Iced coffee is the ideal pick-me-up once temperatures start to soar. The trouble is, the cost adds up. Most of us wind up spending way too much money at a coffee shop just for a smooth cup of ice-cold java.
For years I worked at a coffee shop that served iced coffee by giving customers piping hot coffee along with a cheap, flimsy plastic cup of ice on the side. Not exactly ideal. Anyone could have just as easily made this at home.
That’s why I’ve been on a quest to find you the best iced coffee maker. From efficient automatic machines to less acidic cold brew makers, there are numerous options on the market.
Weighing in on all the pros and cons, the Ovalware RJ3 Cold Brew Maker ranked top spot. The quality of materials doesn’t distract from the flavor and the price doesn’t tip the scale.
Although, that’s not the only option I absolutely love. Read on to find my top recommendations and a buying guide to help you decide.
Related: The Best Coffee Maker Under $100 For Every Home
Best Iced Coffee Maker: Ovalware RJ3 Cold Brew Maker
From the materials used to the coffee produced, the Ovalware RJ3 Cold Brew Maker has a lot to offer cold coffee lovers.
To start, you can brew hot or cold. This already gives you more bang for your buck. Despite what you’re in the mood for, you’ll wind up with a bit more than 4 cups.
The bottom nestles nicely into a detachable rubber base to prevent slippage. Meanwhile, the lid is airtight so you don’t have to worry about oxidation or a spilled mess.
Although the unique lab beaker-styled design certainly grabs attention, not everyone may dig it. Especially if you hated high school chemistry. However, the Ovalware RJ3 Cold Brew Maker produces a quality cup at a highly affordable price.
- Smooth flavor
- Airtight lid
- Brews coffee and tea
- Thin handle
- Harder to use when hot
Best Budget Option: Takeya Deluxe Cold Brew Maker
With the Takeya Deluxe Cold Brew Maker, you can save money and still make a quality cup of iced coffee at home. Additionally, the portable and compact design is easy to store.
The Takeya Deluxe Cold Brew Maker brews hot or cold. This means you can make iced coffee now and then start a cold brew for later.
Another feature I dig is the airtight lid. This lets you prep the cold brew and properly store it in the fridge for up to two weeks. Odds are though, you’ll drink it well before then.
The one drawback that some may find difficult is getting down the right coffee to water ratio. Although, this is highly common with manual options.
Producing up to 1 liter in a given brew, the Takeya Deluxe Cold Brew Maker is a great option for an iced coffee drinker on a budget.
- Highly affordable
- Leak-proof airtight lid
- Easy to use
- Smaller brewing capacity
- Brew strength learning curve
Best Versatility: Ninja Hot and Cold Brew System CP301
The Ninja Hot and Cold Brew System CP301 is quality and versatility all wrapped up into one sophisticated brew system.
This coffee machine includes five different settings so you can have hot, cold brew, or iced coffee. If that weren’t enough, the Ninja Hot and Cold Brew System also brews tea bags and loose leaf tea.
Serving sizes range from a single cup to a full 10-cup coffee carafe. This option even includes a milk frother that can neatly be tucked away when not in use.
With all these attributes come limitations. The warming feature only works with the carafe. This is also not the easiest machine to clean.
With that in mind, I highly recommend this option if versatility scores high on your list. Especially if you plan on serving guests or have others in the house that will benefit from the multifunctionality.
- Highly versatile for all types of coffee
- Six serving sizes
- Capable of steaming milk
- Coffee pot included
- Harder to clean
Best To-Go Option: Mr. Coffee Iced Coffee Maker
For years I desired an iced coffee maker that’s to-go cup compatible so you can grab and go for busy mornings. Then I found Mr. Coffee Iced Coffee Maker.
With this iced coffee machine, you can skip the pot and brew directly into your travel cup. Mr. Coffee even throws in a 24-ounce double-walled to-go cup with matching straw.
This machine is remarkably easy to use due to its efficient and streamlined design. There’s even a drip-stop function built-in.
A single brew cycle takes less than 5 minutes and is very much akin to a traditional drip coffee maker. Plus, the machine comes in a nice compact size.
Mr. Coffee claims the integrated cooling system never waters coffee down. However, anything that hot brews this fast over ice is going to cause some degree of melting. The good news is you can make a more concentrated cup so you can achieve the desired flavor.
- Very affordable
- Great for busy people
- Fast and efficient
- Travel cup feels cheap
- May not be the most durable option
Best Compact Option: OXO Compact Cold Brew Coffee Maker
The OXO Compact Cold Brew Coffee Maker is a great space saver. The compact design consists of a mesh filter, carafe, and cork stopper that nests within itself.
The brewing process is completely gravity-fed. This means as soon as you pour the water it starts to trickle down through the grounds causing coffee to drip into the glass carafe.
The lid features a rainmaker design that showers down water onto the ground coffee for a more even brew. According to the manufacturer, this results in 16-cups.
However, there are no measurement markings other than a fill line for the grounds. I also worry about stability, especially for us clumsy folks.
If stability is not a concern, you may benefit from this option. The small design and minimal price will work well for almost any kitchen.
- Compact. Saves on fridge space
- Larger brewing capacity
- Cork stopper is not spill-proof
- May not be the most stable option
Best Fast Brew Option: Presto Dorothy Rapid Cold Brewer
Cold-brew isn’t known for timeliness. That is, until the Presto Dorothy Rapid Cold Brewer.
This machine works like a French press, but with a twist.
To operate, fill the coffee carafe with water, select a speed, add grounds, and watch the mesmerizing vortex spin. When it’s done you’ll have 22 ounces worth of cold brew.
The whole process takes about 15 minutes. Unless you want the fullest strength possible. That will take about double the time.
As fun as the cold brew coffee machine is to watch, the lid doesn’t completely seal. This means some coffee may spin out of the pour spout. It may also come out a bit gritty.
Considering these drawbacks, the machine is a good buy for cold brew lovers who want their caffeine fix earlier than tomorrow.
- Fast cold brew
- Adjustable strength settings
- Multiple cups per batch
- Consistency may be gritty
- May make a mess
Best Large Serving Capacity Option: KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker
The KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker excels where other cold brew coffee makers are lacking. Specifically, quantity. This cold brew maker pumps out a whopping 38 ounces of coffee.
This is ideal for a Sunday brunch coffee bar or a weeklong prep of your morning brew. For longer storage, you can store the whole thing in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Constructed from stainless steel and glass, the KitchenAid Cold Brew is equipped with a handle for transport and a tap for dispensing. The stainless steel filter includes filling lines to help you find the right ratio of grounds to water.
While I love the massive serving size, the design has some flaws. Specifically, the tap is likely to leak. It’s also hard to get that last little bit of coffee to pour out.
That said, the KitchenAid Cold Brew does well to serve gatherings and those who want to get the most out of their coffee prep.
- Large serving capacity
- Streamlined design
- Quality materials to prevent off-flavors
- Tap may leak
- More expensive than other options
Best Coffee Pod Option: Keurig K-Elite Single Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Brewer
If you love the efficiency of coffee pods, you’ll want to take a look at the Keurig K-Elite Single Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Brewer.
This coffee maker features a button specifically for iced coffee. Place a cup of ice under and let the hot brew flow.
You can choose from five different cup sizes which range from 4 ounces to 12 ounces. Additionally, the hot water reservoir holds 75 ounces so you can refill less.
What’s nice about this option is the user panel is streamlined and intuitive. If you find your iced coffee to be too weak, hit the strong button.
Like most of Keurig’s machines, you have to use their coffee pods. Unless you purchase an additional reusable, refillable pod. I also don’t like that this model limits cup height to 7.2 inches.
Taking everything into consideration, I recommend this option if you are both an iced coffee and coffee pod fan.
- Fast brew time
- Reservoir holds 75 ounces of water
- Customizable strength and serving size
- Limitations on cup height
- Reusable filter pod not included
If you’re going to make a well-informed decision, there are some things you’ll need to know about when preparing coffee over ice. Here’s the breakdown.
Iced Coffee or Cold Brew
You may have heard the terms iced coffee and cold brew used interchangeably. While both are served cold, there is a difference.
Iced coffee is nothing more than regular hot brewed coffee that’s poured over ice. The process is super simple. However, it does water down the flavor.
To combat this, some iced coffee lovers will do an extra strength brew or plop in some coffee ice cubes. Another method is to brew the coffee and let it cool down in the refrigerator first.
Since the whole process involves hot brewing, it doesn’t take as long as cold brew. It can also be done with a traditional coffee maker.
As the name suggests, cold brew coffee is produced by using cold brewing methods. Specifically, steeping a coarse grind in cold water.
Since the water is never heated, it takes much longer to extract all those lovely robust flavors. The whole process takes roughly 12-24 hours. The result is a smoother, less acidic cup than a regular hot brew.
Types of Iced Coffee Makers
Like regular coffee makers, iced coffee makers are either automatic or manual.
Automatic iced coffee machines are typically faster and more efficient than their manual counterparts. Some will brew in as little as 5 minutes while others take around 30 minutes.
Serving sizes typically range from a single cup to a full carafe. Some may even give you the option of customizing brew strength.
The thing I appreciate most about manual iced coffee makers is they give you more control over your coffee strength. You can brew as long or short as you like.
Additionally, some are equipped for hot or cold brewing. This means you can make a quick iced coffee or savor a slow cold brew.
And when it comes time to clean, you can fully dismantle all the parts. I can’t tell you how many cups of coffee I had that tasted off because the machine was hard to clean.
Time and Effort
As I mentioned, cold brew takes much longer to make than iced coffee. Consider your lifestyle and what period of time you have.
Many cold brew makers will require more effort on your part. This is because many models require you to begin the brewing process well in advance.
I like to think of it this way. If you can never seem to meal prep your work lunch for the next day, odds are you won’t prep your coffee either. In that case, go with an iced coffee machine that brews quickly and doesn’t require remembering beforehand.
If the bolder the better, look for an iced coffee maker that offers different strength settings. Additionally, manual options are a great way to control how strong you brew.
The one issue you may run across is finding the right grounds to water ratio. This will vary according to the type of iced coffee maker. However, with a little patience, you can achieve the desired coffee strength.
Does a single cup of coffee satisfy your morning caffeine fix? Or are you the type to keep the pot going?
Each iced coffee maker comes with limitations on how much coffee you can produce in a single brew cycle. Double-check the brewing capacity.
Some options may only brew a single cup. This is something to consider if you can’t function without another brew, but don’t have time.
Plastic or Glass
Plastic is often more durable than glass. It’s also lighter in weight. However, plastic can absorb flavors and odors over time. Glass is a better option for preserving flavor quality. Keep this in mind when deciding on an option.
It’s important to clean your iced coffee maker from time to time. This will optimize the flavor of your java cup.
Additionally, automatic machines can build up minerals so they will need to be descaled from time to time. I typically prefer manual coffee makers for this very reason.
With manual coffee makers, I can disassemble them easier and hand wash all their components. That way I know there’s no residue or leftover minerals that are hindering flavor or coffee maker performance.
Which Iced Coffee Maker is Right for You?
Sweltering summer mornings are best paired with an iced coffee maker to kick off your day. The best coffee maker will save you money and tailor coffee to your satisfaction.
For instance, take the Ninja Hot and Cold Brew System CP301. This iced coffee machine offers a range of versatility with efficient performance. There’s also the Takeya Deluxe Cold Brew Maker that makes quality coffee at a fraction of the price.
Then there’s the highest-ranked on the list, the Ovalware RJ3 Cold Brew Maker. This option balances price, performance, and taste, making it the best all-around.