If you are looking to buy a cold brew coffee maker, you have a relatively simple task, there aren’t too many options on the market, and the few options available, are relatively similar in functionality, features, and price. You can skip to the second half of the article for the comparison.
Cold brew is getting more and more attention from the coffee lovers’ world, and there are a few reasons for that. One of the most frequent reasons are health related, if you didn’t know cold brew, (not cold coffee), is less irritating for stomach and tummy. Most of the people who can’t drink the regular stuff anymore, turn to cold brew, and they have no problem at all. They present none of the symptoms associated with drip coffee, and they can drink cold pressed coffee without any discomfort.
Another reason is certainly related to the subtle aroma and taste of cold brew; it is a very smooth coffee, almost sweet, with no acid. Also, it is not bitter at all like your regular cup of joe.
What Is Cold Brew?
You probably already know this, but is worth a short review. Cold brew is a method of preparing coffee, using cold water, or water at room temperature. Because of the low brewing temperature, a much longer extraction time is needed. The minimum extraction time is 12 hours, but typically, 24-48 hours soaking times are the best, because it maximizes the amount of dissolved solids, which make up the body and taste. It will also increase the amount of oils extracted, which will affect the aroma and taste.
Cold brew is often referred to as cold press coffee, which is a misnomer, since there is no pressure involved in the process. What makes cold press brewing special is the low steeping temperature, which creates a different profile than all heat based brewing types. There are many substances that will be absent in cold brew, because they simply do not dissolve at low temperatures. My personal choice is to use lukewarm water to speed up the process, but if you have serious stomach problems, this might not be for you.
Cold brew is not iced coffee, which can be made with any type of coffee brew. Iced coffee is a recipe, rather than a brewing method. The recipe for iced coffee consists in serving coffee cold from the fridge, with ice cubes. Iced coffee can be prepared with cold brew, and it will be a delicious beverage, but it can be prepared with cooled espresso, or drip coffee as well.
Cold Brew Coffee Recipe
Whether you use a French press, or an Impress brewer, or just a mason jar and coffee filters, or the more sophisticated systems, and easy to use, the recipe is the same:
• Three to one water coffee ratio. For every cup of ground coffee, you pour in three cups of water.
• Stir in, or shake, to make sure all the grinds are fully saturated with water.
• Cover and let it sit for 24-48 hours.
• Filter, add water, or ice cubes, or milk and drink.
Because we use so much coffee, there will be a lot more caffeine in a regular cup, so adding some water is not optional, unless you want to shake for the next hour. If you decide to keep it in the fridge, it’s fine, but you probably need to let it steep for the whole 48 hours to obtain a full extraction.
This is a brief description of this coffee brewing method. Cold brew coffee, however, is much more complex than that. We wrote extensively on the subject. Our best work is a dry approach on the subject, where we show 8 ways to make cold brew coffee. Our other article is a more hands on approach on how to make cold brew at home.
What Is the Best Cold Brew Coffee Maker?
Well, let’s start with the cheapest, a press pot. Any press pot can be transformed into a cold press brewer. Sure, it’s not the most efficient device for brewing cold, but if you want to test a batch, and to see if you like it, it’s perfect. It works pretty well, and I love the fact that it doesn’t use a dense filter, so the oils can pass through the metallic screen but the grinds stay at the bottom.
To make a cup, use the 1 to 3 coffee to water ratio, using a coarse grind, as you would grind for French press brewing. Put the coffee grounds, pour the water, stir in thoroughly, grinds absorb cold water slower than hot water. Insert the plunger and push it just an inch in the water, to make sure the grinds are immersed. Let the brew infuse for 24 to 48 hours, push the plunger all the way down, pour and serve.
Filtron Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Filtron is one of the leaders on the cold brew market, and it has great reviews. You brew a few cups that will last you for weeks. Filtron is a smaller device compared to others, and it will brew 50 ounces of concentrated coffee. Filtron recommends using 1lb per brew, which gives you a concentrated coffee syrup, that you will need to dilute with water in a 1 to 6 proportion.
The brewing system is comprised of two recipients, one for the grinds and one for the water. The water container sits on top of the brewing container, which will hold the coffee grinds during brewing. There is also a rubber stopper for the brewing container, a filter pad made of felt, and a 50 ounces decanter. There is also a grounds guard that sits on top of the coffee, to stop it from floating, and insures a proper saturation with water, for optimum brewing.
Toddy Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Toddy is one of the most known cold press brewing systems, is the oldest cold brew system, and most trusted one. It is a simple system, made with durable materials, to ensure it a long life. The system includes a brewing container, a glass decanter, (56 oz), felt filter pads, paper filter bags, and a rubber stopper for the brewing container.
Making coffee is very similar to Filtron’ system, you just add the grinds, water and let it steep for 48 hours. After the 48 hours you take the rubber stopper off, and the brewing chamber is placed on top of the decanter. The coffee gets filtered through the felt filter-pad, and you collect it in the decanter. Toddy claims that the coffee made in their coffee maker is 67% less acid than regular coffee. This decreases a lot the stomach problems associated with drinking regular coffee.
Toddy has fewer pieces, which makes the maintenance and operation simpler, Filtron has a couple of pieces more which are supposed to improve brewing experience. The design with a grounds guard and the water container are meant to keep the coffee from floating, ensuring faster and complete saturation.
OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker
The cold brew coffee maker from Oxo is relatively new on the market, but it is as good as the older products from Toddy and Filtron. The parts of this brewer are made of BPA free plastic. There are a couple of improvements that I liked at this brewer, compared to the other two. The brewing container has a rainmaker cover that ensures an even distribution of water over the grounds. The other improvement is the switch to open the upper container, after the brewing is done. Compared to the rubber stopper, this is way more convenient, and modern. Ok, there is a third nice improvement, there is a mechanism that lets you remove the decanter before the brewing is complete. The auto-stop mechanism closes the valve when you remove the decanter, so there is no spilled coffee.
The filters are a little different than the felt pads from the competitors, but they work perfectly, they are reusable, and easy to clean.
Oxo recommends a 1 to 4 ratio of coffee grounds to water, which is slightly different than the regular recipe. With their recipe, using 10 oz of coffee, and 5 cups of water, you will get 3.5 cups of coffee concentrate, that would be diluted with water, or milk and water to obtain around 14 cups of coffee.
Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Hario Mizudashi is a 1Liter, (4 cups), minimalistic cold brew maker, that looks stunning. I personally prefer the large immersion brewers like Oxo, Toddy, or Filtron. However, it takes a little effort to use those. This is why many people ditched their Toddy and replaced it with Mizudashi or Takeya, (a knock off) – pardon my language.
Hario Mizudashi, or any similar brewer, are very easy to use. You just dump some coffee grounds in the filter, pour water and let it steep for 12 to 24 hours. If you used a Toddy, or a Filtron before, you need to experiment a bit with your grind settings and steeping time. The filter, though very fine, is not as fine as the other two. Because of this, you need a good coffee grinder, that grinds uniformly your beans.
Yama Glass Cold Drip Maker
For those with a more generous budget, I recommend the Yama Cold brew system, which is a beautiful coffee maker, with all recipients made from Yama glass. The brewer has a permanent ceramic filter, and a brass knob that can be adjusted to drip slower or faster. The price of this brewing system is very high compared to the others, but it is worth the money, if you can afford it. We wrote a detailed article about drip cold brew coffee, if you are interested in the subject.
For those with a low budget, and still wanting to try cold brew, Maddie from Kicking Horse shows a method to make a batch of cold press coffee in a mason jar. This a little frugal, but it works, and if you don’t mind spending a bit more of your time with preparing and cleaning, it is a decent way to obtain a smooth and less stomach irritant cup of coffee.