Cold Brew at Home: Toddy Cold Brew System Review and Expert Tips From La Colombe

by Fitcoachion | Last Updated: June 26, 2020


Enjoying cold brew at home for most means buying and stashing a roaster’s canned or bottled concoction in the fridge for an arsenal of caffeine that’s always at the ready. But pre-packaged cold brew can be as pricey as visiting a coffee shop, the reason being it has more caffeine per cup, due to its higher bean-to-water ratio. If you’re a devotee, you know it’s a league above iced coffee. What you might not know is it’s incredibly easy to make on your own.

If you want cold brew waiting in the wings ready for consumption any day of the week, heed our guide. We tapped a La Colombe coffee expert for the best tips and tested the Toddy Cold Brew System to see just how simple it is to make cold brew at home. Let’s start with our review of the Toddy system.

Toddy Cold Brew System
Toddy Cold Brew System Courtesy Image

The Best Cold Brew Maker

What It Is and How It Works

The Toddy Cold Brew System is so simple you might overlook it for something more high-tech; the main brewing vessel is made of BPA-free plastic and comes with three paper filter bags (optional, depending on the brewing method you choose), two felt filters, and a glass decanter. As we mentioned, there are two brewing methods. The first is more forgiving in terms of grind size and best for those who want easy cleanup, as you use paper filter bags.

Method 1 Steps

  1. Wedge the stopper into the bottom of the plastic brewing container from the outside. Wet the felt filter until damp, then push into the bottom of the container from the inside.
  2. Place a paper filter bag into the container and add 12 oz (340 g) of coarse-ground coffee. Pour 7 cups of cold, filtered water, then stir gently with a spoon to saturate all the grounds. To close the bag, tightly twist the top.
  3. Leave the container out at room temperature for 12-24 hours, to let the cold-water filtration process do its thing, allowing the beans to steep and infuse into the water, creating an intense concentrate.
  4. To filter your brew, hover the container over the glass decanter leaving enough room to remove the rubber stopper before resting it on top to drain. (It’ll be a slow drip.) Discard the paper filter and grounds, then put the lid on top of the decanter and store concentrate in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
  5. Rinse the felt filter with water (no soap), then put in a reusable plastic bag and keep in the freezer until you’re ready to brew again (replace after 10 uses, approximately 3 months).

Method 2 Steps

  1. Wedge the stopper into the bottom of the plastic brewing container from the outside. Wet the felt filter until damp, then push into the bottom of the container from the inside.
  2. Pour 1 cup of cold, filtered water into the brewing container, then add 6 oz (170 g) of coarse-ground coffee. Slowly pour 3 more cups of water over the grounds in a circular motion. Wait 5 minutes, then add remaining 6 oz of grounds. Slowly pour 3 more cups of water. Use the back of a spoon to gently press down on the topmost grounds ensuring everything is saturated. Do not stir (this can clog the filter).
  3. Leave the container out at room temperature for 12-24 hours (24 hours max).
  4. To filter your brew, hover the container over the glass decanter leaving enough room to remove the rubber stopper before resting it on top to drain. Discard the used grounds, then wash the container with soap and water. Put the lid on top of the decanter and store concentrate in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
  5. Rinse the felt filter with water (no soap), then put in a reusable plastic bag and stash in the freezer.

Why We Like It

The Toddy Cold Brew System is incredibly affordable (under $40, available for purchase at toddy.cafe.com or lacolombe.com). If you’re buying 12-oz bags of coffee, there’s no putzing around with a scale to measure out the perfect proportion of grounds. The only thing you need to make perfect cold brew is patience. Because this is a concentrate, you can truly customize the intensity of the brew by diluting with water. If you like your brew a little weaker, do a 3:1 ratio of water to concentrate; for stronger cold brew, downsize to a 2:1 ration or a 1:1 ratio. The instructions were clear and easy to follow, so my first time testing the Toddy system went without a hitch. I used La Colombe coffee grounds (more on this below) and the end result tasted exactly like something I would buy from a barista.

Nitpick

The included handle is far too flimsy to transfer the filled brewing container alone. Either use your other hand to grasp the body of the vessel, or forgo the handle altogether and move it with both hands. When you’re ready to let the cold brew concentrate drain into the decanter, fiddling with the stopper is a little awkward, and you inevitably get cold brew on your hands when it comes free and the liquid starts to drain through the filter. Not a deal breaker, but something to be wary of.

Get it

Glass of cold brew with milk
Glass of cold brew with milk Eiliv-Sonas Aceron/Unsplash

The Best Tips for Making Cold Brew at Home, According to a La Colombe Coffee Expert

Will any coffee beans do?

“There’s a preferred coffee for every brew method,” says Josey Markiewicz, national manager of training and quality assurance at La Colombe. “Any beans will do—although, generally, the darker the roast the more willing it is to release its flavor. I personally appreciate a high-elevation, medium-roasted, African coffee for cold brew. That way you achieve a caramelly depth with fruity vibrancy—refreshing!”

La Colombe traditionally uses Brazil Blue Diamond (medium roast) beans for their in-house cold brew, which is nutty and chocolatey, with notes of sage, dried apples, and roasted peanuts. For my first batch, I used Colombia Inga Red Honey (light roast), which derives its inherent sweetness from champagne mango, lily, and maple syrup.

How to avoid bitterness and yield the best results?

“You want your grind to be coarse and uniform,” Markiewicz says. “It should look like pebbly sand. You really dont want too many fines (smaller coffee grounds).” Here’s the beauty of buying directly from La Colombe, or most other roasters: You can determine the grind size (in this case, opt for French press/cold brew), so there’s no guesswork; you don’t have to stress about over-grinding your beans. Plus, the Toddy Cold Brew System requires 12oz of freshly ground beans, and that’s precisely the size of their bags. If you ask us, convenience is everything when you’re brewing at home.

Any dos or dont’s?

“Don’t be impatient,” Markiewicz says. The magic of cold brew lies in its velvety mouthfeel, low acid levels, and sweet taste, all of which comes from its long, slow brewing process. Our advice: Set it up Sunday morning, then you’ll have your caffeine fix ready to go Monday. The concentrate should last you up to two weeks, depending on how much cold brew you throw back (and if you’re sharing among a household).

What’s the optimal brew time? Is there flexibility in that window?

“Everyone’s tastes are different obviously, but I would not brew much longer than 20 hours,” Markiewicz says. “Somewhere between 12 and 16 should suffice. Anything longer than that will introduce too many earthy, woody flavors and potentially off-balanced bitterness.” Experiment with grounds and brew time to see if there’s a formula you like best.

Do you recommend a specific dilution ratio for first-time brewers?

“A 1:1 ratio of concentrate to water is an easy place to start,” Markiewicz suggests. “You can modify by adding more water to weaken it or more concentrate to strengthen it.” Rather than diluting the entire mixture, do it serving by serving. This way you can modify the strength depending on how you feel at the moment.

Do higher-end makers yield better cold brew?

“I prefer a large format French press,” Markiewicz says, “because I like devices with multiple applications.” But you don’t need anything fancy to make cold brew. You can get the same results by brewing in a mason jar. “The best cold brew is dependent on the uniformity and size of your grind, as well as the integrity of your filter,” she adds.