The coffee culture in Japan is able to fascinate almost any coffee lover.
I mean, who wouldn’t like to try a cup of coffee made with so much precision and care? The Japanese take their coffee seriously, and that results in impressive taste and flavor.
If you are as intrigued as I am, you might be curious to try one of those coffee brewers yourself. So, let’s take a look at 5 top models, followed up by a comprehensive guide to Japanese coffee makers.
|Best Overall – Editor’s Pick – Hario Woodneck Drip Pot||Check current price on Amazon|
|Best Japanese Cold Brew Coffee Maker – Yama Glass Cold Brew Maker||Check current price on Amazon|
|Best Japanese Pour-Over Coffee Maker – Osaka Pour-Over Coffee Maker||Check current price on Amazon|
|Best Japanese Syphon Coffee Maker – Hario Glass Technica Syphon Coffee Maker||Check current price on Amazon|
|Best Cold Brew Maker for Brewing Size Variety – Nispira Iced Coffee Cold Brew Dripper||Check current price on Amazon|
Our Reviews of the Best Japanese Coffee Makers: Top 5 Picks
Best Overall – Editor’s Pick
Hario Woodneck Drip Pot
- 2 sizes available: 240 and 480 ml;
- reusable cotton filter;
- heatproof glass carafe;
- convenient spout for non-spill pouring;
- wooden neck and filter handle.
The combination of simplicity, quality, and style in this little device managed to win me over. The Hario drip pot looks super classy and can be used to brew an incredibly delicious cup of coffee. Plus, it’s very affordable, which makes it a great option even for beginner home baristas.
The cotton coffee filter is a unique solution for pour-over brewing. The filter can be used multiple times, which means you save on paper filters and, consequently, make a more environmentally-efficient choice.
Using a cotton filter allows for a slow coffee extraction that results in impeccable flavor. Additionally, the cotton cloth does not trap the precious coffee oils. This means you get both: a ton of healthy nutrients and a rich flavor. The Hario doesn’t require that much effort on your part to brew delicious beverages and would work for all levels of experience.
You can use it as a 4-cup coffee maker, as its size is ideal for a small company of coffee lovers or solo users who need a couple of beverages at once.
All in all, this little device can help you step your coffee game up. The Hario was designed to brew delicious coffee with minimal effort and just a bit of patience.
Best Japanese Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Yama Glass Cold Brew Maker
- wooden tower construction;
- borosilicate glass parts;
- non-porous materials, does not absorb odors;
- adjustable valve for controlled drip frequency;
- spiral chamber for an even flow.
Looking for a cold brew maker of your dreams? Well, look no more, as the Yama got you covered. This coffee brewer is ideal for those who love the cold brew but don’t want to wait for it for too long, as the Yama allows for a much faster extraction process.
This cold brew maker is quite convenient to use thanks to its design. It brews directly into the decanter, which you can cover with the lid (included with the purchase) and store your delicious coffee to enjoy it later.
The Yama allows users to bring the cold brew to the next level. Thanks to its special construction, you can use ice to extract your coffee with cold temperatures and get the smoothest taste possible. Plus, there is an adjustable valve. It allows users to control the drip speed and, consequently, adjust the boldness of the brew.
This brewer is large enough to serve as one of the best 5-cup coffee makers. You can adjust the brewing portion according to how much water you use on any given day. The carafe is supposed to hold up to 8 cups of coffee.
Overall, the Yama cold brew maker is a real gem. It is stylish, made with top-quality materials, and brews excellent coffee. What else is there to wish for?
Best Japanese Pour-Over Coffee Maker
Osaka Pour-Over Coffee Maker
- borosilicate glass carafe;
- laser-cut double steel filter;
- heat-resistant collar;
- glass lid to prevent accidental spills and to keep the coffee warm;
- curved flow channels in the filter for optimal extraction.
This little guy may seem simple to you, but don’t let it fool you. The Osaka pour-over coffee maker is capable of brewing a great-tasting cup of coffee. Plus, it’s super easy to use, includes a reusable filter, and comes at a very attractive price.
The filter in this pour-over device is quite peculiar. Featuring the double-wall design, it can sift out even the tiniest coffee grounds. Additionally, it features special curved channels that allow for a more even extraction.
The Osaka is a stylish glass pour-over coffee brewer that would fit in any kitchen. There’s a convenient collar to protect your hands when pouring, which comes in 3 different colors. Plus, the brewer includes a glass lid. It tightly covers the carafe to prevent spilling and to keep your coffee warm longer.
However, if you feel like the glass carafe will not keep coffee hot enough for you, you can also check some of the top-rated thermal carafe coffee makers here.
All things considered, the Osaka is a worthy find. It can brew delicious coffee, preserving all the precious oils and allowing you to save money on coffee filters. Additionally, it’s very affordable and stylish.
Best Japanese Syphon Coffee Maker
Hario Glass Technica Syphon Coffee Maker
- heat-resistant borosilicate glass bowls;
- stainless steel filter, stand, and burner cover;
- brass fasteners;
- aluminum windbreak;
- 5-cup capacity.
Syphon coffee makers are not everyone’s cup of tea, but this model by Hario can win almost anyone over. This syphon coffee brewer can boast of excellent quality and it’s able to produce an exquisite cup of coffee (five cups, actually).
The build quality of this device is impressive. The reason behind that is Hario’s history. The company has been working with heat-resistant borosilicate glass for almost a hundred years, including making laboratory equipment.
The Hario syphon might require a bit of a learning curve, but it would certainly be worth it. This model can produce a clean, smooth cup of coffee with an incredibly rich flavor. It uses a cloth filter that allows for a smooth extraction and doesn’t trap the rich coffee oils. Plus, the glass and steel parts of the device do not retain odor, which means your coffee will always taste clean. And speaking of this model’s parts, the Hario is a BPA-free coffee maker that is safe to use daily.
To sum up, the Hario syphon may not work for everyone, but if you want an impressively good cup of coffee, you should definitely try this device.
Best Cold Brew Maker for Brewing Size Variety
Nispira Iced Coffee Cold Brew Dripper
- wooden frame;
- adjustable valve for controlled drip frequency;
- stainless steel filter screen;
- 2 brewing capacity options;
- borosilicate glass containers.
If you drink a lot of coffee (or live with a family of coffee lovers) and need a larger cold brew maker, the Nispira would suit you well. This model comes in 2 brewing sizes, 600 and 2,500 ml, so you can brew more coffee at once.
The wooden elements of this cold brew maker give it a classy vintage look. However, there’s also a steel frame used for more stability and increased durability.
The Nispira is a good coffee maker under $100, which means you don’t have to invest too much if you’re dreaming about a cool brewing device. This model can brew coffee fast and won’t require you to wait for more than a few hours. There’s an adjustable valve that allows for the drip speed control. It can help you find the perfect configuration for your desired coffee strength. Additionally, the Nispira is very well-made and promises durability.
Despite some minor flaws, the Nispira makes incredibly good coffee. And it can brew a lot of it, which some users would really appreciate!
The Peculiarities of Japanese Coffee
Coffee has been considered an ordinary beverage in Japan since the early 1900s (1). Such a long history of coffee in Japan is probably one of the reasons why the Japanese managed to master brewing this rich beverage to perfection.
Now, there are many types of coffee (and brewing methods) you can find in Japan. However, the most popular ones are pour-over, cold brew, and syphon coffee makers. These are considered more traditional as well. Of course, you can still find those fancy Italian espresso machines in almost any Japanese coffeehouse (2). Still, they aren’t as popular as the previously mentioned brewing devices.
When it comes to coffee, the Japanese prefer the slower brewing methods as they result in more flavor. While a top-notch espresso machine can brew a bold, full-bodied beverage, traditional Japanese coffee makers perform a bit differently. Whether you are using a cold brew maker, a pour-over, or a syphon, your coffee will taste smoother, richer, with more complex notes in its flavor, and maybe even a fruity aftertaste. After all, coffee beans are seeds, essentially, and slower brewing can help those flowery, fruity notes bloom.
Therefore, a fellow Japanese coffee lover would probably not share our love for the fast and convenient Keurig coffee makers. While fuss-free brewing certainly is a bonus, Japanese coffee implies a more patient approach for the sake of the results.
Types of Japanese Coffee MakersJapan is famous for inventing several types of coffee makers: pour-over, cold brew coffee makers, and siphon coffee makers. Let’s take a look at each one.
Japanese Pour-Over Coffee Makers Explained
First, there’s a pour-over coffee maker. You might also know it under the name Hario, which was the first brand of Japanese kitchenware to make these brewers.
Hario consists of three main elements:
- A pour-over kettle with a thin spout that is used to pour-over the water and control the flow. This kettle is usually made of stainless steel, but there are glass or ceramic varieties as well.
- A drip section with a funnel, where you place your coffee filter and grounds.
- A mug to collect all the coffee pouring from the funnel. It can be a single cup or a carafe in bigger models.
The process itself is pretty simple, although it requires patience since you can only make one cup at a time (3). Place a filter in the drip section, add freshly ground coffee and pour-over the water from the kettle. You want to keep the flow steady and go from the edge to the center of your grounds in a spiraling motion.
Coffee made by this method has a deeper flavor and a more complex body with little residue (although that can depend on a filter). This is a perfect method for brewing darker roasts with floral and nutty flavors.
For those who aren’t that patient, here’s a collection of automatic pour-over coffee makers that mimic the manual process but take way less time.
How Do Japanese Cold Brew Coffee Makers Work?
The second popular brewing method in Japan is cold brew.
Cold brew is completely different from iced coffee or frappé (4), so don’t get confused.
However, this method takes even more time — up to 24 hours — but results in a brew with a unique flavor profile and lingering aftertaste.
It’s worth noting that cold brew coffee in Japan is made by the slow drip method, and not the immersion method, where you just leave the grounds to steep in cold water overnight. The immersion method isn’t popular in Japan because it produces a lot of sediment and has a less prominent flavor.
So, how do you make Japanese cold brew?
You need a special tall coffee maker which consists of three segments, such as pour-over, but works slightly different. In a slow drip brewer, the upper tank is filled with water, and you can set the flow to one drip at a time with the valve. The water drips into the second section that contains a filter and coffee grounds. The filtered coffee then flows into the carafe or mug at the bottom and is ready to drink.
Despite the time, this slow drip method is absolutely worth it, as it produces bold, less acidic, and more fruity flavor. This method is great for any type of roast and flavor profile because cold water eliminates bitter and stale notes in the final product.
Japanese Siphon Coffee Makers Explained
If you’re more into the scientific aspects of cooking, this coffee maker is made for you! It looks more like fancy lab equipment than a regular brewer.
A siphon coffee maker, also known as a vacuum pot, uses pressure to brew your coffee. It consists of two chambers joined together with a rubber gusset to create a tight seal. The lower chamber is filled with water and gradually heated, either on the stovetop or with a built-in heater.
As the water temperature rises, the pressure of the water vapor also changes, which forces the water to move upwards through the siphon tube right to the ground beans in the upper chamber.
The key here is to heat the water slowly and keep the pressure at the same level until it transfers into the upper chamber and fully submerges the beans. After that, the temperature will drop and your brew will travel back into the lower chamber through the filters.
The siphon coffee maker might be not the easiest equipment to use, but it produces a fantastic brew with a crisp taste. If you have trouble with distinguishing all those caramel and cherry hints in your coffee, you will certainly be able to do it with this method.
How to Find the Best Japanese Coffee Maker: Buyer’s GuideNow when you know what makes Japanese coffee brewing so special, you might feel enthusiastic about trying it yourself. Trust me, I’ve been there. It costs me a lot of mental energy and self-control to prevent myself from buying an extra kettle for my pour-over (even though I already have 3 of those) every time I pass near my favorite coffee place. If you are only starting your Japanese coffee journey, you may be wondering about which option would be the most suitable for you. Well, to make the best choice possible, you need to narrow your options down. To do that, you can take the following steps when shopping:
- Set your budget. Japanese coffee makers come in a variety of styles, materials, and of course, prices. It’s easy to get overly excited and go way past your spending limit. So, it’s better to decide how much you are willing to spend on your new coffee maker beforehand. Keep in mind that single over-the-mug drippers are cheaper than carafe pour-overs or syphons. Also, plastic coffee makers and their components are less pricey than models with glass or metal parts.
- Cold or hot brew? As you already know, Japanese coffee can be brewed in two ways. You need to decide which one would work for you. Keep in mind that cold brew takes much more time and results in a more concentrated beverage. However, cold brew coffee is typically smoother and less acidic. It’s also sweeter and doesn’t taste bitter at all. Hot brewed coffee has that slightly bitter zestiness, subtle fruitiness, and an obvious rich aroma. Cold brew takes time (and more sips) to reveal all of the notes in its flavor.
- Consider how much coffee you typically drink. Japanese coffee brewers come in different sizes and can offer various capacity options. If you are a solo drinker who wants a fresh cup of coffee every time, you might want to consider an over-the-mug dripper (single-serve pour-over that you place on top of your cup). If you want more coffee at once (or live with someone who loves this beverage as much as you do), then a pour-over with a carafe or a syphon would suffice. Cold brew coffee makers would also work, as they don’t typically come with a single cup capacity and tend to be larger. If you aren’t sure what capacity you will require, you might want to consider getting a dual coffee maker. And if you know that you won’t require too much coffee daily, check out these single-serve coffee makers.
- Check the materials. Great coffee makers of good quality (and most Japanese brewers fall into this category) typically use such durable materials as glass and steel (sometimes also wood for some details). However, you can still find cheaper plastic pour-overs with mesh filters (over-the-mug are the most common ones in this case). Of course, if you are not very tight on budget, you should give your preference to glass or steel models. They will certainly serve you longer (plus, they look much more appealing).
- Consider how much kitchen space you have. Keep in mind that some Japanese coffee brewers are quite tall and might not fit under the cabinets. If that’s the case, perhaps a smaller pour-over or a syphon coffee maker would be more suitable.
- Think about the coffee filters. Do you want to buy new paper filters for your pour-over? If not, a syphon with a reusable filter would be better. Many cold brew makers also come with washable coffee filters. Some pour-over models may include a reusable filter as well, although cheaper models typically come with no filter at all.
- Don’t forget about the accessories. If you buy a syphon, for example, you are likely to get all the needed parts and components with the purchase. However, for a pour-over, you will need a kettle, filters, and a water thermometer (if you want to brew at proper temperatures). It’s not such a big deal, but this aspect can upset some shoppers. Not only do you have to spend more money, but also you need to spend more time searching for quality accessories. And let’s not forget about the most important one – a grinder. Quality grinders are quite pricey, but they are worth it. As an alternative, you can also check some of the best grind and brew coffee makers that come with integrated grinders.
- Think about portability. Again, some Japanese coffee makers are tall and bulky. Others have multiple glass parts. You should take these aspects into consideration if you are planning to move or to transport your coffee maker, for example. In this case, a smaller over-the-mug dripper might be a better idea (they can be made of glass, mesh, and ceramic).
How is Japanese iced coffee brewed?
There are few methods of brewing Japanese coffee. The easiest way is to just pour hot water coffee onto the ice. This allows for rapid extraction of aromatic compounds and the ice locks them in your cup.
Another option is long-time steeping in iced water using a special Kyoto set that consists of three glass chambers separated by valves. The top chamber contains the water and has a valve for drip adjustments. The medium chamber contains ground coffee and is connected to the bottom chamber via a spiral glass tube. Brewing coffee in the Kyoto set requires a fine, medium-roasted grind, and takes 3-4 hours.
How much caffeine does Japanese iced coffee contain?
The caffeine content in cold brew coffee can vary greatly. The general amount of caffeine per cup in most coffee shops is 175-200 mg. If you make your own cold brew, note that the longer it steeps, the more caffeine it will have.
How to make the coffee stronger?
You can make a strong brew either by using a specialty coffee blend with a stronger taste or by increasing your brew ratio, meaning that you use more coffee grounds for the same amount of water. Increasing steeping time can also do the trick, but if you steep your cold brew for too long, it might develop a bitter taste.
Which coffee bean grind should I use for siphon coffee makers?
Most baristas recommend a medium-coarse grind for siphon coffee makers. This grind is good for long-time steeping and delivers a balanced flavor profile.
Some may say that Japanese coffee makers aren’t for everyone. Yes, using them requires patience and more time than you typically spend with your home drip machine.
However, the results are well worth it. If you agree, you might want to try using a Japanese coffee maker yourself. Just remember that each of them has some peculiarities, pay attention to the materials used, and decide what brewing process would be the most convenient for you in order to make the wisest choice.
And if you need any help trying to make up your mind, allow me to give you a recommendation. The Hario Woodneck Drip Pot is a simplistic yet elegant coffee brewer that can help you get the most out of each cup. It is a quality piece of equipment that doesn’t cost that much and can work for all experience levels. Plus, it looks super stylish!
Which Japanese coffee maker managed to catch your eye? And which one do you prefer, cold or regular brew? Share your thoughts in the comments!
- Laura Brehaut (February 01, 2018). Coffee is king in Japan: Experience one of the world’s most fascinating coffee cultures. Retrieved from https://nationalpost.com/life/food/coffee-is-king-in-japan-experience-one-of-the-worlds-most-fascinating-coffee-cultures
- Live Japan (June 26, 2020). Is Coffee Weird in Japan? From Trendy Cafes to Crazy Vending Machines – We Check it Out! Retrieved from https://livejapan.com/en/article-a0001993/
- Oliver Strand (February 09, 2011). Coffee’s Slow Dance. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/magazine/13Food-t-000.html
- Karen Hart (June 13, 2020). The truth about Japanese iced coffee. Retrieved from https://www.mashed.com/217557/the-truth-about-japanese-iced-coffee/
My name is Yurii Brown. I am a passionate coffee geek and, concurrently, a certified coffee specialist.
I’ve been learning about coffee for a long time, testing various devices and practicing in home coffee brewing. I like to share my experience and insights with fellow coffee lovers so that my readers could enjoy the real taste of quality-brewed beverages.