ice drip dutch coffee maker

What is Dutch Coffee?

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dutch coffee maker ice dripAs the daughter of two Dutch born parents, I had never heard of Dutch coffee until recently. Apparently I am not alone. When Jits Krol of Batavia Coffee travelled to South Korea and saw a Dutch coffee maker, he was surprised to hear it was the traditional brewing method of his native Netherlands!

Dutch coffee has several alter-egos that you may be familiar with: ice drip coffee, Kyoto style, Japanese slow drip are all synonyms for basically the same process.

So What is Dutch Coffee?

Dutch coffee is made by dripping icy cold water over fresh coffee grounds very slowly. What is slowly? Drip rates are anywhere from a few drops per second to 6 drips per minute. Depending on the brewer, the whole process can take from a few hours to 18 hours.

As we already know, cold water reacts differently with ground coffee than hot water does, resulting in a less bitter and less acidic brew. The difference between the cold drip method and the cold brew immersion method  is that water is continuously and slowly dripped through the grounds rather than all the liquid contacting the coffee at once.

All ice drip coffee makers have in common a top down flow of water. Ice water is placed in a chamber at the top of the apparatus. Coffee grounds are placed in a container underneath it. And finally, a receptacle is placed under that to catch the brewed drips. The water drips into the coffee, and once the grounds are saturated, coffee drips out from the grounds and into the receiving carafe.

If you are familiar with the Japanese pour over method you know that that fancy kettle with the long thin spout helps you to pour the water over the grounds in a slow circular fashion in order to saturate all of the coffee. With an ice drip maker, there needs to be something to ensure that the coffee is evenly saturated in order to get maximum extraction. There is usually a distributing part or a filter that sits on top of the coffee grounds in order to distribute the water throughout the grounds. Under the grounds is another filter that prevents the grounds from ending up in the finished pot.

History of Dutch Coffee

Dutch coffee is said to have been invented by sailors working for the Dutch East India company. It was born out of necessity for them as they were not allowed to have fires anywhere but the ship’s kitchen. As it turns out the method had other advantages for them—the coffee lasted longer (not oxidizing) on their long voyages and of course in hot temperatures the drink was cool and refreshing.

While travelling to Asia, the Dutch sailors introduced coffee to Japan and Korea (Source)

The tradition of cold brewing coffee remained there, while being forgotten by the Dutch. Now, not only have the Dutch begun to re-discover their namesake brew, but the rest of the world is catching on too. It is no longer a novelty found only in hip coffee shops and coffee snob’s homes. Several new cold brew coffee makers are actually modern versions of the slow drip glass contraptions that are the classic coffee makers.

Classic Dutch Coffee Makers:

You may find a version of the classic dutch coffee maker in some coffeehouses. They are also available for the home user but are fairly pricey. Most are a tall series of glass chambers and tubes held in a wooden or metal tower framework.

Yama Coffee Maker

The Yama is an example of a home brewer in the classic style. At about 24 inches tall however, not everyone will have room for this in their kitchen. A slightly smaller and less expensive alternative is the NISPIRA ice dripper

It is 18 inches tall and about 6 inches wide. It works the same at less than half the cost. It has a more modern feel with a stainless steel tower instead of wood, but if you want the function and don’t care about it being a showpiece, this is a good choice.

Modern Dutch Coffee Makers:

Several companies have created modern takes on the cold drip brewers. These are more compact and less expensive.

The Cold Bruer is one of two products that were recently funded by crowdsourcing campaigns. The design is more functional and compact, measuring 5 inches in diameter and 12 inches high, but the basic principle is the same.

Another nifty adaption is the gosh!Dripo coffee dripper (another crowdfunded startup). This is a great single serve option as the brewer adapts into a travel mug. Of course, when you are making something that takes as long as cold drip coffee, you might want something with a larger capacity so you can make enough concentrate to last for a couple days. This one is made of plastic, so that can be a pro or a con depending on your perspective (and your clumsiness quotient).

Summary:

Dutch coffee is synonymous with Kyoto style coffee or ice drip coffee. Instead of immersing coffee in room temperature water, icy cold water is slowly dripped through a bed of grounds. Proponents feel that this method produces coffee that is superior to cold brew. It is less acidic than hot brewed coffee and is smooth and concentrated.  Depending on the drip rate you choose, it can take more or less time to brew than immersion brewing. Unlike immersion, which can be done with materials you probably already have on hand, special equipment is required in the form of an ice drip coffee maker. Fortunately, with a resurgence in the popularity of this method, new adaptations of the classic brewers have made owning a drip coffee maker within reach for all.

Pros:

  • Depending on drip rate, can brew coffee in as little as 3-4 hours
  • Produces a smooth, low acid concentrate

Cons:

  • Some machines are expensive with fragile glass parts
  • Requires a special coffee brewer
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