Best Cold Brew in 2022 Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

Updated
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It can be said that cold brew coffee is the espresso of time. Both brewing styles result in concentrated coffee, but with decidedly different characteristics. Cold brew mellows over time, giving a sweeter and less acidic flavor. Its smoothness also makes for a great mixer. However, brew ratios, filter designs, and other technicalities may just get you a regular cup of coffee. If you want to see the results of an 18-hour wait, see our rankings and hands-on reviews of the best cold brew coffee makers. We also give key insights into what does and does not make a brewer work.

Choosing the Best Cold Brew Coffee Maker

Selecting the best cold brew coffee maker depends on your needs and priorities. If you’re after a top quality concentrate, the choice won’t be so difficult. If you’re looking for a convenient immersion filter brew carafe with a good enough brew, you need to choose more carefully. 

Bottom Filter vs Immersion Filter 

There are two broad design categories for cold brew coffee makers. One places grounds on the bottom of a brew vessel and water is poured on top. Some of these contain their grounds in a filter bag or coffee sock. The final brew is then decanted and filtered into a separate carafe, usually via unplugging the base.

The other style immerses a filter filled with grounds into a brew carafe. These tend to be favored for their convenience in terms of size, filtration, and fast decanting. 

However, our repeated test brewing showed that the former type using a separate brew vessel produces a better quality brew. This is partly because they enable a better (and customizable) grounds-to-water ratio. The other reason seems to be that they allow for more surface-area contact between the grounds and the water.  

Grounds in an immersion filter, on the other hand, are more compacted and filters have varying levels of permeability. Also, the brew ratio is more-or-less fixed.

For brew vessel designs, our two top choices are the Toddy Cold Brew System and the OXO. For immersion filter designs, there’s quite a wide range to choose from.

The Best Immersion Filter Design

A filter that is too fine tends not to allow enough permeability to infuse a good quality brew. A more porous filter generally means a better tasting brew, but you may have to decant the brew a second time to remove the sediment that settles on the bottom. 

At the same time, you may prefer to filter the entire contents through a paper filter. This produces a lighter-bodied brew which may also be healthier because paper filtration removes coffee oils. However, there aren't many studies on cold brewed coffee.

Secondly, immersion filters have a more-or-less fixed brew ratio. This can vary between brewers, but most use roughly a 1:8 ratio of grounds to water. There are ways to boost the brew strength or flavor. You can brew for a longer time, brew at room temperature, start by hot blooming, or brew with flavor enhancers such as chicory. 

In our brew testing, we also discovered that longer immersion filters tend to do better, especially if the carafe has a wide base. Filters are either made of stainless steel or a type of polyester or nylon. Stainless steel ones are generally the better choice, and they are more versatile for hot brewing. Super-fine laser-cut stainless steel filters, however, tend not to allow enough cross-flow.

The Need for Airtight Brewing 

Cold brewing happens over the course of 18 to 24 hours, often in the refrigerator. To prevent odor contamination and oxidation during that time, the brew decanter needs to be airtight both during and after brewing. Most decanters are airtight while brewing, but may not be so tight fitting once the filter is removed. Partly this is down to design, but the general quality of the seals and stopper should also be considered. 

Getting a Handle on Things 

Many cold coffee brewers can hold at least 40 oz (1.2 L) and some are much larger. It’s important that you can maintain a secure grip while lifting, so strong handles and grips can be important. The other factor is how well the decanter pours and how well it is balanced.

Depending on the design and height of the decanter and filter, you’ll often need a bottle brush to clean it out. Filters may also require periodic descaling. Most brewers can go into a dishwasher, but it’s best to just rinse off the seals or gaskets. If you don’t want one with too many parts, our detailed single product reviews each give a parts count.

Brewing to Size and Circumstance 

Another factor when making your own cold brew coffee is your available space, especially in the refrigerator. Check the brewer vessel or brew decanter dimensions if you want to stand it on a refrigerator shelf or in the door.

If you have a small refrigerator or minifridge, brewers like Toddy or OXO Compact may fit in the crisper box, but in some cases only if you remove the bottom shelf. You can brew outside of the refrigerator, but you’ll still need to refrigerate the coffee concentrate once it’s ready. Cold brew coffee concentrate can keep in a refrigerator for 10 to 14 days.

Brew Ratios and the Economics of Cold Brewing

Opinions about the best grounds-to-water ratio vary widely. Most cold brew experts will recommend a 1:4 to 1:5 ratio. After brewing, you can decide how much to dilute the concentrate. Poor design, however, will result in low extraction regardless of the ratio, and translate into poor cost performance.

In our tabulation of the best 5 cold brew coffee makers we tested, you can compare brew quality and brew ratios to the output volume or yield.

Ultimately, how far the brew goes depends on how much you prefer to dilute the concentrate. If the concentrate brewed by the Toddy or OXO Compact is diluted 1:1, and the immersion filters’ brew is drunk straight, here is the approximate economics of how much coffee you get per 1 oz of grounds:

  1. Ovalware - 10 fl.oz
  2. County Line - 8 fl.oz
  3. Toddy - 6.6 fl.oz
  4. Takeya - 6.6 fl.oz
  5. OXO - 5.3 fl.oz

The Toddy and OXO could even be diluted to a ratio of 1:3, or the brew ratio can be adjusted to increase the output volume. If you’re aiming for balance between quality and quantity, the Toddy is still the top contender. For immersion filter brewers, the Ovalware is the best economic choice, especially considering increasing coffee prices. 

Reviews of the Best Cold Brew Coffee Makers 2022 

We purchased and tested nine cold brew coffee makers based on their reputation, popular appeal, size, and design. Two brewers failed to make the cut.

1. Best to Buy in 2022

Things We Like

  • Minimal parts
  • No over-packaging
  • Eco-friendliness
  • Ergonomic components
  • Attractive carafe
  • Included paper filter bags
  • Cold or hot brewing

Things We Don’t Like

  • Felt filter tends to clog
  • No brew vessel markings

The Toddy Cold Brew System was one of the very first home cold brew coffee makers on the market. Its performance and simplicity have stood the test of time, and it’s still the best cold brew coffee maker we’ve tested. The profile of its brew is rich, complex, and everything you would want for a top-rate cold brew coffee. 

The device itself is relatively large. It produces around 40 fl.oz or 1.2 L of cold brew concentrate.  This can be diluted to a ratio of 1:2 or even 1:3. The recommended brew ratio of 12 oz grounds to 56 fl.oz water works out to a ratio of 1 to 4.6. We found this to be a very favorable brew ratio, but you can adjust the measurements to brew smaller volumes or to a different ratio. 

The main issue we encountered with the Toddy is that the felt filter is sometimes difficult to work with. It can clog and takes time to decant. The new product edition now includes brew bag filters to make things easier. The brew vessel is quite heavy so you need to carry it with two hands. Although the detachable handle may feel flimsy, its practical design actually works well for placing in a refrigerator.

We can’t fault the decanter in any way; it works well both aesthetically and in the excellent design of the stopper. The whole brew system also stores away very neatly. We also love its versatility — the brew bags work just as well with tea as coffee. The product also comes very ecologically packaged and is made in the USA. Note, though, that when you buy the Toddy, you commit to also buying replacement filter plugs or brew bags.

2. Best Small Brewer

Things We Like

  • Compact design
  • Quality packaging
  • Aesthetic decanter
  • Easy measuring
  • Pours very smoothly

Things We Don’t Like

  • Stopper doesn’t fit tightly
  • Sensitive decanter valve 
  • Brew not so complex

The OXO Compact cold brew coffee maker, as the name suggests, is OXO’s small answer to their popular OXO Good Grips cold brewer. It uses the same brewing method with the unique ‘rainmaker’ water dripper and an airtight lid.

The recommended brew ratio of the OXO Compact works out to 1:4. Although slightly less than the Toddy, we found that the OXO produces a stronger brew with a more defined rather than complex profile. We suspect this is so because of its water dripping system. We recommend adjusting the ratio or brewing for a shorter time if you prefer a milder flavor.

The design of the OXO is well thought out in terms of keeping things compact. Everything about this brewer is effortless - from brew vessel and decanter markings to cleaning and storage.

There are more parts to the OXO than most brewers, and the spring-loaded decanter valve is very sensitive so you should be careful when handling it. Also, we felt the decanter was rather delicate and the stopper didn’t fit securely. The reusable mesh filter does a good job, and you don’t have to commit to additional purchases.

3. Best Immersion Filter Brewer

Things We Like

  • Brew quality
  • Brew markers in cups and ml
  • Silicone base pad
  • Comfortable handle
  • Ease of brewing

Things We Don’t Like

  • Quality and fit of silicone seals
  • Additional decanting
  • Narrow head for cleaning

When it comes to the array of immersion filter cold brew coffee makers, Ovalware ranks as one of the best in our tests. We really liked how the brewer was able to bring out sweeter profiles. 

The brew ratio works out to 1:11 which is quite different from the standard of 1:8. The relatively porous and lengthy filter, coupled with the narrow neck and wider brewing area lower down seem to be key to this brewer's success. However, we found that the brew required additional decanting to remove excess sediment. 

Design features we appreciated the most were the rubber base pad, the small lip that won’t chip easily and the excellent grip and pouring performance. Cleaning takes a little extra effort because you need to use a bottle brush if you wash by hand. The only room for improvement is the rather average quality of the silicone seals.

4. Best Large 2-Quart Brewer

Things We Like

  • Air tight brew decanter
  • Cold or hot (tea) brewing
  • BPA-free
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Durable & light weight
  • 1 and 2 quart sizes
  • Color choice

Things We Don’t Like

  • Inadequate packaging
  • Included instructions inadequate
  • Filter cleaning

The Takeya is a relatively large cold brew coffee maker. Its full capacity is 2 quarts, though only 1.75 of that (56 fl.oz) is liquid volume when you’ve added the filter and grounds. After decanting, you’ll come out with 40 fl.oz (1.25 qt) or about 1.2 liters. This is the same as the Toddy.

The Takeya ranks as one of our top immersion brewers for brew quality, but when considering the brew ratio of 1:9, it didn’t perform as well as the Ovalware as far as efficiency goes. The advantages of the Takeya, however, are the durability of its Tritan plastic and the complete airtight and spill-proof design. You can lay the container on its side and no liquid will spill out. This also makes it very versatile and portable.

One point we took issue with was the design of the filter. Sometimes it doesn’t attach so securely to the lid, and if you shake the vessel too vigorously, you’ll have a lot more sediment to deal with after decanting. The filter is also quite long, and the complete unit separates into 7 parts for cleaning, which is more than average.

5. Most Practical Design

Things We Like

  • Versatile product
  • Minimal packaging
  • Packed and shipped in the US
  • Robust and durable
  • Airtight silicone gasket

Things We Don’t Like

  • Brew strength average
  • Filter not so effective

County Line Kitchen’s mason jar cold brew coffee makers eschew fancy design for simple home-style practicality.  The brewers come in 1- and 2-quart sizes and you can choose a screw-on lid with or without a handle. We brewed with the 1-qt size in a small refrigerator and it was a perfect fit. 

The County Line’s brew quality also ranks as one of our top five favorites. We recommend decanting the brew a second time because of excess sediment. The filter appears coarse, but it produces a better brew than the finely machined stainless steel ones. There’s not much to dislike about this brewer.

6. A Stylish Glass Carafe Brewer

Things We Like

  • Stylish decanter
  • Lid design
  • Decanter handle
  • High-quality filter
  • No plastic parts

Things We Don’t Like

  • Poor brew quality

The Aquach cold brew coffee maker has a lot going for it. It’s a beautifully designed product and looks very stylish on the counter. We really liked the practical design of the lid and the filter features a little handle to lift it out the decanter. 

The fixed brew ratio of the Aquach, however, is not the best and the filter is a little too fine. The brew, therefore, tends to be weak and lacking in complexity. If you prefer a weaker brew, it will do fine and it also functions as a tea infuser or a stylish juice carafe.

7. A Twisted French Press

Things We Like

  • No plastics used
  • Airtight brewing
  • Well-machined filter

Things We Don’t Like

  • Weighty and unbalanced
  • Lid stopper tough to remove
  • Loose decanter lid
  • Cumbersome silicone seals 

Many people simply use a French press to make cold brew coffee. The issue, though, is how to do so in an air-tight environment, and for some designs this is easier than others. Cafe du Chateau attempts to replicate the stylish French press look in a cold coffee maker.

The design, however, is a little ill conceived. For one, the airtight seals are cumbersome and of poor quality. Plus, it can be a challenge to remove the stopper for decanting. Also, the device is heavy and feels unbalanced when pouring. Finally, it didn’t separate from the metal sleeve for cleaning as advertised.

If you want to brew with a French press, we recommend you stick to an actual French press. The main upshots of this brewer were that the favorable brew ratio and the brew quality wasn’t bad.

Cold Brew Coffee Makers to Avoid and Why

In our test laboratory, we discovered two fundamental design flaws that generally precluded us from recommending a particular brewer. One reason is a non-airtight container and the other a poorly designed filter.

Primula Burke Deluxe

We liked the Primula Burke Deluxe’s overall design. We were disappointed, then, that despite its handy 1.6 qt size, short stature, and popular appeal, the brew quality fell flat. The issue was the filter design. It was too fine, so flavor just didn’t diffuse, and the plastic skeleton decreased permeability even further. 

Hario Mizudashi

The Hario Mizudashi is also an attractive brewer. Its long and slender design was perfect for brewing in the door of a small refrigerator. The vessel, however, is not airtight, the filter is too short, and the brew ratio failed to create an acceptable cold brew.