The Japanese have been making cold-brew coffee since the 1600s but we Brits have only recently cottoned on. Why not just drink a hot coffee that’s gone cold, you may ask.
There’s certainly an argument for that but, in the main, cold brewing eliminates the natural acidity and bitterness of coffee and that means it has a much smoother taste on the palette. As cold brews have a higher caffeine content, they are usually enjoyed with a full glass of ice or a splash of chilled water or milk.
At the moment, we think the best cold brew coffee maker is the Oxo Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker, but if you're not keen on that model then we've got several others for you to browse through below.
How to buy a cold brew coffee maker
Most cold brewers work very much like their hot-brew counterparts and some models like the Bodum and Duo will even perform both tasks. Processes vary but most of the cold-brew products we present below use either the immersion or drip technique. The biggest difference between hot and cold brewers is steeping time: where a hot filtered brew takes between 5 and 10 minutes to produce, the cold equivalent takes between 12 and 24 hours.
It must be said, however, that people who swear by these cold-brew-making products are invariably died-in-the-wool java aficionados who, like wine-loving oenophiles, can detect even the slightest differences in aroma and acidity between one brew and another. In that respect you might not notice any major differences between a cold brew and a hot brew gone cold.
Cold-brew coffee makers don’t require electricity and are relatively cheap to buy though we do have one highfalutin Japanese model here that costs over £600. That said, even the dirt-cheap Hario Mizudashi makes a very decent cold brew. At close of play, our favourite model turned out to be the Oxo Good Grips followed by the cleverly designed Duo Coffee Steeper.
1. Oxo Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Best bang for bucks
This highly-rated cold brewer is quite a large beast, though thankfully it does collapse into a smaller package for storage. The Oxo is capable of producing coffee concentrate for up to 12 servings so that’s a big plus if you’re a family of coffee fiends.
It’s comprised of four main parts: a stand with brew-release switch, a brewing container for the coffee grinds, a rainmaker (essentially a perforated lid that showers water evenly over the granules) and a glass carafe for catching all that liquid gold.
Oxo recommends using a 1:4 coffee-to-water ratio and a brewing period of 12 to 24 hours before activating the brew-release switch. When ready, simply add ice and/or a splash of milk for a cracking iced coffee with rich aromatic flavour and no detectable bitterness or acidity. Clean up isn’t too messy either. Top buy.
2. Fellow Duo Coffee Steeper
Unique twist-and-go portable
This hot and cold coffee steeper combines the immersion technique of a French press with the gravity-filtered process of a manual pour-over model. Its unique two-stage filtration system also ensures that the final result is entirely sediment free. The Duo comes in three main parts: a stainless steel upper section, a brewing chamber and a borosilicate glass pot.
To use, simply fill the chamber with the recommended amount of coffee grounds, add some chilled fresh water, give it a stir and leave it to brew for around 12 hours. Now twist the lid and watch in amazement as a stream of pure sediment-free joe is magically deposited into the pot below. The same process is used to make a hot cuppa, except immersion time is just a few minutes instead of hours.
An excellent two-in-one option.
3. Bodum Chambord
The classic French press
You might well already have one of these popular French press systems buried somewhere behind the disused ice-cream maker. If so, dust it off and put it to some good use once again. Bodum produces a wide range of models but the eight-cup Chambord model is just the right size for the task.
As with most cold-brew makers, you simply lob in a good dose of medium to fine ground coffee and gently pour cold water over the granules ensuring that everything is nicely soaked. Now leave to rest for the prerequisite 12 hours of so before slowly pushing down the plunger.
This system makes an excellent cold brew but you will need to be careful when pouring the results into a storage jug because the last inch or so of concentrate will be sludgy and even a bit gritty. And that’s the last thing you need.
4. Hario Mizudashi
Great budget-priced model
This cheap and unexpectedly cheerful pour-over model is just the ticket for the coffee soloist who isn’t too fussed about intensity.
Where the Oxo, Bodum and Duo Coffee Steeper retain the coffee and water in a solution for up to twelve hours, this one differs in that most of the chilled water poured over the grounds seeps immediately into the glass carafe below and only the bottom half of the filter basket remains in contact with the water.
The resulting brew isn’t as strong as other models here and there is evidence of faint cloudiness in the solution, but it’s flavoursome all the same. The Mizudashi makes up to 600ml of cold brew concentrate and requires medium to coarse grounds for best results. It’s cheap as chips, too.
5. Yama Glass 25 Cup Cold Drip Maker
The scientific laboratory option
Cold brew coffee might be a relatively new thing for Brits but the Japanese have been at it for the past four centuries. And this towering artistic conversation piece is the sort of contraption they favour.
Despite its complex construction, the Yama is relatively easy to use. Just fill the top glass with ice and fresh water – preferably bottled – scoop about 100 grams of a high quality medium-grind coffee into the glass vessel beneath, then pre-soak a circular paper filter and place it on top of the grounds.
Now adjust the miniature tap to release the water at around one drop per second. It takes about eight hours for the cold-drip process to complete but it’s well worth the wait. The chilled sediment-free elixir this elaborate apparatus creates is truly exquisite and free of any hint of acidity. But you’re going to need some very deep pockets to enjoy the privilege.