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, resulting in a smoother brew.
While you can certainly use a simple mason jar and coffee filters, dedicated cold brew makers are easier to use and produce this velvety elixir at home without spending too much time or wasting money on disposable paper filters.
After multiple rounds of extensive testing, our top pick is the Takeya Patented Deluxe Cold Brew Ice Coffee Maker(available at Amazon for $27.99). It takes the guesswork out of the cold brewing 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
The Takeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker 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.
It’s 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. It’s simple to clean–none of the three elements have any hard to reach nooks or crannies, and can be simply thrown in the dishwasher. On top of that, 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 cold brew makers we tested 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 coffee concentrate, like many of the heftier machines), but for a small footprint, uncomplicated model, we found it hard to beat.
The folks at OXO took what we didn’t love about their original Cold Brew Maker (it basically failed all of our original testing) 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 the previous model’s.
The compact, easy to assemble design makes it seamless to store on the counter, in a cabinet, or inside the refrigerator.The perforated “rainmaker” top allows water to slowly and thoroughly disperse over the grounds without having to resort to any complicated, laborious pouring actions.
This extraction method is a vast improvement—draining starts automatically when the brewer is placed atop the accompanying glass carafe. Granted, the smaller unit has less capacity than some options, 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 Cold Brew Maker 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. While it’s comparably attractive, making it suitable for serving, we found the beaker-like shape fit awkwardly in the fridge.
Our coffee testing 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.
One of the higher capacity models we tested, the KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker 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 Kitchen Cold Brew Coffee Maker 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 mason 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 generally considered a more refined and nuanced style. It also naturally produces a lighter-bodied drink. (Though 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 with the Hario Mizudashi Coffee Pot. It has similar upsides, in that the operation is common sense (save for the occasionally confusing instruction manual), allowing you to set up a batch of cold brew in seconds.
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 Cold Brew System 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.
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 brew makers 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. Other high-capacity machines are often used to produce cold brew concentrate (as opposed to ready-to-drink coffee) and 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.
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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