It may be winter right now, but that doesn’t mean that everyone wants a hot, steaming cup of joe first thing in the morning. Sure, many people might gravitate to something that warms the soul as much as it does the body, but some people want to stick with what they’ve come to know and love over the last few years; cold brew coffee. This smoother and equally delicious version of java is good any time of the year.
Cold brew isn’t just regular coffee turned cold: The cold water extraction process actually results in a very different sort of brew than typical hot water extraction, giving you a smoother, less acidic cup (or rather, glass) of coffee that refreshes you without skimping on the caffeine. Cold brew coffee is also shockingly easy to make at home — some might say even simpler than making hot brews, which are very easy to over- or under-extract — provided that you have a good cold brew coffee maker. It will save you a lot of money, to boot.
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 also don’t need to tell you that half that volume is ice). For this reason, smart cookies just like you have been eschewing the expensive and wasteful store-bought cold brew and making their own at home for years. If your taste for cold brew has evolved beyond exchanging cold water for hot in your trusty French press, then read on: These are the eight best cold brew coffee makers to up your home barista game.
Best Overall: Oxo Cold Brew Coffee Maker
For the most flavorful and aromatic cold brew coffee made right at home, it simply doesn’t get much better than the Oxo cold brew system. For the quality results it puts out, the Oxo coffee maker is pretty easy to use, and it consistently makes full-bodied and full-flavored cold brew that is better than what the other systems we’ve tried can produce. This is due to its great design, which utilizes a steel mesh filter and a “rainmaker” top into which you pour your cold water, which ensures even water distribution over the grounds for full extraction of all those tasty flavor molecules.
The Oxo looks nice and has a small footprint on your countertop, which is also a plus. And, instead of any messy removable plug system, there’s a simple valve which you activate with a switch to dispense the finished cold brew into the 32-ounce glass carafe once it’s finished. There’s even a glass stopper so you can store your brew in the fridge for later. At $50, the Oxo is a little pricier than some of our other picks – but for a cheaper but also-great cold brew maker, read on.
Best Value: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Maker
For those who are strapped for cash, Japanese coffee icon Hario has you covered with a cold brew maker for less than $20. That’s roughly three to four cups purchased at your local cafe — not bad for a 33-ounce cold brew carafe. A step above steeping coffee grounds in cold water in your French press, the Hario Mizudashi 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). When your brew is done, you can pour it right from the pitcher, and the filter can also be used to make cold brew tea and fruit-flavored water infusions.
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 Hario Mizudashi is constructed in Japan, which is a good guarantee that it’s going to be well-made. Another value contender was thebut we found that the Mizudashi delivered better-tasting results for the same price. The Mizudashi’s glass carafe also looks and feels superior to the Takeya’s plastic.
Best for Concentrate: Filtron Cold Water Coffee Concentrate Brewer
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 with its price-to-performance ratio: With a one-two punch of a wool and paper filter plus a second 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 (it’s more attractive than the Oxo’s Erlenmeyer flask, which looks like it was pilfered from chemistry class).
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.
Best Quick Cold Brewer: Dash Rapid Cold Brew Coffee Maker
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. The brew isn’t as strong or quite as full-flavored as that of our top pick, but with a 42-ounce BPA-free carafe, reusable filter, and dishwasher-safe construction, the Dash will make you wonder why you would ever queue up at your local cafe for a $5 beverage that took 12 hours to make.
Best Dispenser: KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker
If you’re the type of planner who likes to make large batches of food and drinks in advance, then a dispenser like the KitchenAid cold brew coffee maker might be the one for you. Despite its sleek-looking brushed stainless design, this cold brew system is dead simple: A large stainless filter bowl (which is a nice sturdy steel pot instead of a chintzy mesh filter) sits inside a 28- or 38-ounce container attached to a tap that lets you dispense chilled coffee right into your glass. Add more coffee to make a concentrated brew which you add water, making your batch last even longer.
The trade-off for this convenience is that the KitchenAid cold brew maker doesn’t make coffee that’s quite as strong or as aromatic as our top pick, the Oxo cold brewer, but it’s less fussy to use. Also note that the overall capacity of the KitchenAid isn’t the full amount of coffee you’ll end up with due to the steeping bowl and coffee grounds naturally displacing some of the volume, so you may want to consider splurging for the 38-ounce model. When it comes to sheer convenience, though, the KitchenAid cold brew coffee dispenser is hard to beat.
Best Nitro: Royal Brew Nitro Cold Brew Coffee Maker Kit System
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 Royal Brew keg, a glorious beer-like head on your glass of ice-cold coffee. After all, you eat (or drink) with your eyes first. The Royal Brew’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 — anywhere you don’t mind lugging a five-pound machine. Meanwhile, its surprisingly compact form still manages to fit 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 Royal brew over traditional cold brew maker models is that it uses nitro to produce a frothy, foamy head. 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? It’s just like that.) For those who value service as well as taste in their cold brew, this is the one for you. Better still: You can also use it for beer.
Premium Pick: Yama Glass Cold Brew Maker
If your choice of cold brew maker isn’t just about the beverage, but also about signaling your superior taste to the world, then we hope your place has a spacious kitchen. 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 cream of the cold brew crop, using the Kyoto method of dripping cold water into the coffee rather than simply submerging or flooding 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.
Best Reusable Filters: Doppeltree Cotton Cold Brew Coffee Bags
You’ve probably noticed that making cold brew coffee isn’t exactly as difficult as splitting the atom. All you need are coffee grounds, cold water, filtration, and time, with the main difference between hot and cold brewing being that cold extraction takes hours rather than minutes. You don’t need a complicated setup for this: If you only make cold brew occasionally, or if you’re just dipping your toes into the world of cold brew, then these reusable filter bags from Doppeltree are an easy and cheap way to give it a taste without buying unnecessary equipment.
The Doppeltree reusable filter bags are made from organic cotton and work much like cheesecloth, allowing the extraction of tasty oils from coffee grounds while filtering out the particulate sludge. Simply fill the bag with grounds to your desired strength, place it in a container of your choice, such as a Mason jar or pitcher, and enjoy fresh cold-brewed coffee in 12 to 24 hours (the longer the better). You may eventually want to upgrade to one of our other picks, but for $17 for a two-pack, these Doppeltree cotton filter bags are a great way to give cold brew a try.
Article originally published August 8, 2018. Last updated January 2020.
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