Summer is here, and when the sun is shining there is nothing better than a refreshing cup of your favorite chilled coffee brew. Alas, with the arrival of the season, comes the age old conundrum coffee drinkers are only too familiar with: Iced coffee or cold brew?
Iced coffee is great because it is convenient. However, the ice can dilute the recipe and leave you with a watery, bitter drink. On the other hand, cold brew is not diluted, but it literally takes hours to make.
Cold coffee lovers will try anything to solve this problem: freezing hot coffee into ice cubes or even freezing their coffee cups. Nothing seems to work right, and most of us end up just going to a coffee shop to buy our chilled coffee instead.
But it turns out there is a better solution, and it is called a coffee chiller. So what is a coffee chiller? I'm glad you asked!
The Best Coffee Chiller
A coffee chiller rapidly cools hot coffee without diluting it, for a better taste. We are reviewing popular coffee chillers to find the best one for you to buy.
Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee
First of all, let's review the traditional ways of chilling the delicious caffeinated beverage we all know and love.
Cold Brew Coffees
Unlike coffee over ice, cold brewing does not mean making hot coffee and then cooling it. Rather, cold press coffee is brewed completely without heat. This process takes around 12-24 hours. Brewing cold is also a little messy and you typically have to filter out the coffee grounds at the end of the process. Cold brew or cold press coffee is typically brewed in bulk, as a concentrate. The cold brew complex flavor profile is a big perk of this type of brewing - it is lower in acidity and has a taste of chocolate along with other notes from the bolder side of the coffee tasting wheel, without any bitterness. Due to this fact, cold brew works really well with South American coffees. Acidic, African coffees are better suited to iced coffee.
Iced coffee is brewed normally, with hot water, and then cooled over ice, or with cold water. This can be done with an iced coffee maker. Cooling hot coffee with ice in this way dilutes the recipe. This often results in a bitter and watery drink, which needs to be sweetened with caramel sauce, vanilla flavor, or some other type of sugar. Making Iced Coffee well is complicated. Therefore, iced coffee drinkers will often buy their favorite brew in a coffee shop, rather than making it at home.
Coffee Chillers: Chilling without Diluting
However, buying an instant coffee chiller solves all our problems. Now we can drink our favorite beverages, without wasting time or diluting the recipe.
More About the Iced Coffee Chiller
An iced coffee cooler is kept in the freezer. The coffee compartment is surrounded by ice, which is kept separate to the coffee by an insulated wall. When you are ready for your coffee, you simply take your chiller out of the freezer and brew your hot cup of coffee directly into it. The surrounding ice cools your hot drink in a number of minutes, without diluting it.
Making iced coffee in this way is extremely versatile. It can be made using your favorite brewing method, whether that be a filter brew or fresh espresso. If you like milky coffee, you can prepare a cappuccino with steamed milk, then cool it in the chiller. You can even add the chocolate sprinkles for the complete cappuccino experience!
The Best Coffee Chiller
So which is the best coffee chiller to buy? We carefully reviewed the most popular instant iced coffee options. For us, it comes down to two instant iced coffee coolers HyperChiller and Zoku. We have a third option which is a different concept.
Zoku Instant Iced Coffee Maker
The Zoku Instant Iced Coffee Maker is actually a coffee chiller cup. This cooler holds 12 ounces of coffee. The Zoku looks quite like any other insulated travel coffee cup.
The difference here is that the Zoku contains a stainless steel core to cool your drinks. You simply take out the core and put it in the freezer, for at least 8 hours. Overnight is ideal. Then, when you are ready for your iced coffee, you take it out of the freezer and place it into the protective plastic sleeve. You can the brew your filter coffee or shot of espresso directly into the cup. Simply screw on the lid and you're good to go. Your coffee will be cooled in 7-8 minutes.
We have found that a handy tip is to buy two Zoku coffee makers, so that you can alternate without having to wait for the steel core to refreeze.
HyperChiller Coffee Chiller
Another great option for instant iced coffee is the HyperChiller Coffee Chiller. This brewer looks more like a traditional wine cooler. It is also kept in your freezer. The HyperChiller contains a central compartment, where the coffee is poured. This chamber is surrounded on all sides by frozen ice, but separated by food grade stainless steel. To make iced coffee with the HyperChiller Coffee Chiller, remove it from the freezer, brew directly into it, then pour it into your favorite glass or cup.
HyperChiller recommends pouring over ice if you are in a hurry. In this way, the coffee is chilled and ready after 1 minute. However, doing this totally defeats the purpose of the coffee chiller, as the brew will be diluted. Therefore, we recommend that you wait a little longer and enjoy your chilled coffee without ice. If you need cool coffee in a minute, we have the solution coming right up.
The HyperChiller is dishwasher safe and is made from a combination of stainless steel and BPA free plastic. This instant iced coffee maker requires an initial setup, where water is poured into the necessary compartments and then frozen. However, this only needs to be done once. The HyperChiller can hold 16 ounces of coffee.
Reusable Ice Cubes
Another great way to cool your coffee is with reusable ice cubes. These nifty little things are made from BPA free plastic and come with a storage container - no more need for an ice cube tray! You simply keep them in your freezer like regular ice cubes. When you have finished your drink, wash them, dry them, and pop them back in the freezer.
It is a great idea to combine the reusable ice cubes with a coffee chiller, for extra fast results. In this way, you can literally have a chilled brew ready to drink a minute after it has been made!
The only problem is that these have to go in the drink after the instant chilling. It is not recommended to put these in a hot beverage, since they are made of plastic.
Whiskey Stones For Chilling Your Coffee
If you want to use the reusable ice cubes with the Zoku, you will have to buy the whiskey stones. These are made of high quality food grade 304 stainless steel, and you can put them directly into your hot beverage, or brew over them directly.
The stones will not affect the flavor of your coffee at all, and obviously there is no dilution of your beverage.
You will need to freeze these for about three hours and just drop them into your beverage.
They are great because they are easy to maintain, and you do not put plastic into your beverage. However, you will need to use a lot of them in a hot coffee. And very likely you will need the help of the Zoku cup or the HyperChiller. These are only for speeding up the process and for making sure your coffee is really cold.
Which One Is the Best Zoku or HyperChiller
They are a little different in functionality, so it's hard tp pick a winner, but here are our thoughts about them.
Zoku is a cup, so it is made for traveling. You pour your cold coffee in the mug, place the lid, and take it with you. It is an iced coffee travel mug.
HyperChiller is also transportable, but it is bulkier and you need to transfer your beverage out in a mug. At the end of the day HyperChiller is a chiller not a mug.
The reusable Ice Cubes are great for chilling your coffee, but they take a lot of space in your cup.
I personally like to brew my hot coffee in the HyperChiller, and if I need to leave soon, transfer into the Zoku. It was an investment that I didn't plan to make, but having bought the HyperChiller first, I had no choice. Coffee was getting cold in the chiller, but when I poured it in my regular traveling mugs they would get warm eventually.
Zoku alone will not chill your coffee enough. I tried that and coffee was cooled to a certain degree, but not enough to qualify for an iced coffee. One comment about the Zoku, it holds 12 ounces of coffee. For me that's more than enough, I like my coffee stronger, and I sip it slowly. But I know that many people prefer their coffee longer, and larger.
You can also get the reusable Ice cubes and stick them into your large travel cup, but they will displace some of the coffee. The more cubes you want to use the less coffee you will be able to take with you. The best way to use the recyclable ice cubes is to brew over them and then transfer in your HyperChiller, or Zoku.
An Iced Coffee Cooler isn't just for Coffee
Perhaps the best part of buying an instant coffee cooler is that it can be used to cool a whole multitude of drinks, not just coffee. You can use your Zoku or your HyperChiller to quickly chill alcoholic beverages such as white wine, or a cocktail like a strawberry daiquiri. It can also be used to make hot chocolate or tea with milk, if you want the caffeine from coffee without the jitters. Whatever your taste preference this summer, buying a coffee chiller is going to be a brilliant and affordable investment that will allow you to have delicious, refreshing drinks instantly at your fingertips.