May 11, 2023

The 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 good cup of cold-brew coffee. We’ve found that the OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker offers the best way to make smooth, delicious iced coffee at home. It makes cold coffee with balanced acidity, a stronger aroma, and a cleaner finish than the 16 other coffee makers we’ve tested. On top of that, it's the easiest to use and clean.

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

*At the time of publishing, the price was $49.

Compared with other cold-brew coffee makers we tried, 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 less of a pain to set up than other coffee makers. Plus, this streamlined OXO model looks sleek, which is important for a piece of equipment that sits on your counter for hours at a time.


The well-constructed Filtron makes a mellower brew than the OXO, and its concentrate produces the most economical cold brew per cup. But it has many parts, making it cumbersome to assemble and store when not in use.

If you can't get our OXO top pick, we recommend the Filtron Cold Water Coffee Concentrate Brewer. It's physically larger than the OXO but just as easy to use. Our testers liked the coffee it produced, though it wasn't as strong as coffee from the OXO. The Filtron's felt filter is a bit of a hassle—if you don't store it right, it can get moldy. And if you use additional paper filters, you’ll need to replenish them over time.

The petite OXO Compact coffee maker is best for those who have limited storage space or want to make less coffee at a time.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $35.

The OXO Compact Cold Brew Coffee Maker is a smaller version of our OXO top pick, and it's just as easy to use. It makes a stronger-tasting coffee that isn't as balanced, but you can always dilute the results to your liking. This small coffee maker looks great on a counter and takes up less space than the regular-size models we tested. It also packs down into a neat, self-contained package when not in use, so we think it's a better option for those with smaller kitchens.

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

*At the time of publishing, the price was $49.

The well-constructed Filtron makes a mellower brew than the OXO, and its concentrate produces the most economical cold brew per cup. But it has many parts, making it cumbersome to assemble and store when not in use.

The petite OXO Compact coffee maker is best for those who have limited storage space or want to make less coffee at a time.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $35.

Just as we did for our guides to coffee makers and pour-over coffee gear, we looked at both preparation and the final product to determine the best cold-brew coffee maker. In our 2016 testing, two Wirecutter writers, both coffee lovers, experimented with the makers and other DIY methods for nearly a month. They also hosted a tasting panel with four enthusiasts plus two experienced and opinionated baristas.

During another round of testing in 2017, we took our coffee on the road, visiting three coffee professionals (Clinton Hodnett and Sam Scarcello, then of Public Espresso + Coffee and Jesse Crouse of Tipico Coffee) in their own shops and roasters for taste tests.

In 2020, Wirecutter kitchen writer Anna Perling conducted taste tests at home, but because of the pandemic, we weren't able to assemble a tasting panel.

If you like the flavor of cold brew and drink it often, you may find that a dedicated machine produces the best-tasting results in bigger batches and is easier to use and clean up after than any other method.

You might 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. The short answer is yes. There are real reasons cold brew has gained popularity in recent years; brewing with slow, cold exposure results in a sweeter, milder-tasting coffee, low on bitterness and acidity. Also, the method generally produces a concentrate that, with the addition of some combination of water, ice, milk and/or cream, still provides a very flavorful cup compared with hot coffee, which dilutes considerably once you add ice. Drinking hot-brewed coffee iced can also bring out bitter flavors that are less noticeable when the coffee is hot.

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

You can also make cold-brew concentrate with a French press or other tools you may already own, such as a Mason jar plus a strainer, cheesecloth, or nut-milk bag. But most of those methods require a lot more work for less satisfying results (more on that below).

Over the years, we’ve streamlined and simplified our testing to focus on what matters most: the flavor of the coffee and how easy each machine is to use. Originally, in 2016, we conducted several rounds of testing. First, to get a feel for the setup of each machine, we brewed a basic medium-roast coffee from Trader Joe's and followed the provided instructions for each system, noting how easy or annoying each model was to use and clean. Next, we switched to an upscale bean—a single-origin roast from Joe Bean, Mexico Chiapas (now discontinued)—again brewed using the water-to-coffee ratio suggested for each model. And we invited coffee professionals, coffee enthusiasts, and casual cold-brew drinkers to rank each sample on a 1-to-10 scale for taste, acidity, and body. Finally, we retested our top models, this time brewing medium-roast grocery-store beans using a consistent water-to-coffee ratio (4.5:1, averaged from all three brewers’ instructions) for 24 hours each, and diluting the concentrates 3:1. Blind tastings closely matched our original testing panel's findings, confirming that it's the brewers themselves, not their recipes, that make different cold-brewed coffee.

Given that conclusion, in subsequent tests (in 2018, 2019, and 2020) we’ve just brewed according to the recipe included with each coffee maker. We think that's what most people are likely to do anyway, and it also gives us a chance to see how easy it is to follow the instructions included with each machine. The only thing we’ve kept consistent across the board is brew time: Most models have a suggested range, so for convenience as much as anything, we’ve brewed our coffee for the same amount of time in every model—usually 24 hours.

We also learned in our original tests that none of our expert tasters actually liked cold brew very much. They all told us they didn't usually drink it. So in most of our subsequent tests, we called in a group of Wirecutter coffee enthusiasts for our tasting panel—we think it's more important to hear from people who might actually want to make cold brew themselves. In those rounds we continued to brew and taste two batches of coffee with each model, one using medium-roast grocery-store beans (since cold brewing tends to mellow harsh flavors, we wanted to see how each brewer did with a middle-of-the-road coffee) and one using more upscale medium-roast beans (to see how well each brewer highlighted the nuanced flavors of nicer coffee). For each round, every taster noted the strength of the brew, any present flavor notes, and whether they actually enjoyed drinking their cup.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we had to skip the tasting panel for our 2020 update of this guide, for which we decided to compare the new OXO Compact Cold Brew Coffee Maker with our existing picks, the OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker and the Filtron Cold Water Coffee Concentrate Brewer. Instead, writer Anna Perling brewed two batches of coffee at home according to each maker's instructions, first using Kirkland Signature Medium Roast Coffee and then Counter Culture Big Trouble. She let the coffee steep for 12 hours and then tasted the results side by side.

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

*At the time of publishing, the price was $49.

The OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker brings out more flavors from beans than other brewers we tried and has the most thoughtful features for brewing and storing your coffee with ease. The OXO, on balance, produced the most consistent results of all the models we tried, with the least amount of hassle. Some panelists weren't fond of certain flavors it brought out, but others named the OXO's brew their favorite.

Over multiple rounds of testing, the OXO consistently produced the most flavorful cup of cold-brew coffee of any model we tested. This was the case both when we used OXO's suggested recipe and dilution ratio (40 ounces of water to 10 ounces of grounds—or 4 parts water to 1 part grounds by weight—watered down 2.5:1) and when we used a standard recipe (4.5 parts water to 1 part grounds by weight, watered down 3:1). Using just the metal-mesh filter seems to bring forth a bigger flavor than using one of the optional paper filters that come with the OXO.

In each of our taste tests, panelists generally agreed that the OXO brew's flavor was the strongest. One noted that it had a "bigger body" than other brews, while others described it as "punchy" and "kinda strong for a hot day," as well as "vegetal and earthy." And in our most recent rounds of tasting with Wirecutter staffers, the majority of tasters gave the OXO coffee their highest marks. That said, not everyone loved the strong flavor—some of the coffee professionals who participated in our original tests were unimpressed, although they also told us they didn't particularly like cold brew in general. If you think you’d prefer a smoother, mellower brew with less acidity and punch, consider getting the Filtron brewer, our runner-up, instead.

The OXO was the easiest cold-brew maker to use and clean. To brew, you fill the upper reservoir with coffee grounds and then pour water into the reservoir's perforated lid. This ensures that your grounds are evenly saturated and allows the coffee to "bloom" if it's freshly ground. Instead of resting directly on top of the carafe, as in the Filtron maker, in the OXO the reservoir sits on a dedicated, wide stand. So when it's time to drain the concentrate, you simply place the glass carafe beneath the brewer and flip a switch to drain your coffee through the OXO's mesh filter, avoiding the messiness of pulling a cork, as on other models. You can even flip the switch back up midstream to pause and pour yourself some concentrate before it fully drains. When it's time to clean out the machine, you can easily unscrew the base. You can pop out the mesh filter and rinse it off, too. The OXO's carafe is made from thermal-shock-resistant borosilicate glass and has a spout for easy pouring. It looks nicer than a plastic carafe (such as the one that comes with the Filtron brewer) and fits better on a refrigerator shelf than the tall jug provided with many competing models. It's also more helpful than other coffee vessels we tested, thanks to extensive volume markings that let you easily measure out water for brewing.

Used according to the instructions, the OXO should produce about 24 to 28 ounces of coffee concentrate (although we’ve sometimes gotten closer to 33 ounces), which OXO suggests diluting using 2 ounces of coffee concentrate with 4 to 6 ounces of water or milk. By this measure, it yields about 12 to 16 servings of cold brew, enough to get you through the week. (If you want to be able to brew a little more, our runner-up, the Filtron brewer, makes about 32 ounces of concentrate.)

Since you’ll leave your cold-brew maker out for hours at a time while your coffee grounds steep, it's worth considering both how the appliance looks and how high it stands. The OXO is sleek, with rounded edges, and we find it more attractive than the utilitarian-looking Filtron. And at about 15 inches tall when fully set up, it will fit on the counter under most cabinets. The brewer is also covered by OXO's Better Guarantee, so if you have any issues with it under normal household use, OXO will replace it or refund you.

The OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker is sold with a handful of optional paper filters, which you can use in addition to the reusable mesh filter. The company says these filters aren't required but can help to create a smoother brew with less silt at the bottom. In our 2020 tests with the paper filter in place, we didn't notice any problems with draining, and we haven't heard any concerns about blockage from our long-term testers. But when we used the paper filters in our 2016 tests, the OXO didn't drain properly: It almost immediately slowed to a drip, and we got only a few ounces of concentrate because a silty mudflat of grounds covering the paper blocked its flow. An OXO representative had confirmed a slower drain time with the paper filter in place, but he said he’d never seen the stream completely stop, as it did in our original tests. The manual does recommend using coarse grinds, so following that instruction (and using a burr grinder instead of a blade grinder) may prevent these issues.

Also, the OXO's glass carafe is admittedly less durable than the Filtron's plastic one. But if yours breaks, you can purchase a replacement for $20.

The well-constructed Filtron makes a mellower brew than the OXO, and its concentrate produces the most economical cold brew per cup. But it has many parts, making it cumbersome to assemble and store when not in use.

The Filtron Cold Water Coffee Concentrate Brewer consistently produced great-tasting coffee concentrate in our tests, with most taste testers ranking its brew first or second. It's not quite as easy to set up and drain as the OXO, but it's still simple compared with nearly every other model we tested. The resulting concentrate costs less per cup than that of any other maker we tried (if you use the default recipe). It's endorsed by Stumptown in their respective coffee-brewing guide, and it's often available for sale in craft-minded coffee shops. Although the Filtron doesn't look as stylish or pack away as neatly as our other picks, its black plastic is less likely to show coffee stains over time than clear or white models.

In our tests, the Filtron produced a smooth, mellow cup of coffee every time, regardless of the beans we used. In our 2019 tests, it was the runner-up for taste, while five of the six tasters on our first-year panel gave the Filtron cup their highest rating for flavor and three named it their favorite overall. More than one barista on our panel at the time noted the Filtron coffee's "mild body." One also remarked on its "well-balanced sweetness and acidity," and two others detected caramel flavors. We thought it made slightly flat-tasting coffee compared with the brighter, more exciting brews of the OXO, but some people might appreciate the mellower brew.

The Filtron system is far easier to set up and empty out compared with the popular Toddy system, which calls for timed additions of weighted water and coffee, or compared with the CoffeeSock or French press methods. (We still found the OXO even easier, though.) A felt filter and a rubber stopper fit into the bottom of a black plastic bucket with a handle, and an optional (but recommended) paper filter holds the grounds and water. You let your mixture sit for 12 to 24 hours (we brewed for a full day) in the reservoir, after which you put the included carafe underneath it and pull the stopper, leaving it to drain for about 30 minutes. Cleaning it means either plucking out a filter full of grounds or scooping and rinsing the bucket. After rinsing the felt filter, you store it in water in an included container in the fridge to prevent mold.

That potential for mold is one of the Filtron system's biggest drawbacks; you can easily forget to store the filter properly. Also, the Filtron's large paper filters make its brews smoother, but they are hard to find—they’re not commonly stocked at stores and are held in limited supply on Amazon.

The Filtron system makes about 32 ounces of concentrate, which you then dilute with water. Filtron suggests a dilution ratio of 6 parts water to 1 part concentrate, which is enough for about 32 7-ounce servings of cold brew. But we found that ratio to be a little weak. Using a ratio closer to what OXO suggests (2 ounces of concentrate to 4 to 6 ounces of water), you get at least 16 servings—a little more than you can usually make with the full-size OXO brewer. Filtron also says you can resteep the grounds, something OXO doesn't explicitly recommend (though we’re sure you could). The concentrate holds for two weeks in the fridge.

The Filtron doesn't look stylish, but it doesn't look bad, either. It stands 19 inches tall when you’ve set it up to drip into the carafe. But while it's brewing, it's much shorter and should fit fine on a kitchen counter. It stows compactly, taking up the space of a medium-size mixing bowl in a cupboard, but it doesn't fit together as well as the OXO. You don't have to treat the plastic Filtron carafe as gently as the glass containers of other brewers, and the black plastic won't discolor with long-term coffee exposure. The Filtron is susceptible to being knocked over while draining because of the narrow carafe it rests on, but that's relatively unlikely.

The petite OXO Compact coffee maker is best for those who have limited storage space or want to make less coffee at a time.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $35.

The OXO Compact Cold Brew Coffee Maker is a smaller version of our top pick. Coffee from the OXO Compact was stronger than what we brewed with the regular-size OXO but still well balanced and not overly bitter. We found the OXO Compact even easier to use than our other picks because it has fewer parts and a streamlined design. It takes up less space on a counter but of course makes less coffee.

Coffee from the OXO Compact was full-bodied and chocolatey without being overly bitter or acidic. It didn't taste as balanced or floral as coffee brewed with the regular OXO, but we still enjoyed drinking it, and overall we didn't notice a huge difference between coffee from the OXO Compact versus the regular OXO. And, as with all concentrate, you can dilute the coffee to your preference.

Of all the makers we’ve tested, the OXO Compact is the simplest to use. The reservoir has a fill line for grounds, and a dot on the borosilicate glass carafe allows you to measure out 12 ounces of water (24 ounces of water is required for brewing). A perforated lid just like the one on the larger OXO distributes water evenly over the grounds. After the coffee has steeped, you place the reservoir on the carafe, depressing a mechanism that opens a valve and allows the coffee to start draining. OXO calls this the "auto drip function." As with the larger OXO, with the Compact you can unscrew the base, dump the grounds, and wash the mesh filter and various parts. The carafe is made from borosilicate glass, just like the one in the regular OXO.

The OXO Compact calls for 6.5 ounces of coffee and 24 ounces of water, whereas the regular OXO calls for 10 ounces of coffee grounds and 40 ounces of water. The Compact should yield around 16 ounces of concentrate (we got 19 ounces), or about eight servings of coffee, once diluted according to OXO's suggestion of 2 ounces of concentrate to 4 to 6 ounces of water. Meanwhile, the regular OXO makes at least 24 ounces of concentrate (and we’ve gotten as much as 33 ounces), yielding about 12 to 16 servings. Each makes about the same amount of cold brew per ounce of grounds.

The Compact is 11 inches tall when fully assembled (reservoir on top of carafe), in contrast to the 15-inch regular OXO. It's less imposing on a counter, and the parts also nest for easy storage. The Compact's carafe also has a cork lid lined with silicone, a stylish touch compared with the plastic stopper on the regular model. It might be nice if the carafe had more measurement markings like the larger version does, which would be useful if you wanted to tinker with your brewing recipe. But we think the suggested recipe works well enough that you shouldn't need to do that. You can also always use a measuring cup.

Unlike the larger OXO, the Compact Cold Brew Coffee Maker doesn't include (or work with) paper filters. But we didn't miss them, especially since we’ve had trouble with the paper filters clogging the larger OXO in the past.

If you already own a French press, using it to make cold brew is relatively simple. And there's no reason you can't try a few test batches: Start with a 4.5:1 ratio of water to coffee, by weight, and let your grounds steep in the carafe for 12 to 24 hours before plunging. We recommend filtering the liquid one more time through paper or cheesecloth. Then dilute to taste.

The method has its drawbacks, though. The ratios we suggest are a good starting point, but you’ll have to figure out the right recipe for your particular press, since it probably didn't come with a recommended cold-brew recipe. We’ve also found the resulting brew to be muddier than what you can produce with a cold-brew machine. And the mesh filters aren't the easiest to clean up.

You can also find plenty of recipes for steeping cold-brew concentrate in a Mason jar. To filter out the grounds, you can use a strainer, sieve, cheesecloth, or nut-milk bag, often in conjunction with a paper filter. But again, the process tends to be messier, and the results are typically less consistently delicious than what you can get from one of our cold-brew picks.

If you already own a pour-over setup, you might be interested in the Japanese iced coffee method: Prepare pour-over using hot water and more coffee grounds than usual, and drip it straight into a glass or carafe full of ice to cool it immediately. This is a great cold-brew alternative if you don't have time to steep your grounds for eight hours or longer. But you should know that it produces a more delicately flavored cup, which may or may not suit your tastes. And it doesn't produce a batch of concentrate that you can consume over time.

The Espro Cold Brew Maker is a handsome brewer with a functional design—including a cool marble stopper. Unfortunately, the coffee it produced scored at the bottom of our taste tests. Staffers thought the Espro produced coffee with a lot of off-putting flavors—one described the result as tasting "musty." The brewer also requires using Espro's large proprietary paper filters, but it comes with only five, and they’re expensive to replace.

The Brim Smart Valve Cold Brew Coffee Maker deposited almost all of its contents onto our counter the first time we attempted to use it, creating a dreadful mess. We were able to brew a malfunction-free batch with it later, only to find that the results tasted weak and flavorless. And when we tried to clean the carafe, which is made from notably thin glass, a piece broke off from the bottom.

In our tests, we found the KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker harder to use than our picks. Its brewing instructions require you to lift out the metal basket full of grounds and unfiltered concentrate and balance it at an angle on the top while it drains. We also found that the coffee from this KitchenAid model was a bit less flavorful and more gritty in texture than we'd like.

The Toddy Cold Brew System is similar to the Filtron in appearance, operation, and resulting coffee, but not as good on every front. The white plastic bucket will take on coffee stains over time, the Toddy system's instructions are more complicated than the Filtron's, and the coffee that it made in our tests was not as flavorful or full-bodied as the coffee from our main picks.

A CoffeeSock seems to offer an easy way to make iced coffee, but the cleanup is messier than you might anticipate, and the coffee in our tests was unimpressive. The mediocre results are not worth the effort of emptying the sock of grounds and then turning it inside out and rinsing off the stickiest granules.

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

The Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffee Pot uses a tall, cylindrical brew basket that's hard to set up and prone to messes, and in our tests its cold-brew coffee was on the watery side.

Primula's Cold Brew Glass Carafe Brewing System has a similar setup to the Hario, and we got similar results from it.

Like the Hario and Primula brewers, Takeya's Cold Brew Coffee Maker just doesn't make very good cold-brew coffee because of its design.

After brewing and drinking over 75 pots of coffee, we think the cleverly designed Espro P3 is the best French press for making a bold yet balanced brew.

After spending more than 120 hours researching and testing espresso machines, we think the Breville Bambino Plus is the best option for beginners.

We’ve been testing coffee grinders since 2015 and have yet to find a better value than the consistent, reliable, and repairable Baratza Encore.

Through multiple rounds of testing since 2013, the Cuisinart CPK-17 has remained our favorite electric kettle. It's fast, accurate, and easy to use—all at a great price.

Of all the coffee makers under $100 that we’ve tested, the Ninja CE251 makes the best-tasting coffee, and it is easy to use.

We tasted over 150 cups of coffee to find the best easy-to-use dripper for making pour-over coffee.

Keurig machines brew expensive coffee that we didn't find particularly strong or tasty. And they often break within warranty, all while taking a toll on the environment.

We’ve been testing coffee makers since 2015, and think the OXO Brew 9-Cup Coffee Maker offers the best combination of convenient features and delicious coffee.

All Nespresso machines make identical drinks. We recommend the Essenza Mini because it does the job without taking up much space and without unnecessary extras.

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

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, The 9 Best Trader Joe's Coffees, Ranked, Thrillist, May 29, 2015

Cold Brew Preparation Guide, Blue Bottle Coffee

Filtron, Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Jesse Crouse, owner of Tipico Coffee, interview

Nick Guy

Nick Guy is a former senior staff writer covering Apple and accessories at Wirecutter. He has been reviewing iPhones, iPads, and related tech since 2011—and stopped counting after he tested his 1,000th case. It's impossible for him not to mentally catalog any case he sees. He once had the bright idea to build and burn down a room to test fireproof safes.

Kevin Purdy

Kevin Purdy is a writer, editor, and repair advocate at iFixit. He previously reviewed products at Wirecutter, including mattresses, standing desks, and bike-commuting gear. He has also written for Lifehacker, Popular Science, Fast Company, and other publications.

Daniel Varghese

Anna Perling

Anna Perling is a former staff writer covering kitchen gear at Wirecutter. During her time at Wirecutter, she reported on various topics including sports bras, board games, and light bulbs. Previously she wrote food and lifestyle pieces for Saveur and Kinfolk magazines. Anna is a mentor at Girls Write Now and a member of the Online News Association.

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