Flash brew coffee isn't new. In fact, it used to be much more popular. All the way back in the 60s, people in Japan were dancing to rockabilly and enjoying flash brew coffee. Hence its other name—Japanese Iced Coffee.
Yet, just as flash brew was starting to take off here in the U.S., cold brew coffee came along and stole its icy thunder.
But what exactly is flash brew coffee? Should you even care? And why?
Flash Brewing: The Basics
Flash brew coffee is made by brewing hot water with coffee grounds, and then flash cooling the mixture.
The concept is pretty simple—You keep the same proportion of water to coffee, but a proportion of the water is frozen as ice.
The ice is placed beneath the dripper, and the liquid water is heated to your target brewing temperature. This basically brews a kind of pour over coffee concentrate.
The result is a flashy cup of joe with all the robust flavor of a traditional brewed cup, but without any of the bitterness or astringency that can sometimes accompany extended brewing times.
The fact that the coffee is hot for only a brief moment before being chilled allows for some of the more subtler flavors of the beans to come through in the final cup. Plus, the whole process is just really damn cool to watch.
Experiment or No?
It's important to follow a specific recipe when you're flash brewing—you don't want to just experiment right out of the gate.
There are numerous recipes available online (although many of them seem to be copied from one in particular). So Instead of inserting a recipe with the same information here, I'll link to it here in case you're interested in attempting flash brewing yourself.
Flash of the Titans
Once you're an expert (or just well-practiced) in the art of flash brewing, you can feel free to start playing around with variables.
Just like with any other type of coffee, it's important to experiment with your flash brew recipe and tailor all the different brewing variables to your specific taste. This means playing around with the grind size, water temperature, bean-to-water ratio, and brewing time until you find a combination that works best for you.
Like any of the other more advanced coffee brewing methods, it might take a little bit of trial and error to master the art of the flash brew. But once you get the hang of it, you'll be rewarded with some of the best cold coffee you've ever tasted.
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Flashes to Flashes: Why You Should Care About Flash Brew Coffee
Now that we've answered the question "what is flash brew coffee," it's time to ask another important question: should you even bother with this brewing method?
The key to making great Japanese-style iced coffee is to get your ratios right. Because you're brewing onto ice, which is going to melt and dilute your brew, you need to account for that in your measurements by brewing a double-strength batch of coffee and chilling it with just enough ice to achieve your desired final brew strength.
Especially when we have cold brew, which is so easy to make and can produce such delicious results?
Well, if you're a cold coffee fanatic, I'd say the answer is a yes. A resounding yes!
Flash brew coffee is the perfect way to enjoy a more nuanced cup of cold coffee without any of the bitterness or astringency. If you have a kitchen scale and an AeroPress or a pour over brewer—you can make flash brew!
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So, what are you waiting for? It's time to get flashing!
For more about flash brew, check out this article from Coffee T&I Magazine.