What Is Dutch Cold Brew Coffee [Also Known as Cold Drip]

There are many ways to make cold brew coffee, and some of these preparation methods are quite unique. The flavors are quite distinct between cold brew preparation methods and coffee lovers get quite particular about their coffee.

Dutch cold brew coffee is unique among cold brew coffee methods, and it might be the oldest way of making cold brew. Also known as cold drip, slow drip, or Kyoto-style cold brew coffee, this cold brew coffee method has an unique flavor, appreciated by the coffee lovers for its brightness, and lower body. 

In this article we will show you what is Dutch cold brew coffee, how it compares to other methods, and how to make it at home.

And by the way, you probably won’t find it at your local coffee shop, since it’s quite time consuming, and you can only brew it in small batches.

nispira slow drip coffee maker

What is Dutch Cold Brew Coffee?

Cold drip, also known as Dutch cold brew, or slow drip, is a coffee preparation method where cold water is released drip by drip over ground coffee for a total of 6 to 12 hours. The water can be room temperature, or ice water.

Cold drip is different from other cold brewing methods, such as immersion, or vacuum, the most popular methods, but the common denominator is using cold water for the extraction.

History of Dutch Cold Brew

History  is foggy about this, but it looks like Dutch Cold Brew originated in the seventeenth century in the Netherlands. Since fat and other compounds found in hot brews, are insoluble in cold water, the Dutch created cold brew coffee. This coffee lasted longer during sea voyages, without oxidizing.

As the Dutch colonized more and more, their influence spread, and with that the Dutch coffee brewing method. However, it is in Asia that it gained most popularity and established as the “Dutch Coffee”. Very popular in Japan and Korea, it is also known as Kyoto style cold brew.

Cold Drip Today

Centuries later, Dutch Cold Brew is making a comeback, but not for the same reasons. Today we love it for its unique flavor experience, which is different from immersion cod brew, the most popular cold brew coffee brewing method.

souhand slow drip coffee maker

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.

There seems to be a confusion about the preparation method and the coffee company Dutch Bros Coffee. Dutch Bros Coffee sell cold brew, among other coffees, but they sell immersion cold brew, and not cold drip coffee.  

What Is Kyoto-Style Cold Brew?

Kyoto-style cold brew is a different name for cold drip. 

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. This minimizes the risk of contamination. 

yama cold drip coffee maker

What Is Special about Dutch Coffee?

Dutch coffee is a cold brew variation, and as such carries all of the cold brew benefits. Some of these are: easier on the stomach, longer shelf life, less bitterness, and less acidity. Like all other cold brewing methods, the no heat approach allows the retention of some volatile compounds, that contribute the specific flavor, like fruity and chocolate notes.

However, cold drip is also different from immersion cold brew. Let’s take a look and see what are these differences, and why people appreciate this method so much.

Dutch cold brew caters to cold brew aficionados, and it is considered a specialty coffee. Compared to other methods, slow drip favors extracting and highlighting floral notes, and subtle fruity flavors. Acidic flavors are avoided, and bitterness is almost non existent. 

Slow Drip vs Immersion Cold Brew

Dutch Coffee requires less coffee 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 many 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.

Cold drip has a lower TDS, which means a thinner coffee, compared to immersion cold brew. This translates into a brighter cup, with less body, and more distinguishable acidic notes. If you want an analogy from the hot brew world, cold drip and immersion are the equivalent of filter coffee and French press respectively.

Let’s get a little more technical on the differences between the two methods.

  • Firstly, immersion cold brew is inherently stronger, because the coffee grounds are fully immersed and this speeds up dissolution of soluble solids.
  • Secondly, the brew time for immersion cold brew is minimum 10 hours.
  • In cold drip we use a filter. This will retain the small particles for a cleaner and brighter cup.
  • Caffeine content doesn’t vary too much beyond 6 hours of brewing. However, for short brewing times, such as 3 – 4 hours, we will have less caffeine in a cold drip than we have in immersion cold brew.
  • The antioxidant content in slow drip is higher than long steeping immersion brews. There is contradictory scientific research on this, but it looks like longer steeping times might lead to the oxidation of antioxidants. Take this with a grain of salt, and check this article, and this article to read both sides of the story. 

What is the difference between cold drip and cold brew coffee?

We cannot make this comparison, since cold drip is a type of cold brew. Most people refer to immersion method when they talk about cold brew, so we covered that in the slow drip vs immersion cold brew section.

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 had an article about iced coffee vs cold brew if you want to see his opinion before cold brew was cool. He probably changed his opinion in the mean time, because the post was deleted on his blog. I was still able to retrieve a copy of the old article on archive.org, if you are interested.

Yes, you get a great flavor with hot brewed coffee, but you get different great flavors with cold drip too. “De gustibus non est disputandum“.

Where Can You Get Dutch Coffee?

There is a reason you don’t see Dutch Coffee mass-marketed, and it’s not for 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, compared to commercial batch immersion cold brew.

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.

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 coffee blend. A medium roast will allow a good extraction, but will prevent the have less roast flavors. The flavors are easier to pass in the coffee with a long steeping time. single origin coffee with a light roast
  • 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 a 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 a uniform extraction. It will prevent channeling, to use a technical term.
  • Pre-wet this top filter, and pour around half an inch of 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 rate.
  • Adjusting the drip rate 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.

If you love a brighter coffee with distinct origin notes and flavors, and you miss your regular not brewed filter coffee, slow drip is the closest thing to it in the cold brew world.

Recent research tells us that brewing cold brew longer will reduce the total content of antioxidants, so that’s a bonus for the cold drip.

When you add in the mix the spectacular looking brewing devices, it is not clear why cold drip didn’t get more fans. Maybe the higher price of the brewing device? Or maybe the fact that these devices are a little inconvenient, and they need to have their dedicated space in the kitchen.

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