Thanks to the innovations of baristas, the world of coffee is ever-evolving. We are always trying to find the best way to preserve and enhance the delicate flavors of coffee beans to create the perfect brew—but this isn’t new. Centuries before Starbucks, about three hundred years ago, the Dutch discovered a way to brew coffee that creates quite possibly the finest coffee taste to date, and it’s making a quick comeback. The Dutch might have forgotten the method, but the Japanese and the Koreans developed the method and transformed it into art.
What is Dutch Cold Brew Coffee?
Dutch Cold Brew is a coffee brewing method where ice water is dripped slowly over freshly ground coffee for between 3 ½ -12 hours. This is not to be confused with the regular cold brewing method, where coffee grounds are steeped in room temperature water for 12-24 hours.
Dutch Cold Brew originated from the seventeenth century in the Netherlands. Since fat from coffee beans is insoluble in cold water, the Dutch created cold brew coffee to last on longer sea voyages. Centuries later, Dutch Cold Brew is making a comeback, but not for the same reasons; we love it for its unique flavor experience. Another strong reason is the low acidity, that makes cold drip easy to drink for those with sensitive stomach.
What Is Kyoto-Style Cold Brew?
There are slight variations of the method, and there are names to these variations. There is cold drip, ice drip coffee, water drip coffee and Kyoto drip coffee. The method is the same; with the exception that ice drip uses literally ice cubes to drip over the grounds, instead of water.
Nispira Cold Brew Dripper
The Nispira brewer has a modern look, being made with stainless steel and borosilicate glass. The unit is crafted in Hong Kong, and the brewer is very well made, the overall impression is of a quality product. The glass breaks easily as with most cold drippers, just keep that in mind.
It certainly doesn’t have the “WOW” factor that other cold dripper have, but for some people this unit actually looks better. It also depends on how you furnished your kitchen, and obviously, your taste.
Functionally, the Nispira unit is almost the same as the Yama glass brewer. The only difference is the missing coiled glass tube, which in fact doesn’t have a practical utility, it’s there just for the impression. I have to point, though, that the bottom beaker can’t be taken out easily as with the Yama glass unit.
What Is Special about Dutch Coffee?
When you brew a regular cup of coffee at home, the heat causes the coffee to oxidize, which creates a bitterer, more acidic brew. Dutch Coffee, on the other hand, skips the heating phase and maintains some of the more delicate flavors, like fruity and chocolate flavors, that are typically lost through oxidization. Dutch Coffee is less acidic and less bitter, and much more flavorful than regular coffee. What’s more is that Dutch Cold Brew Coffee is efficient.
Cold Brew Coffee Drip vs Immersion
Dutch Coffee requires less beans and less time to brew than regular cold brew, but manages to taste more complex and there is less aftertaste.
Immersion cold brew needs at least 12 hours for a full extraction. Cold drip only takes 3 to 5 hours, depending on the grind size and the quantity you are making. That’s not to say that immersion cold brew coffee is not good. For most people, there is simply no difference between the two methods, when brewed correctly. For coffee aficionados though, and for those with a great palate, the difference is there, and we have to mention it. Here is a comparison between the most popular immersion and cold drip coffee makers.
Japanese Iced Method vs Cold Brew
Not sure if this isn’t going to confuse things even more, but here we go, I need to speak about iced coffee. The Japanese iced coffee brewing, is not another cold brew, as you might think. It is actually hot coffee, brewed over ice to cool down very fast. Cooling the coffee very fast slows down the oxidation, while benefiting of the strong flavors obtained at high temperature extraction. Peter Giuliano has an article about iced coffee vs cold brew here, if you want to see his opinion. I slightly disagree with him, I still thing that cold brew is better. Firstly, iced coffee doesn’t have a long shelf life as cold brew. Secondly, hot brews, even when cooled down are still harmful for those with sensitive stomach. And thirdly, yes, you get a great flavor with hot brewed coffee, but you get great flavors with cold drip too, it’s just a different one. “De gustibus non est disputandum“.
How Can You Try Dutch Coffee?
There is a reason you don’t see Dutch Coffee mass-marketed, and it’s not for any lack of flavor. Where the more popular immersion cold brew method can easily be used to make large quantities of coffee at a time, Dutch Cold Brew requires a special coffee maker that produces a smaller batch of coffee.
Although the brewing with a Dutch dripper is faster, the fact that we can only make a small batch makes it inefficient to brew commercially. It’s not likely that you’ll find any Dutch Coffee in the refrigerated section at the grocery store, but it is possible that you might find it at small, specialty cafés. Your best bet would be to invest in your own cold brew dripper. There are a few different models on Amazon, we included here a couple that we think are better.
If the price of a Yama glass cold dripper is too steep for you, maybe you can improvise one as the one in the image. As there is no heat during the brewing, using plastic is absolutely safe.
Should You Try Dutch Coffee?
Absolutely, Dutch Coffee sounds great, but it requires special equipment to brew—is it even worth it? Especially if there aren’t many ways to try it before you go all in? We think so! We are pretty confident that Cold Brew Coffee is going to change the way you think about cold brew. The flavor experience is like none other, and on top of that, the makers are rather nice to look at. Like most brewing methods, Dutch Coffee has a certain aesthetic to it; it’s like art, something you make over time.
How to Make Dutch Coffee
Armed with a good Dutch cold brew coffee dripper, it’s time to make a batch. Here is the process step by step:
- Choose a great single origin coffee with a light roast. A light roast will prevent the smoke tones to form. Those flavors are easier to pass in the coffee with a long steeping time. A light roast will allow great flavors specific to the origin to be preserved in the beans.
- Grind about 25 grams of coffee for 1 cup of water. (Just to avoid any confusion, we are talking about US measurement cups here. That’s 250ml.)
- Grind slightly coarser than for auto drip, but finer than for French press.
- With coarser grind, you need more coffee with a finer grind, you can use less coffee. Write down your recipe, and adjust it from there. It all comes down to your taste, ultimately.
- If your dripper uses a paper filter, pre-wet it. This will help with the water flow.
- Place the ground coffee on the filter.
- Place a fitted paper filter on top of your grounds, this will ensure an even distribution of the water for an uniform extraction. It will prevent channeling, to use a technical term.
- Pre-wet this top filter, and pour around half an inch water, to prime the coffee grounds.
- Prepare the exact amount of water needed for the brew. The easiest way is to mix water with ice in a measuring pitcher, measure and pour.
- Pour some of the water into the upper tank, (just an inch or so), and adjust the drip speed.
- Adjusting the drip speed with very little water in the upper tank ensures there is enough pressure to push the water down through the whole process. As the water reservoir empties, there will be less pressure, and you risk stopping the brewing, while there is still water in the reservoir.
- A good dripping speed is around one drop every two seconds, but you can go as high as 45 drips per minute.
- Fill the water reservoir with the exact amount of water needed. This will avoid problems if you leave the brewer unattended. (very easy to forget about it, trust me.)
- The water is actually a combination of ice and water, and you need to measure the volume.
- We use more ice for slower brewing. You can also go with a water only drip, and adjust the dripper for a fast brew. The fastest is around 3 to 4 hours, depending on the grind size as well.
- When the coffee is done brewing, transfer into beer bottles, or other airtight glass bottles.
- Store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Some people say coffee is great long after the two weeks.
- You can also freeze this coffee as described on my coffee ice cubes recipe. But you will have to brew it a bit more concentrated for this purpose.
Yama Glass Dutch Cold Drip Coffee Maker
This Dutch cold brew coffee maker is beautifully crafted with Yama glass, and carved wood. The ceramic filter gives your cup more body than brewing with paper filters. The dripping adjustment works great, and the fittings are a good quality ones. For the top paper, the Aeropress filters are perfect.
The unit doesn’t fit in any kitchen environment, it’s rather tall, and its unique design doesn’t work for everybody. If you think it won’t look good in your kitchen, then it probably won’t.
The glass breaks, so you need to be careful with the handling. The company that sells them, however, has a good reputation for, or replacing pieces broken on arrival, or selling parts only.