Coffee guru Todd Carmichael's popular roasting and cafe business, La Colombe Torrefaction, started in Philadelphia and is now worldwide. To source his beans, Carmichael travels all over the globe, from Borneo to Bolivia – a hunt that is filmed for the Travel Channel's Dangerous Grounds. We asked Carmichael to find the best cold brewers that let you create gourmet iced lattes in your own kitchen.
Yama Cold Brew Drip Tower
Brewing iced coffee like your local barista is easier than it looks – if you have the right gear. To make a coffee-shop-quality cup, you'll need a brewer that gives a slow, steady drip over hours, the kind you find working behind the scenes at La Colombe, Stumptown or Blue Bottle. We asked coffee guru and Dangerous Grounds host Todd Carmichael to help us locate the best cold brewers to use at home, and after trying out a half dozen cold brewing contraptions, we found the best cup came from the Yama Cold Brew Drip Tower.
This 29-inch-high wood, brass, and glass contraption looks like a moonshiner's rig and takes eight hours to make 32 ounces of concentrate, but the coffee is perfect. "You get all of the aroma, and the bitterness stays locked in the grounds," says Carmichael. At $250, it's not cheap, but if you're a cold brew connoisseur, it's money well spent.
How to Make the Perfect Cup of Cold Brew
Here is exactly how we made our best cup with the Yama Drip Tower.
After making sure the valve is closed, add cold water over ice up to the bottom lip of the top chamber or until the ice is covered. The standard ratio is 1.8 grams of coffee to 1 oz of water, according to Clive Coffee, but the main rule is always to adjust your water-to-coffee levels as you wish if you don't like what you're tasting.
Fill the middle section with up to 100 g of medium-to-fine ground coffee. Then, place a circular, pre-wet filter on top so there's an even distribution of water. Turn the dripper valve to initiate the brew, until you see about one drop every second.
Making 32 oz of homemade cold brew? Be prepared to let it drip for about eight hours. Pour the finished product over a cup of ice and cut with 1 to 4 ounces of water per 8 ounce glass (adjusted to individual flavor preference).
Credit: Photograph by Michael Pirrocco