Adventures in Greening: A cold-brewer’s life for me


By Catherine Moran

In 2006, I spent the summer working as a barista at Borders (you are missed greatly, bookstore). Before then, I had only consumed coffee as part of a dunked doughnut. I hated the taste of coffee alone, and didn’t particularly care for the smell of it, either. But that fateful summer changed my relationship with coffee.

Seattle’s Best Coffee had replaced the old Borders café, and training was needed. Every day for two weeks, we did coffee tastings. Each of the future baristas would be given one or two espresso-sized cups filled with coffee. We were not allowed to add milk or sugar. We were not allowed to guzzle it down, either. We were told to take a sip and swirl it around our mouths to capture the essence and flavor of each coffee, to better recommend a dark, rich roast, or a light, medium-bodied coffee to our customers. Having spent my life avoiding coffee, this was really jumping into the belly of the beast. Needless to say, those two weeks were gross. However, after two weeks of taste-tasting black coffee, any coffee product that had milk became delicious to my taste buds. And thus, this coffee lover was born.


I drink coffee for the taste: I could drink two cups before bed and still be able to conk out. I bought coffee in college, but after college, I realized I needed another plan: my wallet couldn’t take paying for coffee every day, all those coffee cups were not good for the environment.

(I learned recently that you can’t actually recycle Starbucks cups…the horror of the thought). And if I ordered something other than coffee, my latte/cappuccino/macchiato would often be made in a paper cup (for measuring), and then placed in my to-go mug. What was a girl to do?


Enter my favorite solution: a cold-toddy brewing system. This is the system used at Seattle’s Best for iced coffee, and if you’ve ever had the pleasure of trying their iced coffee, you know why I think it reigns supreme. It’s less acidic, which is the big win for me. The taste is much smoother. And, in the interests of my wallet, I have enough coffee for about 3–4 weeks, because the cold brew system makes a concentrate. You use ¼ cup of the concentrate with ¾ cups of water (or vary it up, if you like your coffee super strong). All that’s involved is putting your coffee grounds (coarsely ground) into the toddy system (you can do this with tea, as well!), covering with water, and letting stand for 12 hours. If you do this at night, you wake up to the delicious smell of coffee. A bonus is the easy cleanup: put those grounds in a bag and take them to the nearest compost center!


I take my thermos of iced coffee and almond milk with me every day to sip at my leisure, and enjoy a nice cuppa on weekends. This coffee love affair will continue for many years to come.

Adventures in Greening is a column running on every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter @folowbredcrumbs, or check out her excellent book blog.

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5 thoughts on “Adventures in Greening: A cold-brewer’s life for me

  1. Sara says:

    Catherine got me hooked on the cold brew system, too! It was such a lifesaver (and money saver) during those sweltering hot summer days in New York City!

  2. Kate says:

    Ooh, this is great to know! I love iced coffee all year round, and now I can make a good cup at home. Thanks!

  3. Kaitertot says:

    This sounds amazing!!! How much did your cold brew system cost? I may have to try it!

  4. [...] and ages ago, I wrote about my penchant for cold-brewing coffee. This weekend, I took my cold brew process a step further: I ground my own [...]

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