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The mechanics of brewing cold brew coffee are simple but in practice the activity is often messy, frustrating, and time consuming. There are products for sale to help make the process go more smoothly though. The $40 (roughly £30 in the UK and AU$55 in Australia) Toddy Cold Brew System is one such gadget which certainly succeeds at its task and for not a lot of money.
As kitchen contraptions go, the Toddy is very bare bones. The kit consists of a plastic brewing container, essentially a bucket, attached to a handle. At the bottom of the container is a small, recessed hole and reusable felt filter pad that you place above it. The Toddy comes with paper filters too. They're not reusable, but are more convenient. Plugging the brewing container's hole is a tiny rubber stopper. The lidless container then rests on top of a squat glass decanter.
Editors' note: This review has been updated to reflect the fact that the Toddy now also comes with paper filters.
To brew, just add 12 ounces (340.2 g) of coarse coffee grounds to the container. You then combine that with 56 ounces (1.7 L) of cool water. Of course, you can't throw everything together all at once. Instead the manual asks that you stagger ingredients, half your grounds then half your water, and repeat in order to ensure an even mixture. It takes a little practice to get the process right.
By comparison the Oxo Cold Brew is much easier to use since you can dump all your grounds in at the same time. The Oxo also has a handy "rainmaker" lid you pour water over which acts as a shower head for even saturation and coffee extraction.
The Filtron, another cold brew product, also takes all your grounds in one go but uses a third part -- a water bowl -- which adds extra complexity and size. The Toddy isn't small either and its tall height requires lots of overhead clearance.
After 12 to 24 hours you remove the rubber stopper to drain your fresh cold brew liquid into the decanter, about a 20-minute wait. Your patience will be rewarded with a flask full of almost 36 ounces of concentrated coffee. This is about as much java as the Filtron brews but half of what you get from the Oxo Cold Brew. My drink was strong too, with a high TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) percentage of 4.7 percent.
All this makes the $40 Toddy system quite compelling to people serious about their cold brew. If you don't mind less coffee per run and would rather use a metal filter, the $50 (roughly £40, AU$65) Oxo Cold Brew is the better choice.