Japanese coffee equipment manufacturer Hario has been kicking ass and taking names of late – so it seems as good a time as any to take a look at one of their most under-hyped pieces of brew equipment, the Mizudashi coffee pot.
There are plenty of fancy-looking cold brewers out there, the Mizudashi makes coffee that tastes just as good, for a fraction of the price. It is a ridiculously simple piece of equipment: a tall cylindrical bottle with a cup-shaped filter and a plastic top that will keep the grounds in, without creating a vacuum. It fits into the door of an average Japanese fridge.
Why bother with cold-brewing? To make iced coffee, you can just brew up regular coffee, let it cool down then stick it in the fridge – it works and it tastes acceptable. When you use cold water instead of hot, you get a brighter, cleaner, less-acidic cup. In this author’s opinion, there is no comparison: cold brew wins hands down. The trouble with cold-brew is that it takes so long to make and uses a lot of coffee – which makes things expensive, because the quality of the finished product greatly depends on the quality of the beans.
Brewing with the Mizudashi
The brewing method with the Mizudashi is very simple. Fill the bottle to around 800 mL of water (cold, or room temperature). Fill the filter cup with 80 grams of coarsely ground coffee (the same coarseness as you would use for a French press). Finally, pour water through the coffee until the bottle is topped up, stir with a spoon, put the cap on and stick the pot in the fridge. Come back 8 hours (minimum) later, remove the filter cup and it is done.
At 8 hours you end up with a reasonably light brew. If you like your coffee stronger, I would recommend letting it sit for around 10 or 11. It is also worth noting that at the end of the cold-brewing process, you end up with a product that is perfect for iced coffee, but it does not necessarily need to be drunk cold. Cold-brewed coffee can also be carefully heated and drunk hot.
What I love about it
The Mizudashi Coffee Pot is the very essence of minimalistic perfection. The only thing fancy about it is the filter. The rest of the pot is all about design. Anyone who has ever lived in Japan will know that Japanese fridges (even the big ones) don’t have a lot of space. I learned the reason for this when I built my home. I asked the architect if the space for the fridge was big enough. He told me that Japanese fridges designed for domestic use are built to almost exactly the same width – they only really vary in depth and height. The shelves in fridge doors are designed to comfortably hold a 1L carton of milk (they are a little wider than they need to be). The Mizudashi Coffee Pot fits these dimensions perfectly. The simple design also makes for easy cleaning.
I love the look of elaborate cold-brewers, especially ones made with lab glass, but the Mizudashi tastes as good, costs a fraction of the price and fits in the fridge. At the end of the brewing process the coffee is cold enough to drink.
The only real drawback to the Mizudashi Coffee Pot, and cold-brewers in general, is cost. The pot itself is relatively inexpensive ($18 from Amazon, about $10 here in Japan), but the price of the coffee itself will sting. To make 1L of coffee, you need 80 grams of coffee beans (about 20 grams per cup of water). In contrast, most people use about 8-12 grams of coffee per cup of French press or other hot-brewing methods. That being said, if I am brewing hot coffee to make iced coffee, I will always make it stronger because it will be diluted with ice. Cold-brewed coffee comes packs a punch and comes out of the pot with more than enough flavor to stand up to the ice.
If you want to play around with cold brewing, the Mizudashi Coffee pot is the cheapest and most convenient way to do it. I love my espresso machine, but I also like having something in my fridge that is ready to drink. It takes a long time to brew, but preparation is minimal and cleanup takes seconds. I have no hesitation in giving the Mizudashi Coffee Pot five out of five stars.