Toddy Cold Brew Coffee System

So if you’re a frequent reader you may have noticed that most of my reviews are positive. It’s not because I like everything I get, see, hear and read, just that I’m far more inspired to write about something I like than something I don’t. In the case of the Toddy Cold Brew system I am making an exception to this rule in order to review a truly disappointing brewing method.

The Toddy Cold Brew Coffee System website claims “The Toddy coffee maker extracts the coffee bean’s true delicious flavor and eliminates much of the acidity, producing a bold, super-smooth coffee that can be served one cup at a time.” The site also boasts a long list of positive reviews. The Washington Post has even called it “the ultimate coffee maker” but my experience with it was quite the opposite.

Toddy Coffee MakerThe theory is by brewing coffee with cold water you will extract less acidity and bitterness resulting in a superior cup of coffee. The system makes a concentrate from a full pound of coffee which can then be stored and prepared one cup at a time. With the convenience of working with the concentrate the system is also supposed to save coffee since you can make only as much as you need eliminating leftover coffee.

The allure of more convenient, better tasting coffee got the best of me and, after reading all the reviews I could find I decided to order a Toddy Cold Brew System directly from their website. A few days later it arrived.

The system consists of a large funnel, a carafe, and round, thick filters. To make the coffee concentrate you place a plug in the small hole in the funnel, place a filter in the inside holder and put a full pound of ground coffee in the funnel. You then add nine cups of cold water to the coffee grounds and let the mixture sit for twelve hours. After the brewing time you pull the plug and let the coffee drain into the carafe. To serve the directions recommend diluting the concentrate with three parts water to one part concentrate and heat.

I used the Toddy system for several weeks. I tried quite a few different coffees, a couple different grind sizes and varied the brew time according to the included instructions.

The results

After dozens of cups I was very disappointed with the results from the Toddy system. While the claim of low acidity held true the flavor was bland and the body absent. Hot or cold the only way I could make a nearly acceptable cup of coffee was to mix the concentrate closer to one to one. Mixing the concentrate this strong resulted in less than 10 mugs of coffee per pound of coffee, causing a huge waste compared to drip brewing. All other variables did little to improve the bland flavor.

Conclusions

If you’re hyper-sensitive to acid in your foods the Toddy Cold Brew System may enable you to drink coffee without discomfort. If you’re looking for a better cup of coffee, look elsewhere. Drip, press, espresso, vacuum, even percolator brewing all produce a much more satisfying coffee than the cold brew system.

What this system offers in convenience and simplicity it sacrifices in flavor. The $34.95 spent on this maker would be better put to a good quality drip coffee maker.

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7 thoughts on “Toddy Cold Brew Coffee System”

  1. Here’s what I wrote to the fellow who runs “howtobrewcoffee.com”. I think it applies here as well:
    As one who happens to like cold brewed coffee, I can see why you don’t. If you like Starbucks coffee generally, and French Roast in particular, you like coffee that is acidic, edgy, and burnt. I don’t mean that necessarily as a criticism. The whole idea of cold brewed is for people who like coffee gentle, smooth, and deeply flavored. So for hot methods we don’t like Starbucks to begin with, because from our point of view it “over-roasts” the beans. Just a personal preference, but a strong one! 😉

  2. Joel,

    I can see what you’re saying but I didn’t feel that the cold brew system yielded “deeply flavored” coffee.

    As for Starbucks I’m afraid I can barely choke down their American coffee. I find it intolerable, though their espresso and espresso drinks are OK (they ought to be better for the price.)

    My preferred coffee is Armeno Coffee Roasters who’s motto is “Taste the bean, not the burn” and I believe they life up to it. I do lean toward their richer coffees and darker roasts but their coffee does not have the burnt flavor of Starbucks.

    I’m glad you like the cold brew coffee. It seems like there are plenty of folks out there who do, but then again there are plenty of folks out there who like Starbucks as well. I guess I’m just the guy who doesn’t like either.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. My experience in a nutshell is that the Toddy produces smooth coffee at roughly twice the cost of conventional brewing. Taste varies dramatically with bean quality, as is the case for all coffee.

    So why buy one? If you have a parent or friend who has had to cut back or (shudder) eliminate their coffee consumption due to its acid content, this gizmo might be the best present you ever gave them. The staff of MS/NBC gave it a try back in 2005 and many of them liked it far better than the office brew.

    And if you missed it in the news last week, there is a new study that shows that coffee reduces the risk of Alzheimers. If this disease has struck your family you know the importance of such information.

    So. When you get stymied on what to get one Mom or Dad for the holidays, remember the Toddy as a viable option. Prices vary a few bucks on the Net; I got mine via the Net from CommunityCoffee down in Louisiana and for about five dollars less than some other vendors.

    If the person you buy one for is familiar with grinding beans, you will need to educate them that the Toddy uses coarse ground coffee (available at any local coffee shop). Finely ground coffee will clog the filter.

    And regardless of whether you get one of these things or not, hang the cost difference of good beans versus bad. I spent more last night on a Mexican dinner than I spend on coffee in a week and I do drink the good stuff.

    For detailed information on coffee quality, I recently discovered a website titled “coffee reviewer.” I tested his ratings with five purchases: three highly rated, one middle ranking and one drain cleaner quality. He hit the mark on all five. The three highly rated were all different but all great, the middle one was bland but ok, and the drain cleaner tasted like, well, drain cleaner.

    Final note: If you drink Folgers for its quality, eat at McDonald’s for great nutrition, drive a Buick just for the fun of it all and watch reality tv because you think it expands your mind, ignore everything I said.

    And thanks, Jon, for providing good information on a range of topics and for this forum.

  4. Thanks for the great comment Stan! You’re right about the low acid and doubling the price.

    Also, thanks for pointing out CoffeeReview.com. They’ve really got a ton of reviews!

    Jon

  5. I have found that the secret to a good toddy is first the roated bean flavor that you like then grind it as you would for a drip coffee system. Then fill the toddy system 3/4 full of coffee and mix your cold water and let it set no more than 12 to 15 hours then un cork and let it drain. I use a 2 to one mixture to serve the toddy as in 1 cup mixture to 2 cups water. My customers really like this toddy drink when its done loke that.

  6. This is the best coffee I have ever brewed.

    The secret is to let it sit for 15-16hrs., rather than the recommended 12, which did, indeed, result in wastage.

    I am using Costa Rican, medium roast, French press (coarse) grind.

    One third concentrate, two thirds water; heat in the microwave.

    Deep, rich, strong, PERFECT!

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