There are dozens of specialized devices advertised as the “best cold brew maker.” We’ve found sorting through these devices and thousands of reviews is a daunting and largely fruitless task. But, we did the leg work and have a clear favorite: Alto Cold Brew Filters. There are a few reasons why we like them so much.
All you need is a jar
Mason jar, pitcher, nalgene bottle, bucket. You can use any device with an Alto filter.
We use them for production on a cafe level
We use them to make 5 gallons of cold brew at time using the scaled up commercial model that fits in a 7 gallon home brew bucket. Our customers love the cold brew and our staff loves them because of the simplicity of cleanup and use.
Nothing causes unnecessary kitchen clutter quite like single-use gadgets in a kitchen. Unfortunately, that’s what most cold brew devices are: a single-use kitchen gadget that is only used a few times during the warm season. We like that Alto filters are compact and can easily fit into a drawer, cupboard, or at the back of a counter space.
They’re easy to clean
Most cold brew devices uses metal mesh screens or reusable cloth filters. The problem with this multi-use scenario is two-fold: coffee oils and fine-mesh screens used in most specialized cold brewers. Residual coffee oil ruins the flavor of other beverages and is not easy to clean off of a fragile, fine-mesh, metal filter or a reusable cotton one without the use oxygen cleaners or vigorous application scrubbing and time. Alto filters are composed entirely of plant-based fibers, are totally disposable, and work just as well with tea, so no cleaning, or foul lingering flavors.
Cold brew is most enjoyable in warm weather when the outdoors beckon. Specialized devices are as unportable as they are bulky, Alto filters can be put into a sealed mason jar or Nalgene, thrown into a pack, and be forgotten about until coffee sounds good. They’re seriously lightweight and compact, and can be used as a decent hot pour-over device so they’re a great alternative to the mediocre to outright foul instant coffee that limits the morning magic of overnight backpacking adventures.
They produce the best flavor
Everything mentioned is all well and good, but none of it matters if the flavor is bad. Well, the flavor of the coffee produced by Alto filters is superior to the flavor of all of the numerous devices we tried it against. We think the superior clarity is because paper filters don’t just filter coffee grounds, but also bind some coffee oils that ruin cup clarity and quality.
Which coffee to choose?
To start, we recommend a medium roast that has a nice full body and rich character. The mellow brewing process will compliment these coffees well. Our Duomo fits the bill well, as does our crowd-favorite Roaster's Reserve.
Also feel free to experiment with single-origins, using a longer brew time to extract as much flavor as possible. A berry forward Ethiopian can be very smooth and delicious when cold brewed. Try Shakiso Oda and tell us how it turns out!
What you need:
Wide mouth quart size mason jar, Alto Filter, filtered water
70 grams of coffee, just under 3 ounces (by weight)
Coarse (grains size of rough table salt)
Add coffee to bag and cinch the drawstrings
Add filtered water to top of jar
Brew for 12 to 36 hours, longer brews will add body and roundness
Remove filter (and compost it)