The History of Cold Brew Coffee

The history of summer’s favorite drink.

With summer in full swing, many coffee drinkers turn to cold brew coffee to get their morning fix. Delicious, thirst-quenching, and packed with caffeine, cold brew coffee is more popular than ever. But how did this powerful drink come to be? The answer is more complex than you might expect.

Coffee–Kyoto Style

The Japanese have been cold-brewing their coffee since the 1600s. Some people believe that the practice was passed on to the Japanese by Dutch traders who cold brewed their coffee to store on their ships. It was an easy way to keep large quantities to reheat later.

Whatever way the Japanese first discovered the cold brew method, it became immensely popular. The Kyoto style of cold brew may have changed over the years, but the current method is beautiful to watch. Water is dispensed, one drop at a time, through the coffee grounds and into a lower collection chamber. This brewing style creates coffee that is very aromatic with a light body, which is especially nice on a hot day.

Toddy—It’s All in the Name

Have you ever wondered why some people called their cold brew “toddy?” I did too.

In 1964, Todd Simpson, a chemical engineering student from Cornell, was introduced to a Peruvian-style of coffee extraction. It wasn’t long before inspiration struck. Simpson created and patented The Toddy. The system was first created with the same goal as the Dutch, to cold-brew coffee which would then be heated up before consumption. This would reduce the coffee’s acidity. Sensitive stomachs around the world rejoiced!

It wasn’t long before Simpson’s discovery was being used to create both hot and cold brewed coffee. Thus the modern era of cold brew coffee was born.

Re-discovery

The history of cold brew coffee is a circuitous journey filled with lots of re-discovery. As far as I can tell, different groups of people created this delicious beverage at different times, each thinking that they had been the first to discover it.

For example, a section in Scientific American reported the cold brew concept as early as 1847. They called it “essence of coffee” and deemed it “genuine stuff.” It seems that it was even bottled and available for purchase.

All of these stories of re-discovery have lead me to one conclusion: cold brew is a globally loved beverage. No matter what the reason, as a society, we will never be without our cold brewed coffee.

Cold Brew—What Top Pot Makes Today
Top Pot’s practice for making cold brewed coffee is called the immersion method. We combine coarse ground Guatemalan coffee and water, carefully monitoring the PH levels while steeping the mixture in a refrigerated environment at a consistent temperature for 24 hours.

It takes trial and error to find the perfect water-to-coffee ratio. Most experts say to start with 3/4 cup coffee beans for every 4 cups of water.

This process may seem time consuming, but it’s a small price to pay to create the delicious coffee you’ve come to consider your go-to summer drink.


When did you first discover cold brew coffee? What’s your favorite way to get your summer coffee fix? Let us know in the comments below.

We love making cold brew coffee, and we want to share that love with you. Make sure to check back in on the blog for details on an exciting cold brew happy hour coming soon to all cafes!

Top 5 Iced Drinks to Beat the Heat

Here are our picks for the top 5 iced drinks to keep you cool this summer.

The days are long, the sun is out, and everyone is looking for a way to beat the heat. It must be mid-summer. One sure-fire way to cool down on a hot day is with a delicious iced beverage. Here are our picks for the top 5 iced drinks to keep you cool this summer.

Italian Soda

Made with soda water, flavored syrup, and the optional cream and whipped cream, Italian sodas are more than just a good way to stay cool. These delicious handmade sodas are a work of art. The swirls of brightly colored flavor mixed with crystal clear soda water and fluffy white cream bring to mind something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Whether you’re in the mood for the sweet-but-tart zing of raspberry, or more of a creamy vanilla vibe, Italian sodas will always be a great choice.

Iced Ovaline Latte

The Ovaltine latte is a Top Pot specialty. We’ve been mixing up a combination of espresso and milk combined with Ovaltine’s delicious chocolate malt powder for years. Although it’s a regular drink for many of our customers, it’s sometimes over-looked as an iced drink.

Pro tip: Try it blended for an even cooler drink!

Sproda

Ah, the sproda. This popular drink can raise a few eyebrows due to its interesting name. Part espresso, part soda, the sproda is a carbonated beverage with espresso. It follows the same basic principles as an Italian soda. Carbonated water and espresso are a must, but flavored syrup, cream, and whipped cream are definitely suggested. As one customer said to me after his first taste of the sproda, “that is weird and amazing.”

Smoothies

It goes without saying that smoothies are always a great choice for summer. With endless flavor combinations and a base of healthy fruits and vegetables, what’s not to love? Any flavors can work well for a tasty smoothie, but you can really add bang for your buck by adding ground flax seeds, avocado, or even coconut oil to your drink. These additional ingredients will keep you feeling full even longer.

Cold Brew

When it comes to the perfect iced drink, nothing hits the spot quite like cold brewed coffee. Brewed in cold water for 12 hours, this thirst-quenching drink is packed with caffeine and will get your day started off on the right foot.

Pro tip: If you have a sweet tooth, add a little condensed milk to your cold brew to liven things up!

What’s your favorite iced drink for a summer day? Is there something we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

Father’s Day Special at Top Pot

Father’s Day is coming up and we want to honor all you dads out there with a Father’s Day gift card special.

Starting Monday, June 13, a $10 gift card can be purchased for only $5. Take dad out for his favorite doughnut and coffee and still have enough to get something for yourself. It’s our way of saying thank you for making your family part of Top Pot’s family.

This offer will run through Father’s Day, Sunday, June 19, and is available at all locations.


In the spirit of the holiday, I asked some of our younger patrons to tell me what they thought was their father’s favorite doughnut. Here are some of the answers:

“…I’m not sure what would be my dad’s favorite doughnut. I’m probably pretty sure he likes them all.” – Daniel, age 6

“Umm…I don’t know. I only know the ones that I like.” – Olivia, age 10

“My dad doesn’t eat doughnuts, he just drinks the… [whispers to dad] …the expresso” – Matt, age 8

“I eat the top and my dad eats the rest.” – Jackson, age 5

“If I had to guess, I’d say my dad is a cinnamon sugar old fashioned.” Katelyn, age 16

“Glazed because he’s big like the glazed doughnut.” Madison, age 8

Happy Father’s Day from all of us at Top Pot Doughnuts!

5 Things to Know About Top Pot Coffee

When you think of Top Pot, you probably think about hand-forged maple bars and delicious old fashioned doughnuts. What you may not know is that we’re also coffee roasters. Our passion for quality extends beyond our doughnuts and is reflected in every aspect of the roasting process.

Here are the five things to know about Top Pot coffee.

100% Arabica

There are many different varieties of coffee bean, but Top Pot’s coffee is made from 100% specialty grade Arabica coffees.

Arabicas have a wide taste range, but tend to be sweet and fruity in flavor. In comparison to Robusta (another commonly used type of coffee), these beans have almost double the concentration of sugars. They grow slowly, taking several years to mature. One tree can produce anywhere from one to twelve pounds of coffee a year.

From Latin America to Africa, our coffee is sourced from the best co-ops and estates in the world.

Small Batch Roasting

Top Pot coffee is roasted in small batches, by hand, on our traditional cast iron coffee roaster.

Small batch roasting means that we can pay attention to every detail of the roasting process. With our concentration so tightly focused, we’re able to respond to each batch’s needs and make sure every bean is the highest quality.

Over Ten Years of Hand-Roasting

Top Pot has been hand-roasting since 2002. All of our coffee is made in downtown Seattle at our 5th Avenue location.

A Wide Selection of Coffee

Top Pot is proud to offer 5 proprietary blends:

  • Diplomat (Drip)
  • El Presidente (Espresso)
  • Decaf (Drip and Espresso)
  • Federale (Drip and Espresso)
  • French Roast (Drip)

We also have a variety of single origin coffees and seasonal blends. Come by any of our cafes to check out the selection.

Our Philosophy

At Top Pot we believe that coffee should be allowed to speak for itself! That’s why we roast on the lighter side of the roast spectrum to let the subtle nuances of our coffee really come through in the cup. Most of our blends are a full city roast, which leaves the coffee at its sweetest. This allows the coffee’s distinct flavors to come through.

Stop by any Top Pot cafe and get a free 12 ounce cup of drip. Simply show the barista this blog post and bam! You’ll be caffeinated in no time. It’s just our way of saying, “Thanks for reading!” This offer is good through Sunday, May 29, 2016.