Cold brew is big business, commanding hefty prices at coffee shops and cafés for a cup of coffee. After all, it’s a smooth-sipping, low acid alternative to standard iced coffee. The brewing process is simple: Steep grounds in cold or room temperature water for an extended period of time. By not subjecting the beans to heat or hot brewing, you bypass the oils that often give ground coffee its harsh, bitter taste. It’s definitely more effort than pouring regular drip coffee over ice, but it’s an effort you’ll pay for if you regularly order it out.
The first time we sought to find the best cold brew maker, we discovered in blind taste tests that using a plain mason jar and a simple recipe made the tastiest drink. However, dedicated makers on the market are often easier to use and allow you to make this velvety elixir at home without spending too much time or money on paper filters.
After multiple rounds of extensive testing, our top pick is still the Takeya Patented Deluxe Cold Brew Ice Coffee Maker(available at Amazon for $27.99). It takes the guesswork out of the process, using a simple filter to extract flavor straight into a pourable canister.
Here are the best cold brew coffee makers we tested ranked, in order.
Ovalware Airtight Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker and Tea Infuser
KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker
County Line Kitchen Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Hario “Mizudashi” Cold Brew Coffee Pot
Cold Bruer Drip Coffee Maker
Toddy Cold Brew System
Takeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker 1qt
Takeya has been our favorite brewer since the first time we tested and neither the passage of years nor the addition of new contenders to the market have knocked it from its position. Not only is it so intuitive to use (all you need to do is put grounds in the reusable filter, stick it in the canister, pour water over top and wait), as well as to clean (none of the three elements have any hard to reach nooks or crannies, and can be simply thrown in the dishwasher), it’s the least expensive model we tried. You’d likely spend more purchasing cold brews in a café over a week, than on the maker, which you can keep for years. And while other makers we tried mimic this appealing, no muss no fuss design, small details on the Takeya really make a difference. Like the brand’s water bottles, it is made from practically indestructible BPA-free plastic.
And while glass is generally preferred to prevent off-odors and flavors, we found the Takeya produced some of the tastiest coffee and tea we tested—neither too acidic nor too watered down—and remained equally palatable after sitting in the fridge for a week. We liked that the tall, thin, cylindrical shape allowed it to unobtrusively fit on the refrigerator door (or be tucked away in a cabinet), and a simple turn of the top opens a pouring spout. Once you remove the filter of spent grounds, it also transitions seamlessly into a pitcher. It should be noted, the smaller capacity Takeya produces around four servings of ready-to-drink cold brew (not oodles of concentrate, like many of the heftier machines), but for a small footprint, uncomplicated model, we found it hard to beat.
The only caveat of making cold brew at home is it must be prepared long before you can drink it. Most machines require a brew time for 8 to 24 hours before the coffee is ready. That’s where the Dash comes in. Just like with standard hot coffee makers, you can roll out of bed and have coffee in 5 to 15 minutes, depending on how full-bodied you want your coffee.
It’s really quite the ingenious system: A canister of coffee grounds and a carafe of water sit side by side on a base, while a patented pump creates rapid circulation that extracts flavor without adding heat. And lightning speed isn’t the only thing that sets the Dash apart from the pack. It’s adjustable, meaning you can dial in your coffee to suit your preferences (either lighter or bolder, ready-to-drink, or concentrated), as opposed to most of the other options on this list, which don’t have alternate settings.
Unsurprisingly, you’ll pay for these features. And the Dash comes with the expected downsides of multi-element, electronic machines, meaning it’s harder to clean (some testing found water and coffee getting stuck in crevices), tougher to transport and store, and more prone to breakdowns than a simple filter sitting in a jar.
Also, nearly two years ago when we tested the first generation of the Dash, we discovered it would cause leaks and spills. After testing this new machine, it still dribbled while we poured.
I’m Sarah Zorn, and I’ve been a food writer and editor for over 10 years. Like most busy professionals, I almost exclusively function on coffee. And testing these top brewers definitely allowed me to hit my daily quota of caffeine.
To kick off our testing process, we scoured each manual to see how clear the instructions were, and how easy (or not) it was to assemble each cold brew maker. Using the same type of coffee beans, ground to the texture recommended by the manuals, and combined with the specified water ratios and temperatures, we brewed cold brew in each machine, letting it steep overnight (or for the prescribed amount of time). We noted how straightforward—or not—that process was, whether it was especially messy, and then analyzed the taste of the resulting brew; if it was too weak, too acidic, or enjoyably smooth. We repeated the process once more, and then placed the remainders of both batches in the fridge, letting them sit for a week before tasting them again.
After washing each model, we made subjective evaluations on their build quality, how easy they were to store, how portable they were, if they had any special features and our overall experience. Finally, we brewed tea in the four top-scoring options, to determine our top two machines.
What You Should Know About Cold Brew Coffee Makers
So you’ve decided to make cold brew at home! Congrats on saving yourself lots of money. Well, potentially, as the first step is finding a machine that gives you plenty of bang for your buck. If you're not already familiar with how cold brew is made, it's exactly what it sounds like—coffee brewed with cold water instead of hot water for 12 to 24 hours.
Some cold brewers definitely require more set-up and effort than others, so it’s important to determine how streamlined you want your process to be. The simplest brewers are composed of little more than a vessel and reusable filter, while others are an intricate assembly of parts (including disposable filters), that are meant to allow ultimate control over the quality and taste of your brew. Size is another factor to consider. Smaller, more portable makers stash easily in your fridge or cabinet, but will barely caffeinate you for a day; while other, high-capacity machines, often used to produce cold brew concentrate (as opposed to ready-to-drink coffee), will keep your motor running for a week or more.
There are also two markedly different styles. Some utilize the Kyoto or Dutch drip method, where water is slowly released into the grounds, allowing only the most desired, flavorful oils to make their way into the cup. Others favor the immersion method, where grounds are soaked in water and then filtered. The former is thought to produce purer, sediment-free coffee without running the risk of over-extraction, but are generally more expensive and contain more parts than immersion-style cold brewers.
Finally, think about materials. Glass and ceramic won’t interfere with flavor, but tend to be less sturdy and cost more than metals and plastics.
Other Cold Brew Coffee Makers We Tested
OXO Brew Compact Cold Brew Maker
The folks at OXO Good Grips took what we didn’t love about their original Cold Brew Maker (which when we originally tested it pretty much tanked in our rankings) and with a few adjustments, made a great product, placing third on our list. It brews a much smoother coffee that tasted far less acidic than with the previous model. The compact, easy to assemble design makes it seamless to store on the counter, in a cabinet, or inside the refrigerator, as opposed to the full-size OXO Cold Brew Coffee Maker, comprised of multiple parts and set atop a towering stand.
Like its larger cousin, the perforated “rainmaker” top allows water to slowly and thoroughly disperse over the grounds without having to resort to any complicated, laborious pouring actions. But the way the coffee is eventually extracted is a vast improvement—draining starts automatically when the brewer is placed atop the accompanying glass carafe, while with the original, you had to awkwardly manipulate a lever to release flow, which resulted in a bit of a mess. Granted, the smaller unit has less capacity than the larger one, which is something to consider if you require mass amounts of caffeine at all times.
As simple to set up, easy to use and straightforward to clean as the Takeya, the Ovalware also consists of a steel filter set inside a (glass, this time) vessel. The fact that it’s made of glass may account for the slightly higher price point, along with the fact that it’s comparably attractive, making it suitable for serving as well as storing.
We found that it produced smooth and tasty coffee, even after sitting for a week, which—along with various ease-of-use factors—helped catapult it to the second round of testing, involving brewing tea. It was here that it was knocked down a notch, as the porous filter enabled small leaves to seep into the liquid, resulting in a brew that was a bit gritty and over-steeped. We also found the beaker-like shape fit awkwardly in the fridge.
One of the higher capacity models we tested, the KitchenAid is capable of making up to 28 ounces of cold brew concentrate. But the glass and stainless steel cube is still conveniently sized and shaped for fitting neatly on a counter or inside a refrigerator, where a built-in tap allows you to dispense coffee at will (a sturdy handle also assists in moving it to and fro). It excelled in both the coffee and tea rounds, creating a smooth brew that was just as palatable after sitting for a week.
At just under $100, you’ll pay a high price for these pros, though, which need to be weighed against the cons. These include the fact that multiple parts make it trickier to assemble and clean, and it’s easy to knock the lock on the tap, which has the potential to send coffee streaming all over your floor.
County Line Kitchen Cold Brew Coffee Maker with Stainless Steel Lid (2qt)
Essentially an outsized mason jar with a fine mesh filter, the rustic County Line is a modern classic; a workhorse doing its job without added bells and whistles. The dishwasher-safe brew system also couldn’t be easier to set up, use or clean. A two-quart capacity translates to an awful lot of concentrate, which we found supple and pleasantly nonacidic.
That said, it tasted considerably weaker after being stored for several days. And while many brewers come with a spout or dispenser, this model requires you to unscrew the cap every time you want to use it. Though the bell jar design is noted for its durability, the thick soda lime glass also makes it especially heavy to hold and difficult to pour.
Comprised of a variety of interlocking glass beakers and silicone seals, the Cold Bruer looks like it belongs in a chemistry lab. And certainly, the company takes the science of cold brewing seriously. The Cold Bruer is a drip as opposed to an immersion-style brewer, which is largely thought of as a more refined and nuanced style. It also naturally produces a lighter-bodied drink, although we found our coffee notably weak, which wasn’t improved by time spent in the refrigerator.
And while we appreciated that it was possible to adjust the drip rate for a lighter versus stronger brew, it was trickier to manipulate than it should have been. There’s obvious thought put into the design, with all manner of seals and valves that prevent air from reaching and oxidizing the coffee, while still allowing undesirable gas to escape. But needless to say, so many (easy to lose) parts make it onerous to set up and clean. It’s also an expensive system, coming in second to the KitchenAid.
If you like the no-frills design of the Takeya, we don’t see any particular reason to go Hario. It has similar upsides, in that the operation is common sense (save for the occasionally confusing instruction manual), allowing you to make a batch of cold brew in seconds. Well, plus the half-day it takes to steep.
But the price point is slightly higher, and it comes with a few caveats, the most important being that it produced a weak brew. We also found the filter oddly short, meaning there’s a good chance the grounds won’t get saturated if the water line isn’t high enough.
While the Toddy has received good reviews elsewhere, we found ourselves subjectively baffled by the design of both machines. For starters, they’re incredibly bulky, making them an awkward fit in a kitchen. A big, flimsy plastic canister balances precariously over a glass carafe, and the filter is a small circle of felt that needs to be pressed into the canister’s base, which is super easy to lose and almost impossible to clean.
A tiny rubber stopper (also a cinch to lose) pushed through the canister is the only thing keeping your coffee from gushing onto the floor. Yet it’s tricky to extract when you’re ready to transfer the coffee to the carafe. Then there’s the flavor of that coffee, which we found quite bitter, although interestingly, it mellowed after a week.
Sarah Zorn is a food writer, cookbook author, and product tester for Reviewed, Wirecutter and the Food Network. She regularly contributes to outlets such as Saveur, Esquire, and Civil Eats, and has very much passed her food obsessions down, as her beloved rescue hound, Rowdy, regularly deglazes his kibble bowl.
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