pour overs, check out our Brewing at Home Part 1 - Brewing Systems.


Using your kitchen scale, take the standard 408 grams of water and split the ratio to approximately 60% hot water to 40% ice. The more hot water you use, the more extraction you get out of the beans. If you’re making a 12-ounce iced pour over, that’s approximately 244 grams of hot water to 164 grams of ice. Play around with the ratio because the density of your ice can affect the outcome. Ideally, when the brew is ready to drink, all the original ice has completely melted, so, for us personally, we use a 70:30 ratio because our ice is pretty dense and takes a while to melt.


cold brew coffee in large mason jar

Cold Brew Coffee

Cold brew has boomed the last few years, initially starting to grow in the U.S. marketplace in 2005. Today, you can get it just about anywhere — both coffee shops and grocery stores. It’s the easiest brewing method and no special equipment is needed. If you have a mason jar or any other airtight containers, you can make cold brew.


Unlike most brewing methods, cold brew uses time rather than heat for extraction as well as a coarse grind, allowing it to extract slowly over that time (typically 18-24 hours). The finer the grind, the quicker the extraction. It’s important to note that most cold brew produces a concentrate, so it has to be diluted with water. If you purchase a kit, their instructions should specify. Cold brew is also great if you want to make a large batch to keep in the fridge for a while or if you’re hosting a group event like brunch. Want to get really crazy? Use the concentrate as a base for a coffee cocktail or a substitute for espresso-based drinks.


Here’s our suggested recipe:

Mix coarse ground coffee with water using a common ratio like 1 to 4. Add one cup of coarse ground coffee to 4 cups of water. Let this sit for 18 to 24 hours either in your fridge or at room temperature. We prefer room temperature as all the coffee goodness dissolves easier at room temperature rather than when it’s chilled. Filter coffee and dilute to your personal preference. Start with a 1:1 ratio then amend from there depending on how strong you like yours.


“Wait. Why can’t I just pour my hot drip coffee over ice?”

We don’t want to disparage this method of making hot coffee and putting it in the fridge to chill or pouring it over ice, but there are two reasons we don’t love it. First, it will become diluted and watery when you pour it over ice. Secondly, the longer coffee sits the more it oxidizes creating a metallic, flat taste. Try one of the methods above and see if you can notice the difference.


Does cold brew or an iced pour over sound more appealing to you? Let us know in the comments!


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