Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cheap Drinks: Iced Coffee

The Topic: Cheap Caffeine

The Dish: Coffee beans have always been a food group in my family, which has certainly carried over into my adult life. While I love going out and ordering an Americano or perhaps a fancy latte, nothing depletes my bank account in such a sneaky way as coffee houses. And while I have some friends who see no problem dropping $4 on foam-topped espresso twice a day—you know who you are—I can't swing that. Obviously the solution lies at home, but what's the best way to get great coffee without wasting your money?

I have a small, inexpensive coffee maker that generally does its job well, and with San Francisco's cold summers, it's been nice to have a hot cup of coffee in the AM. But for some reason (my constant tardiness, perhaps) I never have time to finish it before I'm out the door, and then down the drain it goes. I tried to save and reheat it, but couldn't stomach it. I hated pouring money down the drain, and wanted something delicious that wouldn't cost me as much as three batches of biscuits.

Yesterday I ventured outside without a heavy coat for the first time in weeks. Added to my boredom with black coffee, the sunshine reminded me of a forgotten but much-loved alternative: Toddy. Toddy, also known as cold-brew coffee, is a delicious, liquid-gold coffee concentrate you can brew at home (with just a little time commitment). It also lasts up to two weeks in the refrigerator, eliminating the waste factor. Cold-brewing lowers the acidity of the coffee, too, making for a really freaking delicious iced coffee. In a tall glass with ice, add 1 part toddy, 3 parts cold water, and a splash of nondairy milk if you like. Mix well, sip it, and enjoy the best drink ever.

Making toddy at home is easy, and doesn't require the special Toddy machine, taking up counter space and stealing your dollars. If you already have a coffee maker, then you're all set. Here's how I do it.

True-Love Toddy

What You Need:
Coffee carafe
1 cup ground coffee
2 cups cold water
Filter basket
Tall glass or jar

What You Do:
  1. In the carafe, add coffee, then slowly pour in water and stir thoroughly. Now the hard part: Let the mixture set for 12–24 hours.
  2. Place filter basket with filter over a glass or jar it can sit on comfortably, and slowly pour mixture into it. The liquid will drain through into the jar, leaving just the grounds behind. Let it take its time, and add a little pressure with another filter on top if needed. Store Toddy covered in the refrigerator, and enjoy anytime!
The Final Word: A French press will also work for separating the grounds and concentrate, if that gadget is already in your kitchen. And of course, if your coffee maker has a reusable filter, then you get eco-friendly bonus points. Still craving something fancier? Invest in your favorite flavored syrup and go crazy. I'll take a shot of hazelnut in my cup, thanks.


  1. Abby this is perfect! I am a barista and a lot of people don't know that reheating (in a microwave at least) makes coffee especially acidic and really bad for you!

    Iced coffee via the Toddy Method was always my go-to vegan coffee drink :)

    You're the best! Toddy is also usually pricey to get the machines!

  2. When you let the mixture set, should it be in the fridge as well? This sounds awesome and will definitely help me keep some money in my pocket! Thanks!

  3. Thanks for the tip, Natalie! Anon, I've read you can do both, but personally I stick it in the fridge and it seems to work just fine (it also frees up more counter space).

  4. The machines are not too expensive:

  5. I just love cold brewed coffee! I use a Toddy system and it works great, but your method looks good too.