The Best Cold Brew Coffee Makers, According to Our Tests
If you're in the habit of picking up a cold brew on your way to work, you know how expensive that little morning routine can be. With prices inching upwards (I recently paid $7 for a cold brew in Miami), there has never been a better time to purchase a cold brew coffee maker for your home.
We put ten popular cold brew coffee makers to the test, then asked three Brooklyn baristas to do a blind taste test of the cold brew we made in our studio to get their feedback on color, taste, concentration, and overall experience. They found that the best option for classic cold brew was the easy-to-use Oxo Cold Brew Coffee Maker, as well as the versatile Toddy Cold Brew System that can create both concentrate and full-size carafes. Read on for all the details on the best cold brew coffee makers, according to our experts.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Oxo Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Most Versatile: Toddy Cold Brew System
Best Tap Format: KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Ultimately the cold brew coffee maker that yielded the highest quality results while being easiest to operate was the Oxo Cold Brew Coffee Maker. Other great options include both the Toddy Cold Brew System, which can function as a cold brew concentrate maker as well as a standard cold brew device, and the large format KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker, which keeps cold brew on tap in the fridge.
We identified ten popular cold brew coffee makers to create our product set. Using coarse coffee grounds, we carefully followed the instructions and coffee-to-water ratios for each model and let them sit for their recommended brew time (between 12 and 24 hours).
Then, we performed a blind taste test with three Brooklyn baristas who are intimately familiar with the cold brew-making process. (Editor's Note: These are their personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of their employers.) For each sample, they identified the clarity of the flavors that came through, as well as the brew strength, smoothness, and consistency of the body, and whether or not they would serve this to a friend.
Factors to Consider
If you're looking to make cold brew at home, there are a few things to keep in mind when selecting the right cold brew coffee maker for you. Since the process is more time-consuming than a simple iced coffee preparation, you want to make sure the pay-off is worth it.
Perhaps the most crucial factor when picking a cold brew coffee maker: you should love the taste of the coffee it produces.
"If your first instinct when you taste it is to pull back, it's probably too sour, but if you're enjoying discovering the flavor of it, then it has a good body," says Victoria Ratermanis, a barista at Edy's Grocer in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
An intense flavor doesn't necessarily mean that your finished cold brew contains a higher amount of caffeine, adds Ratermanis. So whichever cold brew coffee maker you choose, follow the instructions for your coffee grounds to water ratio and brewing time, but then adjust it until you get the flavor you prefer.
A robust cold brew concentrate is not only ideal for taste but also ensures that you're getting the most out of your coffee beans and gives you the flexibility to do something different with your coffee. If you like to dilute with water or milk, go for it, but you could also get creative.
Our baristas suggested making cocktails or ice cubes with cold brew, baking with cold brew, and discovering how to use the flavor in other places around your kitchen.
"You want your cold brew concentrated so you can play around with it," says Jovanni Luna, barista at Gertie in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. "If you're making a cocktail [with cold brew], you don't want an already diluted coffee, because then your cocktail will be diluted."
Amanda Miserocchi, barista at Blue Bottle Coffee in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, says that, besides an intense concentration, a smooth taste is vital.
"When looking for the perfect cold brew, I look for something more concentrated, and smoothness is a huge factor. That's the whole point of drinking cold brew—for it to lack the sourness or the bitterness of hot coffee."
When making an at-home cold brew, the grounds must have enough space to steep in water overnight properly, which will create a smooth and consistent taste. That means most small and narrow at-home cold brew makers don't deliver as smooth a taste as larger ones from brands like Toddy or the Oxo. A larger vessel allows the coffee grounds more area to steep overnight, so the body of the coffee is stronger and more consistent between cups.
Like regular coffee makers, no coffee grounds should get through the filter into the finished brew. Our testing found that both metal and stainless steel filters allowed some grounds to escape, while mesh filters resulted in weak coffee. The cold brew makers we tested that used paper filters produced sediment-free coffee.
Some cold brew makers promise to keep your brew fresh for up to two weeks, so you can make a large batch without worrying about waste. While you don't want your cold brew sitting in the refrigerator for too long, you also don't want to repeat the brewing process every night. Finding a cold brew coffee maker that allows you to make enough for your weekly morning coffee or yields enough volume to serve at a brunch with friends is ideal.
What Didn't Make the List
These cold brew coffee makers didn't make our top three, but depending on what you're looking for in a cold brew maker, they could still be a good choice.
Takeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Primula Burke Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker
Ovalware Airtight Cold Brew Maker
Asobu Portable Cold Brew Coffee Maker
De'Longhi 3-in-1 Specialty Brewer
Pro Panel Q+A
How do you use a cold brew coffee maker?
It's essential to follow the instructions for your specific coffee maker, but in general, making a flavorful cold brew starts with choosing the right beans and grinding them coarsely. Pour in the suggested amount of grounds, then slowly add the water to saturate them evenly. Let it sit for the allotted time (see below for more on that), then remove the filter with the grounds before serving. Depending on your preference, dilute the cold brew concentrate to your taste.
How long does it take to make cold brew coffee?
"There's no such thing as instant cold brew," says Ratermanis. "The beauty of the flavor and concentrate of cold brew is a timed thing, and that's what makes it different, both in its process and flavor."
Each cold brew maker we tested suggested for the grounds to steep anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. You'll get a sense of your preferred brewing time once you make a few batches.
What's the difference between iced coffee and cold brew?
Iced coffee is regular brewed coffee served over ice. Making cold brew is a more complicated process that involves steeping grounds in water overnight. This slow process allows for the creation of a concentrate and is considered to be less acidic than regular coffee.
How do you clean your cold brew coffee maker?
Follow the instructions for your coffee maker, but for most, remove the coffee grounds and compost them or repurpose them into an exfoliating face scrub or deep cleaning solution. Then either hand-wash the components or place them in your dishwasher.
Erin Johnson is a Commerce Editor who previously worked as a Senior Product Reviews writer covering household products. She's an experienced product reviews writer and contributed on a regular basis for the Home Projects and DIY section of Apartment Therapy and Kitchn. Our expert panel included three professional baristas from local Brooklyn coffee shops including Amanda Miserocchi from Blue Bottle Coffee, Jovanni Luna from Gertie, and Victoria Ratermanis from Edy's Grocer.