The 6 Best Iced Coffee Makers

Iced Coffee 15There are some hot brew iced coffee makers that are only able to hot brew the coffee (like a standard American coffee pot) and slowly drip it over a glass filled with ice. These types of iced coffee makers are usually for making single cups of iced coffee that will be consumed immediately after brewing and are not able to make coffee that can be stored for several days. You would need to drink the coffee relatively quickly to not end up with watered down, bitter and lukewarm coffee. These iced coffee makers also cannot make a strong coffee concentrate or iced coffee in large batches. This means overall less cups of coffee for your efforts. The better iced coffee makers can brew a cold coffee concentrate that can be used to make a hot or cold cup of coffee, making them dual purpose and therefore more cost effective.

The best iced coffee recipes involve using cold brewed coffee, instead of the typical hot brewed coffee. Hot brewed coffee can make the taste of iced coffee too bitter, because of the extra acid that gets extracted. But, there are several methods to make cold brewed coffee concentrate that you can use in all of your iced coffee recipes. Cold brewed coffee will give a smoother and richer flavor. Iced coffee can be made without using an iced coffee maker. However, for those who prefer the convenience that an iced coffee maker provides there are several popular products to choose from that will make the process simpler. With a cold brew coffee maker you can have a batch of cold brewed coffee concentrate waiting in your frig for those moments when you or your family and friends crave a cold iced coffee drink on a hot day.

Japanese Cold Brew Iced Coffee Makers (Immersion/Non-decanting)

Takeya Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker

Takeya Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker

Japanese cold brew coffee makers are by far the most popular to use. The Takeya and Hario cold coffee brewers have nearly identical function and design. These two traditional Japanese iced coffee makers are unique in that the coffee grounds are fully immersed directly in the carafe, instead of being brewed in a separate container and then decanted. The coffee grounds are poured into the filter reservoir, the carafe is filled around 2/3 full of water and allowed to brew at room temperature for at least 24 hours, agitating it a few times during the process. Then the grounds should be removed and the concentrate stored in the refrigerator. With the Japanese cold brew coffee makers, you can either brew regular strength coffee that can be used straight from the carafe, or extra strength coffee concentrate that would be diluted as part of a recipe. It takes a little longer to brew the concentrate as strong as the Toddy-like brewers make it, and in addition a coarser ground coffee should be used with the plastic mesh filter, in order for there not to be sediment in the carafe. The Takeya and Hario cold coffee brewers do not require additional filters to be purchased, like the Toddy system below. With a simpler process and easier to clean design the Takeya and Hario seem like superior iced coffee makers compared with other coffee brewers. Additionally, these coffee makers can be used to brew hot or cold coffee.

The Hario Water Brew Iced Coffee Maker

Differences between the Takeya and Hario include for one their carafe designs. The Takeya is air-tight and can be stored on its side in the fridge, while the Hario cannot. The Hario carafe is made of glass, while the Takeya carafe is made of hard plastic. The Takeya can hold 1 quart or just under a liter of coffee concentrate, while the Hario is made to hold a full liter. The Takeya filter can hold 14 -16 tablespoons of coffee grounds, while the Hario recommends only 5-6 tablespoons of coffee grinds. Therefore, it would be easier to get a stronger coffee concentrate with the Takeya coffee maker. However, neither coffee makers necessarily take up space on the countertop. Both cold coffee makers make it easy to prepare and store coffee concentrate in the refrigerator, as the coffee can be brewed at room temperature or at fridge temperatures. The brewing process would just take longer if started directly in the refrigerator. Overall, both of these traditional Japanese coffee makers make excellent iced coffee drinks.

Toddy & OXO Cold Brew Iced Coffee Makers (Immersion/Decanting)

The Toddy Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker

Toddy Cold Brew System

The Toddy iced coffee maker is a popular brand used to make iced coffee. It is easy to use and inexpensive. The Toddy makes a cold brewed coffee with 67% less acid and therefore has a smoother flavor. The Toddy iced coffee maker also does not require electricity and so can be used easily in the office or when camping. The brewing system comes with a brewing cup and handle (where the coffee grounds are placed), glass decanter with a lid, a rubber stopper and reusable filters, along with a recipe book. This coffee maker can process up to a pound of coffee and makes up to 1.5 liters of coffee concentrate. The concentrate is usually ready to use after being left to brew overnight or for 12 hours. This concentrate is then diluted 1:3 with 2 parts water or milk when used in an iced coffee recipe. That means you can make 25 cups of iced coffee with the concentrate and the cold coffee concentrate that you make with the Toddy will last for 3 weeks.

In my opinion there are pros and cons to the Toddy type of coffee makers that use the full immersion and decant brew system for the coffee grounds as compared with others on the market. The Toddy uses a fine fibrous, sponge-like filter, which can get clogged when using very fine coffee grounds so coarser grounds may need to be used. Moreover, it can be difficult to assure that all of the grounds get an even distribution of water and so the coffee grounds must be layered with water and pressed to ensure an even distribution of liquid. In addition, having to manually take the plug out of the bottom to start decanting may get messy and cause spills. The plastic carafe does not come with a cover which can be unsanitary when left for hours on a countertop, and it also has to be put in a place where it will not accidentally be bumped into so that the coffee doesn’t spill out. Lastly, the filters can only be used up to 10 times, and will then need to be replaced. They also need to be cleaned very thoroughly and properly stored in the frig after each use. Overall, this cold brew coffee maker works pretty well and is a reliable system, however, there are other better designed and less difficult cold brew coffee makers on the market.

OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker

OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker

Now the OXO cold brew coffee maker is also very similar to the Toddy, but it has a few upgrades to the system that makes the process less difficult and better streamlined. For one, the OXO’s brewer comes with a rainmaker lid attachment that evenly distributes the water that is added to the coffee all at once and then you simply stir it. This mean that there will be an even flavor extraction, and the brewer is covered during the entire process. Next, the OXO brew system uses a stainless steel fine meshed filter, unlike the Toddy filter, which is easily cleaned and reusable. The metal mesh filter allows a slight bit of sediment and coffee oils to come through though, unlike the Toddy filter, however, they sell separate disposable paper filters to help remedy this problem. The OXO also has a switch that activates the filtration process into its glass carafe, which is much easier than having to pull out a rubber cork stopper when using the Toddy. Moreover, when the carafe is removed, the coffee maker will stop filtering, thus preventing spills. The carafe has measurements markers on it and comes with a silicone seal that keeps the coffee concentrate fresh. Also, it can hold enough concentrate to make around 12-14 iced coffee drinks. The OXO has a sleeker and more appealing design than the Toddy system, however, it does come with more parts to assemble. This coffee maker is more expensive than the Toddy brewer, but for the enhancements to the OXO it is well worth the price.

French Press & AeroPress Iced Coffee Makers (Immersion/Pressure Filtration)

SterlingPro French Coffee Press

The French press coffee maker was invented in 1929, and uses a portable and self-contained design. In this respect it is similar to the Japanese cold-brewers, however, the styles diverge largely from there. Originally made to brew hot coffee, the French press can also serve as a carafe to brew cold coffee in as well. One of the most attractive features of the French press is the variety of dinner presentation designs made in stainless steel and glass carafes. The French press works by putting in coffee grinds into the carafe, filling the rest up with water and pressing down using a stainless steel filter attached to the pressing mechanism. This separates the coffee grinds from the liquid coffee, and you can serve your drinks directly from the carafe.

However, when using the press to make a cold coffee concentrate, you would use more than the traditional 6-8 tablespoons of coffee per 34 ounces, and add around double the amount in order to make the coffee highly concentrated in the liquid. You would fill the rest of the 1 liter carafe up with water, stir and let it brew at least 12 hours or so. After which you could then use the press to separate the grounds and immediately serve, or refrigerate the coffee concentrate in a separate container so that it does not continue to brew. It is a relatively simple process, especially compared to the Toddy cold brew system.

The AeroPress Coffee Maker

The AeroPress is one of the best and most well-known brands for single-serve coffee makers. With a sort of hybrid French press design, the AeroPress is a very popular model and also inexpensive. It is made of plastic and comes with a funnel and stirring accessories for ease of use and cleaning purposes. It can hold 10 ounces of coffee for a single cup, which can be cold or hot brew.

One of the drawbacks of using a regular French press is that you have to use a French press grind or coarser coffee grind to not end up with sediment in your coffee. The AeroPress system solves this problem with its microfilter and air pressure brewing system, which produces grit free coffee. The AeroPress design comes from several years of applied research by its inventor Alan Adler, who ran many brewing experiments to be able to concoct the perfect coffee brew with laboratory instruments. In the end it was demonstrated that temperature, total immersion and rapid filtration were key to producing an excellent coffee flavor. However, if you are going with a regular French press model for aesthetics or to be able to make cold brew coffee concentrates for iced coffee drinks, the SterlingPro will make it simple to make and serve a large batch of iced coffee drinks, which the AeroPress is not capable of with its current design. This is why the SterlingPro French press is still very popular.