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People think that cold brew coffee at the local cafe is always better than the one prepared at home. Sadly that is the reality. Most people that prepare coffee at home are not fully satisfied with their beverage, and they think the coffee shop alternative tastes better. Fortunately, you can fix this easily by choosing the right coffee maker and by using the right recipe. I promise you, Starbucks doesn't use magic to prepare their cold brew. They use tested recipes and great coffee makers to make it.
How To Choose a Cold Brew Coffee Maker
As we already mentioned it, half of the secret is the recipe, the other half is using a good coffee maker. The cold brew coffee niche has exploded, and in a market where a few years ago there were just a few players, we see now a fierce competition. This is good for us as customers, but it could be a little confusing because, to be honest, the market is full of cheap knockoffs, and counterfeits.
We have a list of the best cold brew coffee makers, but we would like to help you decide which one it is the best choice for you. When selecting a coffee maker you need to take these into consideration:
- The quantity brewed at once.
If you love immersion cold brew and this is the taste you are looking for, then you will need patience while steeping a batch. For this reason, brewing larger quantities is the only choice.
- How fast you can get a cup.
Maybe the flavor profile of immersion brewing is not an absolute requirement. If that's the case, you could choose one of the fast cold brew makers.
- The filters.
Paper filters are the favorite for people who love a cleaner cup. There are a few options for them, however, cold brew is by definition a murky beverage.
If you don't like to deal with diluting the coffee after brewing, you do have some options. However, cold brew is a concentrated cup because it takes too long to brew it.
We tested a lot of coffee makers and we have a few products to recommend you. We came up with a list with the best cold brew coffee makers: immersion, cold drip, vacuum, stirring, brew bag. Dash, Oxo, Hario, and Cuisinart use various brewing methods.
Here is the list of the best coffee makers:
- Vacuum coffee maker - Dash
- Immersion cold brew - Oxo Good Grips
- Stirring cold brew coffee maker - Cuisinart
- Cold drip - Hario
- The disposable brew bag
The Best Cold Brew Coffee Maker
We did our best to only include on this list the best in the class coffee makers. All of the brewers that made it to our top five list are great, and they are on the list for a reason. Here is our absolute favorite, and why we chose the other ones.
List Title if needed
#1 - The Dash - Vacuum Cold Brew Coffee Maker
The Dash is our favorite for more than one reason. It can brew a strong cup, very fast, and is very convenient.
#2 - Oxo Good Drips - Immersion Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Oxo Good Drips is our second favorite because the taste is very close to the "coffee-shop-experience", and it can brew a large batch that we can store for about two weeks.
#3 - Hario - Dutch Cold Brew Coffee Maker
It was very hard to decide between the Oxo and the Hario for the second place. Ultimately, Oxo won the second place because it makes better use of the coffee beans. Hario makes a great cup and it looks way cooler.
#4 - Cuisinart - Stirring
The Cuisinart is one of the newer addition to the cold brew market. It is on our list because it brews fast. The only coffee maker that is faster than Cuisinart is the Dash. So it is on the list because is fast and convenient.
#5 - The Disposable Coffee Bag
The disposable bag is the most convenient option of all, there is no mess, and no cleaning needed. The other reason is that you can brew a great cup with it, very similar to any other immersion brewer, (Oxo, Toddy, Filtron).
I realize that the names used for the various extraction techniques might be a little confusing for the beginner. If so, we actually wrote an article explaining all of those terms. The article explains the various cold brew coffee extraction methods and the chemistry/physics behind them.
Dash - Fast Cold Brew Coffee Maker
There have been a few attempts to create an appliance that would make cold brew coffee fast. All the projects I have been following failed or have been paused. The first project to make it on the market comes from Dash, a company with a bold mission statement.
Dash Cold brew coffee Maker can make a cup in just 5 minutes. No mess on the kitchen counter, no filtering needed, this is a one-button-press operation. The 5 minutes brew option is a normal coffee, you can drink it as is. If you want to save some money on the coffee beans, use the long cycle, which extracts more thoroughly. This is a cold brew espresso if you wish. You need to dilute this with water or milk, which makes it a perfect ingredient for cold brew lattes, or frappuccinos. The brewer has a 42 oz capacity, that's about 7 servings on the short brew cycle or about 16 servings on the long-brewing cycle.
OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker
As we said it before, full immersion cold brew units give you the unique taste that you know from the local coffee shop. The trick is to let it steep long enough to extract all the flavors. That's why we need to have on our list a large-batch coffee maker for the home baristas.
The unit we chose for this list is from Oxo and it is overall the best on the market, competing with Toddy and Filtron.
There are a few of innovations and improvements that make Oxo stand apart from the competition.
- The brewing chamber has a rainmaker cover that helps for an even water distribution over the grounds bed.
- The Oxo has a "brew-release" switch to empty the brewing container after the steeping is done. Other brewers have a rubber stopper, which is not as convenient.
- The filters are reusable stainless steel mesh, and easy to clean. The mesh filter allows more flavor to pass into the brewed coffee, but you might need to decant the coffee.
All the plastic parts of this brewer are BPA free, and the decanter is made of borosilicate glass.
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. You dilute that with water or milk to obtain around 14 cups of coffee.
Cuisinart DCB-10 Fast-Brewing Automatic Cold Brew Coffeemaker
Cuisinart is another first step towards using chemistry concept to speed up the brewing. Cuisinart's machine uses stirring and agitating to achieve a complete brew in about 30 minutes.
The coffee strength is tweaked by allowing the brew cycle to extract longer. The brew cycle can be adjusted between 25 and 45 minutes, in three steps, with the help of a strength selector. The three options are mild, (25min), medium, (35min), and strong, (45min). We recommend you choose the strong cycle and add a little water if that's too strong for you. This brew cycle extracts better, and the flavor profile is complete.
The carafe has its own filter for an extra filtration step. The filtration will take a few minutes as well, to complete, so it's not as fast as the Dash.
After the brewing cycle is done, you flip a switch and coffee starts pouring in the carafe. When all the coffee is poured from the brewing chamber, the unit starts one last spin to squeeze out the last drop of goodness in the grounds. My advice is to grind slightly finer than you normally would and decant it. The taste will be better that way.
All the parts are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. The unit comes with a 3 years warranty. We added the Cuisinart unit to our list of the best cold brew coffee makers because it makes a cup in 45 minutes. It's one of the two brewers that we know of to brew a cup in under an hour.
Disposable Coffee Sock Packs
If you are not ready to invest in your next cold brew coffee maker, the coffee sock is your best option. It works better than a mesh filter because it filtrates more efficiently. This particular model is made of corn so it is biodegradable, and contains no plastic.
I used a coffee sock before, and it's fine if you are desperate. However, when you make cold brew on a regular basis you start to notice the problems. The mesh stainless steel solution is not much better either. They are both inconvenient to use and clean. The filtration quality is not that great. By contrast, the reusable bag is convenient, easy to use, and it's a perfect filter.
The price of these is decent, but if you make cold brew coffee often, the cost adds up. This is definitely one of my choices for a non-commitment brewing option, and one of the best cold brew coffee makers in 2018 and in the years to come.
Hario Cold Drip Coffee Maker
Hario are the kings of manual coffee brewing equipment and this cold brew Slow Dripper is another great example. We simply couldn't include here the Yama glass dripper because it is too expensive for our taste. Yama certainly has an eye-catching look, and the quality of the components is exquisite, but it's out of the budget for most of us.
Back to our Hario cold dripper review, with a clean design, it certainly turns some heads on its own, and it probably fits better with most kitchens. Don't get me wrong, Hario is not a cheap product either, but it's still a little more affordable.
Slow drip coffee, or Dutch cold brew, has a distinctive flavor, different from immersion cold brew. Even though intuitively we might guess that the two cold brew methods are the same, they are not. At least that's what the flavor says it.
The trick with a Dutch cold brew coffee maker is the grind size. Refrain from grinding as everybody recommends it - coarse. That's going to give you a flat tasting cup. Grind just slightly coarser than drip. You might need to play with the flow rate and the grind size to get this perfect. You can't go too fine though because the water will pool on the coffee bed eventually overflowing.
The coffee obtained from a Hario cold dripper is stronger than your regular drip coffee, and you might need to add a little water to your cup.
I recommend using this recipe: 50 grams of coffee, medium grind size, 1-quart water, and a drip rate of about one drop every second and a half.
Gourmia GCM6850 Cold Brew Coffee Machine
I had to add the Gourmia on the list of options because it's the latest fast cold brew coffee maker. And is a great addition to the market, and what's even better, uses a different extraction method.
Depending on how rich and how fast you want your cold brew, the Gourmia cold brew coffee maker will choose a brewing cycle for a period of 10 to 40 minutes. This is followed by an optional chilling cycle of around 6 minutes. You can have filtered cold brew coffee in minutes.
The cold brew coffee machine from Gourmia functions by pushing water in a continuous cycle from the carafe, through the coffee grounds and the filters and back. The agitation helps for a faster extraction, by speeding the soluble solids dissolution in water.
What We Didn't Include on Our List
There are a lot of brewers that we did not include on our list but they are worth mentioning.
Most of them are scaled down immersion cold brew coffee makers, with some cold drip brewers. In our opinion, because of the long steeping time needed, and immersion cold brew needs to brew at least 1Quart, (1 liter).
Anything less than that will feel like a chore. This why we think we should mention the following great runner-ups:
- Filtron, a great competitor of Oxo's, and a leader on the domestic immersion cold brew. Many cold brew lovers prefer it because of its better filtration system.
- Toddy, another direct competitor on the immersion cold brew market. This is the original immersion brewer, and it is now the least expensive of the three.
- Takeya, is the newest competitor in the same niche. Takeya stands out with a design that saves space, and it can be kept in the fridge easily.
- Yama Glass is a cold brew dripper. It's one of the best products and it has one of the most interesting designs. We just think the price doesn't make it as affordable as we needed it for our list.
- Bodum Bean cold brew coffee maker, which is, in essence, a large French press with a few tweaks.
There are many other options on the market, and we even reviewed a couple of them: the Primula and Willow & Everett. But if we are to be honest, they don't belong on our list with the best cold brew coffee makers.