Growing up in central Florida, it should surprise no one that I’m well versed in the art of iced tea. There wasn’t a family gathering, holiday, or even a summer afternoon without a pitched of iced tea at the ready. It’s only natural that I should gravitate toward iced coffee, but I didn’t find my true love until I discovered cold brew.
What is cold brew?
Cold brew and iced coffee are not the same, although some shops may refer to their cold brew as “iced” because it is more well known. Simply put, iced coffee is merely brewed coffee poured over ice, while cold brew is a slow process, usually 12-24 hours, in which coffee is brewed with cold water. This slower process, combined with the lack of heat, brings out a completely different level of flavor from the bean, with less acidity and bitterness, but with more depth of flavor.
Step 1: Grind coffee, add cold water
Cold brew coffee requires coarse ground coffee, so don’t attempt this with any pre-ground coffee you can buy in the grocery store. We set our grinder to its maximum coarseness, and it helps prevent coffee from clogging the filter. The recommended ratio for the Toddy is 12oz coffee to 7 cups cold water. I follow their instructions, which include adding water and grounds in stages to slowly introduce the two and ensure that all the coffee is sufficiently wet.
Step 2: Wait 12-24 hours, then filter
The Toddy includes a plug on the bottom of the brewing unit, and the top is open, so I cover the top with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge overnight. I’ve brewed several batches close to 12 hours, but our current batch sat for 14.5 hours and it turned out extra rich and smooth. Just how long you let the coffee sit depends a lot on the coffee itself. Our latest was a Guatemala from Downtown Credo, and the extra hours really helped to highlight its darker flavors.
When it’s time to filter the coffee, pull the plug and set it on top of the included glass jug. Do this carefully, of course. While coffee doesn’t just rain out the bottom of the Toddy, you still want to be over the jug before pulling the plug, just to avoid losing even the tiniest drop of cold brew goodness.
Now we wait again. Don’t get impatient if the coffee appears to be filtering too slowly. I had a couple batches where the coffee was a bit too fine, started to clog the filter, and I attempted to clear it, only to make things worse and destroy the reusable filter in the process. Let it sit undisturbed for 30 minutes or more and you’ll be amazed at how quickly that small stream of coffee turns into a gallon!
Step 3: Dilute with cold water and enjoy!
Unless you like your cold brew extremely strong, I highly recommend diluting it with water. Toddy recommends a ratio of 3:1 as a starting point, and I find that it usually suits my taste. Most often I enjoy my cold brew in a mason jar, filling it to the 1/4 cup line with the cold brew concentrate, then adding cold, filtered water up to a full cup, and finally adding ice to keep it extra cold. Yum!
If you’re looking for a simple cold brew system to enjoy at home, the Toddy Cold Brew System is a simple way to go, and one batch of cold brew can last for 10 days or more in the fridge. Of course, in our house, it never makes it the full 10 days!