The simple reality is that on some hot days you just don’t feel like a hot coffee. It’s a catch-22. You love coffee and feel like a coffee, but are already too hot and know that a hot drink will only make it worse. So what do you do? And the answer is a brilliant invention called cold brew. Cold Brew, as the name suggests, is an ice cold coffee that is usually drunk black and goes down like a treat on those hot summer days.
In this article we will review what we believe are the six Cold Brew coffee makers that are affordable and can make delicious ice cold coffee.
What is Cold Brew Coffee?
Contrary to popular belief, cold brew coffee is not just your leftover coffee that you have cooled in the fridge. Cold brew coffee is made through leaving coarse coffee grinds in cold water for an extended period of time (usually 12-24 hours). This produces a smoother, less acidic brew that highlights the fruity, floral notes of coffee and reduces the bitterness. Cold brew coffee makers produce a highly concentrated brew which is usually diluted with water, milk or ice (we don’t recommend drinking it straight unless you want to be bouncing off the walls!). Cold brew coffee can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks so it is perfect to pull out when those unexpected guests arrive.
Why not just put hot coffee in the fridge?
When you brew a coffee with hot water it speeds up the extraction process but also alters the chemical composition of coffee. This leaves a bitter aftertaste that is more pronounced when the coffee cools. In comparison cold brew uses time instead of heat to extract all those flavours and oils from the coffee but leaves the chemical structures intact, leading to a fuller bodied coffee that is less bitter and acidic. The low acidity makes this a great option for those who struggle with heartburn!
What are the different types of cold brew coffee makers?
When it comes to cold brew coffee makers there are basically 2 types; Immersion and Drip cold brew makers.
This is the most common method used. It is a very simple, forgiving method and can produce a delicious full bodied brew, perfect over ice. This method involves immersing the coffee grinds in cold water for an extended period of time to extract all the flavours and oils. If you store the mixture in the fridge, the coffee will require more time to produce a strong flavour compared to storing it on the kitchen counter. Once the coffee is brewed you simply filter the coffee grounds out of the coffee. This can be done using either a metal or paper filter. A metal filter will produce a more oily body whereas a paper filter will produce a cleaner cup. This method will produce a very concentrated brew that needs to be diluted.
The drip cold brew method is a bit more hands on but also more convenient in that you can have a cup of coffee in 3-5 hours as opposed to 12-24 hours! In this method ice cold water is dripped through a bed of coarsely ground coffee. The water slowly makes its way through the coffee absorbing the flavours and falls through a filter into a carafe. Coffee produced through a drip maker tends to be less concentrated and a lighter and brighter brew. These cold brew makers tend to be beautiful to watch but are a lot more expensive and complicated to use.
Top 5 Cold Brew Coffee Makers 2020
Oxo Brew Coffee Maker– Our top pick
The Oxo is our top pick for a cold brew coffee maker. It is a sturdy, well made maker that will last the distance. It features a rainmaker top that helps distribute water evenly over the coffee grounds. It comes with a fine mesh filter or you can easily use a paper filter instead. The coffee maker also has a brew release switch that you flip once you have finished brewing and the coffee pours out into the carafe. These perks put it a step above other similar coffee makers.
Toddy Cold Brew System– Easiest to use
The Toddy Cold Brew maker is a well known name in the coffee scene, having been around for years. It is a basic cold brew system featuring a large plastic brewing container with a handle, a rubber stopper and a glass decanter. The toddy is very simple to use and produces a rich, full bodied coffee. It is very similar to the Oxo system however it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles. This is a great option for someone wanting a basic entry level cold brew maker.
Takeya Deluxe -Best Value for Money
The Takeya Deluxe is a great entry level option. This maker has a simple and attractive design and is a great size to fit in your fridge door. It is a bit different from the Oxo and Toddy as it has a mesh filter that is removed rather than a plug or valve that releases the brew. The coffee produced is a fair bit weaker, however some users have found by shaking the bottle for 30 seconds before placing it in the fridge you can get a stronger concentrate. Overall this is a great option for those just beginning their foray into the world of cold brew.
Hario Mizudashi– Best compact maker
The Hario is a very similar design to the Takeya with the main difference being it is made of glass rather than plastic. The glass carafe helps eliminate the absorption of flavours. It has a sleek and compact design that will easily fit in your fridge door. Like the Takeya it produces a weaker concentrate brew. This is a great option for someone looking for a better quality, but still affordable coffee maker.
Cuisinart Automatic Cold Brew– Best for a quick fix
The Cuisinart is a bit special in that it can brew a batch of cold brew in 25 – 45 minutes! The machine speeds up the brewing process with a spinning chamber that agitates the coffee and water. It has 3 different strengths: Mild (25 min), Medium (35 min) or Bold (45 min). While the machine is easy to use, some have found the cold brew produced is not as good as other machines. We think this is a great option for someone who wants a quick hit.
Yama Cold Brew Tower- Best for the coffee aficionado
The Yama Tower is a beautiful brewer that will complement any benchtop. It features a carved wooden stand holding the glass components. This is a cold drip rather than an immersion brewer. It drips ice cold water over grounds instead of immersing them. This allows the barista more control over the strength of the coffee. It is able to brew a batch of delicious cold brew in 6-8 hours. This is what every coffee fanatic would dream of having on their bench top!
What to look for in a Cold Brew Maker
How many cups of cold brew are you wanting to make? Since it takes so long to make you want to make a decent amount that will last a while. Consider what capacity you need your cold brew coffee maker to make.
Ease of use
Are you looking for a coffee maker that is simple to use and whip of a quick batch of cold brew or are you wanting to be more involved in the brewing process. Immersion brewers are great if you are looking for a quick and easy method whereas the drip brewers are better for the coffee aficionado looking for a more hands on maker.
How durable is the cold brew maker? Is it made of glass or plastic? Will it stand up to years of use?
Size of Maker
How big is the actual cold brew maker? Is it going to fit in your fridge while you are brewing? If you are tight for space look for a brewer that could fit in your fridge door.
What type of filters does it use?
Do you prefer metal or paper filters? Metal filters allow more of the coffee oils to pass through whereas a paper filter produces a cleaner cup.
How do you make Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew coffee is very easy to make and most people have the equipment required to try it sitting in their kitchen right now. It doesn’t involve any complex pouring techniques or fiddling with grind sizes. Basically you take coarsely ground coffee, add water and leave to sit for 12-24 hours. Once it has finished brewing you sieve out the coffee grounds and voila! Cold brew for the whole family! If you are keen to try it you can start by using a mason jar or that old french press sitting in the cupboard and filter the coffee through some cheese cloth or a paper filter before drinking!
Recipe for Cold Brew coffee
- Use 1 part coffee to 4-5 parts water
- Wet coffee grinds, wait for the bloom, then pour in the rest of the water
- Leave for 12 hours at room temperature or 24 hours in the fridge
- Once finished brewing filter the coffee (if still gritty with may filter again using a paper filter)
- Refrigerate for up to 14 days
- Pour over ice or dilute with water/milk before drinking and Enjoy!
Well we hope this article has helped you figure out which cold brew coffee maker might be right for you. We recommend the Oxo cold brew maker if you are looking for a quality, durable maker that will produce a great brew.