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Best Cold Brew Coffee Makers

By: Kelly Burgess on July 05, 2017

Editor's note:
The Filtron Cold Water Coffee Concentrate Brewer is a great choice for making iced coffee for just about anyone; the Takeya Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker is a terrific value. In our newly created report on iced coffee makers, we recommend a variety of brewers to suit the pickiest palate.

Best Reviewed

Best cold brew coffee maker

Experts and owners love the Filtron Cold Water Coffee Concentrate Brewer. In testing, it produced a "rich and bold" concentrate, that results in a smooth, yet complex, base for iced coffee or to use in recipes calling for coffee concentrates. It yields a generous 32 ounces of concentrate in 12 to 24 hours and the concentrate will keep in the fridge for about two weeks.

Buy for $41.26
Takeya Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker Review
Runners Up

Cheap iced coffee maker

Simple and straightforward to use, the Takeya Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker also gets kudos from experts and owners for its tasty brew. The airtight, leak-proof lid means you can store it on its side, if necessary, and its pitcher shape will fit in the door of many refrigerators. The Takeya yields 32 ounces of concentrate. The BPA-free plastic carafe is dishwasher safe.

Buy for $2.99

Cold brew coffee makers let you enjoy your iced beverage at home

Love iced coffee, but hate the hassle of driving through the coffee shop (and paying premium coffee shop prices)? Then a cold brew coffee maker is what you need in your kitchen. While you can  make iced coffee by just pouring brewed coffee (either hot or cold) over ice, hot coffee melts the ice and results in a watered-down flavor, while cooled, brewed coffee is often bitter and acidic.

Cold brew coffee makers, on the other hand, steep grounds for up to 24 hours -- then have a system to drain and filter them -- to make a coffee concentrate that can be mixed with water to make a true cold brew coffee. The result of that is a smooth, yet complex, flavor that you can enjoy as a simple iced beverage, or dress up with ingredients ranging from cream, to chocolate, to your favorite liqueur. Coffee concentrates can also be used in recipes and will keep in the fridge for a week or two. Cold brew coffee makers can also be used to make iced tea.

There are a couple of caveats to keep in mind about iced coffee makers, however. No matter what model or type you buy, they all have a learning curve. In addition to assembly, use, disassembly and cleaning, that learning curve also includes factors that are more nuanced and related to taste and mouth feel. In other words, you'll need to experiment to find your perfect ratio of grounds to water, steeping time, and then water to concentrate. And you'll need to be patient: the steeping time takes from 12 to 24 hours. Cold brew is also pricier per cup than hot coffee, although we do not evaluate coffee makers on price per cup, because that depends on factors that are not always consistent between testers or users.

The best cold brew coffee makers

It's a close call in this category, but we think the best iced coffee maker for most people is the Filtron Cold Water Coffee Concentrate Brewer (Est. $45). With a 32-ounce capacity, there should be enough concentrate for those who want a large enough yield to last for the two weeks it can keep in the fridge. The Filtron earns Recommended status at one professional test kitchen, where they note that it produces a "rich and bold" concentrate.

The Filtron is the runner up pick at TheSweethome.com for its ability to make larger batches of concentrate compared to their top pick. Testers there also praise the taste of the concentrate it makes, saying, "The Filtron produced a smooth, mellow cup of coffee every time, regardless of the beans we used."

TheSweethome.com also notes that the Filtron Cold Water Coffee Concentrate Brewer is easy to set up, and user reviewers echo that sentiment -- although many note that there's a learning curve with any cold brew coffee maker. It uses a wool felt filter (Est. $10) that must be stored in the refrigerator between uses to prevent mold and should be replaced every three to four months. Optional Cold Brew Paper Filter Liners (Est. $18) can be used to hold the water and grounds; in testing using those resulted in a smoother brew and made the brewer easier to clean.

The Filtron's carafe is made from BPA-free plastic. As always, we see plenty of complaints about that from people who dislike any plastic, any time, in their coffee makers. However, others prefer the plastic, saying they like that they don't have to worry about breaking it. Almost everyone agrees that it seems sturdy, even those who are plastic-adverse.

Another favorite of experts -- it's the top pick at TheSweethome.com and is included in a ConsumerReports.org roundup -- is the OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker (Est. $50). ConsumerReports.org doesn't exactly recommended it; rather, in a free-to-the-public article, Ed Perratore discusses five cold brew coffee makers that were tested for the June 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine. Each gets a brief write up that includes pros and cons. On the plus side, Perratore notes that the OXO has a convenient release switch; on the minus side the filter clogged during one of the batches.

Still, as we noted, TheSweethome.com makes the OXO Cold Brew Coffee Maker their top pick, noting its attractive, intuitive styling. That translates to a better aesthetic as it sits on the counter steeping the concentrate, as well as better ease of use. Aside from that, the OXO brewer also produced the best cup of coffee according to taste testers there. However, the metal filter makes a stronger, less smooth brew, they say, so keep that in mind if you prefer something smooth. An optional paper filter (Est. $17 for 50) creates a smoother brew -- although the drain time may be slower. 

Size may matter too, the Filtron is 19 inches tall when assembled, the OXO is only 15 inches tall. If you have lower counters or limited clearance in your refrigerator, the OXO may be a better choice. However, that small size means it also yields less concentrate, 24 ounces to the Filtron's 32 ounces -- which may be plenty for some.

The OXO Cold Brew Coffee Maker gets ratings from users that are equally high to those of the Filtron's. Many prefer that the OXO has a glass carafe, and they love the valve, which makes it simpler to drain the coffee into the carafe. We also saw a lot of praise for the reusable, dishwasher safe metal filter. The concentrate will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.

The classic in cold brew coffee makers is the Toddy Cold Brew System (Est. $45). It's still a great choice for those who want an iced coffee maker that makes a LOT of concentrate -- 48 ounces according to Toddy. One professional test kitchen makes the Toddy their top pick, noting that it's straightforward and easy to use, and yields a "rich," "chocolaty," "full-flavored" concentrate. Also, unlike some concentrates that start to taste more bitter or less smooth after a couple of weeks in the fridge, the Toddy's still tasted good after two weeks.

Users love the Toddy too, it actually gets the highest ratings than any other iced coffee maker, but most people simply don't need to brew this much concentrate at one time. The carafe is made of glass, too, another popular feature.

The best cheap iced coffee maker

The Takeya Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker (Est. $25) is the top pick at Reviewed.com for a reason: this value-priced cold brew coffee maker is extremely simple to use and makes a very tasty brew. Unlike most brewers that must be stood upright when steeping and draining, the Takeya can be stored on its side in a crowded refrigerator. Another plus: its pitcher design will fit in most refrigerator doors that accommodate gallon jugs and other larger items.

Owners love the Takeya, too, with thousands of users giving it very high ratings for its simple operation and smooth-tasting concentrate. There are minor disagreements about its 32-ounce capacity -- some say it's too much, others that it's not enough -- but this is definitely the average yield size. All parts, including the BPA-free pitcher, are dishwasher safe. The one quibble we did see is that some say there is too much sediment left in the concentrate, It uses a fine mesh filter, and there is no option of adding a paper filter as some other cold brew makers do.

Expert & User Review Sources

Iced coffee -- and the cold brew coffee makers that brew it -- are the hot trend right now and expert reviews are popping up around the internet. Most helpful were the tests and roundups conducted at TheSweethome.com, Reviewed.com, Cook's Illustrated and ConsumerReports.org. While Cook's Illustrated and ConsumerReports.org both require a paid subscription, this particular Consumer Reports article is free to the public. To round out our iced coffee maker research, we evaluated thousands of user reviews at sites such as Amazon.com, Walmart.com, BedBathandBeyond.com and WilliamsSonoma.com. These were invaluable in gauging the iced coffee makers performance and convenience in everyday, real-world use.

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