Cold Brewer Round-UpAug 24, 2015
The world has gone cuckoo for cold brew and let us tell you, we don’t blame them. First a disclaimer: making cold brew is not push-button simple. It takes a long time (12-24 hours, to be exact) and can be a bit of a mess.
Which is why we try to make it easy on y’all with Stubbies, growlers, and cans, oh my. But if you’re a DIY-er, big batch cold brew at home is as delicious as the summer day is long.
We sell the Filtron Cold Brewer online so we are obviously Filtron fans, but we decided to do a round-up of several options on the market and see how it fares against our home team favorite.
For the round-up, we brewed up our House Blend, a great choice for cold brewing, and brewed each method according to the directions in the box. The next day we did a blind taste test to find our favorites.
We looked for things like ease of brewing and clean-up, functionality of brewer and most importantly, the resulting flavor and profile of the brewed coffee.
Designed by a coffee-loving mechanical engineer and industrial designer duo, the Bruer is the only one of the bunch that isn’t a full immersion (coffee steeping in water) brewer – instead it relies on a slow-drip process like that of many Japanese tower brewers.
Pros: Very good looking with an adjustable drip rate, so you can choose how fast the water is added to the coffee. Clear instructions. The cold brewed coffee has a good body with a nice long finish.
Cons: Clean-up of the metal disc was a little difficult and the silicon top just rests on the top instead of fitting in snugly. We’d recommend transferring your brew into a sealed container if you use the Bruer or the quality will deteriorate after a couple of days.
We used the bigger brother of this home option in our cafes for years before we traded it in for our Cold Brew kegs.
Pros: Easy to brew and fairly easy to clean. Makes a big batch of concentrate that keeps up to two weeks in the fridge. Round, pleasant flavor profile with long sweet finish. Balanced and full-bodied.
Cons: You need to keep the cloth filter refrigerated or frozen between uses, which can be a pain, and the carafe is plastic instead of glass. The instructions tell you that you can leave the coffee unrefrigerated for up to six weeks after brewing. We don’t know what’s up with that. Don’t do it!
Lots of folks have a French Press lying around and have starting using them to make cold coffee, too.
Pros: Very easy to brew and easy to come by. No secondary filter.
Cons: While we love the French Press to brew hot coffee, brewing coffee in a French Press for 12 hours is intense! Ours resulted in an over-extracted and unbalanced brew, with a distinct woody taste and super heavy body, and not in a good way.
Made by Hario and part of the Mizudashi series. Hario is always on point for design in the looks department. This one is very similar to the Hario Mizudashi Coffee Pot, but a bit more functional.
Pros: Easy to brew, easy to clean. Includes bottle with a rubber pour spout.
Cons: Coffee was pleasant, but lacked some sweetness and body. Didn’t stand out on the table as one of our favorites.
Not sure what why Hario has two very similar options, but we definitely prefer the Coffee Bottle over this one.
Pros: Looks nice and brews and stores coffee in one vessel.
Cons: We followed the instructions and found the included brew method very tedious. It took us over 10 minutes to pour the water into the vessel. Very light-bodied. Tasted papery and missing that distinctly cold brew sweetness and body. We’d definitely like to see some design updates or a different brew method for this brewer.
Very similar in look and method to the two Hario options. Makes four quarts.
Pros: Easy to brew and store in the fridge. Leak-proof lid. Nice handled carafe for pouring.
Cons: Very nutty flavor. Not sweet or round. Didn’t stand out in the line-up.
A classic. Toddy was one of the first (if not the first) to do cold brew right. They’ve been around and cold brewing since 1964. Great design, great coffee.
Pros: Classic cold brew flavor profile. Nice body and syrupy sweetness. Very similar in taste profile to Filtron. Kit comes with a glass carafe which one ups Filtron's plastic one.
Cons: Like the Filtron, you also have to keep the filter refrigerated or frozen between uses. Brewing took a bit longer and was slightly more tedious than the Filtron.
Our Winner: Filtron
We’re not biased! This was a blind taste test. We loved the Filtron results the best and it’s instructions are clear and easy to follow. Not a complete surprise here, since our brew team always does extensive testing on several options on the market before we decide which brewers to use and sell in our cafes and online.
Our Runner-Up: Toddy
The Toddy made delicious cold brew that was very similar in profile to the Filtron – sweet, syrupy, and chocolatey. The directions are straight-forward, but the Filtron had a slight edge in cup character and ease of use.
What other brewing questions would you like answered? You can find us at @stumptowncoffee, or firstname.lastname@example.org.