One of the main functions of my life that keeps me on the broke side is coffee. Specifically, espresso drinks. I have my winter drinks, like soy caramel lattes and peppermint mochas, but in the summertime (starting in early March, which indicates a pretty generous use of the word “summertime”) is iced mochas. Triple iced mochas, if we’re being honest, and my favorite baristas start making it as soon as I pull up because I am not adventurous when it comes to coffee. Nope, same thing every time for me, please!
Honeymoon Bay Coffee ruined me. Not only do they roast coffee in a vintage, cast iron roaster right in the damn store (of which there is one) and use dark chocolate for their mochas, but they freeze their day old, in-house drip coffee in ice cubes – then use them for iced coffee drinks.
Like… did that just blow your mind? Because it’s been almost 6 years since I started going to Honeymoon Bay Coffee and I’m still getting over how genius that is. That’s a sustainable move, too, because they’re not wasting their unused coffee and in return, they are hooking customers like me for life. But the most important layer of this coffee cake is: no more diluted coffee! Your coffee literally never gets gross and watery because the only thing melting into it is more coffee!
So, I am drinking these actually, literally, technically perfect iced mochas all summer, and at $4 each, that absolutely adds up. My boyfriend is just as obsessed as I am, so that’s $8 plus tip, and I always give $1 per drink – $10 every time we need a fix. If I only get this precious coffee three times per week, that’s $120 month.
As much as I want to support this badass small business, I have to hover above the “dangerously broke” line at a nice, sustainable “functionally broke.” A $10/day coffee habit isn’t going to help me do that.
I had to learn how to make perfect iced mochas at home.
Luckily, I am 100% willing to put in the time, effort, and experimentation to figure this out because it involves coffee + saving money. What could be more motivating? After years of trial and error, I finally got it. Now, I’m enjoying iced mochas every day from my own kitchen, and it’s costing me under $0.75 per drink.
Here’s what you need to make perfect iced mochas:
- 12 oz. of whole bean coffee (or coarse ground, if you need to grind it at the store)
- A coffee or spice grinder
- Toddy Cold Brew System (or any other cold brew system, tbh)
- A scale that measures weight in ounces
- A container to weigh coffee in (like a glass bowl)
- A liquid measuring cup
- Plastic wrap
- Ice cube tray(s)
Then, for the actual mocha-building, you’ll need:
- Chocolate Sauce
- Milk of choice
Let’s call a spade a spade, this is grown-up chocolate milk.
High-functioning caffeine addicts, this is truly the post for you because I’m also going to utilize another coffee obsession: the Toddy Cold Brew system.
The Toddy Cold Brew Coffee system consists of a plastic bucket-like container with a removable handle, a glass carafe with air-expelling lid, two thick filters, and two rubber stoppers. The idea is that you let coffee sit in cold water for a really long time – like a full 24 hours – and then you send it through a thick filter into the carafe, which you seal and keep in the fridge.
This method totally eliminates the harsh bite (or tannins) that hot brewed coffee can have. I notice the harshness of coffee more when it’s iced, too, so that makes cold brew coffee perfect for our perfect iced mochas.
People who are hardcore budget masters are going to look at this system and say “$34.95 to put coffee grounds in water? There has to be a way to do this without buying this dumb system,” and those people would be right.
I’m positive that you could figure out how to perfect this technique using a mason jar and some cheesecloth, but I love the thoughtful design put into the Toddy system and the pitch black coffee concentrate (aka C4, also explosive) and also I got this for Christmas a few years ago. So I’m half snobby, half lazy over here.
If you have a different cold brew system, just skip this big part about how to use the Toddy Cold Brew Coffee System.
Here’s the basic rundown of what needs to happen to make the cold brew coffee:
Put them into the Toddy thing in a particularly layered fashion
Cover them up with water
Wait a bunch of time
Pull the bottom plug in an unbelievably satisfying event
Wait a bunch of time while it filters out
If you’re okay with two periods of “wait a bunch of time,” we’re going to be just fine. That being said, it also means you need to start this process about 24 hours before you want to iced mocha your life away.
Preparing the Toddy bucket requires three moves – the first and most important being the plug on the bottom: forgetting to put this in first will make everything that comes afterwards 100% more messy and terrible. So plug that sucker, ASAP.
Then, you want to put the circular filter into the bottom of the bucket-Toddy-tub and cover it with one cup of water.
This allows the filter to soak up that water and get all of the air out. You can help the filter saturate by lightly tapping the bucket on the countertop. You’ll see little tiny air bubbles escape.
That’s it! Your tapped-Toddy-bucket-system is ready for coffee to be put into it.
Here’s the coffee I used:
NOTES OF CHOCOLATE, YOU SAY? PERFECT. AGAIN.
Tony’s Coffee also roasts their coffee here in Washington State. This Backcountry Blend just so happens to be fair trade which is my favorite label to see on any consumer good ever. Coffee is one of the most important things to buy fair trade, the coffee industry is rife with labor abuse! But that’s a rant for Snapchat, not for a post about delicious iced mochas.
The right thing to do would have been to use Honeymoon Bay Coffee for this – both as the drip coffee and the cold brew concentrate – but Tony’s organic & fair trade coffee was marked down from $11 to $7.99… What can I say? I’m an ethical bargain junkie.
Obviously, the next step is to grind it. I mean, for me the next step is to grind my coffee it because I bought whole bean coffee and have a swanky grinder. A swanky grinder that, again, I received as a gift. Because I am too cheap to buy nice things for myself sometimes even though having them will eventually save me money (but am trying to fix that!).
This is the Cuisinart Burr Grinder and it’s very nice coffee grinder. It is also very dirty because I took the above photo after I had ground an entire bag of coffee. At least it’s realistic!
The coffee grinder holds a full bag of coffee (12oz.) and allows you to finely tune the grind. The top container holds the whole coffee beans and also serves as the knob that selects your grind. By twisting it, you can select any spot between finely ground (for espresso and Turkish coffee) and coarse (French press & whatever else you use coarse coffee for). We’re going to put it kind of on the middle, on the fine side.
Get your scale set up and ready to go, too, because you’ll be weighing out six ounces of coffee at a time to layer into the Toddy system. In my Cuisinart Burr Grinder, I set it to grind enough coffee to make 18 cups (the maximum on the grinder) and it took about 2 grind sessions to get to six ounces.
Six ounces of beautiful, freshly ground coffee. You can imagine how my kitchen smells at this point!
After you’ve got that bowl of dirt perfectly up to six ounces, gently dump the coffee grounds into your Toddy bucket and add three cups of cold, preferably (but not necessarily) filtered water over the top. Try to pour the water in circular motions around the grounds because dumping it all right into the middle can mess with the filter.
Next step – rinse and repeat! Another six ounces of coffee grounds should go into the bucket along with another three (or four) cups of water.
The Toddy handbook would recommend that you wait 5-10 minutes between rounds of grounds (omg I’m delighted with myself right now) and would suggest that you limit the water to only 3 cups. I, on the other hand, am poor and want to maximize what I get out of this, so I actually add one to two more cups of water to fill the bucket almost all the way up. It gets covered with plastic at the end and it looks like thick sludge which prevents easy spilling, so it doesn’t seem to have any negative results. Plus, the coffee is still drop-your-balls strong so no problems there, either. But if you want to create the truest Toddy cold brew, follow the rules!
Me? I’m waiting 3 minutes and dumping in the grounds and then adding a bunch of extra water. #noregrets
There you go! You should have a gross, sludge-like mess that looks like this:
Yuuuuuuum. The next step is to cover it with plastic wrap. This will help you to push any dry coffee grounds under the murky water so it’s sure to give up all of its delicious caffeine… and flavor or whatever.
Now – the wait. The waiting is the hardest part. You should let your Toddy cold brew sit untouched and definitely unsampled for 18-24 hours. Yes, I really mean it.
I have tried only 8 hours, I’ve tried 12 – you really just need to let it sit. It’s 100% worth it and will pay off by potentially caffeinating you for weeks. If you let it sit for less time, it will be more diluted and won’t last as long. You want this to be like a carafe full of fresh espresso shots, and if you let it sit, that’s exactly what it will be.
Oh, and for the love of God check on that plug. If it’s leaking, your life is over, my life is over, our families will leave us and everything will be awful.
That being said, if it is leaking, I fully support you trying to jam it in there any way possible. You can’t undo what you just did with the coffee and the water and whatnot – protect it with your life. Or turn a glass over on the countertop and set the Toddy bucket on top, using the weight of the bucket to push the plug further in. Can you tell I have struggled with this before?
Set it in a cool-ish place overnight (garages are good), or if your ass is REAL FANCY, keep the bucket in your fridge to ensure that the cold brew process is as cold as possible (resulting in the smoothest of smooth coffees).
I hope you don’t think you’re done because the next step in this process is making those damned addictive coffee ice cubes. I hope you have some leftover coffee hanging around. I, on the other hand, brew coffee specifically for making these ice cubes because, like I said, Honeymoon Bay ruined me. Please let that be my epitaph.
Now this is a fun process to photograph by yourself: filling up ice cube trays with cold coffee.
Okay, a little shaky but doing well…
So fill those bad boys up and put them in your freezer overnight – conveniently the same amount of time you’ll be waiting PATIENTLY for your Toddy to brew! Each ice tray will make enough ice cubes to fill one quart-sized freezer bag.
(Fast forward sound effects and/or lightspeed & wormhole visuals.)
Welcome to the next morning! Were you able to sleep while your coffee nirvana was being created? Me, neither!
Carefully grab your Toddy bucket and put it over the unpretentiously badass glass carafe that comes with the set. Pull that plug (and enjoy the hell out of it) and watch the coffee slowly filter through and fill up your carafe. It takes about 15 minutes to go through that thick, dense filter which means no coffee grounds in your cold brew! It’s, again, worth the wait.
Started from the bottom, now we’re here.
Just for simplicity’s sake (and so you can copy/paste this to your boyfriend so he can do it his own damn self once in a while) here are the full directions:
- Plug the bottom of the Toddy bucket, and place the filter inside.
- Add 1 cup of cold, filtered water and gently tap the bucket to get air bubbles out. Let sit while you prep the coffee.
- Add 6 ounces of medium-coarse coffee grounds to the bucket. DO NOT STIR. EVER.
- Cover with 3 cups of cold, filtered water.
- Add another 6 ounces of medium-coarse coffee grounds to the bucket. OMG DON’T STIR.
- Add 3-4 cups of cold, filtered water in a circular motion over the top.
- Cover with plastic wrap and gently push the dry ground under the water line.
- Let sit for 18-24 hours.
Eight-ish easy steps.
Ready to check out those coffee ice cubes?
BAM – caffeine compounded! Let’s build some iced mochas!
To make the perfect iced mocha, you’ll have to fiddle with the ratios of milk, chocolate, and coffee – mine goes like this:
- Add 1-2 oz. (about 1/4 cup) of Toddy cold brew concentrate to a glass, or your Dad’s favorite insulated cup that he got for free from his insurance agent.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of your favorite chocolate sauce. I doctor up this easy recipe to make my own.
- Add a splash of half & half (totally optional but adds a guiltless decadence).
- Add 1-2 cups of milk – I like unsweetened almond milk.
- 1-3 coffee ice cubes plunked in at the end and you’re done!
Keep the Toddy cold brew concentrate lid on at all times (it’s great for getting extra air out of the jar which extends the freshness) and keep it in your fridge. Since you only need 1-2 ounces of it at a time, it should last you a week or more! We are fiends over here, so we go through this carafe in about a week, but if you have self-control, it should last you quite a bit longer.