I 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:
- Add water to bucket.
- Add coffee to bucket.
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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!