Cold-brewed coffee, if made right, is simply divine. Sadly, it almost always tastes better at the coffee shop or from a bottle. That’s because brewing it at home can be incredibly tricky. I’ve read many guides that recommend different makers, methods, coffee grounds, water ratios, brew times, and temperatures.
In my quest to make better coffee, I’ve tested 25 cold brewers in the past year. I’ve tried pot immersion (tea style) methods, big immersion buckets, slow drip makers, French presses, mason jars, and even a couple of automated brewers. In them, I’ve tested more than half a dozen cold-brew-friendly coffee blends to try to find a combination I could recommend. I still haven’t made what I’d consider my perfect cup of cold-brewed coffee, but I’m getting closer. Below are my favorite picks.
Updated for Fall 2019: We’ve added cold brewers from Bruer, KitchenAid, and Toddy to our main recommendations.
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1. The Best Overall
The Coffee Gator was my favorite cold brewer for many months, but Primula’s Burke immersion brewer has taken its top spot. It’s shorter and wider with a more durable build than the Gator. I couldn’t quite fit it into the door of my fridge, but it could fit in some. It makes about 32 ounces of coffee at a time.
Like other pot-style brewers, you put coarse grounds into the mesh basket, snap it into place, slowly pour water through it, and come back 24 hours later. Coffee came out smooth and flavorful without too much bitterness, and the filter is fine enough that there was less sediment than many immersion brewers. Too much sediment can ruin a good cold brew by adding a gritty mouthfeel and aftertaste.
Cleanup is easier than some brewers because the bottom of the Burke’s filter screws off, allowing you to easily eject used grounds. The only downside compared to the Gator (below) is that it doesn’t come with a scoop and funnel, though it does have a wider grounds filter, so you should be OK, but I’ve added one that looks good in the accessories sections below.
The Primula Glass Carafe brewer ($26) also works well if you want a taller carafe. It has a stirrer you can add in. The downside: It lets in a lot of grit, so you need a coarser grind on your beans.