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.
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 (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
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 (Est. $10) that must be
stored in the refrigerator between uses to prevent mold and should be replaced
every three to four months. Optional (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 (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 (Est. $17 for 50) creates a smoother brew -- although the drain time may be
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 (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
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
cheap iced coffee maker
The (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.