Quelle horreur. By now, every java enthusiast knows that the cold-brewing method is the only way to go. Just like the advantages of a meal that’s cooked low and slow, coffee that is steeped in cold water for 12 hours or more results in a brew that’s big on flavor. In the absence of heat, fewer acids and oils are absorbed, leaving a smoother flavor in your glass.
You could buy a bottle and taste for yourself, but we all know that homemade trumps store-bought. And of the handful of cold brewers on the market, the most talked about is The Toddy. I’ve long ignored it for my sad hack job — using an old mason jar and paper filter that’s scotch-taped to seal in coffee. But my last batch ended with leaking grounds that left a gritty taste in my mouth.
It was time to cave and test the real deal.
The Toddy is easy to assemble and use. Just plug a rubber stopper and disc-shaped filter (both included) into the bottom of the plastic brewing vessel and fill it with ground coffee. Add cold water and let it sit in the fridge overnight.
When it’s ready, remove the plug and let the coffee drip into Toddy’s glass decanter. The product claims that the resulting drink is 67 percent less acidic than coffee brewed in a percolator or drip machine. In a side-by-side taste test of iced coffee made in the Toddy and in my beloved Krups, the answer was clear: the cold brewed version was far less bitter and easier to swallow.
Aside from taste, we like the eco-friendly details that go into this product. The brewer is made of BPA-free plastic, the glass decanter can be used for more than your coffee, and the cloth filters are washable and reusable.
Cold brewing takes patience. Waiting 12 hours for a drink sounds ludicrous when you can just hit your nearest Starbucks for a quick cup.
The only minor quibble in terms of performance is the slightly messy step between unplugging a brewer full of coffee and setting it over the carafe. Move fast and expect some of your drink to dribble over your hand as you make the transfer.
Cleaning is also a bit of a challenge. The coffee oils left behind in the brewer lead to a stubborn film that requires elbow grease to remove. As a fan of flavored beans, I noticed residual notes from a previous batch of hazelnut iced coffee in my latest carafe of regular joe. Wiping the parts with a diluted vinegar solution helps, but you’ll need to do a second rinse and wash to avoid iced coffee that tastes of sour apple cider.
Finally, consider the size. My small-ish refrigerator had to be re-arranged to make room for the brewer and carafe. Those working with mini-fridges will see this is more than a small inconvenience.
Whether or not they go with the Toddy, serious iced coffee drinkers would be wise to get on the cold brewed train. But given its price and user-friendly design, it’s a worthy purchase that you’ll depend on for at least four months out of the year. You can take shortcuts as I originally did, but proceed at your own risk. Coffee grinds in your teeth is not a good look. Toddy Cold Brew Coffee System; $34.95, amazon.com
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