Seemingly everyone’s go-to coffee beverage in the summer is cold brew. Though it’s not the best version of iced coffee for everybody, its appeal can’t be denied. Cold-brewed coffee is smooth, flavorful and more basic (as in less acidic) than hot-brewed coffee. You can make a batch of cold brew and be set for days without having to wait for a pot of drip coffee or a carafe of pour-over coffee. When it comes to cold brew brewers, all you need is a large vessel for soaking coffee grounds and a way to cleanly remove those grounds from the liquid. But not all cold brewers make a good cup of coffee. These are the five best cold brew makers for getting the most out of your beans.
OXO’s cold brew coffee maker makes it rain. The contraption features a perforated “rainwater” overhead that sprinkles water over the coffee grounds for even extraction. The brewer uses a metal filter to filter out the grinds, but OXO includes a batch of paper filters that it claims produces a cleaner, smoother drink. Dispense cold brew at the flip of a switch much like a standard water cooler. At $50, it isn’t cheap, but considering a 16-ounce cup of cafe-bought cold brew costs around $5, your first batch of cold brew will nearly pay for itself.
Cheap and easy to use, the Takeya makes a notably weaker coffee than most other brewers. For some, this might be a good thing, as most brewers create a concentrate that is meant to be diluted with water or milk. Fill the coffee filter with about eight ounces of coffee grounds, screw in the filter to the top, add water almost to the top, shake the device to agitate the grounds and water, then chill overnight for cold brew in the morning. The pitcher is small enough to fit on a refrigerator door, and disassembly and clean up are simple. Some have noted that the filter may discolor over time, but Takeya sells replacement filters if that bothers you.
Rather than steeping coffee grounds in water, the Cold Bruer is a slow-drip coffeemaker that results in a sweet, full-bodied coffee. The Cold Bruer is for true coffee nerds who can fine-tune their coffees for optimal flavor extraction. Watching the water drip is entertaining, but some may me dismayed by how slowly the brew takes to come to fruition; and many complain about not being able to accurately guess the time it takes for the water to finish dripping. Regardless of its flaws, the ingenuity of this slow-drip cold brew maker is apparent. In 2013, the Cold Bruer started as a project on Kickstarter before backers blew it up into a beloved, fully realized coffee maker.
The Toddy system is a bit messier than most other cold brew makers, but baristas have used the Toddy for cold brewing coffee for over 50 years. It comes with a brewing container, a glass carafe, felt filters, a rubber stopper and optional paper filters (which we strongly recommend unless you like scooping out muddy grounds). To brew, pour coffee grounds into the brewing container and let steep for up to 24 hours. To decant, remove the rubber stopper from the bottom of the brewing container and let drip into the accompanying carafe. Be fast because coffee will spurt out immediately once the stopper is removed. The felt filters last for around three months, and using the paper filter will expand its longevity while making cleanup clean.
As much as we love the look of the Yama, we don’t actually expect you to buy a $250 cold brew coffee maker. The device contains an ice water reservoir that slowly drips into coffee grounds, with brewed coffee making its way into a glass reservoir through a spiral slide. Adjust the water valve’s flow with a frequency between one second and one-and-a-half seconds to control the coffee’s boldness. Coffee takes between three to four hours, and watching the coffee brew is half the fun. Be wary of the glass’ fragility because, like most art, it’s delicate as hell.
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