Summer is finally here: hot days and long nights watching your kids play baseball. Or is that just me?
You need a quick and easy way to get your caffeine fix without spending hours in the kitchen or in the drive-thru of your local coffee shop.
Although I love an espresso-based drink as much as the next person, these drinks can be time-consuming to make.
Luckily, there’s an alternative to espresso for many drinks: cold brew!
In this post, we will explore the ins and outs of cold brew, and I will give you my top pick for the best cold-brew coffee maker for busy people.
What is Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew coffee has risen in popularity over the past few years.
And in case you’ve never heard of it, it’s simply coffee brewed at room temperature.
Most other coffee brewing methods rely on hot water for the extraction process.
Although hot coffee is arguably the most popular, brewing can cause issues.
One issue that can arise from using hot water is a bitter flavor.
Since cold brew uses room-temperature water, it has a smoother taste.
A second issue is that you often have to use ice to cool hot coffee or espresso down before adding it to iced drinks.
This can lead to a diluted flavor.
But since cold brew coffee is brewed at or below room temperature, there is no flavor dilution.
In fact, cold brew is generally more concentrated, meaning you will need to dilute it with ice and milk to get the perfect flavor balance.
Why Cold Brew?
Coffee enthusiasts have embraced cold brewing coffees for several reasons.
The first is the flavor.
It has a smoother, less bitter taste than regular coffee and espresso.
Many people also feel it’s easier on their stomach than coffee from a drip coffee maker.
Convenience is the second reason the cold brewing process is preferred over traditional brewing methods.
You can brew a batch of homemade cold brew that will last several days rather than having to brew a fresh batch every time you want a cup of great coffee.
Yes, cold brew takes 12+ hours to make, but once it’s made, simply refrigerate and enjoy!
A third reason for cold brew involves coffee concentrate. Cold brew is more concentrated, meaning you must dilute it for the best flavor.
It’s, therefore, ideal for drinks requiring the addition of flavor, milk, and ice because, despite those additions, the coffee flavor will continue shining through!
How is Cold Brew Made?
Making cold brew concentrate at home couldn’t be easier.
Combine coarse coffee grounds with water and let it sit for at least 12 hours.
Then strain out the grounds, leaving you with delicious cold brew coffee!
You can buy ground coffee that has expressly been made for cold brew.
It’s ground more coarsely than coffee and designed for drip brewing to prevent sludge at the bottom of your cup.
And although you may need to order it online rather than from your local grocery store, you can also buy decaf cold brew grounds.
Any coffee that’s been coarsely ground will make a decent cold brew.
Filtered water is always recommended for coffee-making purposes. It has a pure taste that helps bring out the flavors of the coffee.
Aim to brew for between 12 and 15 hours.
Too little brew time and your cold brew will be weak, while too much brewing brings out the bitter flavors of the coffee.
While making cold brew, keep the container at room temperature. Once the brew time is complete, pop it in the fridge and use it within 5-7 days.
But with so many fun cold coffee drinks, it won’t last nearly that long in the fridge!
The Cold-Brew Maker
When it comes to a container for cold brewing, you have several options.
The Mason jar method is one of the easiest ways to start your cold brew journey because most people already have one.
Therefore, you only need to invest in cheesecloth and coarsely ground coffee.
And if you want to make your brewing experience even easier, try buying cold brew bags. You can purchase empty filter bags to fill yourself or even pre-filled ones.
Either way, the clean-up process becomes a breeze.
Brewing cold brew in a Mason jar is simple, hassle-free, and the best way to dip your toes in the cold-brewed coffee pool!
Another easy way to try home cold brewing is using a French press.
And if you’ve never heard of a French press, it’s time for you to explore a better alternative to a traditional brewing system!
For years, I used a regular coffee machine.
The coffee was always fresh when the machine was new, but when it came time to clean it with vinegar, it would take on a different flavor I was not fond of.
I began exploring different options for brewing and stumbled upon the French press and have never looked back!
My morning cup is always fresh and fully caffeinated. And I love the convenience of daily washing in the dishwasher.
It couldn’t be simpler!
But when it comes to cold brew, the reusable filter built into the French press is perfect for separating the grounds from the coffee.
Simply combine the water and coffee, allow to sit for 12-15 hours, and push down the plunger once the time has elapsed.
Easy, fresh, and tasty!
Cold Brew System Brewing Container
Once you’ve tried making your own cold brew with one of the other methods, chances are good that you’ll want to invest in a dedicated cold brewing system.
I began searching through the best cold brew coffee makers because I use my French press every morning and wanted to avoid constantly tying it up with cold brew.
I also wanted a specific pitcher in which to store my coffee.
After searching far and wide, I eventually found my favorite cold brewer.
This brewer makes the brewing system a snap and lets me keep my French press clear for my morning buzz.
Although many cold brew makers are on the market, let me introduce you to my top pick and what makes it so fantastic!
Primula Burke Deluxe Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker
Let’s talk about what makes this cold brew maker the best on the market!
I love cold brew, but there was no way that I was willing to spend over $30 on a coffee maker.
After all, part of the reason I wanted to buy a maker in the first place was to cut down on my coffee shop splurging.
So when I began searching for the best model, I immediately eliminated any machine over $30.
And when it comes to price, the machine I found exceeded that expectation, as I spent less than $20 on this model.
If you love spending money on coffee machines, rest assured that there are more expensive models. You can even spend over $100 if that’s your thing.
But it was tough for me to personally justify spending more than $20 on something that can essentially replace a glass jar.
Convenience of Cleaning
For a new utensil to come into my kitchen, it must pass the dishwasher test.
Putting anything in the dishwasher is theoretically possible, but it doesn’t always end favorably.
And why spend hard-earned money on something you must choose between hand washing or ruining?
Luckily, the Primula Burke model also checked this box.
The glass carafe, as is the reusable filter, is dishwasher safe, so you can easily throw the whole thing on the top rack and forget about it.
Cold Brew Storage
Ideally, I wanted a cold brew system that would allow me to quickly store my fresh brew without requiring another container.
This particular system allows me to easily remove the grounds when it’s done brewing, put the lid in place, and pop it in the fridge.
And the pitcher is the perfect size to fit in my fridge without being a space hog.
Many of the other models on the market are huge, which increases my frustration level while digging through an already overpacked fridge.
But this particular pitcher’s not-too-big, not-too-small size fits perfectly, allowing me to still find the butter without knocking the jelly on the floor.
I’m generally an advocate for function over looks, but this model checks both boxes. Its sleek design lends itself to its overall function.
And it comes in a range of colors from aqua to black to multi-color, enabling most people to find the color that perfectly matches their kitchen decor.
Again, although the overall design was lower on my “must-have list,” it was nice to find a model that appeals to someone more interested in function than appearance.
Simple to Use
Making cold brew coffee shouldn’t be rocket science. Therefore, I wanted a maker that wouldn’t require a master’s degree to operate.
This pitcher has 3 essential components: the glass carafe, the removable filter, and the lid.
The filter fits nicely into the pitcher’s lid for easy removal once the brew is complete.
This filter also has a cap at the end to allow for convenient emptying of the grounds.
And the lid fits onto the pitcher well whether or not the filter is in place.
Instructions are Lacking
Like most things in life, the Primula Burke pitcher has a few cons.
One is the notable need for more instructions.
It includes one instruction sheet but gives you a different coffee-to-water ratio on each side of the paper.
But what’s being a home barista if you can’t do a little experimenting?
I’ve had the pitcher for several months and have made each batch with slightly different strengths.
It’s a great cold brew pitcher, and I have very few complaints.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you buy pre-made cold brew?
Yes! You can buy pre-made cold brew in a couple of different forms.
If you opt for the carton, the cold brew will already be diluted. Simply pour, add sweetener and milk, and enjoy!
You can also buy pods of cold brew concentrate. You must add water to dilute the concentrate for these products before adding milk and sweetener.
The main disadvantage of buying a pre-made cold brew is the cost. You can make your own cold brew for at least half the price of the pre-made stuff.
And you can customize it to whatever flavor you prefer.
What is the best cold brew coffee?
My current favorite is Bizzy brand cold brew. It has a bold taste that pairs well with flavors such as caramel and vanilla.
Starbucks is always a solid choice.
And if Dunkin’ is your favorite, they also have a cold brew on Amazon.
Can you use any ground coffee to make cold brew?
Not necessarily. Most commercially ground coffee has a finer grind to accommodate traditional drip brewers. Although ideal for most coffee makers, a fine grind can leave a gritty sludge in your cold brew.
For best results, use coarsely ground coffee when making cold brew.
Can you use a Mason jar to make cold brew?
Absolutely! Combine the coarsely ground coffee and water, then let it sit for 12-15 hours. Use a cheesecloth to strain out the grounds, and enjoy!
Mason jars also make a great storage container for your homemade brew.
Why does the coffee need to be coarsely ground for cold brew?
If the coffee is ground too finely, it will be tough to strain it out of the cold brew, leaving a gritty texture.
Can you buy cold brew packets?
Yes! You can buy pre-made packets that are ready to drop into a pitcher of water or empty ones.
The pre-made packets tend to be more expensive than other brewing methods. Still, they increase convenience and decrease the mess of cold brewing at home.
Can you buy decaf cold brew?
You can buy coarsely ground decaf cold brew or grind your beans to make decaf cold brew.
Either is an excellent option for reducing caffeine consumption and banishing insomnia.
I hope this post has inspired you to launch your home brewing adventure!
Making your own cold brew at home is the best way to get custom drinks at an affordable price without enduring those impossibly long lines at Starbucks!
And it’s incredibly satisfying to experiment with different flavor combinations and to take pride in the fact that you created a tasty drink all by yourself!
If you loved this post, don’t miss my other coffee-inspired content:
- How to Make a Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew with Caramel
- Can You Froth Oat Milk? Your Guide to Frothing Oat Milk
- How to Make an Iced Blonde Vanilla Bean Coconut Latte
- How to Make a Raspberry Chai Tea Latte
- How to Make a Caramel Raspberry Espresso Shaker
- How to Make an Oreo Cookie-Flavored Iced Coffee
- How to Make a Copycat Pumpkin Spice Cold Brew at Home
- How to Recreate a Cinnamon Caramel Cream Cold Brew at Home
- How to Make a Caribou Caramel Espresso Shaker
- Ultimate Review of the Instant 4-in-1 Milk Frother