I love the smell of cold brew in the morning

The apparatus

Toddy Cold Brew SystemWhat $20 worth of coffee grounds looks like*if you click on the photos, it will do an in-line lightbox slideshow of all three photos

Here at FFTF, cold brew doesn’t refer to alcohol, but rather a coffee brewing method. I have two mutually exclusive long-standing problems:

1) chronic gastroesophageal acid reflux disease (GERD, or “ARGH” as I fondly refer to it); and

2) an on-again, off-again, love-you, hate-you relationship with coffee.

You may already know this, but coffee (and chocolate, alcohol, fatty/fried foods, garlic, onions, spicy foods, tomato-based foods – basically anything delicious) can worsen reflux symptoms. And indeed, whenever my reflux symptoms worsen, usually due to stress, if I cut out coffee and alcohol things improve.

Not drinking alcohol is easy. Not drinking coffee? When, for the past several years, I’ve had high-stress jobs with long, unpredictable hours (a line from the job description)? Or, for the past six months when I’ve been a grad student taking the max class load? Nigh unto impossible.

This is where cold brew coffee comes in. Because cold brew uses lower temperatures to extract the flavor from the beans, the resulting drink can be up to 2/3 less acidic. Since I’m not a huge coffee nut (I can’t perceive “notes of blueberry and bark” if my life depended on it) this is the primary draw. Other coffee enthusiasts (“snobs” depending on your POV) also claim that this method produces a smoother, less bitter, more nuanced beverage. Others say that “it lacks the body and complexity of flavor” that hot brew methods produce. I’m willing to compromise a bit on complexity if it means that acid stays in my stomach where it belongs, and not in my throat.

A few places near me produce excellent cold brew, like Cafecito Organico and La Mill. However, at almost $5 a pop, this is an expensive habit, and most places only do cold brew for iced drinks, so if it’s cold and I want a hot drink I’m throwing the dice with my reflux. So I recently bought a cold brew system, the Toddy T2N, bought some Bliss Espresso beans from La Mill on the barista’s recommendation (supposedly they use the espresso roast to make their cold brew), found an excellent pictorial walk-through since the manual instructions were rather minimalist, and gave it a go.

For details about the results,


  • Pretty easy once I figured out what I was doing
  • Very easy to use the concentrate to whip up a coffee drink before heading to school – saving me time and money
  • Based on stuff I read online, I made a second brew from the same beans, and the second brew turned out just as well as the first brew – again saving money (especially since the beans were fairly expensive).
  • and most importantly:  drank coffee three days in a row and had no acid reflux.


  • How hard would it have been to include a lid for the bucket? It’s out overnight and the thought of leaving it uncovered squicked me out. I used a paper plate and it worked fine, but it seems like such a small thing that would make a big impact.
  • I nearly lost the little rubber stopper when I was washing the contraption; make sure to keep track of it.
  • Other reviewers have mentioned this, but it bears repeating: the glass carafe is made of very thin glass and feels very fragile.
  • It took a few tries to figure out the right dilution, so YMMV. The first time I drank it, I was tweaking all day from not diluting it enough.
  • Iced coffee made from the concentrate is definitely better than hot coffee. For hot coffee I’ll probably stick with my french press. But iced coffee stays better throughout a full day of classes anyway, especially in a thermos, so it’s not a big deal for me.

I had a few friends and family sample the coffee concentrate and they all said it was good and very smooth. I’ve made it Vietnamese style (2 oz concentrate, 2 oz water, 1.5 tsp. sweetened condensed milk, and a good dose of crushed ice courtesy a campus ice machine) and just with milk and sugar (2 oz concentrate, 1 oz water, 1 oz goat milk, a dribble of agave syrup, ice) and both were very good. My dad actually drank it hot (1:1 dilution) and said it was good, but very strong, and I’m pretty sure he tends to drink fairly strong coffee.

Overall I’m pretty happy with the purchase and am looking forward to future experiments with other types of beans, and to my sister making some coffee ice cream with the concentrate!

What types of beans would you recommend?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Leave a Reply