A coffee-fiend neighbor of mine lectured me one day on the benefits of a cold-brew coffee system. It makes the best coffee available, he claimed, and if I really wanted a great cup of coffee... All I could do was nod because I didn't know what a cold-brew system was.
Never one to be outdone in the world of coffee, I set out to find out for myself. Toddy is the coffee maker I was told to look for, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I swear to you I saw it in a floor display one day at Borders of all places, but when I went back a couple of weeks later, there wasn't a Toddy in sight. I finally found the system at Amazon for $32.49 plus shipping, and it arrived just last week. Here is what the parts look like.
The idea is that instead of brewing coffee grounds in hot water, you steep them in cold water, extracting the flavor into a coffee concentrate that you then mix dilute and heat. Supposedly the resulting coffee has 67% less acid than conventionally brewed coffee.
You start with a pound of coarse-ground premium coffee beans (Arabica, preferred). You pour half a pound of the stuff in the big white jug that has been fit with a plug and a filter. Then you pour in a few cups of water, and then more coffee and then more water until you have the entire pound of grounds and a total of nine cups of cold water. You let this sit for twelve hours at least and then remove the plug at the bottom of the jug, draining the concentrate into the decanter.
The instructions suggest a ratio of six ounces water and two ounces concentrate for a cup of coffee, but I found this to be two weak. A ratio of four to four seemed a little strong, so I am working with five to three for now. So far I really like the stuff, but I haven't done a side-by-side taste test with the regular drip method yet. That's the next step.
The Washington Post calls this "the perfect cup of coffee." I'd say that depends on figuring out the ratio of water to concentrate, but I agree it's definitely smooth. It's also pretty good in cold milk with ice.
The system comes with an instruction book with recipes like Toddy Biscotti, Toddy Coffee Ice Cream, and Toddy Jerk Pork Tenderloin. The biscotti is definitely next on my list.
*NOTE: To answer your questions, the stuff can be heated in the microwave or in a kettle.