When I wrote about cold brewed coffee last month, I shared some pros and cons of the brewing method. One thing I neglected to mention was that for me, one of the biggest drawbacks of the method is the mess it can make. While it is not unmanageable, when it is coupled with needing the foresight to start a brew 12 hours in advance, I will frequently take a pass on cold brewing and instead opt for flash brewing my coffee instead.
Sometimes you just want a quick and easy iced coffee. Here is an overview of flash brewed coffee (Japanese Iced Coffee) and a few recipes that should get you enjoying a cold, refreshing coffee over ice within minutes instead of tomorrow.
Is it Iced Coffee or Cold Brew?
You may recall from my post about cold brew coffee that there is a difference between the terms iced coffee and cold brew coffee. Cold brew, as well as flash brew, are methods of brewing coffee. Iced coffee describes a way of serving a brewed coffee.
Use the term “Iced Coffee” as a more general term for describing coffee brewed by a variety of methods and served over ice.
What is Flash Brewed Coffee- The Basics
One of my favorite measures of a cup of coffee is how it tastes cold or at room temperature. As a cup of coffee cools, nuances and flaws that were not apparent before start to appear. A good coffee will shine at room temperature and a poor coffee will be nearly unpalatable.
Flash brewing takes this concept to the next level. It is a brewing method where you intentionally chill the coffee as fast as possible in order to lock in the flavors and create a drink that can be enjoyed over ice.
This not the same as taking coffee that has been sitting on a hot plate all day and plopping a few ice cubes in it. Flash brewing is intentional and immediate.
Most of the standard brewing methods and recipes can be augmented to be a flash brewing recipe, however, the most prevalent are pour-overs and Aeropress recipes. I have not seen French press, or siphon flash brew recipes but that shouldn’t discourage you from trying one if that is what you have to work with.
Generally, for flash brewed coffee you will need a brewing device, a brewing vessel, and a favorite recipe with 1/3 to 1/2 of the water weight replaced by ice. The coffee is brewed over the top of the ice which cools the coffee and completely melts the ice. The cooled coffee is then poured into a glass with fresh ice and enjoyed.
Key Differences Between Flash Brew and Cold Brew
Flash brewed coffee is typically done with lighter-roasted, fruity or floral coffees. This brewing method brings out the aromatics and delicate notes in a coffee. Don’t skimp on the quality of coffee that you use, a flashed brewed coffee is not ideal for hiding a coffee’s flaws.
In contrast, a cold brewed coffee will have a heavier, more viscous mouthfeel. It is missing some aromatics and acidity, which is what some people prize about it. If you are ever in doubt about the differences between the end results of the two brewing methods, I would encourage you to do a side by side comparison (with the same beans) and see for yourself. The differences should be striking.
With cold brew, it is possible to brew large (sometimes very large) batches and store them for a couple weeks. You can even freeze cold brew and drink it later with no real change in the flavors. Flash brew is a fresh cup of coffee that should be consumed in a timely manner.
Flash brewed coffee is the same amount of clean up as your regular manual brewing methods. If you are doing a pour-over, it is likely that your cleaning up consists of lifting out the filter and grounds and discarding them. With a standard large cold brew batch, you not only have to grind 12 ounces of coffee at once, you also have to clean out and discard the spent grounds. (This is not a deal breaker for me, but as I mentioned earlier, it is a detractor.)
Flash Brewed Chemex* Recipe “The Iced Chemex”
The Chemex is a truly amazing brewing device. It has the distinction of not only being a cool vintage brewing method but also being simple and tasty. Here is my standard Chemex flash brew recipe. It can be replicated with any pour-over device.
Equipment and Supplies- You will need a Chemex and filter, 34 grams of quality coffee, 175 grams of ice and 345 grams of water**.
- Rinse the filter and purge the Chemex of the rinse water. I also rinse the Chemex with cold water after this so as to not have a pre-heated brewing vessel.
- Fill the bottom of the Chemex with 175 grams of ice.
- Place the filter and ground coffee (A normal Chemex grind is fine) into the Chemex.
- Heat the water to just below boiling (195-205 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Use 50 grams of water for a bloom. Wait 30-40 seconds.
- Slowly pour the rest of the water over the coffee.
- Give the iced coffee a few swirls once it is done dripping to completely cool the coffee.
- Serve in a glass over fresh ice and enjoy. You may want to add a splash of milk or cream.
Flash Brewed Aeropress* Recipe “The Iced Aero”
The Aeropress is a great little immersion brewer that is relatively new on the manual brewing scene. People are absolutely crazy about it. There are two methods of brewing with it, “standard” and “inverted.” This method is for standard brewing.
Equipment and Supplies- You will need an Aeropress and filter, 20 grams of quality coffee, 100 grams of ice, and 200 grams of water**.
- Place a filter into the Aeropress (I typically don’t bother rinsing it).
- Pour your coffee that is ground medium into the Aeropress. I use somewhere between a Chemex and a V60 grind (17 on the Virtuoso).
- Fill a cup with 100 grams of ice and place the Aeropress on top.
- Heat the water to 195 degrees Fahrenheit or so (About 30-40 seconds off of boil is fine).
- Use 30 grams of water for a bloom. Wait 30-40 seconds.
- Stir the slurry a few times and pour the rest of the water into the Aeropress.
- Place the plunger into the Aeropress but do not plunge. Wait one minute.
- Plunge the Aeropress and swirl the contents of the cup when you are finish to cool the coffee further.
- Add a few more cubes of ice into the coffee and enjoy. You may want to add a splash of cream or milk.
The key to making a good iced coffee is to try it a few times and play around with it. Everyone is looking for a little something different when it comes to iced coffee. Some are looking for something to sip on for the afternoon, while other are looking for a delicious summer refresher that only lasts a few minutes. Find a few recipes that you enjoy and keep tweaking it until you love it. As always, have fun with it.
*I realize that my blog needs both a Chemex and an Aeropress introduction post. Not having either is just short of manual brewing treason as they are some of the hottest methods going right now. All I can say is that hopefully I will have one of each in the not-so-distant future. Until then, please feel free to contact me personally with all your questions and concerns.
**Both my recipes use 2/3 water and roughly a 1:15 ratio. Play around with it. I know a lot of people up the amount of coffee and shorten the brew time in order to keep some of the bitterness out of the cup.