1 Pound of Beans + 15 Hours = A Month Of Joe

Toddy Coffee Maker In ActionI just spent fifteen hours making a pot of coffee. That really doesn’t sound like something anyone should brag about, does it? Unless maybe you’re waiting in line to hop on the short bus. No, as you’ve probably guessed, I didn’t spend the last fifteen hours waving jazz-hands in the air yelling “coffee’s brewin’! coffee’s brewin’!” while pouring thimbles of water on coffee grounds. Quite the contrary. In that period of time I watched a movie, smoked a couple of cigars, slept, scanned a few websites and even forgot to shower. Not a lot of coffee-related activity, you’ll notice.

At this point, you must be intrigued. “Why on earth haven’t you taken a shower yet? And what sort of coffee takes fifteen hours to brew?” You must be asking. Ignoring the first question (‘cuz that’s none of your beeswax), it isn’t the coffee that’s particularly special. It’s an interesting Starbucks blend named Arabian Mocha Sanani that I selected because it’s extra bold and happens to be a variety I haven’t tried before.

The special bit is the brewing method. I cold brewed a pound of coffee. That’s right, I brewed an entire pound of coffee. All at once. In a big white bucket with cold, filtered water.

Essentially this is what I did:

  1. Add water to bucket.
  2. Add coffee to bucket.
  3. Repeat until all the coffee is in the bucket, or the bucket is full. Don’t pour coffee or water on floor or counter. (My wife’s addition to the instructions.)
  4. Wait 12 hours. (I always mess this one up, both because it’s easy to do and because waiting longer results in more potent coffee.)
  5. Pop the cork in the bottom of the bucket and drain tasty dark nectar into a carafe.

Sounds simple, huh? And because I’m withholding information, it probably sounds decadent and wasteful. “One whole pound of coffee in one shot,” you think. “Dear god, Brian, that makes my venti-froo-froo-frappucino look cheap!” And while I think nothing lights a $20 cigar quite like a fifty-dollar bill, what I’ve actually made here is the ultimate lazy cheapskate’s coffee. (And I was kidding about the fifty. We all know Benjamin burns better than Grant.)

I’ll explain. What this process produces is a coffee concentrate, not something you want to drink straight. A cup of this stuff is a express train to Heart Explosion City, with a single stop in the twin cities of Diarrheaville and Yack City. It’s not a train you want to ride. Anyway! What you have at the end of this twelve plus hour process is enough coffee concentrate for around a month’s worth of coffee drinking. (Your results may vary, of course).

A big selling point of brewing coffee this way is that it’s less wasteful than your traditional drip coffee pot. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve brewed an entire pot of coffee only to let the drain drink half the pot. You make this coffee one cup at a time. Which means that you don’t make anything you won’t be drinking. Immediately, the caffeine elite will point out that there are special funnel-shaped brewing cones that will allow you to make a cup at a time also. I know, I have one of those too. They’re OK, but kind of a hassle. (And of course, there’s also those spendy “pod” coffee makers out there.) But the main difference here is the smoothness of the coffee.

The biggest selling point, and the reason I originally bought this “Toddy” coffee maker, is it makes incredibly smooth, low-acid coffee without the need of a chemistry set and without sacrificing the flavor of the coffee. I went through an annoying period of time last year where my stomach was constantly in an uproar about everything and anything I ate or drank. Suspecting the culprit might be strongly acidic coffee, I went in search of an alternative. I tried my dad’s secret trick of sprinkling a little bit of salt on top of your coffee grounds just before brewing them, and unsurprisingly I wound up with salty coffee. And then finally I tracked down the Toddy Coffee Maker, which I’d heard rumors about for a while. And it helped. It didn’t fix the problem, but it helped. (It turns out I wasn’t the coffee, and it wasn’t food allergies. I was eating too much fiber. Yes, you can overdo it. My doctor still thinks I’m nuts.)

And I’ve used it ever since. It’s convenient, the coffee’s smooth and tasty, and you can even drink it when you’re hung over. If you’re looking for an alternative to your normal cup of joe, or you have digestive issues, I’d recommend picking one of these up. (Alternately, Toddy sells pre-made concentrate at their online store, so you can try the result out before you buy it.) I still have a soft spot in my heart for my French press and for Americanos, but the Toddy is hard to beat when it comes to convenience.

The only real drawback to the Toddy is that you will have to buy new filters from time to time. They are reusable, but eventually the little fibrous discs get gunked up and stop working. They aren’t that expensive (you can get two of them for about four dollars), but I’d really prefer to have a permanent filter. Because they’re specialized filters, I do have some concern that should the company eventually go out of business, I’ll be stuck with a coffee maker I can’t use. For now that doesn’t appear to be a likely, as they’ve received a lot of major press coverage, and are sold at the Seattle’s Best Coffee shop in my local Border’s. And at $37.50 for the whole system, if I’ve probably already gotten my money’s worth out of it!

Oh yes, and another thing, I wasn’t paid or bribed to write this review. (Though I did try to see if I could get some swag or coffee if I wrote a review for them. No dice. Hey, you can’t blame me for tryin’!) I just want them to continue to do well so I can keep buying my coffee filters!

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14 Comments

  1. Joe said,

    September 16, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    Step Six is steam a gallon of milk, scoop it onto the top of your bucket, and plop down on the couch with your 27-pound latte to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Oh, and better get some four-foot long biscotti biscuits, too. Otherwise you may get a little jittery.

  2. Cigar Jack said,

    September 17, 2007 at 11:19 am

    Do you need the Toddy to do this or I wonder if you can make your own rig.

  3. Brian said,

    September 17, 2007 at 11:50 am

    I’m pretty sure you could make your own. The core of the system is putting cold water and coffee into a bucket and letting it sit for a long period of time. What you get for forty bucks is the convenience of parts designed for the task.

    With a bucket and a few coffee filters, you could definitely do this yourself! If you try it out, you outta post pictures and thoughts about the process. That’d be very interesting to see!

  4. JoeDrinker said,

    September 18, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Hmmm…I was pretty sure I posted one of my regular smart-assish comments on this post, but it seems to be gone. Did you cut me off in your ultra-caffeinated state?

  5. JoeDrinker said,

    September 18, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    Wait..now it’s back. Am I on crack?

    Feel free to delete these, unless they’re all in my mind…

    A wise man once said, “he who sits down is assuredly on crack.” You caught me right in the middle of some housekeeping!

  6. Brian said,

    September 18, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    Right you are JD,

    I was going to say something smartass like unless your name is “Negznyd” and you were linking to 15 different erectile deficiency websites, I hadn’t seen it. But then, I saw your little linkless comment sandwiched between the 50 links for hot teen action and 93 websites for cheap prescription meds. The spam filter wrong has been righted! And good thing too, step six is genius, and was nearly lost to us!

    I haven’t seen too many places where you can buy four foot biscotti, I guess you could make your own by grabbing a bucket of maple frosting, a paint roller and some crusty French bread. Sounds tasty. And I wanted to buy a whole new XXXL wardrobe anyway.

    I may have to cut back on the spam filters coffee. I on the other hand, need some more.

  7. John said,

    September 20, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    Brian,

    In fact, I am making my own ala cheapskate inspired to check it out by your post. Well, even more cheapskate than you, since mine is in a cup in my office ready to be filtered tomorrow morning with a cheapy coffee filter. I used a 4:1 water to coffee ratio. We shall see how things turn out.

    One question you may know the answer to – every one makes a lot of hub bub about not disturbing the grinds… Don’t stir the grinds, add the water gently, and all that… Do you have any insight as to why all the care? I mean I stirred the grounds and water together, so I guess I will see what the result is tomorrow morning.

    BTW, you could also use your French press to do this too, assuming you don’t mind having it out of commission for half a day.

    John

  8. Brian said,

    September 22, 2007 at 12:13 am

    Hi John,

    Another comment saved from the increasingly blood-thirsty spam filter.

    Good point on the French press! Why didn’t I think of that? I actually have two, and one of them sees the majority of the action. If you got the ratios down, I don’t see any reason why that wouldn’t work!

    As far as not stirring the grounds goes, I think that has a lot to do with the filter. Stirring the grounds can lead to the filter getting clogged with coffee sediment. You may also find that in stirring it up, you get some coffee silt in your concentrate, especially if you’re using a French press. The nice thing about the more spendy Toddy approach is that you get nothing but concentrate. Of course, if you pour your concentrate through a coffee filter, that probably won’t be an issue.

    Thanks for the great ideas! I’m tempted to try out the French press approach just to see how it works!

  9. Brian said,

    September 22, 2007 at 12:16 am

    Oh yes, and if you’re curious, the magic coffee-to-water ratio the Toddy uses is 1 pound of coffee to 9 cups of water. So for every cup of water, you’re looking at 1.78 ounces of coffee.

  10. John said,

    September 23, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    Thought I should give an update to my experience the other day. After steeping for nearly a day (I had started it the previous afternoon), I filtered the mixture through a coffee filter, and concentrated coffee is what I got! I added hot water in a 1:3 ratio thereabouts and I got a very satisfying cup of coffee with plenty left over to fridge for later. The acid was gone, so I got a very satisfying smooth bold cup of coffee that didn’t require the usual dose of two spoonfuls of sugar – a marked improvement!

    A caveat was that I didn’t use freshly ground quality beans, but some old stale grounds I managed to dig out of the back… after all, it was an experiment. I think my results warrant expansion of the project to a full on proper job with the best beans freshly ground before brewing.

    BTW, you may want to check your math on the Toddy ratio. I calculate a 1:4.5 ratio of coffee to water (9*8/16=4.5) which is where I pulled my 1:4 ratio from before =) Thanks for opening my eyes to the experience of cold-brew coffee!

  11. John said,

    September 23, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    Whoops.. same math, just reciprocated… Excuse my last obviously out of place jab about checking your math! I should have checked yours! That’s what smoking a strong cigar will do to you I suppose – take your brain out of commission!

  12. Brian said,

    September 24, 2007 at 11:22 am

    No problem John,

    No offense taken. If I’m inaccurate or just wrong, I hope people aren’t afraid to call me on it!

    But the more important question is, what were you smoking? ;)

  13. Nicole said,

    September 24, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    I’ll get to work on the four foot long biscotti recipe and get back to you guys ;-)

  14. Brian said,

    September 24, 2007 at 10:01 pm

    Sounds great Nicole! My only requirement is that the instructions have to include the use of a paint roller to apply the frosting! You just don’t see paint rollers getting the press they deserve these days, especially in culinary circles!


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