Food Best Cold Brew Coffee Makers of 2020 Reviewed: Hario, Bruer, and More
Cold Brew at Home: Toddy Cold Brew System Review and Expert Tips From La Colombe
Cold Brew at Home: Toddy Cold Brew System Review and Expert Tips From La ColombeIf you want cold brew waiting in the wings ready for consumption any day of the week, heed our guide. We tapped a La Colombe coffee expert for the best tips and tested the Toddy Cold Brew System to see just how simple it is to make cold brew at home. Let’s start with our review of the Toddy system.
Heading to your local coffee shop for an overpriced cup of coffee day after day gets old. Why not invest in one of the best cold brew coffee makers that will allow you to create your own high quality cup right at home?
As cold brew gets more and more popular, new machines arrive on the market that promise optimal cold coffee beverages. Making cold brew can be as easy as mixing ground coffee and water in a jar and straining it, but the popularity of this technique in cafes and homes has led to an increasing number of gadgets that claim to streamline the process. We tested leading cold brew makers to find out if they actually improve the cold-brew making process, and how the end result actually tastes.
The difference between iced coffee and cold brew
Ordering coffee isn’t a walk in the park anymore. Experienced drinkers are likely familiar with classics like lattes, cappuccinos and macchiatos — and then there’s cold brew. While it's now a coffeehouse and grocery store staple, many people aren’t even sure what it means. 17 Things You Didn’t Know About Coffee Just based on appearances, cold brew looks just like iced coffee — but it’s not the same. Iced coffee is made by brewing hot coffee, letting it cool, and then pouring it over ice. Basically, it’s just standard coffee that someone put in the fridge. The whole process is relatively simple and yields the perfect cool drink for a hot day.
Keep reading for our highly caffeinated results, and for the specifics of how we tested, scroll to the bottom of the page.
Best Cold Brew Coffee Maker Overall: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Pot
This cold brewer makes coffee you’ll want to drink straight, not a concentrate—and it produced the most refreshing, vivacious brew of the bunch. The machine's instructions say to use a dark roast coffee to get the best results—and, after testing with various roasts, we agree that the dark roast produces the best blend. The recommended extraction time is 8 hours, but we found that this produced a lighter body, and we preferred a longer brew time, with 12 hours being optimal.
How to make cold brew: Experts weigh in with tips and tricks
We asked experts how to properly make your own cold brew at home, and it's so easy.And though that may sound complicated, with the right process, it can be ultra simple. Ben Helfen, education support specialist at Counter Culture Coffee, says it comes with a flavor of its own.
For about the same price as the Takeya (the reigning best option for a cold-brew concentrate brewer), the Hario Mizudashi brewer is of a higher quality overall, especially since it's made of glass instead of plastic. It's design is simple, and similar to the Takeya. With just two main parts—a handled pitcher and a tall filter basket insert—it's simple enough for a child (or a very, very tired adult) to use. You just fill the basket with grinds, fill the pitcher with water, screw the top tightly onto the pitcher, and shove it in your fridge and let it do its thing for about a day.
The 1 liter pitcher is the perfect size and the machine includes precise instructions for consistent results. Still, it's easy to use. You can throw together a batch without having to remain too alert or check in much during the process.
It was the only cold brew maker we tested that recommended a medium-fine grind instead of coarse, and yet it surprisingly produced less sediment at the bottom of the pitcher than both the Takeya and OXO brewers.
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The Best Cold Brew Maker for a Stronger Cup: Takeya Cold-Brew Iced-Coffee Maker
Let's start with the "nots": this was not the best cold-brew coffee maker we tried. It did not produce the most particle-free, nuanced coffee. It's made of basic black plastic and is not especially attractive. It did not blow us away with its innovative design.
However, it did win in a few ways. While the Hario pitcher, with its directions given to the gram and bright flavor profile, appeals to the coffee nerd in us, it is not ideal for making cold brew concentrate, which requires more coffee and more contact between the water and the beans. If you are more of a drip coffee or espresso person, or if you like a full-flavored coffee to pair with milk, The Takeya is your best option.
Although they use almost the same amount of coffee, the infusing basket in this pitcher is longer than the Hario’s allowing for more contact between the grounds and water. The directions are not the most precise: They say to fill the quart-size jar 2/3 of the way, which produces very strong coffee. It also suggests a longer brew time of 12–24 hours.
Best drip coffee maker 2020: Tested and rated
We tested and retested the best-rated automatic drip coffee makers using a wide range of criteria (outlined below) over the course of several weeks. Many, many pots of coffee later, we settled on four standout machines.In an effort to answer these questions for you, we tested and retested the best-rated automatic drip coffee makers using a wide range of criteria (outlined below) over the course of several weeks. Bags upon bags of dark roast, light roast and medium roast beans were ground and brewed. We made full carafes, half carafes and single cups. And we tasted the results black, with cow's milk, almond milk, sweetened condensed milk, cold-brew strength over ice — you name it.
Like the Hario pitcher, it has a very simple design. With just two main parts—a plastic handled pitcher and a tall filter basket insert. When your coffee is ready, discard the grinds, clean and dry the filter, and screw the lid back onto the pitcher, which is now full of at least a week's worth of balanced, chilly cold-brew concentrate. Other big pluses: The slim pitcher fits perfectly on the door of even a ridiculously overstuffed refrigerator. The whole system is so compact and lightweight that you can easily travel with it.
The Fancy Choice: Cold Bruer
This hourglass dripper is modeled after a Kyoto-style brewer where the top chamber, filled with water and ice, filters drop-by-drop through a middle layer of coffee and past a mesh metal filter, until it finally appears in the bottom carafe as a full, smooth, cold-brew coffee. While the Bruer produced the best, most nuanced coffee of all the devices we tested, it was not the most carefree experience and took a little time to get used to.
The tricky bit is dialing in the amount of water that drips through, something you have to do every time you set the Bruer up. Sticking out of the silicone plug separating the water from the coffee is a valve you must adjust at the beginning of brewing so that water drips on the coffee grounds at approximately one drop per second. This worked perfectly the first time we used it, producing a still-cold batch of cold brew in less than 4 hours. But the second time we weren’t so lucky and had to readjust the valve after two hours upon seeing that there was only an ounce or two of brewed coffee ready. That said, based on the quality of the coffee and the aesthetics, for the consummate coffee connoisseur it’s worth figuring the machine out.
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Since the major parts are made of glass and you have to be careful with handling the valve (whatever you do, do not remove the internal rod), the Bruer is certainly fragile and fussy. This is a great gift for the coffee nerd who has both the inclination to tinker with the drip settings and the counter space to display this beautiful piece.
What Is Cold Brew Coffee, Anyway?
Cold brew is chilled, concentrated coffee. To make it,are combined with room temperature or cold water and left to soak for up to entire 24 hours before the liquid is strained. The result? A refreshing, mild, sweet-tasting coffee that always goes down smoothly.
Can I Make Cold Brew at Home Without a Cold Brew Coffee Maker?
It's entirely possible to make cold brew using a vessel you already possess—, for instance, or a —but those methods generally yield smaller batches of concentrate than dedicated cold-brew systems. Their results also tend to be less refined, giving you a brew that's slightly grittier and with a heavier, more intense body. That doesn't necessarily have to be a deal breaker—especially if your cold-brew habit isn't so out of control as to justify investing in a new piece of equipment. If, however, you want to break your morning coffee shop habit and take matters into your own hands, it's definitely worth considering investing in one of the best cold brew coffee makers.
Iced Coffee vs. Cold Brew
If you're on the fence about buying a cold brew maker, you've probably wondered if making cold brew is worth all the effort. Couldn't you just stick the leftovers from yourin the fridge and call it a day? Not really.
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Cold brew and plain old chilled coffee are entirely different animals. The slow extraction of the cold brewing process produces coffee that's distinctly smoother, rounder, and more balanced, with none of the bitter edges you find in hot-brewed coffee. Many coffee drinkers prefer cold brew for it’s low acidity compared to hot-brewed coffee. And because cold-brew concentrate is meant to be diluted at triple to quadruple strength, you batch it in quantity for weeks of sipping and can add copious ice and milk without winding up with an insipid, watery cup.
Iced coffee is made by chilling hot coffee, meaning the resulting cup does retain the trademark acidic flavor of hot coffee. In fact, when you order it from a restaurant or cafe, you might have noticed that iced coffee can taste stronger than hot coffee. That's because baristas typically brew it at double strength so it doesn't get too watered down when it's poured over ice.
There's one final point to be made for cold brew in comparison to iced coffee: Cold brew can be entirely prepared ahead of time. Like we mentioned, you make a massive batch and let it brew overnight. Then, you can wake up to coffee that's ready for you, for several days. It's the meal prep of caffeination.
Cold Brew vs. Nitro Cold Brew
Nitro cold brew is increasingly popular. It's simply cold brew that's been infused with nitrogen. The addition of nitrogen's microbubbles give the liquid a frothier, creamier texture. Professional baristas typically use a tap system to add in nitrogen. Aside from the bubbles, cold brew and nitro brew taste the same. If you want to make a nitro cold brew at home, you can make cold brew as you normally would and then pour it into a cream whipper charged with a cartridge of nitrous oxide. Shake the cream whipper for thirty seconds, and you've got yourself some homemade nitro brew. If you want even smoother cold brew, this extra step is worth it.
How to Make Cold-Brew Coffee at Home, According to the Experts
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How We Tested the Cold Brew Coffee Makers
Each of the six cold-brew coffee makers we examined used a slightly different method, so we approached them individually and followed the brewing instructions included in their manuals. As a control, we used the same beans for each test: a reasonably priced light/medium roast from our neighborhood roaster,, that had been . We then steeped them for 18 hours before straining. In the end we tasted them all using a dilution of 3-to-1 and served them to a team of testers. We took notes on which brews we liked best and why. Additionally, we evaluated the following factors:
1. Is the cold brew coffee maker easy to assemble and use?
Iced coffee should be one of summer's little pleasures, so when evaluating cold-brew systems we paid special attention to ease of use. Were the instructions clear? Was the method simple and intuitive? Did the process require lots of measuring, fiddling, screwing, and/or unscrewing of parts?
2. Are the components durable? Are there a lot of parts to keep track of?
This gadget is going to be in heavy rotation for a few months, so it needs to be able to stand up to the job. We looked at how sturdy components felt in our hands and how well they seemed to withstand staining and frequent washing. We also considered whether the brewer came with lots of little parts that could be easily misplaced.
3. Does the cold brew maker take up a lot of space? Does it look good?
The downside to making enough cold-brew concentrate to last a week or two is that steeping that amount of coffee grounds (usually upwards of 10 ounces) tends to command a significant amount of space. That said, the cold-brew makers we evaluated ranged considerably in size, from slim all-in-one pitchers to elaborate stacked systems with science lab-like carafes. We didn't automatically deduct points for large cold brewers, but we did consider whether the performance and design of the larger models seemed worth the investment of space. Aesthetics were also a consideration. Because many brew kits recommend leaving the setup for 12–24 hours while brewing, you'd better like the way it looks.
4. Is the cold brew maker easy to clean?
Anything that made the systems easier to clean got bonus points. Were the grinds easy to dispose of after brewing? Was the filter easy to rinse?
5. Does the coffee taste good?
The whole point of cold brewing is that, because the grounds never come into contact with hot water, the process is supposed to produce a smooth, round, easy-drinking cup. We tasted the results from each brewing kit with those criteria close in mind, and particularly noted any bitterness or off-flavors that came through.
6. Does the cold coffee keep well in the fridge?
One of the benefits of making your own cold-brew coffee at home is that the concentrate keeps well and most systems produce enough brew to last even two-cup-a-day drinkers a week or more, if properly stored. (That is: in a cool, airtight container.) Accordingly, we gave high marks to systems that fit well in our fridge without crowding and came with attractive carafes that had an airtight seal.
Other Cold Brew Coffee Makers We Tested
OXO Good Grips Cold-Brew Coffee Maker
Though it didn't make the final cut, we loved thefor several reasons: Plonking this thing down on your kitchen counter top makes a statement, and that statement is "Don't f*ck with my warm-weather caffeine routine." It's not small—fully assembled it stands about 14 1/2 inches tall—but it consistently produced strong, clean, and balanced cups of cold brew.
The OXO has a similar setup to some of the other contenders we considered: a wide bowl-shaped reservoir holding the coffee grinds and water sits over a carafe; after the mixture has steeped for the allotted time (generally 12 to 24 hours) the filter stopper is released and the concentrate drains into the pitcher waiting below. But in comparison to similar systems, OXO, living up to its reputation for intelligent design, has made some subtle improvements that simplify the prep process and boost the pleasantness and effectiveness of use. Namely: a "rainmaker" insert that sits on top of the reservoir and directs the flow of water evenly into the grinds to maximize their ""; a durable reusable stainless steel filter; a dedicated stand which supports the reservoir and features a "brew release switch" that allows users to pause and restart straining midstream; and a handsome glass carafe that's well-marked with volume measurements.
According to OXO’s instructions you should use 10 ounces of ground coffee to 40 ounces of water per batch of cold brew. That is a lot of coffee. To put it into context, with one bag of coffee we could brew up to 4 pitchers of cold brew using the Hario, Takeya, or Bruer (with a small amount of beans leftover). With the OXO, a single batch used almost the entire bag of coffee.
Now, the OXO is designed to produce a coffee concentrate which they recommend diluting at a ratio of 1:2 or 1:3, but after following the directions exactly, we were left with a measly 20 ounces of liquid, quite short of the 24-28oz their guide says to expect. Even if we diluted it with the maximum 3 parts of water it would only equal 10-8 ounces cups of iced coffee for almost a whole bag of beans, which seems wasteful.
Most cold brewers that have you infuse the coffee for 12 or more hours specify keeping the unit in the fridge, Hario’s instructions even mention that brewing at cold temperatures prevents oxidation, one of the main reasons old coffee tastes stale. The OXO, however, is way too tall to keep in an average refrigerator, and the instructions actually say to “brew on counter. ”The resulting coffee definitely tasted the fullest, but also produced more sediment than the others.
When it was finally time to drain our cold brew into the carafe, we switched the lever and was confronted with a thin trickle that slowed to a dribble. The unit finally drained after some stirring followed by a 20–30 minute wait. Perhaps, with more experience, we could have figured out a more optimal water to coffee ratio for this device, but the brew-release switch on the dispenser got stuck in the drain position after our first try, rendering it useless.
While the appeal of large batches of strong concentrate is an alluring convenience, we would rather use a half-gallon mason jar and paper coffee filter to achieve a similar effect for a fraction of the $50 that this OXO will set you back.
All the Rest of the Cold Brew Makers We Tested
Theis a cold brew maker that speeds up the standard method by spinning coffee grounds in a centrifuge for between 25–45 minutes (depending on the intensity you select) before filtering the brew into a glass pot below.
This unitasker appliance failed to impress with its bitter and murky brew that was still lacking in flavor despite using the “bold” setting. It actually made fresh beans taste stale and couldn’t compare to the other cold brews in our line-up. Additionally, the machine had too many parts to set up and clean to inspire daily use.
Theis one of the originals in the world of the cold brew—it was by a coffee-loving chemist named Todd Simpson in the late 1960s—so it was one of the first used by coffee pros, including the folks at and , and remains highly recommended. Though we were fans of the smooth, neutral brew it produced, we didn't find the taste any deeper or more refined than the OXO. Plus, the more complicated setup process and less stable-feeling reservoir/carafe system was a drawback. While the basic design of the brewer—reservoir/filter/vessel—is the same in both the OXO and the Filtron, the Filtron stands a bit taller and bulkier and has more small parts to keep track of. We also much preferred the OXO's simple semi-transparent look to the Filtron's basic black plastic.
Theis another classic cold brewer, close in design to both the Filtron and the OXO. Again, it produced a very smooth, clean brew, especially when we double-filtered using the optional paper insert—but we were put off by the white plastic reservoir that holds the grinds, which seems likely to stain. Another minus: the abundance of parts, including a small rubber stopper and plush reusable flannel filter that, according to online chatter and anecdotal reports from friends, has a tendency to mildew over time if not kept scrupulously clean (or stored in the freezer).
Theis a relative newcomer, so there isn't yet a critical mass of user reviews available online to help get a read on it. In our tests, we found a lot to like: the compact hourglass shape, the easy assembly and instructions, and the pleasant, balanced concentrate it produced. But we ultimately eliminated it after some minor issues with leakage on our counter and a slightly cumbersome clean-up process.
Finally, thehas an attractive, minimalist design—it's really just a borosilicate glass pitcher holding a slender 18/8 stainless steel filter and topped by a rubberized cap. And, as apartment dwellers, we appreciated that its slim profile and modest height made it fit easily into our refrigerator. But we noticed that the brew was a bit grainier than the competition, and while the enclosed lid is advertised as "airtight," in practice we found it a bit looser than the others we tested, which gave us pause when thinking about long-term storage.
A more complicated cold brewer is not necessarily the best choice. While the $50was our favorite in past testing, it couldn’t hold up to the simple, inexpensive effectiveness of both the , which is great for those who like a light-bodied brew, and the Takeya, which is great for a fuller-bodied concentrate. For true coffee nerds who want to learn a complicated yet artful way of brewing coffee and can stand to wait 4 hours for a slow-dripped coffee produced in a handsome vessel, the is a worthy investment.
How to Make Cold-Brew Coffee at Home, According to the Experts .
Summer isn't over yet.