Oct 13, 2023

The 3 Best Cold

We’ve read through this guide and stand by our current recommendations.

You don't have to go to a coffee shop to get a great cup of cold-brew coffee. We’ve found that the OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker is the best vessel for making smooth, delicious iced coffee at home.

This model makes cold coffee with balanced acidity, and it has a stronger aroma and a cleaner finish than brews from the 16 other coffee makers we’ve tested. On top of that, the OXO Good Grips brewer is the easiest to use and clean.

This cold-brew coffee maker produced the strongest, boldest brew of any model we tested. It's also easier to assemble and use than the competition.

Compared with other cold-brew coffee makers, the OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker produced a more consistent, flavorful cup of coffee, likely thanks to its metal mesh filter. It's easier to set up and clean than other brewers we tested, and it drains neatly with the flip of a switch.

It also looks sleek and comes with an attractive (if delicate) glass carafe. And since this is an appliance that lives on your counter, looks matter.

Like all of our picks, this brewer produces a coffee concentrate that needs to be diluted with water or milk. We found that about 2 ounces of concentrate from any of our picks was enough for a full glass of cold brew. So a full, 24- to 28-ounce batch of concentrate from this model yields about 12 to 14 servings of coffee.


This well-constructed brewer makes a mellower coffee than the OXO Good Grips. But its many parts can be cumbersome to assemble and store.

If you can't get our top pick, the Filtron Cold Water Coffee Concentrate Brewer is a solid option. It's larger (yielding about 32 ounces of concentrate) and nearly as easy to use. And it produces coffee that's tasty but not as strong as the OXO's brew.

It also comes with a tall plastic carafe that's more durable than OXO's glass ones, though it's potentially trickier to fit in the fridge.

However, the Filtron's felt filter can get moldy if you store it improperly. The black plastic brewer is not much to look at, and draining it on top of the carafe is a bit precarious. The drainage hole also seals with a simple rubber stopper, which is messy to remove and a little more leak-prone than the seal on the OXO brewers.

This petite coffee maker is best for those with limited storage space or those who want to brew smaller batches.

The OXO Compact Cold Brew Coffee Maker is a smaller version of our OXO top pick, yielding about 16 ounces of concentrate, and it's just as easy to use. Its coffee tastes stronger and less balanced, but you can always dilute the brew to your liking.

This coffee maker takes up less counter space than our other picks. And it packs into a neat, self-contained package for storage, so it's a better option for smaller kitchens.

This cold-brew coffee maker produced the strongest, boldest brew of any model we tested. It's also easier to assemble and use than the competition.

This well-constructed brewer makes a mellower coffee than the OXO Good Grips. But its many parts can be cumbersome to assemble and store.

This petite coffee maker is best for those with limited storage space or those who want to brew smaller batches.

Since we first published this guide, in 2016, we’ve hosted multiple tasting panels. And we’ve consulted numerous coffee experts; this included making in-person visits to coffee professionals such as Jesse Crouse, of Tipico Coffee, and Clinton Hodnett and Sam Scarcello, then of Public Espresso.

Writer Anna Perling, who's covered a wide variety of kitchen gear for Wirecutter, conducted the most recent rounds of testing and tasting for this guide. Wirecutter contributors and coffee lovers Nick Guy, Kevin Purdy, and Daniel Varghese all tested, researched, and wrote previous versions.

If you want to make iced coffee at home, you may find that a dedicated brewer produces the best-tasting results and is easier to use and clean than any other method (like using a nut milk bag or French press).

You might also be wondering whether a cold-brew setup is worth the money—or the space in your kitchen—if you already have tools for brewing hot coffee. If you’re a frequent cold-brew drinker (even part of the year), the short answer is yes.

Cold brewing produces a coffee concentrate that, combined with ice and water, milk, or cream (dairy or plant-based), offers considerably better flavor than you’d get from pouring hot coffee over ice. Brewing with slow, cold exposure results in a sweeter, smoother, milder-tasting coffee that's low on bitterness and acidity.

For that reason, cold brewing can also be more economical than making hot coffee. You can get better-tasting results out of cheaper coffee, and you can even brew the same batch of grounds twice. (Filtron, the maker of one of our picks, explicitly recommends this).

Every cold-brewing method works the same way: Start with a lot of ground coffee (more than you’d use to brew a pot of drip coffee), add water, let the mixture sit for eight to 24 hours, and then filter it. The resulting liquid is a concentrate that you generally dilute (a common ratio is two or three parts water or milk to one part concentrate).

Since we first published this guide, in 2016, we’ve streamlined our testing to focus on what matters most: the flavor of the coffee and how easy it is to use each machine.

After originally testing a wide range of brewers, we’ve found that a few styles just don't meet those basic criteria. The pitcher-style brewers we tested, like this Hario pot, all brewed watery coffee, and they were messy. Methods that use a bag like a coffee sock are also messy and can produce muddy results. DIY methods with items you might already have at home, like Mason jars and French press coffee makers, didn't work great either.

We no longer test those styles, and instead we’ve focused on brewers that produce clean, sweet, strong coffee concentrate in quantities large enough to serve one or two people for a week.

In our initial round of testing, we brewed multiple batches in each machine, following the instructions and water-to-coffee ratios provided by the manufacturers. And we used pre-ground supermarket coffee and higher-end beans. We invited coffee professionals, enthusiasts, and casual drinkers to rank those samples for taste, acidity, and body, and we noted how simple or difficult it was to clean each model.

We retested our top-performing models using a consistent water-to-coffee ratio (4.5:1, averaged from all three brewers’ instructions) for 24 hours each, and we diluted the concentrates 3:1. The results of the blind tastings closely matched our original findings, confirming that it's not the recipe but the brewer itself that most impacts the flavor of the coffee.

Based on that conclusion, in subsequent tests, we tested cold-brew makers using the recipe included with each coffee maker, since that's what most users are likely to do anyway. We’ve kept the 24-hour brew time consistent across the board and used pre-ground, good-quality supermarket coffee.

This cold-brew coffee maker produced the strongest, boldest brew of any model we tested. It's also easier to assemble and use than the competition.

Of all the brewers we tried, the OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker produced the most flavorful and consistent coffee, with the least amount of hassle. It also has the most thoughtful features for brewing and storing your coffee with ease.

Some panelists weren't fond of certain flavors this model brought out, but others named this brewer's coffee their favorite.

It makes strong, flavorful cold brew. In tests using two different water-to-coffee ratios (OXO's recipe and a standard recipe), the panelists mostly agreed that coffee from this model tasted stronger than coffee from all of the other brewers we tested.

One taster noted that the OXO's coffee had "bigger body" than the other brews, while others described it as being "punchy" and "vegetal and earthy."

Using only the metal-mesh filter (instead of the included, but optional, paper filters) seemed to produce a more-robust flavor.

It's the easiest to use. Of the cold brewers we tested, this model has the tidiest design, especially when it comes to draining the concentrate into the carafe.

Other models, such as the Filtron, have a reservoir that sits on top of a carafe to drain, but the OXO reservoir has its own, elevated stand. When it's time to drain the concentrate, you simply place the carafe beneath the brewer and flip a switch to drain the coffee through the filter. So you avoid the messiness of pulling a cork, as you must do with the Filtron brewer.

You can even flip the switch back up midstream, to pause and pour yourself some concentrate before it fully drains.

And it's easy to take care of. The brewer's reservoir unscrews from the stand, and the mesh filter pops out for easy cleaning. (Note, however, that everything but the glass carafe must be hand-washed.)

This brewer is also covered by OXO's Better Guarantee, and the company has a reputation for great customer service. So if you have any issues under normal household use, you can get a replacement or refund promptly.

It brews enough coffee for the week. According to the instructions, the brewer produces 24 to 28 ounces of coffee concentrate (though we’ve sometimes gotten closer to 33) from 10 ounces of grounds.

OXO suggests diluting 2 ounces of concentrate with 4 to 6 ounces of water or milk, yielding 12 to 14 servings per batch. (If you want a machine that makes more, the Filtron, our runner-up, brews twice as many servings.)

It's well designed and attractive. The OXO Good Grips brewer's sleek, rounded edges make it a better-looking model than the more-utilitarian Filtron. Measuring about 15 inches tall when it's fully set up, this brewer fits on the counter under most cabinets.

The carafe is made from thermal-shock-resistant borosilicate glass and has a spout for drip-free pouring. It looks and feels nicer than a plastic carafe (like the Filtron's), and it fits better in the refrigerator than the taller jugs of many competing models. It also has clear volume markings, to easily measure water.

This well-constructed brewer makes a mellower coffee than the OXO Good Grips. But its many parts can be cumbersome to assemble and store.

The Filtron Cold Water Coffee Concentrate Brewer consistently produced great-tasting coffee concentrate in our tests, with most tasters ranking its brew first or second.

This brewer is not quite as easy to set up and drain as our top pick, but the process is simple compared with that of nearly every other model we tested.

It looks clunky, but it still stores compactly. And the black plastic doesn't discolor the way clear or white plastic does. It also happens to be a darling of craft-minded coffee shops.

It makes reliably good coffee. The Filtron produced a smooth, mellow brew every time, regardless of the beans we used. Multiple baristas on our panel noted the Filtron coffee's "mild body." One also remarked on its "well-balanced sweetness and acidity."

We thought this brewer made slightly flatter-tasting coffee than the brighter brews from our top pick, but some people might appreciate the mellower flavor.

For an even cleaner brew (and for easier cleanup), you can use Filtron's optional paper filters, but we thought the coffee was great even without them. And they’re hard to find in stores.

It's straightforward to use. The Filtron system is far simpler to set up and empty, compared with more-involved methods, like the Toddy system or the CoffeeSock. (However, we still found the OXO brewers to be the easiest to use.)

After your brew has finished steeping, you place the black plastic reservoir directly on top of the carafe, yank the rubber stopper out of the drain hole, and let your coffee drain through a felt filter in the bottom of the reservoir.

But the drainage process is a little accident-prone. While the OXO brewers are pretty foolproof, you need to be sure that you tightly jam the rubber stopper into the drain hole; otherwise, you might wake up to a slow leak all over your kitchen counter.

You also have to do some quick maneuvering to remove the stopper without dribbling coffee on your hand.

Plus, since the heavy reservoir rests on top of the tall, narrow carafe, the Filtron is more susceptible to being knocked over while it drains.

Caring for the filter can be a chore. The felt filter must be rinsed out (never use soap) and stored in a container of water in the fridge to prevent mold—a step someone could easily forget. And eventually the filter will need to be replaced, but replacements are inexpensive and readily available on Filtron's website.

Other than that, maintenance is easy. The Filtron disassembles into just a few parts, which you can quickly wash by hand.

It has a higher yield. The Filtron system makes about 32 ounces of concentrate, which you then dilute with water.

Filtron suggests a ratio of 6 ounces water to 1 ounce concentrate; this is enough for about 32 servings of cold brew. But we found that ratio to be a little weak, and we preferred just using the ratio OXO recommends for its brewers: 2 ounces of concentrate to 4 to 6 ounces of water. This yields at least 16 servings.

Filtron also says you can resteep the grounds, something OXO doesn't explicitly recommend (though we’re sure you could).

It isn't the prettiest or the most streamlined model. The Filtron doesn't look as stylish or pack away as neatly as our other picks. But its black plastic is less likely to show coffee stains over time, and the plastic carafe is more durable than its glass counterparts.

Though the Filtron stands 19 inches tall when you’ve set it up to drip into the carafe, it's much lower while it's brewing and should fit fine on a kitchen counter. It also stows compactly, taking up the space of a medium mixing bowl in a cupboard, but it doesn't fit together as well as the OXO Good Grips.

This petite coffee maker is best for those with limited storage space or those who want to brew smaller batches.

The OXO Compact Cold Brew Coffee Maker is a smaller version of our top pick. Although it (of course) brews less coffee (about 16 ounces) than the OXO Good Grips, the flavor of the concentrate is stronger yet still well balanced.

We also found the Compact even easier to use than our other picks because it has fewer parts and a more streamlined design, and it takes up less counter space.

It's the simplest to use and clean. Preparing cold brew in the Compact is intuitive, thanks to a reservoir with a fill line for grounds and a carafe that allows you to measure water for brewing. A perforated lid, like the one on the larger OXO, distributes water evenly over the grounds.

To transfer the cold brew, just place the reservoir on the carafe to depress a mechanism that drains the coffee.

Then unscrew the base, dump the grounds, and wash the mesh filter and various parts.

Unlike our other picks, the OXO Compact doesn't include (or work with) paper filters, but we didn't miss them.

It takes up less real estate. When fully assembled, the Compact is 11 inches tall (reservoir on top of carafe), which is 4 inches lower than the Good Grips. The carafe also nests inside the reservoir for storage.

It looks cute. The whole brewer is streamlined and stylish, and the borosilicate glass carafe is particularly nice. It has a cork lid lined with silicone, which is a stylish touch compared with the plastic stopper on the larger model.

The Compact's carafe doesn't have as many measurement markings as the larger version that comes with our top pick. Though this would be useful if you wanted to tinker with your recipe, we think the suggested recipe works well enough.

Just try not to break the carafe. If you do, the cost to replace it is almost as much as for the entire brewer.

Alternatively, you could just use another vessel you have at home, but you’ll need to find something with an opening narrow enough for the reservoir to sit on. Even the Mason jars we tried were too wide to depress the drain mechanism, but it did work with the Hydro Flask Standard Mouth Bottle.

This is not a comprehensive list of everything we tested in previous iterations of this guide, just what's currently available.

The Espro Cold Brew Maker is a handsome brewer with a functional design, but its coffee scored at the bottom of our taste tests. It also comes with only five of its required paper filters, and they’re expensive to replace.

The Brim Smart Valve Cold Brew Coffee Maker spilled all of its contents the first time we used it. When we were able to brew a malfunction-free batch, the results were weak and flavorless, plus a piece of the flimsy glass broke during cleaning.

We found the KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker harder to use than our picks, since you have to balance the basket of grounds at an angle to drain it. The coffee was also gritty and lacking in flavor.

The Toddy Cold Brew System looks and works similar to the Filtron, but the white plastic bucket stains easily, it's more complicated to use, and the coffee is not as flavorful.

A CoffeeSock seems to offer an easy way to make iced coffee, but the cleanup is messy and complicated, and the coffee itself was unimpressive.

The Cold Bruer Drip Coffee Maker B1 is the most expensive system we tested, and it makes only 20 ounces of drinkable cold brew (not concentrate) at a time. It's also difficult to set up and doesn't drain properly.

We found that devices with a tall, cylindrical brewing basket (like the Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Pot, Primula's Cold Brew Glass Carafe Brewing System, and Takeya's Cold Brew Coffee Maker) were hard to set up and prone to messes, and they produced watery coffee.

This article was edited by Lizzy Briskin, Gabriella Gershenson, and Marguerite Preston.

Natalie Wolchover, Why Does Room-Temperature Coffee Taste So Bad?, Live Science, March 26, 2012

Tony Naylor, Coffee: how cold-brew became the hot new thing, The Guardian, September 9, 2014

Lisa McManus, Cold Brew Coffee Makers (subscription required), Cook's Illustrated, July 1, 2015

Anjali Athavaley, Why Making Iced Coffee at Home Is Such a Grind (subscription required), The Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2010

Laura Moser, Iced-Coffee Makers (subscription required), The Wall Street Journal, September 18, 2012

Cold Brewer Round-Up, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, August 24, 2015

Jeremy Glass, Trader Joe's Coffees, Ranked by Coffee Snobs, Thrillist, September 27, 2022

Cold Brew Bottle, Blue Bottle Coffee

The Brew Guide Filtron, Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Jesse Crouse, owner of Tipico Coffee, interview

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It makes strong, flavorful cold brew. It's the easiest to use. And it's easy to take care of. It brews enough coffee for the week. It's well designed and attractive During our tests, the optional paper filters blocked the flow of the brew. Not everyone loved the strong flavor of this coffee. The carafe is breakable It looks clunky, but it still stores compactly. It makes reliably good coffee It's straightforward to use But the drainage process is a little accident-prone. Caring for the filter can be a chore It has a higher yield. It isn't the prettiest or the most streamlined model. It's the simplest to use and clean. It takes up less real estate. It looks cute. Just try not to break the carafe.