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Cold Brewing Coffee Without the Toddy?

Has anyone tried this? There's no way I'm going out and buying another coffee making contraption, but I thought I could do the following:

-grind a pound of coffee to a fine espresso grind
-place in a glass jar with the amount of cold water specified on Toddy's website (8 cups? I forget)
-refrigerate overnight to cold brew
-slowly filter out the coffee grounds. I have a plastic manual drip that sits over a mug and am willing to filter batches of the cold coffee using more than one filter if necessary

It sounds good to me, but does anyone know if it will work for sure? The allure of having coffee concentrate that won't go bad for two weeks is appealing. I don't usually finish even half a pound of coffee in a week, and every day as the flavor deteriorates I find myself wanting to drink it less.

Pei, formerly nooodles

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  1. Yes, I have done exactly as you outline. I don't recall the details -- it was about 10 years ago -- but I happily made my own cold brew and used it for iced coffee with milk all one summer.

    I found a guideline here: one pound coffee, 9 cups water, 12-24 hours. That sounds about right:


    1. I remembered Jess' reply to one of my previous posts. It has instructions for you to use. I'd suggest using a medium grind coffee instead of fine espresso, I seem to remember another post saying fine grind can get messy. The coffee toddy website gives the proportions to use. HTH



      1 Reply
      1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

        Update: I screwed up when making my first batch of cold brew for the summer. I put the stopper in upside down so I couldn't pull it out. As a solution I poured the grounds and liquid though a mesh strainer line w/ coffee filters. It was still good. I had discovered my stupidity in the morning so I transfered the coffee when I got home so the coffee steeped about 24 hrs. The longer time steeping did not make the coffee turn out too bitter or strong. In fact, I think I liked it better and my accident turned out for the better because sometimes I'm not around my house enough to work 12 hours steep time into my routine.

      2. My mother's best friend (from the Netherlands) used to brew all her coffee this way. I was only a kid, but I tried it a few times (with lots of milk and sugar) and it was good.

        Another tip. I buy my coffee beans and immediately freeze them. I take out what I need each time I brew coffee. Lasts a long time with no ill effects. Refrigerate? Never! Freeze? Always.

        1 Reply
        1. re: oakjoan

          I am not an expert on coffee, but I have been working as a barista for the last 3 1/2 years in a little gourmet coffee shop. The problem with freezing the beans is that they lose their oils and it leaves the coffee less-flavorful than it started out, same with refrigerating them. Also if pre-ground coffee is being bought it has lost a considerable amount of flavor by being ground way too soon. Coffee should be brewed no more than a couple hours from being ground. Whole coffee beans should be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark cabinet void of moisture. Never buy pre-ground coffee, always grind your own, never freeze.

        2. I've heard so many things about storing coffee, and nothing works as well as I'd like. I've frozen whole beans in tight glass jars, put them in the fridge, vacuum sealed with a home system, etc. It just doesn't work for me. Though, out of all the easy choices, freezing is best.

          Hopefully, the cold brewing will be my solution.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Pei

            How long are you storing them for? I find that storing beans in an air-proof container inside a cabinet keeps coffee well. But I usually only buy a week's worth, and the beans I buy are freshly roasted. If your beans are going bad within a week, I would guess they weren't fresh when you bought them. Or, are you talking about more long-term storage?

            1. re: Pei

              I never store beans in the freezer for more than 2 or 3 weeks. Works for me. I must have a palate compromised by years of eating Twinkies and Spam.

              Also, I have a question about the cold-brewed coffee. Why doesn't it deteriorate after brewing and during storage? I mean pretty soon after - not weeks.

            2. You can do it like that, that's how I did it before I bought a "contraption" it will just take you longer to filter, and it can be messier.

              1. I've never used any contraption except a plain ole French Press. Don't grind the beans too fine. When it's ready, press down the filter. The rest you can filter once more as you pour. Look into those Japanese tea filters (individual rectangular pouches)if you want very fine filters.

                10 Replies
                1. re: HLing

                  They are talking about a totally different kind of procedure for making coffee. I don't think they are asking for alternatives to cold brewing. Perhaps you might want to start a separate thread about alternative ways to brew coffee, rather than post about it here?

                  1. re: Darren72

                    I AM talking about cold brewing.

                    The French Press I've used has a glass container. Rather than pouring boiled water to make my coffee, I pour ice cold filtered water to mix with the grounds and leave in the fridge over night. The press when ready to extract the ice coffee functions as a first filter.

                    1. re: HLing

                      Oh, I'm sorry! I figured you were suggesting traditional french press coffee, made with hot water. Do you reheat it straight out of the fridge, or add more water?

                      1. re: Darren72

                        I know this thread is from 2006 but it just popped back up. I cold-brew iced coffee using a French press also. Mix cold water with grounds and leave in fridge overnight. Press in the morning. Pour over ice. Easiest and tastiest iced coffee ever, as long as you use good quality beans.

                        Why would you "reheat" it???

                        1. re: JennS

                          This is the method we use in our house once the temperature gets over eighty degrees. It's so easy in the French press, and we use any leftovers to make coffee ice cubes.

                          We really like our caffeine.

                          1. re: JennS

                            what proportions do you use? For, let's assume, the average 32oz french press.


                            1. re: Pei

                              We use the same proportions in a cold press as we do for our hot coffee, sixteen tablespoons of a coarse ground (or as coarse as our stubborn grinder will go, which falls somewhere between medium and coarse) in an eight cup press.

                            2. re: JennS

                              You would "reheat" it to drink hot coffee. I have a question. Can this cold brewed, concentrated coffee be frozen and thawed without losing any quality or affecting the flavor? I was thinking of freezing it in water bottles to take with me camping. Any thoughts?

                              1. re: John E.

                                I have not frozen it, but believe your idea would work. I can keep the concentrate in the refrigerator for many days before there is a noticeable deterioration in quality/flavor. Even then, it's better than instant!

                                1. re: John E.

                                  I think this would work fine. For short trips we'll just take a quart jar with us and it's fine for a few days, even if it isn't always cold.

                      2. INITIAL REPORT BACK:

                        I did the whole procedure like I wrote in the original post, and so far it's tasting great! Smooth and nutty with a very rich mouthfeel, and very in low acid. A sweet, slightly smokey aftertaste. I can't remember what coffee I'm using; some kind of medium roast from Costa Rica. I actually like it better than when I made hot coffee with the same beans, and that was when they were freshly roasted (they're almost a week old now and have been in and out of the freezer).

                        The biggest bonus for me is that because the coffee is concentrated, I can add a lot of milk to it. I don't really like milk by itself and tend to use coffee as a way to get my milk intake (I know, the caffeine and calcium probably cancel each other out in terms of my bone health). With the concentrate I can drink an entire glass of milk and a few teaspoons of the concentrate. When I was drinking a whole cup of French pressed coffee, I tended to drink it black or add a little half and half (because coffee with skim milk added to it is too thin for me). At least this way I'm drinking more milk overall.

                        The potential for coffee concentrate's use in cooking are endless. Coffee flavored cakes and cookies, ice cream, frozen blended drinks, or even savory dishes (chili).

                        All that remains to be seen is whether the flavor deteriorates over the next few days. I have no idea why it wouldn't, but I'll let you guys know.

                        Edit: I've seen claims both ways in terms of whether cold brewed coffee has more or less caffeine than hot brewed. Personally, I think it's more. I am so jittery from one small cup of coffee, and I usually have two full mugs of it! I only added a tablespoon, maybe two, of the concentrate to my milk and I almost need to be peeled off the walls.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Pei

                          When I used to do this, I routinely kept the concentrate for 4-5 days with no tangible (tasteable?) deterioration. But, like you, I used it with lots of milk, so I may have missed some of the subtle changes in flavor. It's so mild and low-acid that it doesn't seem there are a lot of bright flavors to go "off," IYKWIM.

                          1. re: Pei

                            So what did you use to filter? Paper cones? And, how fine did you grind?

                            I always thought it had more caffeine as well. And, I did find flavor deterioration after about 4 days but I thought it had to do w/ the (traditional Toddy) filter getting moldy or something.


                            1. re: bruce

                              I used paper cones in my plastic manual drip (set over a mug). I ground the coffee a little more finely than I normally would for an American drip machine.

                              1. re: bruce

                                I also think the caffeine is higher - I mix equal amounts of regular and decaf, I prefer the taste of the cold-brewed but get the shakes every time, which does not happen with the hot-water drip method.

                                I have read the suggestion of a two-step filter process: first through a fine metal sieve, then a filter cone. Supposedly this prevents the cone remaining filled with wet sludge.

                              2. re: Pei

                                I use a slightly coarser grind, and rap it all in a couple layers of cheese cloth. I only have to pour it through the filter once to get rid of most of the grit. I make about a gallon at a time, so this saves a lot of trouble.

                                1. re: corneygirl

                                  Lately we've been using our french press. Aren't too precise (about 2 inches of grounds) and exact amounts depend on the beans and grind we are using at that moment.

                              3. I'd definitely use a medium-regular grind. the toddy has a fibrous filter that you put in the bottom, like a fusible pellon-like stuff about a quarter of an inch thick, that is moistened with water. layer the coffee and 9 cups of water, don't stir or compress.

                                and the time is 12 hours. the reviews on, I think, Amazon had a user saying they had tried longer with nasty results.

                                I don't think cold-brewed is about the caffiene as much as the acid. and it tastes great, and you aren't throwing away the rest of the pot.

                                1. ZUNI LOVERS, ALERT! The coffee concentrate is fantastic in the espresso granita recipe.

                                  The recipe specifically warns you not to merely use strong coffee, but without an espresso machine how is one supposed to get a hold of 2 cups of espresso? Even if I went down the street to the coffee shop, 2 cups worth of coffee shop espresso would cost a small fortune. I just finished a batch using the cold-brewed concentrate, and it's as airy and delicious as the version I enjoyed at Zuni.


                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Pei

                                    Oh delish! Could you please post the recipe for this, Pei? Looks like a perfect summer dessert.

                                  2. I'm new to cold brewed coffee, but experimented with using the pods I had on hand. The results were pretty good and it saved all the filtering and clean-up. I suspect it is an expensive way to go and I probably won't use it once I run out of pods, but I figured it was better than throwing them out.

                                    1. I use a 2-litre Erlenmeyer flask. Place about 2.25 cups of fine ground coffee in the bottom (having carefully washed out any old lab residue) and add very cold water (about 1800ml) to the top. Stopper securely so that there is no air left in the flask.

                                      Do not stir. Invert gently 4-5 times, holding long enough each time for all of the grounds to move to the upper end.

                                      Lay sideways in refrigerator on a slow-roller set up to rotate the flask through 360 degrees about once per hour. If you have no access to a slow roller, simply invert the flask every hour or so.

                                      Wait 12-18 hours. Filter the solution through a standard coffee filter to yield about 1400ml of concentrated black liquid.

                                      To use: pour concentrated solution into a coffee cup to about 1/4 to 1/3 full, depending upon strength desired. Add boiling water and milk and sugar to taste.

                                      There is no need for a French press.

                                      This method has produced for me the best coffee I have ever tasted.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: kafoozel

                                        -A tad off=topic, but here's a Shaker recipe for "Syrup of Coffee", from 1878:

                                        Take a half pound of the best ground coffee, put in a pot with 3 pints of water; when thoroughly steeped, pour off into another clean vessel and boil again until reduced to one pint. As it boils, add white sugar enough to give it the consistency of syrup. Remove from heat, when cold, put into a bottle and seal..."When traveling, if you wish for a cup of good coffee, you have only to put 2-3 teaspoonfuls of the syrup into an ordinary cup, then pour boiling water upon it, and it is ready for use. We have proved it to be good."

                                        I've never been tempted to try this, but noticed that it's unclear whether the initial "steeping" is in cold water or hot, since the next sentence says "boil again".

                                        1. re: kafoozel

                                          kafoozel- Now you did it, where can I get a slow-roller :)

                                          "Lay sideways in refrigerator on a slow-roller set up to rotate the flask through 360 degrees about once per hour"


                                        2. I've been making the most beautiful iced coffee all summer with the 12 cup Bodum Ice Coffee Maker (French Press with a separate, flat lid for brewing). What I've learned: Anything less than 12 hours is too short - shoot for 15-18. The best proportion for me turned out to be about 2 heaping cups fresh ground coffee to about 6 cups filtered water. I tried a real Kona, and a Jim's Espresso but my favorite bean for this method was the Gorilla Coffee Sumatra. I had a hard time accepting that the light color of the brew doesn't mean it's not done yet. Often you'll get full strength flavor from what looks like a weak brew. After plunging, I pour my brew into a 1 Liter Glass Pitcher with a Sealing lid. I liter is about 5-6 days worth of coffee for me. Now that summer is over, I'm wondering how I can continue to cold-brew, but find a good method of heating the coffee in the AM. Microwaving has been terrible so far. Does anyone have a preferred method of heating the cold brew for hot coffee? I don't dilute mine so adding kettle hot water to the "extract" wouldn't apply.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: spiredem

                                            To heat up quickly but not over-cook the cold coffee, I find the Ibrik most effective, although you do have to be right there ready to take it off the fire and pour, as it will shoot up and over flow rather quickly. I find the ones with copper on the outside heat up especially fast. https://www.turkishcoffeeworld.com/Tu...

                                          2. Also - has anyone tried just brewing in a jar and then filtering through a nut milk bag? I use a nut milk bag to strain my almond milk. It seems fine enough to hold back even the fine grounds.

                                            1. Easiest, cheapest, least messy way is to use a bag to hold your grounds!
                                              I've been using 5x7" cotton muslin bags (amazon = about $9 for 25 of them), put 1.5 - 1.75 cups grounds (cheapie store brand pre-ground if you're not too big a coffee snob) inside, close off with a rubber band (because wet drawstrings or loose top opening = icky) and plunk it in my 2 quart pitcher for 12 - 24 hours.

                                              After brewing, I squeeze all I can out of the bag, then let them dry out a little before emptying in the garden. The bags are totally washable and reusable -- and I NEVER have to mess with slow dripping filters...or washing out a french press...or needing another vessel to filter into...

                                              I'm now trying out nylon paint filter bags (essentially nut-milk bags, but cheaper) with lots of success, too!