As a part of my Saturday morning routine, I often find myself getting coffee at a quaint (I'm talking three two-person tables and eight bar stools) white hut in Louisville, Colorado called Precision Pours. The owner, Brice, works the opening shift on Saturdays and conversations with this humble dude go unbound. When I go into coffee shops, I get black coffee. That's just how I am. But in these past particularly hot months of summer, who wouldn't want a glass of coffee...iced? 

One of the perks of Precision Pours is Brice is on top of coffee culture, and in turn I can be on top of coffee culture. Brice's iced coffee was not the run-of-the-mill iced coffee, it was in the ranks of the best self-proclaimed brewers, yes, iced coffee brewed by The Toddy, a word people use synonymously with Cold Brew iced coffee.

We've seen this word flashed on banners in the front of every Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts stores, but what is so different about the Cold Brew coffees? Honestly, it's more concentrated. However, it's less acidic. The process of steeping the coffee grounds (ever-so-slowly) extracts acids and creates a smoother iced coffee with a more delicious coffee flavor. 

This is important to me, because I hate the D-word: Dilution. 

With Cold Brew coffee systems, you're iced coffee is smooth and doesn't taste like water with a splach of coffee flavor--yay!

Brice let's me in on a secret: these cold brew systems are all over thrift stores. He showed me the contraption up close; two little plastic tubs on top of each other, with a decanter underneath. These brewers have been around for centuries. Another reason to go thrifting, in case anyone needed one.

I don't believe in luck but I happened upon a cold brew system completely sealed, in the bags with unused filters at a shop in downtown Ft. Collins while killing time before a show up at The Mishawaka (another post in itself). If you go online, they are selling now for around $40. I bought mine for $6. 

However, I did not get The Toddy. I bought the Filtron. A system boasting origins in the nineteenth century, and why not? Pioneers didn't need hot water to make good coffee. I respect that. 

So this Filtron looks a little complex, but if you stumble upon one yourself, smart reader, for the right price you better snag it. There are six pieces: two "bowls" (water-dripper bowl and the coffee bowl where all the filters go), a little stopper plug for the coffee bowl, a fabric filter, paper filters, and a plastic ring filter (these pieces can be purchased separately on Amazon). 

I feel like it's necessary to side-track talk about buying the coffee: pick a coffee you like. However, the roast does not matter. The lighter roasts will still taste like coffee. And the dark roasts will taste like dark roasts. If you're not sure, look for tasting notes on the bags that align with flavors you enjoy elsewhere. For example, I gravitate towards berries, citrus, and chocolate. And I love berries, citrus, and chocolates.
For cold brew systems, they require a more coarse grind (like sand) for the brewer, so grind it yourself or grind it at the store on coarse. Also be aware, systems like these use at least 12oz of coffee. That is most of a bag, or if you're getting a more elite coffee, that is a whole bag. So don't break the bank on it either, although the rewards will be plentiful...

Let's set up the Filtron! The plug goes into the bottom of the coffee bowl from below the reservoir. make sure the thickest (tapered) part of the plug is OUTSIDE OF THE BOWL. This is essential, as you will need to remove the plug from the outside of the reservoir...unlesss you plan on sticking your hand in 24-hour old coffee grounds to fish out a plug.

After that, the filters are basically a stacking system: the fabric filter goes on the inside, covering the stopper. There's a kind of cylindrical hole in the bottom of the coffee bowl that the fabric filter will fit into, creating a cone-shape that pops up a little. The paper filter goes on top of that, with your 12oz of coarsely-ground coffee poured in. The plastic circle filter goes on top of that.

There are a couple of tricks to keep in mind: 

  • the water bowl has a tiny hole that will slowly drip into the coffee bowl. The easiest way to fill up the water bowl is to place the water bowl on the coffee bowl (without having to transfer the water bowl to the coffee bowl). Measure out 56oz of water, and pour it into the water bowl already placed on top of the coffee bowl. Place some saran wrap or a towel over the water bowl (to prevent dust and things from getting in the water as it sits/slowly drips in to the bowl below).
  • Once you let the Filtron sit for up to 24 hours, you must let the coffee drain into the decanter. Place the decanter in a sink so while you maneuver the stopper out of the bottom of the coffee bowl, the delicious coffee concentrate will (hopefully) fall into the decanter and not all over the counter (speaking from experience).

After you finish the first batch, taste a tiny bit. Add water if you please to the sample. Maybe you feel it's a little weak. If that is the case, you can re-steep the grounds with half of the amount of water for the same amount of time. Keep all the filters and grounds as-is, but fill the water bowl with 28oz of water instead. Let it steep then combine with what you brewed the day before. 

You're all done! The amount of water you add to your concentrate mix is totally up to your discretion. I try to use as little dilutsh as possible--the ice is enough for me! But one part of concentrate to two parts of water is ideal.

If you aren't as intense as me and don't want to use the whole brewing system (or are having bad luck finding a cheap one), you can create a mock cold brew system with a big mason jar and steeping the grounds overnight--the trick will be to strain it...

Published by Kristiane Weeks-Rogers