There are some hot brew iced coffee makers that are only able to hot brew the coffee (like a standard American coffee pot) and slowly drip it over a glass filled with ice. These types of iced coffee makers are usually for making single cups of iced coffee that will be consumed immediately after brewing and are not able to make coffee that can be stored for several days. You would need to drink the coffee relatively quickly to not end up with watered down, bitter and lukewarm coffee. These iced coffee makers also cannot make a strong coffee concentrate or iced coffee in large batches. This means overall less cups of coffee for your efforts. The better iced coffee makers can brew a cold coffee concentrate that can be used to make a hot or cold cup of coffee, making them dual purpose and therefore more cost effective.
The best iced coffee recipes involve using cold brewed coffee, instead of the typical hot brewed coffee. Hot brewed coffee can make the taste of iced coffee too bitter, because of the extra acid that gets extracted. But, there are several methods to make cold brewed coffee concentrate that you can use in all of your iced coffee recipes. Cold brewed coffee will give a smoother and richer flavor. Iced coffee can be made without using an iced coffee maker. However, for those who prefer the convenience that an iced coffee maker provides there are several popular products to choose from that will make the process simpler. With a cold brew coffee maker you can have a batch of cold brewed coffee concentrate waiting in your frig for those moments when you or your family and friends crave a cold iced coffee drink on a hot day.
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Japanese Cold Brew Iced Coffee Makers (Immersion/Non-decanting)
Takeya Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker
Japanese cold brew coffee makers are by far the most popular to use. The Takeya and Hario cold coffee brewers have nearly identical function and design. These two traditional Japanese iced coffee makers are unique in that the coffee grounds are fully immersed directly in the carafe, instead of being brewed in a separate container and then decanted. The coffee grounds are poured into the filter reservoir, the carafe is filled around 2/3 full of water and allowed to brew at room temperature for at least 24 hours, agitating it a few times during the process. Then the grounds should be removed and the concentrate stored in the refrigerator. With the Japanese cold brew coffee makers, you can either brew regular strength coffee that can be used straight from the carafe, or extra strength coffee concentrate that would be diluted as part of a recipe. It takes a little longer to brew the concentrate as strong as the Toddy-like brewers make it, and in addition a coarser ground coffee should be used with the plastic mesh filter, in order for there not to be sediment in the carafe. The Takeya and Hario cold coffee brewers do not require additional filters to be purchased, like the Toddy system below. With a simpler process and easier to clean design the Takeya and Hario seem like superior iced coffee makers compared with other coffee brewers. Additionally, these coffee makers can be used to brew hot or cold coffee.
The Hario Water Brew Iced Coffee Maker
Differences between the Takeya and Hario include for one their carafe designs. The Takeya is air-tight and can be stored on its side in the fridge, while the Hario cannot. The Hario carafe is made of glass, while the Takeya carafe is made of hard plastic. The Takeya can hold 1 quart or just under a liter of coffee concentrate, while the Hario is made to hold a full liter. The Takeya filter can hold 14 -16 tablespoons of coffee grounds, while the Hario recommends only 5-6 tablespoons of coffee grinds. Therefore, it would be easier to get a stronger coffee concentrate with the Takeya coffee maker. However, neither coffee makers necessarily take up space on the countertop. Both cold coffee makers make it easy to prepare and store coffee concentrate in the refrigerator, as the coffee can be brewed at room temperature or at fridge temperatures. The brewing process would just take longer if started directly in the refrigerator. Overall, both of these traditional Japanese coffee makers make excellent iced coffee drinks.
Toddy & OXO Cold Brew Iced Coffee Makers (Immersion/Decanting)
The Toddy Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker
The Toddy iced coffee maker is a popular brand used to make iced coffee. It is easy to use and inexpensive. The Toddy makes a cold brewed coffee with 67% less acid and therefore has a smoother flavor. The Toddy iced coffee maker also does not require electricity and so can be used easily in the office or when camping. The brewing system comes with a brewing cup and handle (where the coffee grounds are placed), glass decanter with a lid, a rubber stopper and reusable filters, along with a recipe book. This coffee maker can process up to a pound of coffee and makes up to 1.5 liters of coffee concentrate. The concentrate is usually ready to use after being left to brew overnight or for 12 hours. This concentrate is then diluted 1:3 with 2 parts water or milk when used in an iced coffee recipe. That means you can make 25 cups of iced coffee with the concentrate and the cold coffee concentrate that you make with the Toddy will last for 3 weeks.
In my opinion there are pros and cons to the Toddy type of coffee makers that use the full immersion and decant brew system for the coffee grounds as compared with others on the market. The Toddy uses a fine fibrous, sponge-like filter, which can get clogged when using very fine coffee grounds so coarser grounds may need to be used. Moreover, it can be difficult to assure that all of the grounds get an even distribution of water and so the coffee