After sitting on the counter for 12 to 24 hours, you flip a switch and your brew cleanly drains into the decanter. It also comes with a measuring lid. Perhaps most important, the coffee it makes is fantastic.
Best Slow Drip Cold Brew (Grit-Free)
The Bruer opened my eyes to slow-drip cold brewing. I had trouble with the “Gosh! Dripo” slow-drip cold brewer (see the Not Recommended section below), but the Bruer turned me around. It makes a delightful, concentrated, virtually grit free cold brew.
Instead of pouring a bunch of grounds into water and letting it sit, the Bruer lets water drip through the grounds using gravity. It looks a little bananas at first, but it’s simple. You fill the bottom of a glass container with coarse coffee grounds. Below the grounds is a steel mesh filter. After you dampen those grounds, put a paper filter on top, snap in the silicone seal, and place the container into the glass carafe. Fill up the top section with water and ice, then twist the knob in the center to slow or speed up the drip—you want a drop per second—as needed.
It’s not foolproof. You must follow the directions precisely, including using ice—and if your coffee grind is too fine, water may form pathways through it, like an ant colony. If what’s dripping out doesn’t look dark, or it’s coming out quickly, adjust your tactics. It also only holds 20 ounces of water, and since it’s made of glass, it’s fragile. Some buyers have complained of drip valve issues, but I have not encountered any yet.
Best Designed Cold Brewer (Classiest)
KitchenAid doesn’t make the absolute best cold brew I’ve had, but more care went into its design than almost any other pot I’ve listed. It’s made of steel and thick glass, with a built-in handle and a spigot for dispensing cold brew—perfect if you have a shelf to set it on, in or out of the fridge. (There’s also an XL version that holds 40-ish ounces of coffee and has a stand to sit on the countertop.
It has a stainless steel grounds tray (with a handle!) that you set in the larger glass container. Dampen your grounds, then fill it with water. It says it holds 28 ounces, but I easily fit 32. Let it sit for at least 12 hours, as usual (24 if you fridge it), and you’re good to go. The steel filter is too porous and does let a lot of sediment through, but KitchenAid smartly has a textured bottom that lets the grit settle on the sides of the bottom. It doesn’t seem to come through the spigot, so after my first gritty glass, the coffee was a lot smoother, and quite rich.
I haven’t had any issues, but a few users have reported the spigot leaking.
Best for Brewing Large Batches
County Line Kitchen is a family-owned business in Wisconsin. Its Cold Brew Maker uses a trusty ol’ 2-quart mason jar and stainless steel filter basket to brew. It works much like the Coffee Gator, but you can make a ton of joe with it. You fill the basket with a lot of coffee grounds, pour up to 64 ounces of cold water through it slowly, and let it sit for 24 hours. When it’s done, take out the filter basket and use the lid to pour.
In my tests, the County Line produced relatively smooth cold-brewed coffee, though it was somewhat gritty, likely because the steel filter is a bit too porous (use coarse grounds). The instructions also tell you to shake the jar after adding water, but I found that a bit of coffee can leak out even if it’s sealed tight, which seems to be a common mason jar problem. Lingering grounds aside, if you want enough cold brew to last a week, this is a good way to get it.
Classic, Tasty Cold Brew
The Toddy has been around since the 1960s. It’s similar to the Oxo brewing system, just a little more DIY.
It’s basically a big bucket with grounds in it, and a glass carafe to hold the coffee when it’s done brewing. The brew bucket is made of plastic, and it requires paper liners and filter pads that you’ll have to keep buying (filter pads last about 10 brews, or 3 months). You have to remove a rubber stopper to drain the coffee after 24 hours, which will always get your hands messy—cleanup is time-consuming.