8 of the best cold brew coffee makers for a refreshingly cool beverage at home

'Cause cold-brew and iced coffee are *NOT* the same

A trio of cold brew coffee makers from Bodum, Ovalware and KitchenAid on swirly brown marble effect graphic background
(Image credit: Future)

I never really used to care about the difference between a cold brew coffee maker and an iced coffee maker. Iced coffee is iced coffee, IMO. But boy, was I wrong. If you want the best and most refreshing experience, go with a cold brew coffee maker. It will change your coffee routine. In fact, I haven't visited Dunkin' for my signature iced coffee order in weeks, maybe months, since I've figured out to replicate my order at home: Oat milk, syrup, and all. 

With so many cold brew coffee makers out there, I went on a (caffeine-fuelled) endeavor to test a bunch, to determine which ones are the best on the market.  Newsflash: there are quite a lot, many with very subtle differences, and some with a very unique point of view. 

Quick Menu:
1. Cold brew coffee maker reviews
2. Things to consider
3. FAQs
4. How we test
6. Where to buy

Yes, you can do the same job with your average coffee maker, so long as it has an "Over Ice" setting, but if you're like me and you rely on iced coffee to survive from April through to September, then it'll be worth investing in a dedicated machine. There truly is nothing comparable to the smooth, rich flavors brought out by cold brewing coffee.

Jaclyn Turner photo
Jaclyn Turner

Jaclyn was previously ecommerce editor at Real Homes, and also reviewed products for Livingetc and Homes & Gardens. Jaclyn tasted all bar one of these cold brew coffee makers, using the same type of coffee each time to ensure the results were fair. If you're wondering about her preferred coffee order, she's currently loving cold brew with oat milk and caramel.

8 of the best cold brew coffee makers

What to consider when buying a cold brew coffee maker

Not all cold brew coffee makers are made equal. So it's important to choose one that suits your lifestyle. Have a look at the five criteria I've listed out below which will no doubt impact your decision-making process.

Size: You don't want to be washing up a huge carafe of coffee if you're only going to be using it to make a cup of two. So in this case — size does matter. A large cold brew coffee maker will either have to sit on your countertop or be stowed away in a kitchen cupboard when not in use, so make sure you have the space for it.

Brewing method: With cold brew coffee makers, it's either a case of immersion or a slow drip. Immersion is generally the more popular style, resulting in a stronger-tasting coffee. Slow drip sort of works similarly to the best filter coffee makers on the market. Slow drippers are generally speedier at making your beverage, but the resulting drink may be a little weaker in taste.

Price: Unlike Jessie J's song, we are thinking about the price tag here. If cold brew coffee is your go-to drink 365 days a year, you might want to spend money on the best cold brew coffee maker brand (with all the fancy features). But if you only bring it out when the mercury starts to rise, consider a cheap (but highly-rated one) to get you started.

Filter or Infuser? How do you brew, boo? If you've got a drip filter coffee maker at home, you might be less bothered about using paper filters (as you'll most likely have them in your coffee-making inventory). But, these days most cold brew coffee makers have built-in infusers. The latter = less mess and less money spent each month on filters.

Material: If you invest in the best non-toxic cookware, the chances are you'll go for glass over plastic. However, most plastic these days is BPA-free and is a better choice for you butter-fingered babes.

FAQs

What's the difference between cold brew and iced coffee?

Cold brewing results in lower acidity for a smoother, naturally sweet taste. It's a slow-brew process that takes between 12 and 24 hours at room temperature, or in the fridge to extract the oils, caffeine, and sugar. The longer the coffee steeps, the stronger the flavor. The resulting product — a highly concentrated coffee that is mixed with a combination of ice and water or milk. With cold brew, less goes a long way. 

Chris Diamantakis, co-founder of Pure Joy Coffee explains that "Cold drip coffee separates the cold water from the coffee grounds completely. The technique requires a cold drip apparatus or ‘drip tower’ — usually made of three vessels—that allows iced water to slowly drip over freshly ground coffee. The ground coffee absorbs each drip of water, which then drops into a separate vessel at the bottom of the tower."

Once it's brewed, it has a two-week shelf life. 

Pre-made cold-brew options are available, but some with sweeteners or creamer could have preservatives, and they vastly range from affordable to not. Brewing at home lets you use your favorite coffee blends, and of course, have control of what goes into your coffee. Some also say it's more environmentally friendly too. 

Meanwhile, iced coffee starts from the traditional coffee brewing process aka hot then cooled by pouring over ice or being refrigerated. Iced coffee is at risk of becoming diluted when using ice cubes to cool it from its hot temperature. For best results, it should be brewed double strength to not lose its flavor. 

Cold Brew turns out what would be described as full-bodied, and ice coffee is more medium-bodied. 

What is the best ratio for cold brew coffee?

According to Diamantakis, "a water-to-coffee ratio of around 1:4 or 1:5 is commonly used. However, this can be adjusted based on personal preference."

What grounds to use for cold brew?

"Starting with high-quality, freshly roasted beans is essential for a good cold brew," says Diamantakis.

He then goes onto explain that cold brew requires a coarser grind compared to other brewing methods.

"This helps to prevent over-extraction and bitterness, resulting in a smoother, less acidic brew. Using cold, filtered water helps extract the flavors from the coffee beans without any unwanted elements. Avoid using hot or tap water, as they can negatively affect the taste of the final product,"

"After steeping, cold brew should be strained and stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator. Allowing it to chill for a few hours or overnight before consumption enhances the flavors."

How we test cold brew coffee makers

Coffee Gator cold brew coffee maker in Beth Mahoney's home

(Image credit: Future / Beth Mahoney)

We try our very best to test every cold brew coffee maker we include in our guides, which is why the majority of the coffee makers in this guide come with ratings out of five to indicate how well we liked it when we tried it hands-on.

Where we don't have hands-on experience with a machine we depend more heavily on other user reviews, and take into account the specs of the machine and the price. We will never give something a rating out of five if we've not tried it ourselves. 

In our testing, to keep things standard, for seven out of eight products we reviewed, we used Gevalia's Guatemalan Coarse Ground Coffee and brewed it between 16 and 17 hours, right in the middle of the recommended time of 12-24 hours. In the beginning, we definitely underestimated how much coffee that goes into cold brew. For the most concentrated brews, you'll want a lot on hand.

Meet our cold brew coffee maker reviewers:

Beth Mahoney headshot
Beth Mahoney

Beth is our staff writer and purchased the Coffee Gator Cold Brew Jug after realizing that she was spending far too much on fancy iced drinks from local coffee houses. She likes to use the brewing system in the summer to make all her fave DIY chilled coffees and is always trying out new recipes (many of which she finds while browsing Pinterest). She first purchased the system two years ago, after seeing a TikToker raving about it, and has utilized it every summer since. She’s absolutely obsessed and wouldn’t like to be without it.

Where to buy a cold brew coffee maker

Christina Chrysostomou
Acting head ecommerce editor

Hi, I'm the acting head ecommerce editor at Real Homes. Prior to working for the Future plc family, I've worked on a number of consumer events including the Ideal Home Show, Grand Designs Live, and Good Homes Magazine. With a first class degree from Keele University, and a plethora of experience in digital marketing, editorial, and social media, I have an eye for what should be in your shopping basket. I'm the in-house appliances expert and have gone through the internal customer advisor accreditation process.

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