Do you love iced coffee? Well, you’re going to love Japanese Kyoto style slow-drip coffee even more! Let’s be honest, Japan has a cool and innovative way of doing almost anything, and their coffee brewing gadgets are no exception.
The Kyoto-Style slow drip coffee makers not only look fantastic, but they can also brew some complex, great tasting, aromatic, and nuanced coffee. This ultra-stylish tall and curvy glass coffee brewer is like nothing else in the world of coffee. If you enjoy cold brew or a regular iced cup of Joe, it’s time to take your taste buds to a whole new level.
What is Kyoto Style Slow-Drip Coffee?
Kyoto style slow-drip coffee is a cold brewing style that was originally made popular in Kyoto, Japan. Some baristas refer to this brew method as simply slow drip, Kyoto-Style coffee, or cold drip coffee – whatever the name, it all means the same.
Just as the name suggests, this brewing device utilizes an extremely slow dripping method of cold water over a bed of coffee grounds in a process that can take over 12 hours from start to finish.
Trust me, the painstakingly slow drip-drop of water every second is worth the wait.
Over the decades, this slow coffee brewing process has evolved, and you can now find some elegant, tall glass slow drippers that can take up an entire kitchen countertop.
Why the Rise in Popularity?
You may have noticed that many high-end coffee shops are now serving Kyoto-style Japanese coffee and proudly display what seems like a science lab of tall glass coffee towers.
What the rise in popularity? It all comes down to the wow factor!
Would you, as a customer, prefer to have an iced coffee from one of these tall drip towers? Of course, you would, and that’s the reason why so many small and independent coffee shops are incorporating this type of Japanese coffee maker into their establishment as part of the functioning décor – anything to get one over on the competition!
How Does the Kyoto-Style Coffee Taste?
Don’t confuse Kyoto-style iced coffee with a regular cold brew; they are entirely different. Cold brew coffee is brewed using a method called full immersion. This means that the coffee is left to soak (steep) in the water for anywhere between 12 to 24 hours.
Throughout this time, the coffee grounds and the water are in full contact with each other. The resulting brewed coffee is a very strong concentrate that has a high caffeine level and, in most cases, it is diluted before drinking.
Iced coffee, on the other hand, is typically just regular hot brewed coffee that has ice added to it. As the ice melts, you’re often left with a very watered-down mediocre cup of coffee. It’s not even on the same playing field as Kyoto-style iced coffee.
The Japanese slow drip iced-coffee method is not full-immersion, like cold brew, because the water is slowly dripping over your ground coffee and then filters through and ends up in a separate glass beaker. As the water passes through the coffee, it collects all of the goodness before it exists!
Cold-brew coffee typically has less acidity compared to coffee brewed using a slow drip coffee maker and a lot more earthy. Kyoto-style slow drip is known for capturing more of the high notes that you can only find when slowly brewing coffee with cold water over a long period.
Best Slow-Drip Kyoto-Style Japanese Coffee Makers
If I have piqued your interest in this time-consuming Japanese coffee brewing method and you want to give it a try at home, I’ve handpicked some of the best slow-drip coffee makers I could find.
All of these Japanese coffee makers are guaranteed to slowly drip out some of the best tasting iced coffee you’ve ever had.
Yama Glass Coffee Tower with Iced Slow Drip Technology
The Yama glass coffee tower is a classic cold drip brewing system that has been around for decades and has become the foundation for some of the best Japanese coffee makers to follow in its footsteps.
The innovative system utilizes ice in the top glass chamber that produces a rich, full-bodied, flavorful iced coffee that has very low acidity.
The three Borosilicate glass sections have been expertly hand blown. The type of glass used is also non-porous, so it will not absorb any odors or chemicals during cleaning – you’re guaranteed a fresh, completely pure batch of coffee each time.
Each of the wooden sections is manufactured from real wood and has been stained in a dark color that allows it to match any home, cafe, or business décor easily.
A ceramic permanent filter mechanism can be found inside of the Yama slow dripper that eliminates the need for throwaway paper filters. The spiral design actually functions as a way to see the strength of your brewed coffee as it filters through.
Iwaki Water Drip Japanese Style Coffee Maker
If you are looking for a slow drip coffee maker that’s a bit more compact, I suggest you take a look at the Iwaki. This is by far the best slow drip coffee maker if you have a small budget and less space. It is standing at around 10.5 inches, so it can be placed directly inside of your fridge or tucked away on your kitchen countertop.
The Iwaki comes in 3 sections: there’s the bottom glass beaker for collecting your iced brewed coffee, the coffee tank that holds your fine ground coffee, and finally the top part that holds your iced water. The entire slow drip process takes around 8 hours and produces an ultra-smooth Japanese style coffee.
One downside with the Iwaki cold drip coffee maker is there’s no way to control the drip speed; the speed of the drip depends on how coarse or fine your coffee is. You’ll find that the more expensive cold drip coffee makers typically have variable drip speeds that can be adjusted. Want to know more about the Iwaki, make sure to read my full Iwaki review.
Hario Kyoto-Style Coffee Water Dripper
Another classic slow drip coffee brewer is the tall Hario unit that’s both ornamental and functional. The Japanese Hario cold dripper gives you a bit more control over your coffee brewing, and you can adjust things like the drip rate and the strength of your cold drip coffee.
However, getting the drip rate perfect can take a bit of fiddling, Hario recommends a drip rate of one drop every 1.5 seconds. To get this drip rate, you need to play with both your coffee grind as well as the drip valve.
A common problem with the Hario cold drip tower is that the water tends to back up and overflow. However, I have found that if you slightly moisten the coffee grounds (just a splash of water will do) before you start the brewing process, you won’t have any issues with water backing up and overflowing.
Expect to find Hario’s highest quality heat resistant glass, durable stained wooden sections, and various brass fittings. A truly elegant tall coffee dripper that is guaranteed to be a conversation piece in anyone’s kitchen.
Cold Bruer Drip Coffee Maker
Another great option is the Bruer cold brew drip coffee maker. This works in a very similar way to the above Iwaki, but you can adjust the drip rate via the built-in drip valve.
However with that said It’s not the most accurate, and you’ll find that you will have to keep going back to make slight adjustments to the drip rate by twisting the center rod, but at least you do have a way to regulate the drip speed which is a big plus!
Once you’ve taken the time to truly master the Bruer cold brew drip coffee maker, it does churn out some great tasting cold brew coffee. The downside of the Bruer is the price at nearly 3-times to cost of the above Iwaki.
For anyone just getting their feet wet and venturing into cold drip coffee, the high price tag may not be worth the initial investment, and you’d be better off with the Iwaki, which works in the same way, albeit without the option the regulate the drip-rate.
Soulhand Japanese-Style Cold Slow Dripper
The Soulhand is a Japanese inspired coffee machine that is super easy to set up – in fact, it only takes a few minutes to start coffee dripping from the time you take it out of the box.
The glass sections of the Soulhand are durable heat resistant glass that is non-porous and stain-resistant. The wooden parts elegantly divide each glass beaker. The built-in adjustable speed dripper valve enables you to have full, accurate control over the drops per second so you can brew a coffee flavor profile you prefer.
From start to finish, you can have a complete brew cycle completed in under 4 hours – and that’s for up to 8 cups!
For anyone looking for a budget-friendly iced coffee dripper, the Soulhand is an excellent entry-level brewer that won’t break the bank.
Doppio Slow Water Drip Coffee Maker
A modern take on the slow drip coffee maker is this brewer from Doppio. Marketed as a Dutch Coffee Maker, its core cold drip brewing system is much more in line with many of the best Japanese coffee makers in the market.
The Doppio is pretty simple to use and comes with very detailed step-by-step instructions on how to get set up and started. The top chamber that holds your ice and water is made from a highly durable plastic that has been designed to keep your water as cold as possible.
Just below the water chamber is housed the adjustable drip valve that gives you complete control over the frequency of each drop of iced water.
Below the drip valve, sits a paper coffee filter that’s placed on your ground coffee to ensure even extraction. And finally, there is a reusable cloth filter that the coffee passes through.