6 Best Slow-Drip Kyoto-Style Cold Brew Coffee Makers
If you’ve ever enjoyed a crisp Kyoto-style iced coffee, you’ll know that there’s nothing else like it. This unique drip brewing method is the only way to create this sweet, smooth, crisp version of chilled coffee.
If you’re ready to try your hand at slow drip coffee at home, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve looked at dozens of great and not-so-great slow drip coffee makers and reviewed the six best for you. No matter your needs, one of these excellent coffee makers is sure to fit the bill.
At A Glance:
- OUR TOP PICK: Yama Brew Tower
- RUNNER UP: Bruer Cold Drip System
- INNOVATIVE DESIGN: DKINZ Brewki
The 6 Best Kyoto-Style Slow Drip Coffee Makers in 2022
Dutch traders first brought the idea of cold coffee to Japan, but it was in Kyoto that the slow drip coffee maker was first devised (1). That was hundreds of years ago, but its popularity continues unabated thanks to the deliciously smooth brew it produces. Northwest Regional Barista Champion Laila Ghambari Words explains its appeal (2).
The coffee tends to be more aromatic and have more delicate or nuanced flavors and have a lighter body.
If that sounds like the kind of cold-brewed coffee you want to make, then keep reading because here are six great brewers that will do precisely that.
Yama Cold Brew Tower
- 32 oz capacity
- 25.4 x 9 x 12 inches
- 3 hours brew time
1. Yama Cold Brew Tower – Best Overall
Capacity: 32 oz
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 25.4 x 9 x 12 inches
- Suggested brew time: 3 hours
The Yama Brew Tower is the platonic ideal of the classic Kyoto-style coffee maker, found in high-end coffee shops and the homes of specialty coffee lovers worldwide. It’s the most expensive brewer on the list, but for a good reason. You’re paying for quality materials, a gorgeous design, and great-tasting coffee all in one package.
The Yama Glass tower is made from hand-blown borosilicate glassware, and I promise you can feel the difference versus cheaper factory-made versions. The frame is bamboo, which is lightweight and attractive and is one of the most sustainable woods.
While it looks complicated and demanding, it’s easy to assemble and clean; every glass component is dishwasher safe.
The Yama Glass Tower is available in two sizes. The more popular is the 32 oz model, which prepares 6 to 8 cups of brewed coffee. But for big households (or serious caffeine addicts), there is also a 124 oz version that can make up to 25 cups at a time.
Rather than paper filters, the Yama Glass tower uses a permanent ceramic filter mechanism to filter the ground coffee beans. Give the filter a rinse under cold water after each use to remove any coffee grounds, and it will last months. If you store it in a glass of cold water, it will last even longer! This will save you money versus disposable paper filters.
2. Bruer Cold Drip System – Runner Up
Capacity: 20 oz
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 9.84 x 5.12 x 5.12 inches
- Suggested brew time: minimum 4 hours
On the scale from showy to practical, the Bruer Cold Drip system is on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Yama Glass Tower. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s compact, easy to use, affordable, and – most importantly – creates the same delightful style of iced coffee.
The Bruer Cold Drip System doesn’t have the same dramatic aesthetics as the towering brewers, but it’s still a good-looking coffee maker featuring glass chambers and blue plastic accents. It has a lower capacity, preparing 4 to 6 cups at a time, but that’s an advantage in smaller households.
The manufacturer recommends a minimum of 4 hours of brewing time, but we’ve found that 6 hours is a bit of a sweet spot for a good cup of coffee. It’s easy enough to experiment with the drip rate and ground coffee fineness to brew the perfect cold-brewed coffee for your taste (3).
The Bruer is not without its flaws. The drip speed tends to shift mid-brew, so this is one you’ll probably want to check on the drip rate a few times during coffee brewing. I wouldn’t recommend setting it up the night before and leaving it. The glass isn’t quite as robust as the Yama model, though it does claim to be dishwasher safe. I’d suggest ensuring it’s spaced well away from anything else in your dishwasher to be on the safe side.
3. Nispira Cold Brew Drip Tower – Beautiful Design
Capacity: 20 oz
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 20 x 8 x 8 inches
- Suggested brew time: 8 to 12 hours
The Nispira Drip Tower shares a similar aesthetic to the Yama Glass model but with a touch more sophistication thanks to the rounded edges of the wood frame that mirror the curves of the glassware within. It has a more vintage look, like what you might find in an antique shop, and will be the perfect showpiece in a home with a similar design sensibility.
But the Nispira cold brewer isn’t just for show. It also makes a good cup of Kyoto-style iced coffee, as sweet and smooth as you could ask for, with low acidity and a light body. It is the perfect refreshing pick-me-up on a hot day. However, you will want to check the weather forecast and predict that hot day in advance because Nispira recommends an 8 to 12 hour brew time for this coffee maker.
It’s smaller than the Yama Tower, with only a 20-ounce capacity, suitable for 4 to 6 cups. It’s also smaller in overall dimensions, which means it might not have quite the same flair for the dramatic, but it’s certainly a more practical choice in smaller homes.
The Nispira brewer is relatively inexpensive, but the quality of the glassware does reflect this. I’d recommend this Brew Tower to anyone looking for a beautiful accessory that occasionally enjoys a delicious iced coffee instead of buying it for daily use.
4. Soulhand Cold Brew Dripper – Budget Pick
Capacity: 27 oz
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 13.8 x 5.1 x 5.1 inches
- Suggested brew time: 3 to 4 hours
The Soulhand Dripper may be the cheapest coffee maker on this list, but you definitely wouldn’t suspect that when looking at it. While it lacks the showmanship of the towering brewers, this is a gorgeous piece of design that you’ll be proud to display on your countertop. It’s made from quality materials like reinforced heat-resistant borosilicate glass, stainless steel, and bamboo, giving it a modern feel, perfect with a minimalist kitchen aesthetic.
At 27 ounces, the capacity of the Soulhand slow dripper is relatively high, capable of 6 to 8 cups of coffee. And you can also use it for making iced tea! The drip rate is adjustable, giving you some room for experimentation when it comes to finding the best flavour, but expect to spend about 3 to 4 hours preparing your batch of iced brew.
Unlike some of the others, this coffee maker isn’t dishwasher safe. However, it disassembles into a relatively small number of parts, so cleaning it is no more involved than traditional electric drip coffee makers.
5. DKINZ Brewki – Most Innovative
Capacity: 24 oz
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 14.6 x 8.7 x 9.8 inches
- Suggested brew time: n/a
DKINZ Brewki is a unique-looking piece of coffee equipment, and it certainly stands out from the rest of this list. It has a colour scheme of matte dark grey, red, glass, and stainless steel, which gives it a very high-tech feel, like something you might find on Elon Musk’s counter. That is fitting because it is the most innovative brewing process of any on this list, even receiving a 2013 Good Design award for its cleverness.
At nearly 15” tall, the DKINZ Brewki is large enough to make a statement but still small enough to fit comfortably under upper cupboards.
The automated drip rate is the main innovation, which has received raves from online reviewers. There is no need to return and check up on it during brewing. You can set it up the night before and come back in the morning to perfect cold coffee, which is noticeably smooth and nuanced.
The made-in-Korea Brewki is assembled from quality materials, including stainless steel, heat-resistant glass, and a BPA-free and more eco-friendly plastic called Triton. The metal parts are precision machined and corrosion resistant, and everything fits together very nicely. The engineers here clearly know what they’re doing.
6. Hario Shizuku – Best Compact Design
Capacity: 20 oz
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 14.96 x 5.12 x 5.12 inches
- Suggested brew time: 1 to 2 hours
Finding a Hario brewer on this list is no surprise. This world-famous maker of coffee products is both Japanese and ‘the King of Glass,” so of course, they know a thing or two about making a slow drip coffee maker.
The Shizuku, which fittingly means “drop” in English, is the most minimalist design of the bunch, a beautiful conical glass vessel with a stainless steel compartment at its centre to hold the coffee grounds. It’s compact and easy to store but will also look gorgeous in any home if you want to keep it on display.
As with the Brewki, the Shizuku is self-regulating, though in this case, the drip speed is pre-defined rather than adjustable. This simplifies the whole process considerably but eliminates user control over the brewing process, so it’s not the right pick for those who like to adjust things. To start coffee brewing, you need to add the coffee grounds and fill the water chamber with cold water; it does the rest. And it does it quickly. This is the fastest brewer on the list, taking just 1 or 2 hours to have your iced coffee ready and waiting.
How to Choose the Best Slow Drip Coffee Maker
Unlike the more common brewing devices, like French presses, pour-over drippers, and Moka pots, slow drippers come in a wide variety of designs. While they all operate on the same concept and yield the same style of iced coffee, one is probably better suited to your needs than any other. Read through this buyer’s guide, and we’ll help you find the perfect way to make Kyoto drip coffee.
Height and Drama
It’s easy to put the design of a Kyoto-style slow drip coffee maker into one of two categories: towering or compact. On this list, both the Yama cold brewer and the Nispira would be considered towers, whereas the remainder pack the same functionality into more concise packages. Both designs have their pros and cons.
The main advantage of the towering style of brewer is the drama it adds to the process. If you’re not making cold drip coffee regularly, pulling out a brewing tower on the occasions when you’re hosting friends is sure to impress. That’s why you’ll often see this style of the brewer in coffee shops (4). Anyone who sees it is immediately intrigued to try the results – and awed by your coffee know-how.
James Lee, a coffee writer for Perfect Daily Grind, explains that the brewing process can be as appealing as the results (5).
It’s both mesmerisingly beautiful to watch and known for its delicate, aromatic brews.
On the other hand, compact brewers are decidedly more practical and probably a better choice if you’re regularly making slow drip iced coffee. They can comfortably fit under your upper cupboards while brewing, and they take up less space, so they are easier to store when not in use. They’re also easier to clean, less expensive, and generally less fragile. But of course, they don’t convey the same flair or excitement; they’re just coffee makers, not showpieces.
Consider the Capacity
A big factor when choosing any coffee maker is how many cups at a time you need to brew. Most Kyoto-style coffee brewers produce between 6 and 8 cups, but there is some variation. The Nispira, Bruer, and Shizuku brewers have a 20 oz capacity, closer to 4 or 5 cups, whereas the Yama tower can brew a full 8 cups. For even higher capacity needs, the Yama cold brewer is also available in a 124-ounce version that yields a whopping 25 cups – but it doesn’t come cheap, nor will it fit comfortably in all kitchens.
Different Brewing Times
There is no way to make a quick cup of cold drip coffee; extracting all the flavour from a coffee bean takes longer with cold water.
There is a lot of variety in recommended brewing times, so think about how you like to plan your day when choosing a slow drip brewer.
You’ll be happy to learn that slow drip brewing is faster than the more common full immersion style brewing, which typically takes around 24 hours. The slowest brewer on this list is the Nispira, which has a manufacturer-recommended brew time of 8 to 12 hours. This longer brew time can be convenient if you like to prep your coffee in the evening and have it ready to go in the morning. At the other end of the spectrum, the Hario Shizuku can have your cold drip coffee ready in as little as an hour, for when the sudden need for iced coffee strikes!
Another thing to remember is that some slow-drip coffee makers are designed to be left unattended, while others require occasional attention to make sure the drip speed stays constant. If you prefer a “set it and forget it” style of brew, you will want to look for one designed to maintain a steady flow rate without your feedback.
For classic Kyoto-style coffee, it’s hard to beat the Yama Glass Brew Tower. Not only will it deliver the sweet and smooth icy brew of your dreams, but it will also impress your guests with its iconic and complex-looking design. If you want the same iced coffee with no dramatic aesthetic, our runner-up pick, the Bruer Cold Drip System, will meet all your needs at a more affordable price and in a more practical package.
In coffee brewing, slow drip brews faster, using finer coffee grounds. When it comes to the coffee it produces, cold drip coffee is considered to have a more complex character than the full-bodied immersion cold brew. It’s just as smooth, but it maintains more of the high notes and the bright and fruity flavours.
For more detail, visit our article on cold drip vs cold brew.
Siphon coffee makers, also known as vacuum coffee makers, are another brewer style that looks like they belong in a science lab. So it’s easy to confuse with a Kyoto-style slow dripper. However, it makes hot coffee rather than cold, using a combination of vapour pressure and gravity for brewing coffee.
Dutch coffee is just another name for Kyoto-style slow drip. The alternative name stems from the fact that it was Dutch traders who brought the idea of cold coffee to Japan in the 1600s, though the complex tower brewing device is a Japanese invention.
Yes, slow drip coffee is low in acidity. It has been shown that coffee brewed cold has about 60% less acidity than coffee beans brewed in hot water (6). However, cold drip coffee is slightly more acidic than full immersion cold brew. Fans of Kyoto-style slow drip coffee prefer it this way because it maintains a bit more complexity of flavour.
- ElDoradoCoffee. (2019, July 19). A Brief history of cold brew coffee. Retrieved from https://eldoradocoffee.com/blogs/news/history-of-cold-brew-coffee
- Clayton, L. (2018, August 9). How Japanese-Style Slow Drip Coffee Brewers Work. Retrieved from https://www.seriouseats.com/japanese-style-slow-drip-coffee-cold-brewers-kyoto-yama-hario
- Fuller, M, Rao, N.Z. The Effect of Time, Roasting Temperature, and Grind Size on Caffeine and Chlorogenic Acid Concentrations in Cold Brew Coffee. Sci Rep. 2017; 7, 1797. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5740146/
- Bryman, H. (2017, July 12). Vinyl and Coffee Shop Bump ‘n Grind Spinning Gold in Silver Spring. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2017/07/12/vinyl-and-coffee-shop-bump-n-grind-spinning-gold-in-silver-spring/
- Lee, J. (2016, July 21). Japanese Kyoto-Style Cold Drip: A VIDEO Guide. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2016/07/japanese-kyoto-style-cold-drip-a-video-guide/
- Pomranz, M. (2020, April 7). Hot and Cold Brew Coffee Are Chemically Different, Study Says. Retrieved from https://www.foodandwine.com/news/hot-and-cold-brew-coffee-difference-science