When it’s hot as hell outside, hustling urbanites like you need a caffeine fix served sans steam. That’s why we have cold brew, that smooth, concentrated blast of liquid motivation that simultaneously grounds you and gives you wings (just not the trademarked kind).
However, cold brew competes with another important need of hustling urbanites: saving money. We don’t need to tell you that a single cold brew from your neighborhood cafe will set you back anywhere between $5 and $9 for just twelve ounces. (We really don’t need to tell you that half that volume is ice.)
For this reason, smart cookies just like you have been eschewing the store-bought cold brew and making their own cold brew at home for millennia (okay, maybe just years). The results are mixed, largely depending on the knowledge and sophistication they bring to the operation.
If your taste for cold brew has passed beyond throwing a cheesecloth bag in a mason jar, or exchanging cold water for hot in your trusty French press, consider these five cold brew makers to up your coffee game.
For those who are strapped for cash, Target has you covered with a cold brew machine for under $20. That’s roughly three to four cups purchased at your local cafe … not bad for a six-cup capacity jug, eh? A step above steeping coffee grounds in cold water in your French press, the Primula Pace includes a filter core to siphon out particles that cause bad flavor. (Which also means you don’t have to purchase filters for its use — yay!) Its slim profile and silicone drip-proof gasket lid make it very compatible with high-traffic refrigerators (read: if you have a roommate). In addition to being dishwasher safe, the Primula Pace is constructed inconsiderately health-friendly fashion, free of BPA, PVC, phthalates, and lead.
The Filtron cold brew coffee maker is one of the market’s best beloved, and that’s really saying something, considering that it looks like a plastic planter perched on top of a wine carafe. But what it lacks in sophistication, it makes up for in price point to quality ratio. With a one-two punch of wool and paper filter plus grounds guard disc, you end up with a high-quality, sediment-free cold brew that lets your specialty roasted coffee flaunt its flavor profile. Moreover, we have to say that the glass decanter on its own is pretty classy — definitely something you can proudly place on a summer brunch table. Since the whole thing hides in your fridge while brewing anyway, who cares if the setup looks like you’re making worm tea in your kitchen? Nobody’s going to know.
A word of warning, though. At 1.5 liters in volume and 12-16 hours processing time, the Filtron only makes cold brew batches in one size: big.
Need your homemade cold brew yesterday? The Dash lives up to its name, cranking out 1.5 liters of cold coffee concentrate in 15 minutes or less. Just throw the grounds in the container, fill the carafe with water and turn the dial — your cold brew will be ready and chilling before you even get out of the shower. (Don’t have time for a shower? The Dash can have a slightly-less-intense-but-still-effective cold brew ready for you in five.) It’s just as easy to clean by simply running plain water through the system one time. With a 42-ounce BPA-free carafe, reusable filter, and dishwasher-safe construction, the Dash will make you laugh twice as hard at those suckers queuing up at your local cafe for a $5 beverage that took 12 hours to brew.
As you can see, the cold brew maker market makes a steep jump from the $50 range to the $150-plus range. That extra margin buys you extra sophistication, superior taste, and in the case of the Lymor, a glorious beer-like head on your glass of cold brew. You know what they say — you eat (or drink) with your eyes first.
The Lymor’s food-grade stainless steel construction means more than just formidable looks; you can take this bad boy with you anywhere. Barbecues, tailgate parties, hiking, and camping — I mean, anywhere you don’t mind lugging a five-pound machine. Meanwhile, its surprisingly compact form still fits into the refrigerator door shelf. Unlike other nitro-equipped cold brew makers, there are no long tubes or multi-part setups to worry about.
The advantage of the Lymor over traditional cold brew maker models is that it uses nitro. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, say “nitro” in a throaty growl and you’ll get the idea. Sure, it’s a little more complicated than your standard drip model, but it makes for a smooth, velvety mouthfeel that you won’t get anywhere else. (You know how Guinness is smooth? Just like that.) For those who value service as well as taste in their cold brew, this is the one for you. (Pssst — you can use it for beer, too, if you want.)
OK, we see you. Your choice of cold brew machine isn’t just about the beverage — it’s about signaling your superior taste to the world. The very idea of a $20 cold brew apparatus, frankly, offends you. Welp, we hope your place has a spacious kitchen because otherwise, you’re going to need to knock out a cabinet or two to fit your brand new Yama cold brew coffee maker.
This model is the realest of the real deals, using the Kyoto method of dripping cold water into the coffee, rather than submerging the grounds in water. Over the course of a day, the liquid passes through a permanent ceramic filter (eliminating any possibility of flavor taint) to yield the purest, richest, most fragrant cold brew you’ve ever tasted. This is definitely not a set it and forget it kind of cold brew maker — you’ll have to refill the water at least once, precisely grind your coffee, and finely calibrate your volume-to-brew time ratio. But all frustrations will melt away once the carafe begins to fill — users report that the concentrate infuses their home with the most heavenly coffee aroma.
If you’re the kind of person who can drop $100 or more for a pound of coffee crapped out by a civet in Vietnam, you really shouldn’t be buying any other cold brew maker. This is the one that does your specialty coffee full justice.