THE EDMONTON JOURNAL
Cold coffee heats up STRANGE
The Toddy Coffee Maker,
40 years old this year,
produces a flavourful
brew without the bitterness
By Judy Schultz
The Edmonton Journal
Wednesday, February 04,
Edmonton (Canada) - Here's
the scene: A hectic morning, and that fresh pot of coffee near your terminal
is steaming in your direction.
The phone rings.
Four or five calls later,
your coffee is stone cold, and a strange little oil slick has formed on
The fault, dear coffee
lovers, could be the heat.
According to one segment
of coffee-lovers, the brewing process counts as much as the bean and the
That's the theory behind
a cold-brew system first used centuries ago by Peruvian Indians.
It took a chemical engineering
student named Todd Simpson to bring it to the attention of North American
He knew that coffee beans
contain several compounds that are extracted during the hot brewing process.
Some of those compounds, including the oils and fatty acids that cause
the slick on your coffee are soluble at a high temperature. The method
most of us use at home, including the French press and virtually all steam
methods, scalds the beans, which brings out those acids and oils.
Simpson was studying at
Cornell University in 1964, when he discovered that those same acids and
oils were not soluble at low temperatures. He found that up to 67 per cent
of them, including the ketons, esters and amids that sometimes give hot-brewed
coffee a bitter undertaste and cause some people to experience a burning
sensation in the digestive tract, could be eliminated by cold-steeping
the coffee grounds for several hours to produce a rich concentrate.
He patented the Toddy
Coffee Maker -- 40 years old this year. Although the company has never
advertised, it's about to sell its one millionth cold-brew system and numbers
its enthusiastic converts in the hundreds of thousands.
People who drink cold
brewed coffee swear by it. A recent consumer-test article in the Washington
Post declared the system to be the ultimate coffeemaker.
"(It produces) the perfect
cup of coffee," said the Post.
Some of North America's
major coffee chains -- Seattle's Best among them -- are now using the Toddy
method to make coffee concentrates.
Stacie Osborne, vice president
of the Canadian retail division for Seattle's Best, says they use the cold
brew method in all seven of their Vancouver outlets.
"It's fabulous. Once you
try it, you won't go back to the hot water method," she says. "We use one
pound of coffee to two litres of water, and let it steep for 12 hours.
The home brewers are available in our shops for around $30."
The Toddy Maker is almost
ridiculously simple. It consists of a plastic brewing container with a
plug and filter at the bottom, and a glass carafe. Ground coffee and two
litres of cold water go into the top and are allowed to steep for eight
to twelve hours. The plug is pulled, and the concentrate drains through
the filter into the glass carafe.
The concentrate must be
refrigerated and will keep for about three weeks. It can also be frozen
(in ice cube containers) for several months.
SOME LIKE IT HOT
OK, so it's mild and sweet.
But at minus 40 C, iced coffee doesn't cut it. We need that steamy mug.
And in the hot-versus-cold
brew debate, the same coffee chains that rave about the pure sweetness
of cold brewed coffee for their chilled drinks -- iced cappuccino, iced
latte and so on -- just aren't using it for hot coffee.
For that, they stick with
the traditional methods.
John Delutis, director
of operations for Second Cup in western Canada, says his company has tested
many methods for making the perfect hot cup, including this one, but they've
ruled it out.
"We experimented with
it for our chilled lattes, but we weren't really set up for it."
And for the hot mug?
"It wouldn't have replaced
our other methods in any case," he says.
"We've just been through
a major reinvestment in (the quality of) our coffees. We feel that we use
the perfect critical temperature. Too hot, and it would be bitter. Too
cold, there wouldn't be enough flavour extracted."
However, home consumers
who use the cold brew method for making hot coffee say it produces a smooth,
mild, full-flavoured brew, infinitely superior to the hot brew method.
More importantly, it's
easier on the stomach.
According to the American
College of Gastroenterology, more than 60 million American adults experience
painful gastro-reflux disease and heartburn at least once a month. The
cold brew method all but eliminates the irritating acids released in hot
That's why Shelley Smith,
a coffee-loving bookkeeper in Abbotsford who suffers from chronic inflammation
of the bladder, bought her own Toddy Coffee Maker.
"My condition was irritated
by the acids and oils in most coffee, and this method produces a delicious,
low-acid coffee that I can drink all day."
COFFEE'S LITTLE SECRET
According to Smith, the
cold-process coffeemaker reveals something that high-priced gourmet bean
sellers don't want us to know: The secret of great tasting coffee is mostly
in the preparation.
"I don't go around endorsing
things, but this is different," she told Bistro. She uses a variety of
"Use any beans, including
supermarket beans. I'm too lazy to grind my own, so I even use Folgers.
Don't use a fine grind -- it needs to be regular or coarse grind. Don't
shake it or stir it, and you'll have great coffee."
She uses one part concentrate
to two or three parts boiling water, depending on how strong she wants
it. If it's not hot enough, she'll microwave it.
Smith also appreciates
the low tech aspect of the Toddy. It's basically a water pot, a filter
and a carafe.
If there's a downside
to the cold brew method, it's in the amount of coffee required to make
"You do use a little more
coffee, but you probably throw out less."