This Cold-Brew Maker Stopped Me From Buying Coffee Out

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The past year's quarantine had me on a coffee shop kick. While working from home, I quickly realized the walk to grab a latte was my only out-of-home morning activity (and the most socialization I'd have outside of Slack) — not to mention the coffee was just ​better​ than my store-bought jug of cold brew.

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But, after gulping down my umpteenth New Orleans-style cold brew from Blue Bottle — if you know, you know — the sudden ​ding​ email from my bank informed me that the drink I was holding would be my last for the week. It was time to find a way to get my café-style coffee on a Folger's budget.

I turned to Google to figure out exactly how Blue Bottle — the coffee chain I was giving all my money to — does it and found a YouTube video from the company advertising how to make the smooth but spiced drink at home. It turned out, all I needed was the Toddy Cold Brew System, some quality beans, and chicory (the plant that gives the drink its signature flavor). I quickly added to my cart, knowing that I would soon be able to declare myself a total coffee ​snob in a week​.

The Toddy Cold Brew System is not necessarily cheap at $40, but when you do the math and figure a week's worth of coffees, you learn it quickly pays for itself.

My Toddy arrived and I followed the YouTube tutorial to a tee, doing exactly as Mr. Blue (Mr. Bottle?) did. The result? An incredible cold brew concentrate that lasted for an entire week. It takes only a bit of concentrate to make one drink, as diluting with water or your choice of milk is the last step.

Once it was time to make the next jug, I had to decide: Do I reorder the New Orleans kit — which wasn't necessarily budget-friendly — or do I try a new, cheaper bean? Because this venture was, after all, about saving money, I opted for something new. I found a bag the same weight as the one I'd previously ordered, coarsely ground the bean (with either a coffee grinder or NutriBullet), and followed the guide I'd successfully used before to make my next batch. I discovered that you didn't have to spend a lot on beans — or maybe I'm not that much of a snob after all — to get good, smooth cold brew, easily comparable to that of a coffee shop.

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While the most important aspect of the Toddy is that it helps me make cold brew I'm excited to drink at home, the cute and easy-to-store glass bottle doesn't hurt either. As someone with a small fridge, I have to be careful about buying too-large Tupperware and Costco-size produce. Though it holds quite a bit of the concentrate, this jug is the perfect compact size, fitting onto my top shelf without serious rearrangements or fruit-and-veggie Jenga.

If you're looking to quit your coffee-out habit once and for all (or at least limit it to only a few outings a week), the Toddy Brew System and a decent bag of coffee beans can remind you that a good glass of cold brew can be achieved at home.

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Kaelin Dodge is a writer/editor based out of Los Angeles, California.

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