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 is health related. If you didn’t know cold brew, (not cold coffee), is less irritating to stomach and tummy. Most of the people who can’t drink the regular stuff anymore, turn to cold brew. They have none of the symptoms associated with drip coffee and can drink cold pressed coffee without any discomfort. More on the cold brew and health here.
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. This maximizes the total dissolved solids, which make up the body and taste. It will also increase the quantity of extracted oils, which affects the aroma and taste.
Cold brew is often referred to as cold press coffee. 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 do not dissolve at low temperatures. Some people use lukewarm water to speed up the brewing process. Note that for people with serious stomach problems, this might not be the right choice.
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 of serving coffee cold-from-the-fridge, with ice cubes. Iced coffee can be prepared with cold brew coffee, and it will be a delicious beverage, but it can be prepared with cooled espresso, or cooled drip coffee as well.
Cold Brew Coffee Recipe
- Three to one water coffee ratio. For every cup of ground coffee, you pour in three cups of water.
- Stir or shake, to fully soak all the coffee grounds
- 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. For this reason, adding some water is not optional. That unless you want to shake for the next hour. If you decide to keep it in the fridge during steeping, it’s fine. There are a few advantages to doing that. However, 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 to 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?
How To Make Cold Brew Coffee Using a French Press
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 grounds stay at the bottom.
Here are the steps to make a cup using a press pot:
- Use the 1 to 3 coffee to water ratio,
- Ground coffee coarsely, as you would for French press brewing
- Add the coffee grounds in the beaker
- Pour the water, and stir in thoroughly, coffee grounds absorb cold water slower than hot
- Insert the plunger and push it just an inch in the water and ensure you fully immerse all the coffee grounds
- Let the brew infuse for 24 to 48 hours
- Push the plunger all the way down
- Pour and serve diluted according to your taste
For a cold brew, you can use an inexpensive glass French press. The more expensive stainless steel press might seem an overkill for this application, but they are insulated, so they will maintain the temperature better. They also work great for hot brewing.
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. You will need to dilute the concentrate with water in a 1 to 6 proportion.
The brewing system has 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 ensures a proper water saturation.
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, built 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. This, in turn, ensures 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 BPA free. 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).
Hario Mizudashi, or any similar brewers, 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. Yama is very expensive compared to the others and it will deter some prospective buyers. If you can afford it though, it is worth the money. 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.