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The reasons for cold brew coffee’s recent rise in popularity are clear: it’s easy to make, stays fresh for several days, and most importantly it’s absolutely delicious.
The beloved beverage can be made with items ranging from a French press to a Mason jar, and its two main brewing methods involve steeping coffee grounds in cold water anywhere from 12 to 24 hours or using a drip style that also takes several hours. The hands-off process infuses cold brew with a naturally sweeter and more chocolaty taste, all while avoiding the bitterness and high acidity that’s often found in coffee, making the drink easier on your stomach and teeth. (Just keep in mind that the process leads to a higher caffeine content than typical iced coffee.) Cold brew also has a wonderfully long shelf life, staying good for up to two weeks.
Get ready to steep, chill, and pour. Here are the best cold brew makers to buy.
Best Overall: Toddy Cold Brew System
Dishwasher safe (excluding filter)
Setup is tricky
Kind of an eyesore while brewing
You can't beat a classic, and Todd Simpson's "TODDY" brewer is arguably the maker that started it all: While cold-brewed coffee has been made for who knows how long simply by soaking ground coffee in water, the Toddy brewer revolutionized the process for easy and convenient home use, and essentially reinvented the wheel of iced coffee brewing in 1964.
While it's made almost completely from plastic, the reusable filter makes up for the environmental impact a little, and the glass decanter is one of the most durable out there, and pretty enough to use as a serving vessel. After testing the product, our reviewer noted that cleanup was easy because all of the pieces detach and are dishwasher safe, aside from the filter.
Our reviewer also praised the coffee's flavor, calling it "very strong, yet smooth" and noted that a "single batch lasted a long time." This shouldn't be a surprise. Todd Simpson is undoubtedly the father of modern cold brew, and it's no wonder the coffee-loving chemical engineer was able to devise the perfect brewer to eliminate coffee acid and produce a heavy, smooth, silky iced coffee with almost no hassle.
"Beyond brewing a strong cold brew concentrate, the Toddy Cold Brew System offers a myriad of other extra features that make it well worth the price." — Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester
Best Portable: Takeya Patented Deluxe Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker
Airtight lid prevents leakage
Easy to use and clean
Not the strongest flavor
Too simplistic for price
If you want to make cold brew coffee on the go, this 1-quart brewer can travel with you anywhere. It makes 4 servings of coffee and has an airtight, leakproof lid, so you can take it along without worrying about spillage.
The container is made from BPA-free plastic that won’t shatter, and all parts are dishwasher safe. For home use, the container is sized to fit in most refrigerator doors. Brewing can be done overnight, or let the grounds steep for up to 36 hours in the refrigerator. Since this is a larger container, it doesn’t double as a to-go mug, but it’s ideal if you’re sharing your cold brew.
The Tayeka Cold Brew Maker does come with a few drawbacks, however. Our reviewer wrote that the item is "priced well, but it doesn’t offer any extra features that make it stand out from its competitors." While the item is easy to bring on picnics and camping trips, its lack of versatility and "plain" flavor makes it a better portable option than a primary source of at-home cold brew.
So how exactly does cold brew differ from everyday iced coffee? Well, as the name suggests, cold brew is brewed exclusively with cold water throughout the entire process. Iced coffee, on the hand, is made by brewing coffee hot and then letting it chill before pouring over ice.
Best Features: OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker
High-quality cold brew concentrate
Easy cleanup and storage
Visually appealing design
Larger vessel than competitors
This big brewer might be a counter hog, but it brews some mighty fine cold brew concentrate and is extremely easy to use. If the item does prove too large for your needs, however, space-saving alternatives can be found in our round-up of the best small coffee makers.
The OXO "Rainmaker" water dispersion technology keeps the extraction consistent while also allowing the user to "set it and forget it," which is pretty much the whole point of cold brew iced coffee. Our product tester said the resulting flavor was "very smooth and flavorful" and, as an added bonus, the mesh filter prevented grounds from spilling into the coffee.
The glass carafe into which the concentrate is brewed feels very delicate, but the clear markings and silicone-sealed top make it a lovely and functional vessel (while it lasts). Optional paper filters can contribute even more clarity to the finished product, but the built-in metal mesh is an eco-friendly element to the contraption. Dispension is easy, and there's even a measuring cup to help you properly dilute the concentrate.
"Looks great in any kitchen, makes high-quality cold brew concentrate, and disassembles for easy cleanup." — Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester
Best for Longer Storage: Ovalware Cold Brew Maker and Tea Infuser
Flavorful cold brew
Easy to use
Makes cold brew coffee, not concentrate
Lid comes off
Some grounds seep into cold brew
If you’re not one to drink multiple cups of coffee per day, you could definitely benefit from the Ovalware Airtight Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker and Tea Infuser, which is perfect for storing your homemade cold brew for several days. This affordable product includes a glass carafe and stainless steel filter that will help you make great coffee every time.
The Ovalware Airtight Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker holds up to 4 cups of coffee, and thanks to its airtight seal, it will keep your java fresh for up to two weeks! The product’s steel filter is made of superfine mesh, and both pieces are dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. After testing the product, our reviewer raved that the item was "very easy to use and fits perfectly in just about any fridge, making it highly adaptable to any kitchen.” Just watch out for the pesky lid, which "doesn't stay on perfectly" and may cause leaking.
According to users, another downside of this product is that fine particles of coffee sometimes seep through the filter into the cold brew. However, most people say these particles sink to the bottom, so as long as you’re careful pouring, they won’t get into your cup.
Best Budget: County Line Kitchen Cold Brew Mason Jar Coffee Maker
Flavorful cold brew
Confusing instructions for making cold brew
Awkward to fit in fridge
Some grounds seep into cold brew
If you have rustic or country style, the County Line Kitchen Cold Brew Coffee Maker is perfect for your kitchen, and it comes at a budget price. The design of this Mason jar may be simple, but the item is durable, efficient, and makes great coffee.
Not only is this cold brew maker stylish, but it’s a simple, foolproof system for easy cold brew. Put coffee into the stainless steel filter, add water, and allow it to steep overnight. Our product tester agreed that the item is "super easy to use and setup" and added that it is "definitely worth buying."
The jar can hold up to 2 quarts of coffee, and the silicone seal makes sure the lid stays on tightly. Reviewers say the filter successfully keeps coffee grinds out of the liquid and that both the steeper and jar are incredibly durable. The only thing to watch out for is that the "instructions for making the cold brew [are] pretty vague," according to our product tester. She was forced to "look up a recipe online that wasn't necessarily fitted to this specific cold brew maker."
Best Automatic: Cuisinart Automatic Cold Brew Coffeemaker
Adjustable coffee strength
Fragile filter basket
Loud while brewing
The majority of cold brew coffee makers are low-tech and take a long time to steep. Not so with the Cuisinart Automatic Cold Brew Coffeemaker. Though a little pricey, it can whip up a 7-cup batch of cold brew in 25 to 45 minutes. The exact brew time depends on what strength you prefer the cold brew to be—mild, medium, or bold. Even on the longest setting, however, the item far outpaces the multiple hours it takes to use most cold brew makers.
And don't be daunted by the automated design. This machine is extremely intuitive and actually works similar to a standard drip coffee maker: simply scoop the grounds into the filter, fill the water reservoir, and hit go.
One downside is that the machine is fairly noisy while brewing; this may be especially frustrating since it takes longer than a normal drip coffee maker to brew. On top of that, several customers faced issues with the filter basket, saying it's on the fragile side. There are certainly pros and cons to consider with the Cuisinart Automatic Cold Brew Coffeemaker, but if you want a versatile and lightning-fast machine that does the work for you, this is the top option.
Best No-Fuss: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Pot
Available in multiple sizes
Tall for some refrigerators
Glass is thin
Cold brew coffee is already one of the least fussy ways to get caffeinated, but this no-frills little number from Japanese coffee giant Hario couldn't be simpler. Coffee goes into the reusable mesh basket—no cloth or paper filters to futz around with—and is submerged into cool or room-temperature water. All it takes is time to do the rest of the work: The coffee will steep for 12–24 hours, after which you simply lift the grounds in the basket out of the finished liquid. While metal mesh can be somewhat tricky to scrub completely clean, it still beats the soaking and rinsing of cloth filters, and it creates far less waste than paper. Hario is a manufacturer that knows its stuff when it comes to coffee, and this little inexpensive brewer is where it's at.
Best for Large Quantities: KitchenAid Brushed Stainless Steel Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Available in multiple sizes
Convenient handle for portability
Prone to leaking
Want to make a big batch of cold brew for your next party? Then you need the KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker, which can hold up to 14 servings of coffee and has a convenient tap for pouring.
This sleek cold brew maker is made of stainless steel and glass for a sophisticated design. Simply put coffee and water into the machine, then place the whole thing into the fridge to steep. Once you’re ready to serve, you can press the included tap to dispense the right amount of coffee into your cup. Since it’s a bigger brewer, the stainless steel steeper includes measurement marks in case you just want to make a few servings.
Reviewers say the KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker makes great coffee and is perfect for when you’re having guests over. While this product is more expensive than many comparable cold brew machines, it’s worth the price if you drink a lot of coffee or frequently host parties.
Best Rapid Brewer: Dash Rapid Cold Brew System
Adjustable coffee strength
Easy to use
Prone to leaking
Mixed reviews on flavor
Larger than most cold brew makers
Cold brewing is a process that usually takes eight hours or more, but this item has uses a rapid cold brew system that pumps cold water through the grounds and finishes in 15 minutes or less. This can be used to make a cup of ready-to-drink cold brew, or it can make a coffee concentrate you can add to hot water, milk, or use in baking recipes that call for strong coffee or espresso.
It’s simple to use. Just add coffee to the basket, add water to the carafe, turn the dial to set the time, and push the button. When brewing time is up, there’s cold brew coffee in the carafe that’s ready to use or refrigerate for later. Removable parts are dishwasher safe.
Best With Dispenser: Willow & Everett Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Classic Mason jar aesthetic
Dishwasher safe (excluding the filter)
Spigot occasionally leaks
Could it be easier than this? Probably not. Just fill the removable stainless steel filter with your favorite ground coffee, add water, and snap the lid on. Then place the brewer in the refrigerator to steep. When morning comes, just turn the spigot to dispense coffee into your mug or thermos, and you’re on your way.
The coffee filter is a very fine mesh stainless steel, so you won’t get grounds in your drink, and you won’t need disposable paper filters. It’s easy to remove once the coffee has steeped enough, and simple to clean. The glass is dishwasher safe, so cleanup is easy when you’ve used the last of the coffee, or wash by hand to start a new brew right away. Plus, it looks nice in your fridge!
The Toddy Cold Brew System comes at a fair price and has long provided delicious, hassle-free coffee to thousands of happy customers. It's the cold brew maker we most recommend for general household use, but the OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker is also worth consideration. It clocks in at a similar price and showcases a more modern design but has a slightly smaller capacity.
When to Look for When Buying a Cold Brew Coffee Maker
By Derek Rose
A cold brew maker will rely on one of two brewing methods: immersion or slow drip. Immersion, the most common style, is when coffee grounds are soaked in cold water anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. The resulting coffee is often so strong that it’s more of a coffee concentrate, meant to be mixed with water or milk before drinking. With slow drip (also called Kyoto or Dutch-style), cold water gradually drips through a bed of coffee grounds. This process takes about half the time of immersion and does not need to be diluted. There are also automatic cold brew makers out there as well, but they will utilize one of these two primary brewing methods nonetheless.
Filter or Infuser
Some cold brew coffee makers use paper filters, like a traditional drip machine, others use stainless steel mesh infusers. The difference may seem slight, but it affects an item’s ease of use as well as the ease of cleaning up afterward. On one hand, it’s simple to throw out a paper filter after brewing; on the downside, you have to keep replenishing them and they can be messy if you spill. Metal infusers save money in the long run and are more environmentally friendly. Just check reviews ahead of time, as low-quality infusers may allow loose grounds to slip into the coffee.
Cold brew makers are generally quite compact, especially compared to other kinds of coffee makers. Many are designed to fit inside of a fridge, so they can be as small as an iced tea pitcher or Mason jar. That being said, you will also come across some rather large and bulky options that may not fit as easily in your kitchen. The overall capacity of cold brew makers also varies. If you prefer brewing a big batch at once and keeping it around to drink for a couple weeks, spend the extra money on a larger option, even if takes up a little more space. If you don’t mind making only a few cups at a time, you have even more options to choose from.
While the majority of cold brew makers are affordable, there is certainly a wide range of prices. Think about the price range you are comfortable with, from a few dollars all the way up to a few hundred. Some factors that affect item cost include size, whether its automatic or not, and the intricacy of its design. For example, there are some incredibly elaborate drip-style cold brew makers that are a couple feet tall and contain a system of glass beakers which will be on the highest end of the price range. Fortunately, even inexpensive models can make tasty coffee with the right bag of beans and proper measurements.
Types of Cold Brew Coffee Makers
The majority of cold brew makers use what is known as an immersion brewing method. It’s where coffee grounds are directly soaked in water for several hours, slowly extracting all the wonderful flavor and caffeine. One of the most popular examples in this category is the Toddy Cold Brew System—though, there are many other reliable options out there. Immersion cold brew makers tend to produce incredibly strong coffee, even stronger than the second most common variety of cold brew maker, slow drip. While it all depends on the coffee-to-water ratio you use, you will likely have to dilute the final product with milk or water before drinking. The main downside to immersion brewing is that it takes so much time. But, aside from that, it remains the most tried-and-true method for delicious cold brew.
Way back in the 1600’s, Dutch merchants at sea, without access to hot water, began dripping cold water over coffee grounds. Thus, cold brew was born. It’s believed that they passed this brewing method along at Japanese trading ports. Centuries later, the style is still widely popular. Slow drip cold brew, also called Dutch or Kyoto-style cold brew, is made when water slowly passes through coffee grounds from above and then down into a carafe. The process is actually similar to that of an electric drip coffee maker, but with cold brew the ordeal takes several hours. The primary benefits of slow drip are that the coffee is less acidic than immersion cold brew (which is already low in acidity to begin with) and, secondly, that it’s a little faster than the immersion method. Keep in mind that drip cold brew makers are often quite tall, so measure the height of your cupboards or fridge shelves ahead of time.
Cold brew is already easy to make—all you really need is ground coffee, water, and a jar—and yet brands are simplifying the process even further by manufacturing automatic cold brew makers. There are two clear advantages to this route. First, automatic cold brew makers prepare coffee much faster than non-electric devices, some as quickly as five minutes. Second, these items may offer greater versatility, especially regarding cold brew strength. On the downside, customers should expect automatic cold brew makers to be more expensive.
There’s a good chance you already have an OXO product in your home. The American company originated 30 years ago when founder Sam Farber, whose wife had arthritis, sought to design more ergonomic kitchen items. The brand now manufactures everything from tiny utensils to full-sized appliances. OXO’s line of coffee products has especially grown over the years, today incorporating two different cold brew makers. Both options are immersion based and worth consideration. The main difference between them is that one holds 32 ounces and the other is a more compact 16-ounce brewer.
Many brands only manufacture one kind of cold brew maker. Not Primula. The 30-year-old company offers several different models, from standard at-home cold brew makers to portable devices for those who want to take their joe on the go. Most Primula options are affordably priced and use the immersion brewing process. Even if the products all lead to a similar quality of taste, it’s still nice to have more options when searching.
Toddy revolutionized homemade cold brew in the 1960’s with its famous Toddy Cold Brew System. The simple, time-tested device uses immersion-style brewing to whip up extremely rich and flavorful cold brew. The coffee is so rich, in fact, that it’s usually closer to a cold brew concentrate, which should be diluted with water or your preferred milk before drinking. Toddy manufactures other cold brew makers too, but the original Toddy Cold Brew System remains its most popular item and one certainly worth checking out.
While maintenance instructions vary from product to product, cold brew coffee makers are much easier to use and clean than other brewing devices. Not only are many dishwasher safe, but you won’t have to endure the arduous process of descaling. However, some cold brew makers may have several small parts that need to be removed and hand-washed individually, especially if the item has a spout or overhead filter. Ease of cleaning is also affected by whether your cold brew maker uses paper filters or a metal infuser. Filters can be thrown out after brewing but may occasionally spill loose grounds on the countertop. Infusers can generally be put in the dishwasher but should ideally be cleaned after every use.
As far as brewing instructions go, the proper coffee-to-water ratio is very much up to personal preference. If you want medium-strength cold brew that does not need to be diluted before drinking, try a 1:8 ratio—one part coffee and eight parts water. Make sure to use coarse-ground coffee beans for optimal results. For the classic cold brew concentrate, a 1:4 ratio (one part coffee, four parts water) is a good place to start. Consult instruction guides if brands include them with your cold brew maker, but don’t be afraid to experiment on your own.
How is cold brew different from iced coffee?
Cold brew is not only different from iced coffee in the way it is prepared but in the overall taste too. Traditional iced coffee is made by brewing coffee hot first and then chilling it with ice afterward. Cold brew, on the other hand, is made by steeping coffee beans in nothing but cold water for several hours. This makes cold brew smoother in taste, lower in acidity, and able to stay fresh for a much longer period of time than iced coffee.
What is cold brew coffee concentrate?
Cold brew can be broken down into two categories. One kind is ready to drink right when it’s finished brewing. The other kind, cold brew concentrate, is so strong that it should be diluted with milk or water before drinking. Most cold brew coffee makers can produce either kind. It all depends on the ratio of coffee grounds to water used. A mixture of one part coffee grounds to four parts water (1:4) is commonly used for cold brew concentrate, while a 1:8 ratio should be ready to drink as soon as it's finished steeping.
Is cold brew less acidic than other coffee?
Yes, cold brew is less acidic than other forms of coffee, whether it be traditional iced coffee or drip. Since cold brew is made by using cold water instead of hot, the coffee beans don’t release the same amount of oil that they would if brewed at higher temperatures. This means cold brew is a great option for those looking for a caffeinated beverage that’s gentle on the stomach. One last quick tip: dark roast coffee beans are less acidic than light roast coffee beans, so consider giving those a shot if you want even less acidity in your cold brew.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Erin Meister has spent years both working in and reporting on the coffee industry. Since moving to New York City in 2003, she has worked at Joe Coffee Company and Counter Culture Coffee. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Serious Eats, Rachael Ray Every Day, and more. Erin is also the author of New York City Coffee: A Caffeinated History.
This piece was edited by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches a variety of coffee products, from measuring scoops to commercial espresso machines, and interviews field experts for their insight. At home, he typically makes coffee with the Bodum BRAZIL French Press—a great budget option, especially for those who prefer non-electric brewers.