I love iced coffee. My first photo on Facebook in January 2009 was of me drinking an iced coffee in a Dunkin’ Donuts. I grew up in Revere, Mass., just outside Boston, where people drink iced coffee like Southerners drink sweet tea. When I was a child, I remember my mother, Carmen, buying coffee syrup so we could mix it with milk.
I drink iced coffee nearly every day (even in the winter). I have tried every way imaginable to make my favorite drink. I made my own coffee syrup. I used two methods, one was to make a simple sugar syrup and added instant coffee at the start of the process. I also used coffee instead of water to make a simple sugar syrup. I mixed the syrups with milk, and it was just not a true iced coffee. I also added the syrup to coffee to sweeten and enhance, but it just wasn’t what I was looking for. I have tried using instant coffee, but I could never make a consistently good glass, though Nescafe turned out to make the best. I bought an automatic drip coffee maker, but I never really made a good batch. I bought a coffee concentrate (just add water). It was OK, but not great. I never wanted to spend the money on a Keurig, and the needed pods, but I broke down and bought a knock-off at a surplus store for $10 and bought a reusable K-cup with a steel mesh filter. OK, but not great. Do you see a pattern here?
I have even tried cold brew, which makes a good product. However, it is cumbersome to make. I would pour the ground coffee into a pitcher, let it steep overnight in the refrigerator and then strain it. It was so difficult and a bit messy. I would try this method on and off. But, recently I saw a review of cold brew makers on America’s Test Kitchen (watch the video here). It planted the thought in my mind: I need a cold brew maker. Now, the question that needed to be answered was: Which one? I saw one at a Target one day, but I didn’t purchase it. A month or so later when I wanted to buy one, I couldn’t find one anywhere, so I went to Amazon (we are affiliates). The Toddy Cold Brew System (you can buy on Amazon here) was the winner in the America’s Test Kitchen review. I considered purchasing it, but I didn’t want to spend that much. I also read a review that talked about having to buy filters and there being an issue with the plug on the bottom. I became intrigued when I saw Mason Jar cold brew systems (see the choices on Amazon here). I settled on the 2-Quart County Line Kitchen Cold Brewer (buy it here).
I settled on this particular model because of the incredible reviews. Incidentally, this style of cold brew maker was dismissed by America’s Test Kitchen because the testers felt they produced the weakest cold brew coffee. They reached this conclusion because the grounds sit in a steel mesh tube and the coffee grounds and water do not comingle.
However, this cold brewing system works just fine for me. In fact, I used Dunkin’ Donuts original blend coffee, and my cold brew iced coffee tasted just like the cold brew iced coffees I have purchased from the chain. The instructions call for two cups of coffee grounds, or fill the tube up with grounds and leave one inch at the top (I left the one-inch gap). Being a typical guy, I did not fully read the instructions. I didn’t know how to add the water. (And, no, I still have yet to read them.) I added water from the faucet very slowly. This took some time. I think the next time I make the coffee, I will put in some grounds, add some water, put in some grounds, add some water, etc., until the grounds and water are in.
I am very pleased with this purchase. It produced a good cold brew coffee. I added some sugar, half-and-half and Mounds-flavored coffee creamer to round out the iced coffee. While the America’s Test Kitchen reviewers found this kind of brewing system to make a weak coffee, I found it just a little too strong for me, and I do consider Dunkin’ Donuts’ cold brew just a tad too strong for me, also.
I am glad I chose this. Clean-up was very simple. The grounds came out easily into the waste can, and I was able to rinse out the tube without any fuss or muss. I might have finally found a way to make that perfect glass of iced coffee at home.