There are tons of ways to get ahold of coffee, but making a great cup of ice coffee can be difficult. Furthermore, every coffee maker will claim to give you the best coffee you’ve ever had. One thing is certain: everyone loves the taste of a good ice coffee on a hot day, so here are the best designed machines to make the job simple and easy for you.
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Why cold brew
Admittedly, a strange question, given the context of the article, but, really, why have a cold coffee at all when you can wake up to a nice hot coffee and letting it cool in the fridge, or better yet, adding a few ice cubes? Well, for one, cold brewing coffee makes the coffee taste much better than hot-brewing coffee and letting it chill in the fridge. Additionally, adding ice cubes will just dilute the taste, resulting in weaker-tasting coffee. Cold brew, on the other hand, is generally meant to be concentrated and perhaps watered down later, by adding milk/cream and not too much water, which just ends up ruining the taste. If you’ve ever tried, or if you’re unfortunate enough to try some day, you’ll find hot-brewed coffee with ice added on will also result in a bitter taste. Brewing your coffee with cold exposure instead of heat leads to extraction of fewer bitter flavors, resulting in a sweeter, milder-tasting coffee in the long run.
At the end of the day, every cold-brewed coffee is prepared the same way though:
- Grind up a lot of coffee (more than you normally use for a normal brew of coffee)
- Add some water and let the mixture rest for about eight to twenty-four hours then filter it out.
- Whatever is left should either be ready to drink or too concentrated. If the latter case is true, dilute the coffee with some water or milk.
Best cold-brew coffee makers
There are a few already established criteria to keep in mind while searching for the best cold brew coffee maker. Taking into account the taste, which is primarily dictated by the perceivable levels of acidity of the coffee, the price of the coffee maker and the popularity of each of the models with coffee lovers, we compiled the following list of high-quality coffee makers.
The first thing the OXO Good Grips wins is in terms of aesthetic, and when it comes to a cold-brew coffee maker, looks are one of the most important things to keep in mind, because you’re going to have to leave it out for hours on end while the coffee grounds steep. The OXO’s outer frame looks a lot better than a plastic carafe and will fit better on a fridge shelf than the relatively taller jug on many competing models. It’s a bit of a subjective opinion, and if you’re okay with a relatively less better looking coffee maker, this shouldn’t be your main area of concern. The OXO operates on a reservoir-vessel system, similar to what you’d find in most cold-brew coffee makers, but this sits on a dedicated wide-base stands, rather than sitting directly on top of the carafe. This allows for water to pour through the perforated lid and then gets distributed evenly, allowing for a fresher brew.
Usability-wise, the OXO has some of the best design pros in any coffee make model out there. It has volume markings on the side to help you measure water for brewing, and produces the most flavorful cup of cold-brew coffee of all the models on this list. This is at least the result you should expect if you follow the recipe OXO suggests.
The OXO comes with optional paper filters, which can be used in addition to the reusable mesh filter. They aren’t required per se, but should theoretically help create a smoother brew with less residue settling at the bottom. However, in practice, it doesn’t do much an ordinary unperforated piece of paper doesn’t do. The filtering process slows down to a drip and you’ll end up with just a few ounces of concentrate. This wildy depends on the amount of sediments you have, though, because whereas it does slow down the process, you’re more prone to fall victim to it if you use excess coffee beans. It’s not enough to be a deal breaker, so our advice, go easy on the coffee or don’t use the paper filter all together.
The Filtron Cold Water is a great machine to have, especially if you’re one to be guided by your taste buds over the looks of the brewer itself. It comes quite close to the OXO in this regard, and some would even say it beats its nemesis. Of course the taste will be different, but you can expect it to produce a smooth and mellow coffee every time, no matter what kind of beans you use. What’s more, it saves you money in the process, because the resulting concentrate is cheaper per cup than any other model on this list, or perhaps even otherwise, that is, if you’re comfortable using the recipe it comes with.
When it comes to usability, it’s not as easy to set up and drain as our top pick, but it still comes out as one of the winners as compared to other models in the market. It may not be the flashiest of picks, but it does possess a great shade of black that will hide any stains that form up over time. At the bottom of the brewer is a black plastic bucket that has a felt filter and rubber stopper together with paper filters that hold the ground coffee and water. Your mixture should sit for about 24 hours then you put the carafe under it and pull the stopper – letting it drain for, give or take, 30 minutes. This whole process should produce about 32 ounces of concentrate, which you should them dilute with 6 parts water, which should result in about 37 6-ounce servings of coffee. This capacity should survive for two weeks in the fridge.
Down to the drawbacks of the Filtron, cleaning it is quite a hassle. In order to efficiently get it ready for re-use, you should pluck out the filter (which should be full of grounds) or scooping the bucket out and rinsing it. Afterwards, you should store the filter in water inside a fridge for a while in order to prevent mold formation, which brings us down to the second worst drawback with this model. If you forget to clean it, you could be subject to mold poisoning, a problem the OXO doesn’t face. Additionally, the Filtron comes with a bulky stock of paper towels that make the brew much smoother, but are difficult to find, even on Amazon.
Back to the visual appeal, the Filtron isn’t the most stylish model you’ll come across, but that’s not to say it looks horrible. It’s quite large, at a height of 19 inches when set up together with the carafe, but can be stowed away quite easily, taking up just as much space as a medium-sized mixing bowl.
The Toddy T2N can be thought of as Filtron’s ugly twin brother – they basically feature the same design in terms of appearance, operation and the quality of coffee they produce, only a little worse with each consecutive progression. For one, the T2N’s body is made of white plastic, and gathers a lot of coffee stains over time and the carafe is quite fragile. Sure, the white body could motivate you to clean a little bit more, but if you hate seeing dirt or you’re just too lazy to bother following up, this isn’t the model for you.
The instructions that come with the T2N are also a lot harder to follow than the Filtron’s. If you manage to get in the swing of things, though, you’ll end up with an approximate 48 ounces of concentrate, which should be about enough to fill 24 6-ounce cups. The coffee itself isn’t by the very definition of the word, ‘bad,’ just not as flavorful, smooth or well-balanced out as our top picks. To put everything simply, it’s unimpressive because it brings nothing new to the table, but not so bad as to shy away from.
The BodyBrew BOD features a somewhat different design from the usual tall model of cold-brew coffee maker, made instead to look like an asymmetrical hourglass. It has a sci-fi feel and would be great to have against a light background since it would stick out quite uniquely. One end of the body holds a metal filter and the other the storage compartment for the resulting concentrate. It produces a really mean coffee, and would be able to go up with the likes of the OXO model if it wasn’t so darn expensive. Well, if you’re willing to cough up some extra cash for that sleek futuristic sci-fi look, this should be your number one pick. If you’re one for practicality, there’s essentially nothing to back the BOD’s exorbitant prices.
The CoffeeSock seems like it would potentially be a great way to prepare iced coffee, but when it comes to the actual coffee-making process, it might shock you. Just a little bit though. It’s quite unimpressive at what it does, producing moderately bitter coffee and quite a mess once you’re done. It comes in different sizes and will produce 32 or 64 ounces of concentrated coffee, depending on your preparation method. The coffee itself has no inviting aroma, moderately acidic and overall not the first thing you want to taste in the morning. The most annoying part is the cleaning process, where you’re going to have to empty the sock of coffee grounds then turning it inside out to rinse the granules off.
The Cold Bruer Drip is pretty popular among coffee fanatics, and is the most expensive entry on the list. At most, it will produce about 20 ounces of coffee, which is already diluted (a bit of a bummer) and is a bit difficult to operate. Setting up the proper drop rate takes a bit of effort and time, and has unpredictable brew times. It will vary wildly depending on how you set the whole rig up. If you’re a hardcore coffee fanatic, it produces respectable results and would make a fantastic addition to your collection, but it isn’t very pragmatic to the rest of us regular coffee-drinkers.
This model, like the one before it, is very cumbersome to set up and the results are just similarly disappointing. It produces a watery brew and was designed in such a way that as you pour water through the filter baskets, one wrong move and you’ll have to start the whole process over.
Once again, there’s essentially no real difference between this model and the one featured before it. The coffee sounds pretty much the same and is just as difficult to set up.
If you hadn’t predicted it already, this model isn’t very good either, despite its relative popularity, However, the blame is primarily to go on its unorthodox design that produces acidic coffee, straight out the mad scientist’s lab.
Preparing coffee on the Broo Coffee Goods is more cumbersome than any other coffee brewer on this list, and doubles up by being the worst-tasting coffee on the list. If you don’t like cleaning, you’re going to hate this, and if you do love cleaning, you’re still going to hate it.
Alternative: French press
There’s nothing wrong with honoring the ways of tradition because a French press will produce just as good a coffee as any one of the cold-brew coffee makers mentioned above, so long as you’re able to get the right recipe for your particular press. The resulting brew will have a significantly higher amount of sediments than an electrically-produced brew so you’re going to have to take the extra step of occasional filtering. Predictably, this makes cleaning up harder, since you have to disassemble the filter if you want to get rid of all the clogged-up sediments.