I Tried Making Cold Brew Coffee 3 Ways—and the Most Delicious Way Was a Snap
What’s the best way to make cold brew coffee? We put three different methods to the test to find out.
We’ll take coffee in any form—iced or hot, fancy or not, but we also believe good coffee is worth going the extra mile for. Cold brew coffee has risen in popularity over the past several years for its less acidic, sweeter taste. When coffee grounds are steeped in hot water, they turn bitter and more acidic, which adds to the overall flavor profile in a cup of joe. Cold brew concentrate is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for 12 to 24 hours and then filtering it, which results in a smooth, mellow taste (regular iced coffee is just cooled, hot coffee that still tastes acidic). Cold brew concentrate gets mixed with water and/or milk for a silky, full-bodied coffee drink.
Due to the popularity of cold brew coffee, many kitchen manufacturers and brands are jumping on board to offer their version of concentrates and carafes to make brewing cold brew coffee at home that much easier. I tried three of the most popular options— Grady’s Cold Brew Bean Bags, French press, and the OXO Cold Brew Coffee Maker— to test which is the best. Below are the brew-tiful results:
Grady’s Cold Brew Bean Bags
Grady’s Cold Brew Bean Bags are not only super convenient, but also the cheapest method of the three I tested. One container includes four bags and costs $12 (approximately $3 per bag). Other cold brew methods require at least 10 ounces of coffee grounds, which can add up quickly if you’re using high-quality coffee grounds (most bags contain between 12-16 oz. of grounds). I liked how low-maintenance this method was— you just steep one bag of grounds in 2 cups of water for 24 hours. Plus, I like the fact that the grounds are pre-measured and I didn’t have to do mental math to figure out my own grounds to water ratio. The flavor was a bit weak, even in the concentrate form; however, I found it to be sweet and easy to drink. If you tend to drink light roast coffee, then you’ll definitely enjoy the taste of Grady’s.
French Press Cold Brew
Making cold brew coffee in a French press follows a nearly identical process to make regular hot coffee in a French press. If you are equipped with, and like using, a French press, then this is a good method, no new appliances or specialty grounds needed. There are a number of methods regarding the ratio of grounds to water for cold brew coffee; I followed America’s Test Kitchen’s method, which called for a simple 1:1 ratio. Ultimately, I found this to be a bit too robust, even when cut with water. The French press didn’t do a great job of filtering the grounds, so I had to strain the concentrate through a fine mesh sieve twice to ensure a smooth, grounds-free cup of coffee. This wasn’t my favorite method but if you already rely on your French press for a great cup of coffee, then this will make a delicious glass of cold brew too.
OXO Cold Brew Coffee Maker
I had high hopes for the OXO Cold Brew Coffee Maker— and it did not disappoint. After letting the coffee grounds steep in cold water for 24 hours, I drained the coffee into the included glass carafe. A stainless-steel mesh filter inside the cold brew maker did a great job of removing all grounds (OXO also includes paper filters for an extra layer of filtration). I liked that the OXO maker includes a glass carafe and airtight top where you can both brew and store the concentrate. OXO also sells a coffee grounds cleaning scoop, which easily fits into cold brew coffee makers, blenders, and other large containers for easy clean-up. At $50, the OXO Cold Brew Coffee Maker is the most expensive cold brew appliance I tested. It also takes up the most counter space, so if you have a small kitchen, this might not be the most practical choice.
The Verdict?: If you’re not in the market for another coffee maker, then Grady’s Cold Brew Coffee Bean Bags offer convenience and great flavor at an affordable price. If you’re interested in trying out a fun, easy-to-use gadget to help get you going in the mornings, then the OXO Cold Brew Coffee Maker delivers.