The beverage world is full of a variety of magical concoctions to consume, but the black gold alchemy of coffee is one of the most heavenly ever to grace the lips of a true beverage aficionado. Despite a cup of coffee being 98% water, there are over 800 compounds in the coffee beans themselves that give them their flavor, from sugars and carbohydrates, organic acids, mineral salts, methylxanthines and aromatic oils, to my personal favorite chemical compound, C8-H10-N4-O2 (caffeine). The flavor elements of the coffee beans are determined by their growing region and later, by the roasting method used to bring them out of the raw beans. The beauty of coffee lies in a certain level of mad-scientist exploration of roasting the beans to bring out all of the bean elements and profiles, and then also in the methods of extracting the coffee from the beans to make any number of the beautiful aromatic elixirs that elevates our minds and energies.
With the onset of summer, one of the most delicious ways I find to enjoy coffee is by cold brew extraction, also known by the trademark name of “Toddy” coffee. Not simply “iced coffee,” cold brew coffee is intrinsically different in its profile than its hot brewed counterpart. As I mentioned before, there are many elements to extracting out the various coffee bean profiles. Most people have the basic understanding that you can buy shots of espresso, use a French press or a drip coffee maker, or even make a nice campfire “cowboy” coffee with a percolator and an open fire. All of these methods involve extracting the coffee compounds with hot water, which dissolves the various compounds within the coffee bean and rapidly pushes them out into the hot water, imbuing the water with colors, polyphenols and caffeine. The hot water, however, also cooks coffee elements as it extracts, changing some of the chemical composition, which brings out a different flavor profile into the resulting liquid. By using cold water in a cold brew process, the extraction rate of those same coffee elements is slower and more gradual, infusing a more select amount of the coffee bean’s elements into the water, thus changing the chemical compositions less than by brewing with hot water. The resulting aromatics and flavors are therefore not only more intensely concentrated, but also smoother and less acidic, which is a huge bonus for people who have sensitivities to the acids in coffee or people like me who hate it when their iced coffee becomes a diluted mess when the coffee is not strong enough to sustain melting ice cubes.
But why make a fuss over a cold brew extraction? While there are plenty of people who just simply do not enjoy the flavor of coffee itself, there are others who are forced to avoid it because the hot brew method brings out too many acidic properties and it upsets their stomach. When I consider that I fully believe that somewhere in my DNA there is a long strand devoted only to loving coffee molecules, I would be very miserable if I had to give up drinking coffee altogether because I did not have a more body-friendly alternative. Not to mention, studies are showing that moderately drinking coffee can actually be very beneficial, because not only does it have antioxidants, research numbers are showing that coffee drinkers are less likely to have type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia as well as showing fewer cases of certain cancers, heart rhythm problems, and strokes. For there to be a method of coffee extraction that significantly reduces coffee acids (the Toddy proudly boasts a 67% reduction) and a smoother, naturally sweeter cup of iced coffee, this gives hope to those who have been missing their morning cuppa joe.
So how does the average coffee drinker acquire the skills to make their own cold brew concoctions? The Toddy Brewer is available at Liquid Planet on Higgins Ave and at liquidplanet.com, and is one of the most user-friendly cold brew systems for home use. With cold water and coarsely ground coffee left to extract overnight, your taste buds will be delighted with that first cup of Toddy-liciousness. Once it is all brewed, you have the option of using the resulting elixir as a coffee concentrate that can be enjoyed straight or mixed as you please with milk, additional water or even heated and enjoyed hot. Yes, truly, all it takes is reheating the concentrate on low to get an equally delightful brew, as the coffee oils are perfectly preserved and will release nicely with the reheat. The flavor profiles that you can enjoy are nearly endless, with as many mad-science potentials as there are types of coffee beans. For more specific information as to the how-to of cold brew extraction, visit https://liquidplanet.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/what-is-toddy-coffee/. May you discover all of the delights of this amazingly versatile and totally refreshing coffee creation!