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    Updated on Apr 10, 2020. Posted on Apr 10, 2020

    If You Drink Cold Brew, You Need One Of These Coffee Makers In Your Life

    Save a couple bucks and make a nice cold cuppa at home.

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    Cold brew coffee. It’s a habit. And if you’re not careful, it can be a pricey habit. That is, until you discover that the best cold brew is the kind you make at home.

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    But for all the buzz about how simple and cost-effective it is, here’s what they don’t tell you: cold brew coffee takes patience (12 to 24 hours, to be exact-ish), and it can be a bit of a mess. But don’t let that scare you! The payoff is deliciously life-affirming. So we tracked down the best cold brew coffee makers, considering everything from shape and size to ease of use and cleanup. 

    Editor's Note: We're currently updating the picks for this review! Check back soon for more.

    Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Pot

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    For cold brew lovers looking for a straightforward setup that occupies minimal space, the under-$20 range provides a variety of cylinder-shaped, pitcher-style numbers that require little effort to use and maintain. Our favorite? The tall and sleek Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Pot, available in three colors. Made in Japan from durable, heatproof glass, the Mizudashi is about a foot tall and fits in most fridge doors or bottom shelves without taking up a ton of square footage. And with a 4.5-star rating on Amazon after about 1,900 reviews, this maker has earned respect from coffee aficionados and amateurs alike in spite of its low price.

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    If you’ve spent any time at specialty coffeehouses, you know Hario. The Japanese glass company is responsible for some of the most dependable pourover coffee gear on the market, including the super popular Hario V60 Ceramic Dripper and Hario Buono Gooseneck Kettle. But as fancy as all that stuff may look, Hario coffee accessories are actually surprisingly affordable, and the Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Pot is no exception.

    The first thing you’ll notice about the Mizudashi is that the directions are in Japanese. Don’t worry about that. Making cold brew coffee is an intuitive process, we promise. You steep ground coffee in room-temperature water for 12 to 24 hours to make a concentrate that can be cut with water (or milk, if you’re feeling saucy) and served over ice. It’s honestly that simple! The result is a sweeter, less acidic cuppa cold joe (more on that later).

    Now, you could get scientific about the ratio of coffee to water. Just ask San Francisco’s Ritual Coffee Roasters, which recommends 115 grams of ground coffee to one liter (1,000 grams) of cold water. The truth is, everyone has their own guidelines. Coffee nerds will say the water-to-coffee ratio is important for consistency’s sake — and they’re not wrong — but you could as easily just fill the nylon mesh basket with coarsely ground coffee and pour cold water over it until the carafe is full. Luckily, the Mizudashi is designed to be foolproof: fill everything up nearly to the top and you’re good to go!

    After a minimum 12-hours of steep time, cleanup is as easy as lifting the filter basket out of the carafe. What you’re left with in the carafe is cold brew concentrate that you can either dilute with water or serve over ice, depending on how strong you like your coffee. You’ll want to start with equal parts concentrate and water, then tweak from there. And generally speaking, we love the carafe-style maker because it can quickly become a serving vessel you can take from the fridge to the table.

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    When compared to our runner-up in the $ category, the Takeya Cold Brew Maker, which costs several dollars more, the Mizudashi gives you more than 50ml in additional capacity and a better-tasting brew to boot, with notes of chocolate that didn’t come out in the Takeya, although we used the same kind of coffee in all of our tests (shoutout to Trader Joe’s Colombia Supremo medium roast).

    It’s worth noting that all the lower-priced cold brew makers we tested made weaker concentrate than those in our $$ and $$$ categories, to the point where some coffee drinkers might prefer their concentrate cut with less water. It’s safe to say that brews from the higher-priced categories invariably taste better, with more depth and complexity of flavors. That’s not to say the Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Pot is a slacker — far from it. But if you’ve got a little more room in the budget and you’re particularly fussy about your brew, it’s definitely worth considering our $$ and $$$ picks.

    Get it from Amazon for $20.

    County Line Kitchen Cold Brew Maker

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    The $$ price range includes brewers between $20 and $40 and pits our winner — the County Line Kitchen Cold Brew Maker — against models that require time-consuming, often complex setup and breakdown. Given how simple the actual brewing process is, it’s the setup and cleaning time that’s the ultimate difference-makers for this price range and beyond.

    In comparison with the other models in this price range, the Mason-jar-style County Line Kitchen Cold Brew Maker is noteworthy for being easier to use and clean and for having a higher production capacity, despite its smaller footprint. Charming vintage appearance aside, the County Line operates similarly to our $ pick in that it brews and stores coffee, except with an upgraded stainless-steel mesh instead of nylon mesh. And since it clocks in at twice the capacity of the Hario Mizudashi (there is also a cheaper one-quart version), spending the extra $10 may be worth it for folks who take their cold brew coffee with more cold brew coffee.

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    At this point, you may be asking yourself, “Why cold brew?” That’s fair. We’re fans of coffee in all forms, but cold brew has a special place on our palates because of its smoother flavor compared to, say, coffee that’s brewed hot and chilled with ice. Science tells us that brewing at a slower, cooler pace extracts fewer bitter and acidic notes, which ultimately leads to a sweeter, milder coffee best served cold.

    Having said that, another thing we liked about our $$ winner is that it functions as way more than just a cold brew maker. Sure, you could do things like that with just about any maker, but County Line’s extra-large, fine mesh cylinder filter is better suited for such purposes. Think loose-leaf teas and fruit-infused waters. If hearing that makes you think you might need more than one, you wouldn’t be the first person to load up on these multifaceted makers that make experimenting with your favorite beverages easy to do.

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    County Line Kitchen’s model is the kind of cold brew maker we’d recommend to just about anyone who wasn’t counting every penny. But serious coffee drinkers who are willing to put in extra time and work to produce an unabashedly bold brew may want something else. For those java junkies, we recommend opting for the Toddy Cold Brew System, which has instructions for two different brewing methods, both of which produce an extremely strong concentrate that stays fresh for up to two weeks with no noticeable change in flavor.

    While we really enjoy drinking the Toddy’s concentrate diluted with water and ice, the system lost points with our testers for its easy-to-lose parts, like the small rubber stopper and filter pads, and for being annoying to clean: you have to dispose of the grounds from a cumbersome reusable filter. Add in washing the brewing tank, stopper, and carafe, and we found it too complicated for our taste. It also takes up more than double the shelf space with its abundance of parts, adding to the running list of tradeoffs between better-quality cold brew and ease of use.

    Either way, if you’re looking for a cold brew maker that’s dead simple to use and has more character than anything else, the County Line Cold Brew Coffee Maker is your best bet. But don’t take our word for it — check out the reviews below!

    Get it from Amazon for $27 (2 Quart).

    KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker

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    You might think anything beyond our $ and $$ picks is a lot to drop on a cold brew maker, but we’d say the KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker is a steal at that price. KitchenAid made the best brew of the entire bunch of makers we tested, while being incredibly easy to set up and clean.

    There’s also an attention to detail in the KitchenAid that you just don’t find in other cold brew makers, from fill-level indicators on the reusable stainless-steel filter (so you know exactly how much coffee and water to add) to the very shape of this model.

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    The R&D department at KitchenAid must know a thing or two about cold brew, because the style of this winning maker differs drastically from the others we tested. It features a stout, rectangular footprint that’s perfect for all kinds of refrigerators and counters. The wide-grip handle folds down when not in use, so you could easily bring it with you on a picnic or to work. The container is constructed from high-quality glass surrounded by stainless steel.

    It also just so happens to produce a rich, full-bodied cold brew concentrate that tastes perfect when blended with filtered water at the suggested 1-to-3 ratio and served over ice. Plus, it has a built-in spigot so you can pour yourself a glass without lifting it — a nice touch when entertaining for brunch.

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    Did we mention how easy this thing is to use? All you do is fill up the filter to the indicated line with coarsely ground coffee, slowly pour in filtered cold water, and let it brew the standard 12 to 24 hours inside your fridge. After brewing, you can dispose of the coffee grounds without making a mess thanks to the filter’s built-in handle, which lets you lift it out with ease. KitchenAid advises you to keep your concentrate refrigerated (as do other coffee experts) and to use it within two weeks. Because this maker isn’t very tall, we were able to find several spots in our fridge where it could fit without disrupting the usual feng shui.

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    One thing you'll want to ensure is that the spigot is fully closed when storing the KitchenAid maker; some people left negative reviews about it because of leaking. When we tested it, we had no such issues, but we can see how people could forget to do this from time to time, and a fridge or countertop covered in coffee is a surefire path to frustration.

    We recommend the KitchenAid Brushed Stainless Steel to any cold brew connoisseurs who can afford to splurge, especially those who are style-conscious and in search of something of a conversation starter. Someone who’s never seen it will be asking you all kinds of questions the moment they lay eyes on it. And one taste of the coffee it produces will have you thinking it was more than worth it.

    Get from Amazon for $60.