Toddy. I'm not a fan of the word. Well, actually I'm fine with "toddy" being used in reference to hot, sweet, mixed drink made with liquor, water, sugar and spices. However, using it to refer to cold brewed coffee I don't like. One, because cold brewed coffee is not a hot, sweet, mixed drink made with liquor, water, sugar and spices; nor is it a drink made from the sap of Asian palm trees (apparently also called "toddy"). Two, because what is so special about cold-brewed coffee that it needs its own word? We don't call hot-brewed tea "tea" and cold-brewed tea "wassail". Sure, we call coffee brewed in an espresso machine "espresso" but in that instance the brewing method causes the coffee to form a multiphasic colloid instead of a liquid solution - a much bigger difference than whether it's brewed hot or cold. And the third reason I don't like the coffee-directed usage for the word "toddy" is that I just don't really like the sound of the word; and so I end my tangential rant. So "toddy" is just coffee brewed cold - or at room temp - and the coffee is usually made very strong so that when one wants a hot cup of coffee, one can then mix the concentrate with some hot water. This method is popular in Latin America and some other parts of the world, and appears in some commercial applications in the US.

   The method results in a very mild, light-bodied cup with little aroma, little acidity and a muted flavor. Thus it is a good alternative for people who aren't a big fan of dark-roasted coffee, but need a low-acid cup because their stomach does not respond well to the acidic nature of coffee. There are devices on the market sold for cold concentrate brewing, some dubbed "toddy makers", but you can cold brew even better (says Alex) in a French press. Just make your coffee in your press like usual but just cold water and let it sit overnight - at room temperature if you want a fuller, stronger, more complex flavor with a slight "off" tang, or in the fridge if you want something simpler, weaker, and chocolaty without a slight "off" tang. Remember that you will want to use more coffee than usual if you plan on refrigerating it and mixing it with hot water when you want a hot coffee. If you want to try a sample of a cold brew, we always have some on hand. Just ask us to put 45milliliters of the "double-c" (muggswigz™ code speak) in a small (12oz) cup and fill with hot water.

   Coffee goes stale by reaction with oxygen in the air. Chemical reactions progress slower the colder it is, so it would make sense to keep coffee in as cold of place as possible. However, after considering some factors, it becomes evident that it may not be best to follow this rule. For starters, keep in mind that coffee is very good at absorbing flavors so if it is kept in the freezer or refrigerator your cup of coffee will tend to taste like whatever that area of your freezer or refrigerator smells like, which can have some unpleasant results. Also, taking coffee out of a refrigerator or freezer will cause water to condense onto the inside of the container and onto the coffee (remember that moisture is not good for coffee storage). That would likely happen unless the coffee was kept in an airtight container and that after it was removed from the freezer or refrigerator it was set out for long enough for the temperatures inside the bag and outside the bag to equalize (which would take a while). The freezer can be an especially harsh place to store coffee because there is some residual water in roasted coffee that can expand and cause little fractures in the bean so that when the coffee is taken out of the freezer it goes stale faster. So in the end, the solution is buying fresh-roasted coffee and only enough to last you a week or two.

The article relates some of the information from last issue to coffee staling. When coffee is just roasted it is fresh and at its most flavorful and pleasant potential, but its downhill from there. Five progressive stages of staling can be identified, theses are:

1. Dull - The dry aroma has mostly been lost

2. Flat - The cup aroma has been mostly lost

3. Vapid - Much of the nose has been lost

4. Insipid - The oxidation of some of the coffee oils causes a noticeable change in the taste of the brew

5. Stale - The oxidation of the linoleic triglycerides causes them to turn from having a pleasant flavor to having an unpleasant flavor

6. Rancid - The fats in the coffee change to having a distinct offensive flavor

   Remember how to slow this process down (issues 10, 11, & 52), and buy fresh roasted coffee to avoid a dull, flat, vapid, insipid, stale, rancid, of otherwise yucky cup.

  We talk a lot about Italy in relation to coffee but really no other city has made the cafe into a more important social and cultural institution than Vienna. Apparently the first cafe in Vienna was opened after the Turks left behind hundreds of sacks of coffee after their siege of the city failed around 1685. Austrians , who drink more than double the amount of coffee and Italians, also have similar coffee and milk beverages as many cultures. Popular coffee orders in Austria include:

Schwarz - black coffee Melange - equal parts coffee and milk Kapuziner - coffee with a dab of cream

Verkehrt - milk with just a little coffee

Brauner - coffee with just a little milk Schale Gold - a gold-colored mixture of coffee and milk

Einspanner - aka. Viennese coffee is coffee in a glass topped with whipped cream.

Eiskaffee - cold black coffee poured over vanilla ice cream and topped with whipped cream

   You can probably see the similarities in these drinks and the drinks on our menu, like the cafe au lait, espresso con panna, cafe latte, macchiato, cappuccino, and the mit schlag. With all that coffee Austrians drink, its no wonder how such a small country has generated so many contributions to mankind!

This question was posed to me by a friend shopping for a coffee grinder. The $44 and $175 refer to two grinders we sell, a $44 La Pavoni burr grinder and a $175 semi-commercial Bunn grinder, the $19 grinder is a coffee chopper he saw at some store. The major difference is that there are blade coffee grinders (coffee choppers) and burr coffee grinders. Blade grinders are those little cylindrical appliances with a whirly blade at the top, like a mini food processor. Burr coffee grinders grind coffee using sets of sharp interlocking teeth rotating in opposite directions. Using a burr grinder, the coarseness or fineness of the coffee grind can be controlled by varying the distance between the teeth. The closer the teeth, the finer the grind. Using a blade grinder one is to pulse the whirling blade less for a coarser grind and more for a finer grind. As you can probably guess, the burr grinder produces a more consistent, uniform, and accurate grind. So is this more uniform grind worth 25 bucks? Oh! It, and the added convenience, ease, reliably, and durability of a burr grinder make it worth way more then that additional 25 bucks! Having coffee ground inconsistently gives a big spread of particle sizes, some pieces to small, some to large, some just right. The small pieces of coffee get over extracted and the large pieces get under extracted. While the just right sized pieces get extracted well, the under and over extracted parts balance each other out as much as a steak frozen on the inside and charred on the outside. They don't. But the more you can get the grounds to reach a uniform size the more even your extraction will be and thus the more delicious your coffee. Kudos to those who grind their own coffee whether it be with a burr grinder, blade grinder, or a paper bag and hammer. If you have the budget, I would suggest retiring your blade grinder to making fresh chopped spices and pecan and almond butter and upgrade your coffee grinder to a burr model.