Coffee is great all the time, but let’s be real here: no one wants to down a piping hot cup of joe when it’s approaching 107 degrees outside. For those times, a cup of cold brew does the trick.
Of course, there’s also iced coffee—which is not the same thing. In fact, these two are commonly confused because, well, they’re both cold. And there’s no reason you can’t put ice in cold brew coffee—in fact, it’s encouraged! So, what’s the difference? Iced coffee is generally brewed hot, then cooled off with ice. It’s not quite brewing a normal pot of hot coffee and pouring it over ice, mind you—iced coffee is generally brewed slowly over ice.
Cold brew, by contrast, is brewed cold and never heated during the process. That’s why it takes 12 hours (or more) to brew a pot—or even a cup—of cold brew coffee. The grounds are placed directly in the water, where they steep for upwards of half a day—kind of like sun tea, but without the sun. This naturally extracts the coffee’s rich flavor while simultaneously reducing acid. Hot brews extract the flavor very quickly, which leads to a bitter, more acidic cup.
So if you’re looking for a cleaner, milder, more refreshing cup of coffee, cold brew is a great way to go. Here are some of the best cold brew coffee makers you can buy to get you started.
The Best Overall: OXO Good Grips ($50)
If you’ve tried cold brew coffee in the past and know that you’re ready to go all in with the best cold brewer you can get, the OXO Good Grips is the one for you. At $50, it’s a little steeper than some of the other options on this list, but hey—you want the best, you have to pay a little bit for that.
The OXO works similarly to other cold brewers, but its unique design make for easy brewing and cleaning. What makes the OXO different is the “Rainmaker” top, which even distributes the water little-by-little on top of the freshly-ground coffee, thoroughly coating it all for a better tasting brew.
Once brewing is complete, a convenient level releases all the water to the carafe below. The grounds can then easily be dumped from the brewing container. It’s a clever design.
The Good Grips brews 32 ounces (1 quart) at one time.
The Best on a Budget: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew ($16)
If you’re not so sure about this whole “cold brew” thing and want to give it a go without committing a lot of cash to the endeavor, the $16 Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew is a fantastic little kit to get you started.
Unlike the OXO Good Grips, this model is a lot more like a diffuser—the coffee grounds are placed in the reusable filter, then dropped directly into the water. After the proper steep time is completed, the brewing basket/filter is removed and the coffee remains in this pitcher were it was brewed. It’s a clean, simple system.
Like the Good Grips, the Mizudashi brews around a quart of coffee at one time, though the overall footprint is a little smaller with this brewer, making it a good choice for smaller kitchens.
The Best Portable Brewer: Asobu Coldbrew ($40)
If you want a cold brewer that is just at home on the road as it is on your kitchen counter, the Asobu Coldbrew is a great choice. This brewer works in a very similar fashion to the OXO Good Grip in that the coffee steeps in one container and this is easily transferred to an attached carafe.
The difference is that the carafe is insulated and includes an airtight lid for easy transport. Once the brew is finished and the coffee is released into the carafe, you can simple toss the lid on it and take the entire thing with you. It will keep your brew cold for up to 24 hours (or hot for 12, if that’s your thing).
The Coldbrew makes 40 ounces of coffee and comes apart for easy cleaning.
The Best for Big Batches: County Line Kitchen Cold Brew Coffee Maker ($27)
All the brewers on this list make a respectable amount of coffee—about 32 ounces or so—but sometimes that won’t cut it. If that time comes, you’ll want the cold brewer by County Line Kitchen, which can make double the amount of the others on this list in its two quart brewer. That’s a lot of coffee.
This kit includes a heavy duty, fine mesh reusable steel filter, a massive two quart mason jar, and a useful flip cap lid. There’s an older version of the brewer available that doesn’t include this lid, but for the same price, it’s a no brainer to go with the newer model—it will make pouring your brew a lot easier.
It works similarly to the Hario brewer in that the coffee grounds are steeped in the brewing basked directly in the water, then removed once it’s finished. This also makes for easy cleaning. The Ball mason jar is also a very nice touch—it gives the brewer an old school feel. These jars are also ultra robust, so it should a lifetime.
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