Step aside, espresso: Among coffee drinkers, cold brew has become one of the most popular drinks in recent years. In fact, the cold brew coffee market is expected to grow by $1.37 billion between 2020 and 2025, according to market research group Technavio. Cold brew is also the third most popular at-home preparation method behind traditional drip brewers and single-serve machines, says the National Coffee Association.
Even on chilly days, cold brew is here to stay. Though many coffee shops have cold brew on tap, it’s easy to brew your own at home — and much more affordable. If you’re thinking about becoming an at-home barista — or want to buy a cold brew maker as a gift for the coffee lover in your life — we spoke to coffee experts about how to make cold brew and rounded up top-rated cold brew coffee makers based on their guidance.
How to shop for a cold brew coffee maker
Cold brew coffee makers “offer a way for coffee to brew by immersion, which means the coffee and water sit together for a period of time,” said Marco Suarez, CEO and CXO for Methodical Coffee in Greenville, South Carolina. Immersion brewing differs from infusion brewing, which is when water is poured through coffee grounds, like what occurs when you’re using a typical drip coffee maker. “Cold brew makers soak the coffee in water in a sealed container for freshness, and often in a bulk size,” he explained.
Choosing the best cold brew coffee maker for you depends on your personal preferences. Below are the features you should consider when shopping:
- Size: The size of your cold brew maker will depend on how much coffee you drink and how big your fridge is. “A larger brewer might make more concentrate, but it might be inconvenient to store and put in the fridge,” Holmquist noted.
- Filter type: According to Suarez, paper filters provide the “cleanest taste,” though they’re disposable, so not the most eco-friendly option. Reusable cloth filters are also effective, but they can be difficult to clean and tend to retain the oils from the coffee for a long time. Metal mesh filters are the easiest to clean, but they let through a decent amount of sediment and give you a cloudy cup of cold brew, he noted. Overall, Suarez recommends combining a metal mesh filter with a paper filter bag in order to “maximize quality and sustainability.”
- Clean-up: Certain types of cold brew coffee makers can be more difficult to clean up. According to Holmquist, bottle brewers like the Takeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker have smaller grounds chambers that are tougher to scrub, while machines like the OXO Cold Brew Coffee Maker have larger chambers “that you can dump and rise out.”
The best cold brew coffee makers to shop now
With expert advice in mind, we highlighted the best cold brew coffee makers below across style and price points to help you find one that fits your needs.
- Capacity: 32 ounces
- Rating: 4.6-star average rating from 2,829 reviews on Amazon
With this cold brew maker, you add your coffee grounds to the brewing container, and then put on OXO’s Rainmaker top, which is perforated to allow more even distribution when you pour in your water. Then, the coffee and water mix sit for 12-24 hours for optimal flavor extraction, says the brand. The coffee maker has a stainless steel mesh filter and comes with a glass carafe lined with measurement markings that you place underneath a spout when you’re ready to serve the beverage. The carafe comes with a stopper so you can cover the cold brew when storing it in the refrigerator.
- Capacity: 38 ounces
- Rating: 4.5-star average rating from 2,106 reviews on Amazon
To make coffee with this cold brew coffee maker, you combine 6 ounces of water with every 2 ounces of coffee in the stainless steel steeper. There’s a spigot built in, so you can dispense your cold brew right from the machine when it’s ready to serve. KitchenAid says the cold brew maker is compact enough to fit in most refrigerators and on countertops, and it has a carrying handle on top for easy transport.
- Capacity: 51 ounces
- Rating: 4.6-star average rating from 7,392 reviews on Amazon
Associate updates editor Zoe Malin bought this cold brew coffee maker to fit in her dorm’s mini fridge during college. It operates similarly to a French press. You add coffee grounds and water into the carafe and let it steep before pushing down the plunger to separate the grounds from your beverage. The cold brew maker also comes with a flat lid you can use to store the coffee in your refrigerator. All components of this machine are dishwasher-safe, according to the brand.
- Capacity: 32 ounces
- Rating: 4.3-star average rating from 45 reviews on Amazon
Instead of waiting hours for your cold brew to be ready, Instant’s electric cold brew maker prepares the beverage in about 20 minutes. The brand says it uses its FlashExtract technology, which quickly spins what’s inside the pitcher, to get the most flavor out of coffee grounds. You can also customize the brew strength according to your preferences. The machine comes with a machine-washable pitcher, lid and brewing basket, as well as the electronic base.
- Capacity: 64 ounces
- Rating: 4.7-star average rating from 61,204 reviews on Amazon
The Takeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker is designed with a fine mesh filter you add coffee grounds to and place inside the included pitcher with water to steep. The pitcher pairs with an airtight lid and it has a non-slip silicone handle. The brand says the cold brew maker fits inside most refrigerator doors. You can also purchase it as a smaller 1-quart size.
- Capacity: About 37 ounces (1.1 liters)
- Rating: 4.7-star average rating from 3,654 reviews on Amazon
Instead of a metal filter, Toddy’s cold brew machine uses felt filters to brew your beverage. You add ground coffee and water into the included brewing container and let it steep for 12 to 24 hours before filtering the cold brew into the glass decanter. The cold brew maker system also comes with a lid for the decanter to use when you store the beverage in the refrigerator, a silicone stopper to place on top of the brewing container when it’s being used and two reusable filters.
What is cold brew? How is it different from iced coffee?
On the surface, cold brew doesn’t look all that different from iced coffee. However, there are many discernable differences — namely, in the way the beverages are brewed. “Iced coffee is brewed the same way you’d brew a drip coffee, just over ice,” explained John Holmquist, commercial sales manager at Seattle Coffee Gear. “Cold brew, on the other hand, is brewed by immersing coarsely ground coffee in [room temperature or cold] water for 14-18 hours. It makes for a stronger brew that most people dilute with additional water.”
Iced coffee and cold brew have different flavor profiles, too. When you’re making coffee, compounds inside the grounds are extracted differently depending on factors like temperature and time. Since cold brew is brewed with cold water over a longer period of time, while iced coffee is brewed with hot water over a short period of time, “there’s a great difference in flavor,” Suarez said. Cold brew typically has a richer and more intense flavor than iced coffee with less acidity (which means it’s not as harsh on your stomach).
What type of coffee grounds to use for cold brew and how to store it
When you’re buying or grinding coffee to use for cold brew, it’s best to go with a coarse ground, according to Suarez. “A fine grind will most certainly over extract the coffee and create a bitter cup,” he said. “We recommend a coarseness similar to coarsely cracked pepper.”
Once your beverage is done brewing, put it in a sealed container in the refrigerator, which Suarez said prevents oxidation and contamination. He suggested drinking your cold brew within a couple weeks, and noted that it should “definitely” be consumed within a month of making it. If you have some extra cold brew left over towards the end of a month but not enough for a full cup, you can pour it into an ice tray to make frozen coffee cubes. Add the coffee cubes to smoothies for a hint of java flavor, or serve them with your next batch of cold brew instead of regular cubes to prevent the drink from getting watered down as cubes melt.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Marco Suarez is the CEO and CXO for Methodical Coffee.
- John Holmquist is the commercial sales manager at Seattle Coffee Gear.