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Make your own Toddy, Thai or traditional brew

Wed., Aug. 10, 2011

Tom Sawyer spoons a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream into a cup and pours a shot of cold coffee concentrate over it.

“It’s like coffee candy. It has a sweet, rich flavor,” Sawyer says of the cold-brewed coffee he makes in his Toddy maker.

Named after its designer, Todd Simpson, the Toddy maker brewing device once popular in the 1970s and ’80s is making a comeback.

“It’s really versatile,” says Sawyer, the owner of a Hangman Valley coffee roasting company called Tom Sawyer Country Coffee.

For less than 70 cents a serving, you can make an iced coffee drink at home complete with whipped cream that rivals those made by professional baristas, he says.

Place coffee grounds in the plastic base, which has a wool filter and plug at the bottom, add cold water and let it sit for 12 hours. Afterward, the resulting concentrate, or Toddy coffee, is drained into a glass storage carafe.

“When we brew with hot water, we extract all of the acidity,” Sawyer explains. “With cold water – soaking the coffee – we extract full levels of flavor and caffeine but less than 85 percent of the acidity.”

The result, according to Toddy fans, is a smooth, sweet cold brew far superior to simply brewing a hot pot of java and letting it cool.

It can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks and used for iced coffees, lattes, or frozen into cubes for later use. Since it is concentrated, the flavor holds well in iced drinks and can also be used to make a cup of hot coffee by adding hot water to a shot of toddy.

“The concentrate is so much richer in flavor that you can have a small amount and it’s very refreshing and a great pick-me-up,” says Sawyer, who has developed a special low-acid blend of Sumatran beans specifically for use in the Toddy maker.

Traditional-style iced coffee

If a $39 Toddy maker isn’t in your budget, or you simply don’t want any more gadgets cluttering up your kitchen counter, don’t worry. You can make a delicious iced coffee drink the old-fashioned way.

The key to the Toddy maker, says Thomas Hammer, owner of Thomas Hammer Coffee Roasters, is the length of time the coffee grounds and water are in contact. Also, the increased ratio of coffee to water (compared to regular brews) helps provide the strong, concentrated flavor.

Hammer suggests using a relatively mild, less acidic coffee for iced coffee: “Look for Central American coffees, or a breakfast blend. Stay away from French Roast or African.

“The best thing someone could do (without using a Toddy maker) is to use a traditional drip coffee maker,” he adds.

Fill the filter with as much coffee as you can without it overflowing, and brew a pot with 60 percent of the water normally used, Hammer suggests.

“You basically create a stronger cup of coffee,” he says. The resulting brew can be chilled in the fridge and served over ice.

You can also take a large Tupperware container filled with a pound of ground coffee and nine cups of water and let it sit overnight. Drain the concentrated coffee into a container through a sieve lined with coffee filters or a pour-over coffee filter like a Melita.

Deborah Di Bernardo, owner of Roast House Coffee in Spokane, is a big fan of cold-brew coffee.

“It’s instantly available (once brewed) and the acidity is exceptionally low,” she says. She favors the Toddy maker because its wool filter gives “the clearest, nicest concentrate without the chewable texture.”

Using a French press coffee maker with a little extra coffee will work, she says, but you’ll need to filter it afterward through a filter basket perched over a container to remove the sediment.

No matter which method of cold brewing you use, Di Bernardo recommends allowing 20 hours of brewing time (longer than most suggest) for maximum flavor extraction, although “it’s definitely to taste.”

When Di Bernardo first started making cold-brewed coffee on a large scale, she used part of an unbleached sheet filled with coffee and immersed it in water. On a small scale, use a cloth filter called a tea sock or other nonbleached fabric like a muslin tea towel, fill it with coffee and immerse it in cold water.

Thai iced coffee

If you’re looking for an ethnic twist on traditional iced coffee, why not try Thai iced coffee?

“Iced coffee is very popular in Thailand. It’s too hot to drink hot coffee,” says Phonthip Warren, owner of Phonthip Style Thai Restaurant.

Thai iced coffee is popular at her north Spokane restaurant as well. Phonthip brews a big batch of iced coffee by adding imported Thai coffee powder (called Oliang) to boiling water and straining the brew through a cloth filter.

In addition to coffee beans, Thai coffee powder contains ground corn, soy beans and sometimes sesame, giving it a mild nutty flavor. You’ll find it at Asian markets along with the cloth strainer to brew it.

She sweetens it with sugar and stores the cold brew in the fridge, adding ice and half-and-half before serving.

“Every customer orders it here,” she says of the creamy, sweet iced coffee drink.

Tom Tyson of the Oriental Market explains that you can also use your regular coffee maker to brew Thai coffee.

“Just keep putting the brewed coffee through the machine (re-brewing it) until you can’t see through (the coffee),” he instructs.

Tyson cautions that this method can be messy so be prepared to clean your coffee maker when you are finished.

The resulting brew can be chilled and served with ice and sweetened condensed milk, which Tyson says is the traditional way to serve it.

Thai coffee is also sold in bottled, concentrated form, sweetened and ready to serve over ice, which makes a no-fuss refreshing beverage to take to the lake or on a camping trip.

Spicy Iced Mocha

Courtesy of Deborah Di Bernardo, Roast House Coffee, who describes this drink as an “incredible, spicy version of the traditional mocha.”

Pinch of cinnamon

Pinch of chili powder

Pinch of nutmeg (about ¼ teaspoon total of the spices combined)

1 to 2 ounces of Fair Trade chocolate, melted

1 to 2 ounces of cold-brewed coffee concentrate

Put the melted chocolate in a 16-ounce cup, add the spices and mix well. Add ice and milk, stir again.

Yield: 1 serving

Thai Iced Coffee


8 tablespoons ground coffee

2 cups water

2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk


Half-and-half to taste

Brew the coffee in a drip coffee maker. Add sweetened condensed milk and stir. Fill two tall glasses with ice and pour coffee over ice. Add half-and-half to taste.

Variation: Brew Thai iced coffee according to instructions on package and proceed as above.

Yield: 2 servings

German Chocolate Coffee Cooler

Courtesy of Tom Sawyer, Tom Sawyer Country Coffee

1 ounce of German chocolate-flavored syrup, preferably Stirling brand (available at URM)

3 ounces of cold-brewed coffee concentrate

3-4 ices cubes

10-12 ounces milk

Whipped cream

Put the ice cubes in a 16-ounce cup. Add the coffee and flavored syrup. Top with milk to fill cup. Stir and top with whipped cream.

Yield: 1 serving.

Baci Italia

Courtesy of Deborah Di Bernardo, Roast House Coffee. “It means Italian kiss and it’s my favorite way to use cold-brewed coffee,” says Di Bernardo who likes to garnish this dish with fresh raspberries from her garden.

Two 1-ounce shots of concentrated cold-brewed coffee

2 scoops of vanilla ice cream

¼ cup raspberries or strawberries

Pour the coffee over the ice cream. Garnish with fresh berries.

Yield: 1 serving

Tropical Iced Blended Coffee Cooler

Courtesy of Tom Sawyer

16 ounces of ice

1 ounce each Jamaican Rum and Piña Colada-flavored syrup (preferably Stirling brand)

3 ounces of cold-brewed coffee concentrate

3 ounces of half-and-half

1 scoop of vanilla ice cream

1 banana

Whipped cream (optional)

Whirl syrups, coffee, half-and-half, banana and ice cream in a blender until smooth. Slowly add ice and blend until smooth. Pour into a 16-ounce cup and top with whipped cream if desired.

Yield: 1 serving

Kirsten Harrington is a Spokane freelance food writer and can be reached at kharrington67@


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