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Cuisinart Automatic Cold Brew Coffeemaker
Cold-brewed coffee in 25 minutes instead of the standard 12 to 24 hours: the real deal or too good to be true?
What You Need To Know
Coffee aficionados swear by the cold-brew method for making the smoothest, most nuanced iced coffee. Cold brewing works on the theory that using room-temperature water to brew coffee results in a balanced, less acidic brew because many of the chemical compounds responsible for coffee flavor (including harsh, bitter, and acidic flavors) dissolve most readily in hot water. In cold or room-temperature water, these solubles dissolve more slowly (and some never dissolve at all), resulting in coffee that is smoother, less bitter, and less acidic than coffee prepared with hot water. However, traditional cold-brewing methods come with one big drawback: They usually take between 12 and 24 (hands-off) hours to brew, which is why most home brewers—for example, our favorite, the Toddy Cold Brew System—yield large batches of concentrate that can be stored in the refrigerator and diluted with water when ready to serve. So we were intrigued by the Cuisinart Automatic Cold Brew Coffeemaker ($99.99), which promises to make cold brew in as little as 25 minutes.
Is Quick Cold-Brewed Coffee Any Good?
The machine looks like an automatic drip coffee maker, with a water reservoir and reusable filter that sit atop a carafe. You fill the filter with ground coffee, set it inside the water reservoir, and fill the reservoir with room-temperature water. Once you press the “brew” button, the filter spins on and off in 10-second intervals, agitating the water for a total of 25, 35, or 45 minutes for “mild,” “medium,” or “bold” coffee, respectively. When the cycle is done, you press a lever to release the coffee into the glass carafe below. The machine makes up to 35 ounces of ready-to-drink coffee that doesn't need to be diluted.
We started by trying out the three brew strengths—using filtered water and high-quality coffee beans, which were freshly ground to an even consistency in a burr grinder—but all of them were far too weak. Even on the darkest setting, “bold,” the coffee was pale and thin, like “coffee tea,” said one taster. And despite the machine's three filters (one holds the ground coffee, a second is in the water reservoir, and a third one is on the carafe lid), the coffee emerged cloudy, with a film of bitter sediment that our tasters called “dirty.”
Cold Brew: Traditional versus Automatic Brewing Systems
These issues were amplified when we tried the Cuisinart's cold brew against concentrate we made in the Toddy and diluted with cold water. The Cuisinart coffee was wan, sooty, and unpleasant to drink, while the Toddy cold brew was dark, smooth, and crystal clear. We tried brewing with more coffee and less water than the Cuisinart's instructions...
Everything We Tested
- Flavor: 1 stars out of 3.
- Ease of Use: 2 stars out of 3.
Though this machine claims to produce cold-brewed coffee in just 25 minutes, the resulting liquid scarcely resembled coffee at all: It was pale, flavorless, and sooty. When we tried using less water and more coffee, the results weren't much better—still oily and pale but with a bitter, astringent aftertaste. The machine was also a pain to clean, with seven detachable parts that had to be disassembled and put back together after every use.
Reviews you can trust
Reviews you can trust
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