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Love strong, dark coffee but don’t like the bitterness? Does the acidity in coffee give you trouble? If yes, then you might want to try cold brew coffee.
This article will explain the ins and outs of cold brewing coffee. We also reviewed which brewers make the best cold brew coffee.
Cold brew is simply coffee that is brewed with cold water instead of hot. By letting the grounds steep in cold or room temperature, the flavor and caffeine are extracted and the acidity stays in the bean.
With some brewing techniques, getting the exact water temperature, grind size, and brew time will make or break the experience. Cold brewing is much more forgiving. And you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment.
You can make cold brew in a simple mason jar. Just throw in some grinds, add water, and let it set. Then you’ll have to find a way to filter out the grinds.
You can also turn a French press brewer into a cold press coffee maker. Just add cold water instead of hot and let it sit for a day. Then press the plunger down to filter the grinds.
While the best cold brew coffee comes from high-quality, fresh ground beans, the cold brewing technique can work wonders with older, less-than-premium beans.
Cold brewing is easy, but it’s not a quick process. In the refrigerator, the grounds steep typically from 12 to 18 hours, and some prefer to go as long as 24 hours.
If you’re brewing on the countertop, it may be done as quickly as 8 hours, but you’ll probably want to let it go a little longer.
Some automatic cold brew coffee makers can brew in terms of minutes instead of hours. However, you won’t be getting the rich, syrupy concentrate.
You can do much more with a cold brew concentrate than just drinking it. It’s great for adding flavor and a kick of caffeine to cooking, baked goods, milkshakes, and more. Of course, it is great to drink, too.
You can dilute it with cold water, milk, or cream and pour it over ice for a refreshing treat. You can also dilute it with hot water for a hot coffee that retains the smooth texture of cold brew.
When hot-brewed coffee sits for more than a half-hour, you’ll notice a change in taste. Not so with cold brew. When cold brew is well filtered, it retains its taste for up to two weeks when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
If your brew method lets through a fair amount of fine grounds, it’s best to drink it within a few days.
Just because you don’t like iced coffee doesn’t mean you won’t like cold brew iced coffee. Of course, if you already enjoy iced coffee, using a cold brew iced coffee maker will take it to the next level.
Heat extracts certain compounds from the coffee bean that cold water does not. Mainly, these compounds are what contribute to coffee’s bitterness. Cold brewing draws the lighter, sweeter notes.
Also, iced coffee will often taste weak or watered down. When you pour hot coffee over ice, what happens? The ice melts. Most cold brew coffee makers make a coffee concentrate that is meant to be diluted, usually a one part coffee to three parts other liquid ratio.
Even when you add milk or cream, it will retain the full coffee flavor.
We know you want to make the best cold brew coffee possible. Here are 10 brewers to choose from that will help you make café-quality cold brew at home.
The Toddy Cold Brew System first appeared in the 1960s. Their commercial cold brewers are used extensively in restaurants and cafes to create a smooth, flavorful coffee concentrate. This smaller version allows you to get the same results at home. The brewing chamber holds 50 ounces, and that results in about 37 ounces of concentrate in the carafe.
What makes the Toddy cold brew coffee maker unique is its felt filter. This keeps even the smallest bits of grind in the brewer, releasing only the pure liquid. The manufacturer recommends reusing the felt filter 10 times or for three months. However, if you thoroughly rinse the filter and store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator between brews, it will last longer.
We recommend using the optional paper filter bags. While the difference in taste is not very noticeable, the ease of cleanup makes a huge difference. With the filter bag, when the brewer has finished draining, simply lift out the bag and compost it or throw it away. Without the bag, it's tricky to get the grounds out and it's easy to accidentally throw the felt filter away. It will also keep the felt filter cleaner
The Toddy is one of the larger home cold brew coffee makers available. It yields a little over three cups of coffee concentrate. With Toddy's recipe, dilute one part concentrate with three parts other liquid. That equals almost 200 ounces of cold brew coffee. Does that sound like a lot? The good news is that, due to the heavy filtration, the cold brew coffee lasts up to two weeks in the refrigerator without any change in taste.
This cold brew coffee maker will make a statement on any counter. It consists of several parts contained within a clear, acrylic frame. You pour the water into the upper glass bowl. A small tap controls the outflow. You can adjust the rate of drip by turning the tap handle.
Water drips slowly from the upper bowl into a middle glass cylinder that contains the filter. The stainless-steel filter is similar to a French press filter. You put the coffee grounds in this middle chamber, then place a circular paper filter on top of the grounds. Unlike most cold brew coffee makers, the Hario Slow Drip Brewer requires fine ground coffee. Because of that, it brews more quickly than other cold brew makers. Your brew is ready in three to five hours.
The water slowly percolates through the grinds to extract the coffee. The extracted cold brew coffee then drips into the glass carafe on the bottom. This cold brew coffee maker yields about 26 ounces of cold brew concentrate. Depending on the recipe, you'll want to use about one part concentrate to three parts other liquid.
When it comes to brewers that use the carafe for brewing and storing, the Hario Mizudashi makes the best cold brew coffee. This cold brew coffee maker is super easy to use. Simply fill the mesh filter with coffee, place the filter inside the carafe, and pour the water over the coffee grounds. Then set it in the refrigerator to steep for at least eight hours. Some might want to extend the brewing time to up to 18 hours or more.
With this cold brew coffee maker, you must make a full pot of cold brew every time. Otherwise, the water level won't be high enough to reach the grounds. The good news is that this unit comes in two sizes: 600 ml or 1000 ml. This gives about 18 or 30 ounces of cold brew coffee respectively. You can get this cold brew coffee maker in black, red, or brown.
This design has two major drawbacks. First, because you have to pack the ground coffee into the filter, the water does not flow freely through the grinds. As a result, the resulting brew is considerably weaker than with other cold brew makers. It does not produce a concentrate, so keep that in mind when deciding which size to buy. Second, you might spend up to 20 minutes pouring the water in. You'll need to pour a little at a time to avoid overflowing the filter. Also, the larger brewer is almost 12 inches tall. Make sure you'll have a tall enough shelf in your refrigerator.
You may want to experiment with grind size. A course grind may produce a weaker cold brew coffee than you like. A slightly finer grind will extract more flavor. But if you grind too fine, you'll end up with bitter cold brew coffee or a lot of sediment in your brew.
This cold brew coffee maker is similar to Hario"s Mizudashi. The major difference is that the filter basket sits much lower in the carafe. This allows the water to flow more freely through the grinds, resulting in a richer, more flavorful brew. It also means that you don't necessarily have to make a full pot every time.
A nice feature of the Takeya cold brew coffee maker is its leak-proof design. You screw the filter with the coffee into the lid. Then you screw the lid onto the carafe. You can then place the brewer on its side in the refrigerator. You can also get a stronger cold brew coffee by shaking the container a few times in the beginning and during the brewing process. One more advantage of this model is its portability. You can make delicious, cold brew coffee anywhere!
The Takeya brewer is available with a 1- or 2-quart carafe. Takeya recommends diluting the cold brew coffee with a one part coffee to one part other liquid. But most people feel that is too weak, and many drink the brew as is without diluting. You can get this brewer in black, white, or stone (grey).
This cold brew coffee maker takes a simple idea and makes it better. An easy way to make cold brew coffee is to simply throw some grounds in a mason jar, add water, secure the lid, and stash it in the fridge. The hard part of this method is separating the grounds from the brew. This Country Line Kitchen setup solves that problem.
This kit comes with a large mason jar (1 or 2 quarts), a lid, and a cylindrical mesh filter. Place your grounds in the filter then place the filter chamber inside the mason jar. Next, add the water and seal the jar. It comes with a silicone seal to ensure a tight fit. Put it in the fridge for 12-24 hours, then remove the filter. You can simply replace the lid to store the cold brew.
You have control over the strength of the cold brew coffee by how much grounds you add. You can make a concentrate or use less grounds for a ready-to-drink brew. This concentrate is not quite as strong as from other brewers. It's recommended to use one part cold brew concentrate to two or three parts other liquid.
The KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker is great for brewing large batches. It comes in two sizes: 28 ounces or 32 ounces. The stainless-steel filter basket has micro-holes drilled throughout. The holes are large enough to let the liquid flow through but very fine so it keeps the ground from getting into your drink.
Perhaps the best feature of this cold brew coffee maker is the spigot. Once brewed, just open the tap to dispense the cold brew coffee. No need to lift it out of the refrigerator! Another nice feature is the measuring guide inside the filter. This makes it easy to adjust the amount of coffee you want to brew. For drinking, KitchenAid recommends using one part cold brew concentrate to three parts other liquid.
The main drawback of this cold brew coffee maker is its weight. When the cold brew coffee is done, you lift the filter basket and balance it on the side of the glass dispenser. Because of the tiny holes, it may take a bit to let the water drain. If you have the larger size filled to capacity, this can be tricky because it will be rather heavy.
This cold brew coffee maker is very similar to the Toddy Cold Brew System. Although it is typically more expensive than the Toddy brewer, it is much more attractive on the counter.
With the OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker, simply put the coffee grounds in the brewing chamber and place the showerhead lid on top. Pour the water into the Rainmaker top. This unique design evenly sprinkles the water over the grounds to ensure even saturation. Then let the coffee brew.
Unfortunately, the Rainmaker top introduces a major drawback. You cannot seal the top of the brewing chamber. As we know, exposing coffee to air is not the best thing for flavor. We would recommend covering the top of the brewer, maybe with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, for the best tasting brew.
When the brewing process is done, you press a lever and the cold brew coffee flows out into the brewing chamber. A stainless-steel mesh filter screen sits at the bottom of the chamber. This kit comes with a glass beaker to catch the cold brew. Oxo's recipe recommends diluting the cold brew concentrate with either two or three parts other liquid.
For a cleaner brew in your cup, OXO makes an optional paper filter to add to the metal filter. When you use the paper filter, the cold brew coffee will last a couple of weeks in the refrigerator without changing the taste.
This cold brew coffee maker consists of a cylindrical stainless-steel filter and a glass beaker-shaped carafe. You simply fill the filter with coffee, set it inside the carafe, then add water. It has an airtight lid to keep the cold brew coffee fresh during and after brewing.
When the brewing is finished, simply lift out the filter and allow it to drain. One feature we like is the non-slip silicone base. This keeps the carafe from sliding around on the counter, which helps keep the glass from getting broken.
This brewer has a few drawbacks. First, as with many of these cold brew coffee makers with a cylindrical filter, water does not flow easily through the grounds. As a result, the brew is closer to regular coffee than a cold brew concentrate.
Cuisinart has developed an efficient way to make cold brew coffee. You place the grounds into a filter basket and place the basket into the brewing chamber. When you start it, the coffee filter spins. The water is forced through the grounds, which is how it can brew coffee with cold water in less than an hour. Be aware that the brewer does make a fair amount of noise.
This brewer has three strength settings: mild, medium, and bold. The mild setting takes about 25 minutes and the bold setting takes about 45 minutes. While even the bold setting does not produce a cold brew concentrate, it will give a rich cold brew coffee full of flavor. When the brew cycle is complete, you move a lever to release the cold brew coffee into the carafe. You can store the carafe in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
While this brewer is more expensive than most on our list, you are paying for convenience. If you want to have a rich, sweet cold brew quickly with no fuss, then this brewer is worth the price tag.
This is an interesting brewer that makes cold brew in the same amount of time it takes to brew a pot of automatic drip. You get the speed of hot water brewing, but the smooth sweetness you only get from cold brewing.
The Dash system uses siphon technology to suck the water through the coffee grounds. It can brew in as little as 5 minutes or take up to 15 minutes. But this does not produce a very strong coffee. You may even want to run the water through twice to get a strong cold brew coffee. It stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
In our search for which brewer makes the best cold brew coffee, we discovered three main categories of cold brew coffee makers. Here, we’ll break it down to help you decide which one will work best for you.
This is the most common method. It’s also the simplest and most forgiving. The coffee grounds steep in the water for an extended period of time. This method can create the rich, bold cold brew concentrate that paves the way for an almost limitless variety of coffee-based drinks.
This is much less common. In this method, drop by drop, the water slowly percolates through the grounds. The constant saturation over a period of time helps extract the flavor. This method can give a strong cold brew coffee, but it may not reach the level of coffee concentrate.
The automatic cold brew coffee makers that we’ve reviewed here both use the immersion method. The two use very different brewing techniques, but both automate the process which means less work for you. You can expect to pay considerably more for that convenience.
In our search for the best cold brew coffee maker, we came across a wide variety of methods and features. Here are some things to think about to help you select a brewer that will work for you.
You can make excellent cold brew coffee at home without buying a dedicated cold brewer. You can convert your French press into a cold press coffee maker. Also, the mason jar method brews quite well, but you’ll need to strain out the grinds.
To make things easier, some coffee companies are now packaging coarse ground coffee in cold-brew filter pouches or bags. But a cold brew coffee maker will make the process easier and you can use any coffee you’d like.
Many of these cold brew coffee makers come with a reusable filter. That’s great for the environment but can make cleanup much more involved. Some of these cold brew makers have an optional paper filter, and others require you to use a paper filter every time.
If you are careful about the volume of paper products you consume, you’ll want to lean towards the cold brew makers with a fine filter so you won’t need paper filters.
A big thing to keep in mind when looking at capacity is if it makes a regular or a concentrated cold brew coffee.
Two different cold brew makers may have the same capacity, but one could yield three times the number of servings.
You may notice a wide range of prices on these cold brew coffee makers. Simple cold brew makers can run under $30, while others are well over $100.
You can, but do you want to? Hot-water brewed coffee quickly loses its flavor. When you simply stash your hot-brewed coffee in the refrigerator, the result may be less than desirable.
Not necessarily, but it can make it much easier. A key advantage of a cold brew coffee maker is that they offer a fast and convenient way to separate your beverage from the grinds.
This depends on the cold brew coffee maker, but most cold brew makers will use more grinds per serving than other types of cold brew makers.
A common recommendation is one cup of grinds to four cups of water to get a good concentrate.
Yes. Quite simply, cold water does not extract the acids in coffee. This is true regardless of the coffee origin or roast.
You can use any roast for cold brew coffee. If you're concerned about acidity, you may gravitate towards a darker roast. Some don't care for dark roast because of the bitterness.
Because the cold brew coffee does not extract the bitter oils and compounds, you may enjoy a cold brew dark roast even if you typically stick to mild and medium roasts.
In the refrigerator, you'll want the grounds to steep for at least 12 hours. Most aim for 14-18 hours. You can let it go up to 24 hours for the strongest taste.
Cold brew iced coffee is brewed with cold water. The coffee bean is never subjected to heat. Regular iced coffee is brewed with hot water then poured over ice.
You can use a machine on this list as a cold brew iced coffee maker. But it can also be used to create hot coffee. The best way is to add hot water. If you have cold brew concentrate, you can dilute it with a ratio of 1:3 concentrate to hot water for a steaming beverage.
Cold brew concentrate is extremely dark. The ratio of coffee grounds to water is often around 1:4. Most will not enjoy sipping it straight. Regular coffee has a ratio closer to 1:15. Some cold brew coffee makers produce a ready-to-drink beverage instead of concentrate. If you want ready to drink, you can simply decrease the amount of coffee grounds.
Overall, we feel the Toddy Cold Brew System is the best cold brew coffee maker. Toddy has been producing cold brew coffee makers for decades, so they’ve had plenty of time to perfect the technique.
We also love that this system makes a lot of coffee. Because it takes so long to brew, it’s nice to make one- or two-week’s coffee at a time. And with the double filtration, you can a clean cup of coffee that tastes so sweet.
Hario is a well-known brand in the coffee world, so it’s no surprise that two of their cold brewers made our list. The Hario “Clear” Slow Drip Coffee Brewer beats the drip-method competition.
While the drip method is much less forgiving than immersion, the results can definitely pay off. If you want a simpler system that has a single pot for brewing and storing, then you’ll want to check out the Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Pot.
The Takeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker seems to be the most popular cold brew coffee maker out there. It doesn’t really make a concentrate, but it makes a good cold brew and it’s available in three different colors.
Plus, the BPA-free plastic makes it convenient to take it wherever you go. Whichever brewer you choose, we’re sure you’ll enjoy many hours sipping the sweet, caffeine-packed beverage.
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