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What is Dutch Coffee?

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In the wide world of cold brew coffee, there are several preparation methods. The most common cold brew method is the immersion brewing method. You'll find most coffee shops gravitate toward this style when making their cold brew coffee concentrate.

However, there is an older brother to this style known as ice drip coffee or Dutch coffee, depending on who you ask. I'm sure you have any questions about this unique cold brew coffee style, so let's get into it.

What is Dutch Cold Brew Coffee?

Technically, Dutch coffee is not considered cold brew coffee by the industry's standards on the practice. Still, it employs the same ingredients and uses cool or room temperature water to produce the end result.

Dutch coffee is prepared by slowly dripping cool water over freshly ground coffee beans from an adjustable valve. Depending on the speed at which the water drips, this brewing method can take anywhere from 3 hours to 18 hours.

Since we don't use hot water when preparing Dutch coffee, I will refer to it as a cold brew coffee family member from here on out. Sound good? Good.

So what makes Dutch coffee special? Let's take a look.

The Unique Flavors of Dutch Coffee

Like other cold brew methods, ice drip coffee extracted from a Dutch coffee maker accentuates the readily available flavors you might expect with subtle nuances from the beans without the acidity from hot coffee. 

Ice drip coffee

The slow drip patiently extracts all sorts of flavor profiles found within the beans, defining their origins and providing a wine-like appreciation to this morning beverage.

It is no surprise that Dutch coffee is considered "the wine amongst coffee" in many parts of Asia.

Thanks to the Dutch East India Company, its popularity in this region is a bit of a happy accident.

History of Dutch Coffee

As the name suggests, Dutch coffee originates from seventeenth-century Dutch sailors. They would brew their coffee with ice-cold water before venturing away from the Netherlands for long sea voyages. Since the oils within coffee beans do not dissolve in ice water, their cold brew beverage would take much longer to spoil.

Given this information, you may wonder where in the Netherlands does coffee grow? Your question is valid.

In fact, Dutch traders found their fascination with coffee from trading in Yemen, which is arguably coffee's origin. They fell in love with the flavors and kick but found it hard to bring it back with them to Europe since transporting the commodity was not legal at the time.

Still, the ever-resilient Dutch sailors found clever ways to ship fertile coffee plants from Yemen to prolific growing lands such as India and Indonesia. The goal was to open the way for providing a flourishing coffee trade back to Europe.

The actual origin of Dutch coffee is a bit of a happy accident since traditional coffee brewing in Yemen used hot coffee for extracting the caffeine and flavors. Dutch coffee lovers were not allowed (for a good reason) to make fires anywhere on their ships aside from the kitchens.

There's only so much coffee you can brew over a single flame. As a result, sailors discovered a longer-lasting coffee brewing method that didn't oxidize, lasted longer before spoiling, and was kinder to the stomach.

They ventured forth, brewing batches of cold drip coffee and introducing the method to major trading ports as they went. This includes the most famous Dutch coffee maker innovator: Kyoto, Japan.

What Is Kyoto-Style Cold Brew?

Kyoto-style cold brew coffee is a derivative of Dutch coffee. It is made by dripping water slowly over ground coffee beans. Kyoto cold brew is like the beverage from a Dutch coffee maker but with a highly ornate tower twist, giving it a Japanese artisan flair. Today, Kyoto drip coffee is colloquially synonymous with Dutch coffee, water drip coffee, and cold drip coffee.

Cold-brew connoisseurs pine to have one of these classic art pieces in their kitchens and living spaces as a subtle homage to the painstakingly slow yet deliberate process of extracting great flavors from coffee grounds.

Let's take at some of the more classic Kyoto drip coffee makers on the market today.

Classic Dutch Coffee Makers

Some of the more vintage coffee boutiques and cafes may have a version of the classic Dutch coffee maker on display for customers to see.

But, unfortunately, you won't find them everywhere due to their high price tag, tall form-factor, and hard-to-find breakable glass parts.

Still, the beautiful arrangement of tubes cradled by wooden or metal frames makes classic Japanese-inspired Dutch coffee towers a sought-after showpiece.

These make for a great centerpiece in your café or kitchen.

So let's take a brief look at two of the most prevalent classic towers in the space.

Pros

  • Beautiful Appearance
  • Adjustable Drip Rate
  • Show Piece
  • Great for Single-Origin Beans
  • Great for Light Roasts

Cons

  • Price
  • Often Out of Stock
  • Glass Parts Break if Mishandled

The Yama coffee maker towers over most coffee makers at around 2 feet tall and provides a 3-tiered glass drip system whose function resembles a science project.

You'll use special filters and a metal valve with an adjustable drip rate to control the extraction. The materials used to build the system make the whole process visually appealing and relaxing, juxtaposed to the result, you'll experience from drinking the product it makes.


But, of course, always drink coffee in moderation.


NISPIRA Ice Drip Coffee Maker

Pros

  • Compact Design
  • Easier-to-Find Parts
  • Adjustable Drip Rate
  • Show Piece
  • Great for Single-Origin Beans
  • Great for Light Roasts

Cons

  • Higher Price-Point
  • Glass Parts Break if Mishandled

Running at about half the cost of the Yama, the NISPIRA Ice dripper provides a lower cost-to-entry for cold drip enthusiasts.

The Yama and NISPIRA cold drip towers use borosilicate glass beakers, paper filters, valve drippers, and catch tubes to deliver the extracted coffee to its final destination within a carafe. 


One of the great things to consider with NISPIRA are the product choices. You have plenty of variations and sizes to suit your needs.


Modern Dutch Coffee Makers

In an attempt to make the world of Dutch coffee more accessible, manufacturers have simplified and modernized traditional cold water drip coffee makers. They are now more compact, use more readily available parts, and cost a fraction of what classic models do.

Pros

  • Price
  • Compact Size
  • Adjustable Drip Rate

Cons

  • Often Out of Stock
  • Thin Glass Easy to Break if Mishandled
  • Uses Plastic Parts

The Bruer cold drip system is a crowdfunded project that promises less bitterness and a less acidic brew than regular coffee.


With an adjustable drip speed valve, you control how long it takes.

While not as pretty as classic Dutch coffee brewers, this inexpensive modern alternative will deliver similar-tasting coffee results.


Pros

  • Sustainable Bamboo
  • Easy to Use
  • Compact Design
  • Adjustable Valve
  • Cold Brew Immersion Hybrid

Cons

  • Thin Glass Easy to Break if Mishandled
  • No Protective Base
  • Harder to Dial in Drip Speed

The Soulhand Cold Brew dripper set is a great mix of aesthetic form and function. Its compact form factor, adjustable valve, and price make this underdog a real contender.


It's wide base provides stability for use in a home or office environment. Still, its large carafe ensures you can make a 800ml of your favorite cold drip in a few hours. 


If you aren't into the drip, you can convert the bottom carafe into an immersion brewer in no time at all. We also love to make tea with ours.


Dutch Coffee Maker Pricing Gradient

You get what you pay for when considering Dutch coffee tower pricing.

It's simply a gradient of materials and availability that dictates pricing.

Towers that require special equipment and build materials will cost more, while makers that opt for plastic will cost less to make.

There are plenty of DIY options out there too.

Still, for the serious cold drip coffee connoisseur or the budget seeker, these premade products are sure to provide a great alternative to your French Press.

What Is Special about Dutch Coffee?

Traditional Dutch coffee is unique in that it is brewed from slowly dripping melted ice or cold water over coffee grounds to fill a carafe below.

Dutch Coffee is not Iced Coffee

Its taste can only be described as divine. Still, Dutch brewing your coffee will not taste the same as ice coffee brewed the traditional way. The difference is in the brewing temperature.

In a traditional sense, Iced coffee is brewed by combining hot water with coffee grounds. The hot coffee is quickly chilled with ice or placed in the refrigerator. The flavors in iced coffee are robust and bitter, often requiring added sugars or milk to make it palatable.

Even though they both incorporate ice in their brewing methods, Dutch brewed coffee uses the slowly melting ice to drip over the grounds as a part of the extraction itself. Alternatively, iced coffee dilutes and cools its hotter sibling.

Suppose you are a coffee lover and you haven't tried Dutch coffee. In that case, I highly recommend trying some for yourself before deciding whether or not you want to invest in a brewing system. So now, let's differentiate between the traditional cold brewing method and the Dutch cold brew drip.

Dutch Cold Brew Coffee Drip vs Immersion Brewing Method

While they both produce a less acidic flavor than hot coffee, Dutch cold brew drip coffee differs from immersion brew.

Immersion cold brew

The extraction process for drip relies on the friction from individual water droplets to extract caffeine and flavors from the beans.

The extraction time depends on how quickly the water drips.

The slower the drip, the more defined the flavor extraction your drink will have.

The immersion method soaks grounds in cold water for 12 to 18 hours in most cases. This requires you to filter out the grounds before placing your finished brew in the fridge or pouring your first drink.

What Coffee Beans Work Best for Dutch Coffee?

The best beans for your Dutch coffee brew largely depend on your personal taste and flavor preferences. 

The great thing about cold drip and cold brew, in general, is that there is no "right" bean variety to use for making a delicious cup.

Still, in my humble opinion, drip coffee systems work best by fully extracting the flavors from a single-origin bean.

So try one like an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe instead of standard blends you might be attracted to. I find lighter roasts taste way better when prepared using a cold drip coffee brewer instead of an immersion brewer, for example.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Even though other countries may have popularized it, there you have it, a primer in Dutch coffee.

We covered its history, showed you some standard brewers you can buy, revealed the mysteries behind its extraction process. We even recommended some great-tasting bean varieties to compare Dutch coffee with other cold brew styles.

Have you tried any drinks made from Dutch coffee? How did they taste? Let us know your thoughts below in the comments.


About the author

My name is Brandon and I love cold-brew coffee. If you're a fan of everything homebrew, then we'll get along just fine. I also enjoy riding my Onewheel around town, and going on adventures with my future wife! As an online work-from-home advocate, it's important that I stay connected to the world while being able to maintain a healthy work/life balance.

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