As much as I love a regular cup of joe, sometimes a hot coffee just isn’t going to cut it, especially on a hot humid day. What I crave is a strong, ice-cold, sweet cold brew coffee.
Iced cold brew coffee is packed full of flavors and is super refreshing on a hot day, and the great thing is it contains much less acidity than a regular hot or iced coffee.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that popular high-street coffee chains typically charge a premium for a small, mediocre cup of cold brew coffee. The thing is, cold brew isn’t all that difficult to make, the only real investment is time.
So, bearing that in mind, why not save yourself a few bucks and brew some premium cold brew coffee at home, using your brewer.
Trust me, it’s not as hard as you think, and I have had some excellent batches of CBC that would put those high-street coffee shops to shame.
Why Cold Brew?
Why cold brew? Can I add some ice cubes to a regular cup of coffee? Well, you could, but it’s not going to be cold brew. It will simply be a hot coffee that’s now been watered down by melted ice and cold.
Iced coffee Isn’t cold brew!
Cold brew coffee is an entirely different experience that utilizes an extended steeping technique that helps to bring out the locked-in flavors found buried in the coffee. Even brewing regular coffee using hot water will struggle to bring out the flavors and notes that cold brew can.
This simple cold steeping technique makes CBC a thing of beauty, and the full smack in the mouth flavors of natural chocolate, floral, and fruity notes inherent in coffee will want you coming back for more.
But that not all, the cold steeping process also reduces the acidity found in the coffee, so if you suffer from a sensitive stomach cold brew is going to be an excellent option for you to still be able to get your caffeine kick without the cramps.
If that’s not enough, here’s some more great thing about iced cold brew coffee.
Super Easy to Make
Making a large batch of cold brew is relatively simple. All it takes is some coarsely ground coffee, room temperature water, and mix the two and allow to steep for over 12 hours.
Very Low Acidity
Due to the long steeping process, cold brew has up to 67% less acidity when compared to a regular cup of Joe. This low acid coffee is a godsend for those of you that suffer from a sensitive stomach or heartburn.
The Backbone of Many Coffee Recipes
The cold-brew concentrate can be used in an endless range of specialty drinks; in fact, many of the coffee chains do just that. One of my personal favorites is to add a smidgen of Kahlua in my iced coffee – it tastes out of this world!
Long Shelf Life
A great benefit of cold brew versus regular coffee is that it can be stored in your refrigerator for a least a week after its brewed. This is awesome during too hot summer months; I always have a constant supply of CBC on tap in my fridge door.
Get the Most Flavors From your Coffee
Due to the coffee science involved in brewing with cold water compared to hot water, making a batch of CBC and the long steeping process using cold water helps to unlock the flavors locked deep inside your beans.
Can I Just Put My Hot Coffee in the Fridge and Add Ice?
To enjoy the authentic iced coffee experience and unlocked all of the flavors found in cold brew, you will need to invest in a completely different coffee brewer and choose the best coffee for cold brew; shoving your leftover coffee into a container inside of the fridge just isn’t going cut it!
As I mentioned previously in this article, cold-brewed coffee tastes so much better than hot due to the lengthy extraction process. Sure, hot water speeds up the extraction process, but it also warms up and breaks down a lot of the natural oils and fats found in coffee.
Brewing with regular hot water actually alters the chemical makeup of the coffee, which in turn produces an unpleasant bitter aftertaste when left to cool.
On the flip side, cold brewing coffee utilizes time rather than heat to slowly release those exact same flavorful oils and fats found inside of the coffee. But, cold brew (CBC) doesn’t alter the chemical structures of these compounds, which results in a coffee that is packed full of flavor and less acidic.
What to Look for When Choosing the Perfect Cold Brew Coffee Maker
So, it sounds like you want to give cold brew coffee a try, but without the right gear, you could be facing problems. CBC has come a long way in recent years, with an increased selection of different iced coffee drinks appearing in almost all popular coffee chains.
However, if you want to brew your own, you’re going to have to invest in an iced coffee maker that’s up for the job in hand. Below I have listed some of the must-have criteria that the best-iced coffee maker should have.
Is a Bigger Cold Coffee Brewer Going to Be Better?
CBC is often brewed in large volumes and kept in the fridge; due to the size of these coffee concentrate brewers, it can make storing difficult.
Some of these brewers often have a large circumference and can be tall, meaning that they can occupy an entire shelf in a fridge. But with that said, many of the best-iced coffee makers are taking this into account during the design process.
If you look hard enough, find a brewer that will fit snugly into your fridge door or that will occupy only a small amount of your shelf space in your fridge.
How About Coffee Filters – Does Cold Brew Need One?
Traditional coffee makers often call for some type of filter, but do you need one in a cold coffee brewer? Well, some do, and some don’t. Some cold brew makers use circular paper filters that help to remove any coffee sediment before it reaches your cup.
Other popular brewers make use of a mesh-like filter that’s easier to remove and clean and is obviously better for the environment.
Technical Expertise Required
Just like any new coffee maker, there will be a slight learning curve to churning some great-tasting cold brew coffee. The good news is that almost everyone can master this in under a handful of tries. After all, it’s pretty simple right – course ground coffee and room temperature water and a bit of time (12+ hours).
The 7 Best Cold Brew Coffee Makers
Below I have done all of the legwork for you and picked out 7 of the best cold brew coffee makers I could get my hands on. Trust me, it’s a minefield out there.
But rest assured that all of the below brewers can churn out some excellent tasting iced cold brew coffee that’s leaps and bounds ahead of those high-street coffee shops in terms of taste and aroma.
KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker
The KitchenAid iced coffee maker is my number one recommendation for anyone wanting a no-frill easy to use brewer for cold brew coffee.
The KitchenAid CBC maker has been constructed out of brushed stainless steel and thick, durable glass. The rubber feet ensure that the unit doesn’t slip around in your fridge or on your kitchen counter. The size of this coffee maker is perfect, and it can brew up to 28-ounce batches of delicious coffee concentrate.
KitchenAid takes the guesswork out of making CBC at home by indicating with fill levels the required amount for the brewing process. Another plus is the built-in stainless-steel tap that allows you to dispense your cold brew directly from your refrigerator effortlessly.
Unlike many of the other CBC makers that are often strangely shaped to fit inside a typical fridge, the KitchenAid doesn’t suffer from that problem. Thanks to the cube design that’s the perfect shape and size to fit inside almost all modern fridges.
But it doesn’t stop there. The integrated carry handle makes removing the iced coffee maker from the fridge a breeze.
Toddy Cold Brew System
With the Toddy, it’s go big or go home! This CBC system can brew up large quantities of iced coffee concentrate. You can yield enough for a week’s worth of coffee, and it doesn’t take a genius to operate.
Unlike other coffee brewers that require you to sit and study a detailed instruction manual, you won’t have that problem with the Toddy. There are only four main pieces in this cold brew kit: The plastic brewer, a glass carafe, the cloth filter, and a rubber stopper. It doesn’t get any simpler than this!
The Toddy uses a two-part wool and paper coffee filter to remove any sediment, so you only enjoy the cleanest concentrated iced coffee.
Getting started with the Toddy is super easy. Start by inserting the rubber stopper and the filter, then add coarsely ground coffee and fill up with room temperature water.
Wait for 12-24 hours, and Voila, you’ve got yourself a batch of cold brew coffee concentrate that’s going to last you for over a week.
Veken Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker
If you’re looking for smoothing that brew on a smaller scale and takes up less space, look no further than the “Veken.”
The all-in-one compact design that combines the CBC brewer into the serving carafe allows the coffee maker to take up less space in the fridge. It can easily fit into a corner of the refrigerator rather than taking up a whole shelf.
The Veken has been crafted from durable thickened Borosilicate glass that’s able to withstand the odd knock and bump while cleaning but won’t withstand a fall from any height.
The double mesh brewing filter does an excellent job of separating the coffee grounds from the brewing concentrate. Still, some microscopic grounds will always find their way through into your final cup. After you have finished steeping your coffee and remove the mesh filter, you are left with about 43-44 ounces of coffee.
Filtron Cold Water Coffee Concentrate Brewer
The Filtron won’t win any prizes in the looks department, but hey, looks aren’t everything, what the Filtron lacks in looks it makes up for with awesome tasting cold-brewed coffee.
The Filtron has been around for what seems like forever and is one of the most popular and recognized cold brew coffee makers on the market.
Setting up the Filtron can be a bit tricky as it utilizes both a paper and a reusable wool filter combined with a grounds guard disk – this might seem like overkill, but all of this layering ensures that there are zero sediments in your final extraction.
Simply put – you get a super clean cold brew in the end, which is all that matters at the end of the day.
One drawback of the Filtron is its size. At roughly 7.7 inches high and 7 inches wide, you are going to struggle to fit it inside of your fridge unless you don’t mind removing a shelf?
Royal Brew Nitro Cold Brew Coffee Maker Home Keg Kit System
This cold brew keg system is a must-have for any iced coffee lover. I’m sure you’ve all seen the Nitro coffee at places like Starbucks that cost an absolute fortune. Well, now you can have that exact same caffeine-infused experience at home at a fraction of the cost.
The Royal Brew Home Keg system is actually modeled on a beer dispensing system and utilizes the same technology to infuse Nitrogen with cold brew coffee. The beer faucet pulls a glass of Nitro cold brew in the exact same way as those pricey drinks found in popular coffee chains – yes, you will also have a foaming head and cascading foam.
The iced cold brew coffee poured from the Royal Keg is super-smooth, full-bodied, and packed full of sweet coffee goodness. In fact, it tastes so sweet that you’ll find that you don’t even have to add any additional sweeteners or even milk or cream.
The keg system uses popular cooking Nitrogen cartridges that are used in whip cream dispensers, and they can be readily found in high-street stores or over at Amazon.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Royal Key Brew System is 100% American-owned; you can actually speak to a real person based in the USA for any of your support queries (which a rarity nowadays).
So, if you want a real Nitro coffee experience in the comfort of your own home and by doing so saving yourself a small fortune, I highly recommend that you take a good look at the Royal Brew Home Keg system.
OXO Good Grips Brewer
The OXO Brew has incorporated some interesting tools to aid in the cold coffee brewing process.
One of the features that stands out to me is the smart perforated Rainmaker coffee extraction lid that ensures that all of your coffee grounds are evenly and completely saturated with water. This simple design in the lid really helps in reducing bitterness and over-extraction in your iced brewed coffee.
With the OXO Brew, you can control the entire cold brew process with a flick of a manual switch. I especially like the ultra-fine reusable mesh filter that’s super easy to clean once you’re done with your brewing.
The compact, slim design allows the OXO brewer to be tucked in any corner of your kitchen, taking up a tiny amount of space. With all of that said, you get a lot for your money with this iced coffee maker, it’s built to last and can be set up with very little knowledge – even for a complete novice!
Gourmia Automatic Cold Brew Coffee Maker
My final recommendation in the iced cold brew coffee category is trying to bring an old aged process into the modern age. The Gourmia Automatic Cold Brew Coffee Maker uses technology to aid in the brewing process – and I must admit it does look pretty neat!
Now get this. Regular cold brew coffee can take over 24 hours to finish a batch, but the Gourmia can produce the same great tasting results in under 5 minutes! I kid you not.
You also get a glass of extremely cold iced coffee due to the built-in system that circulates the brewed coffee over an ice basket. The Gourmia also takes the guesswork out of the cold brew strength by offering four simple brewing modes. Effortlessly chose between Light, medium, bold, or concentrate via the digital display.