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Toddy Talk: Specialty coffee shops offer a cold coffee drink that's irresistible in any weather 

Meet the Toddy, the perfect summer coffee drink.

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This week, I sat down with a few baristas from specialty coffee shops, Lone Pine Coffee Roasters and Backporch Coffee Roasters, to talk about Toddy, a cold-brewed coffee drink.

While recent weather trends might be delaying your annual transition from hot to iced coffee drinks, I urge you to try Toddy, which bears no relation to the cocktail of a similar name. You'll never order iced coffee again.

Lone Pine opened the Toddy season back in early April and sold out in just two days. Backporch barista Nolan Keith Parker remembers racing over to Lone Pine after he caught wind of their first batch of Toddy. It's not uncommon to spot a barista from one shop at the other shop, a sign of their camaraderie rather than a lack of loyalty.

"They're always excited to come in and try what we have," explained Lone Pine barista, Kaycee Anseth.

"There's no Jets-and-Sharks action going on. [We're] brothers in arms, for sure," added Parker.

Lone Pine and Backporch share many principles and practices from sourcing to roasting, and both deliver excellent coffee in their own style. The coffee used to make Lone Pine's Toddy rotates, a great way to get to know the flavor profiles of various coffees, while Backporch uses El Salvador Finca Las De Lucias, one of their two direct-trade coffees and have begun bottling their Toddy this season and the product will soon be available at local retailers.

Both shops are in the business of educating their clientele about coffee.

"For most of the general public, coffee is this big mystery," said Parker, "and [they think] you have to go meditate on top of a mountain for seven years to be able to understand it, but if you can wrap your head around some basic things, it starts to make sense."

Specialty coffee shops like these are engaging the dominant corporate coffee culture that has alienated coffee fans from a deeper understanding of this magical bean.

"Seattle, unfortunately, kind of screwed coffee," explained Parker, "The whole Seattle mentality is that medium dark is where coffee should be and that's where you get a lot of people saying, 'I like French Roast, something strong and bold,' which are all buzz words created by Starbucks. Then, in the last five to ten years, people started experimenting with lighter and lighter roasts."

The argument is that a dark roast essentially burns the bean and kills off a lot of flavor, while a lighter roast is able to bring out the unique essence of each coffee.

While iced coffee generally involves sacrificing some flavor to satisfy that summer craving for cold drinks, the Toddy brewing method - extracting the coffee with room- temperature water over a 16-to-18-hour period to produce a high concentration coffee that is then cut with ice and water - does not. Toddy is smooth, refreshing and has less bitterness and acidity. In fact, Todd Simpson, Toddy's namesake, developed the Toddy maker when he discovered that his coffee-intolerant mother could stomach coffee made from a cold-brewed concentrate.

Parker describes the Backporch Toddy as "extremely chocolaty with some almond flavors." Bernie Dively of Lone Pine gets some chocolate flavors as well, along with an oaky wine, while Townsend described the smells and tastes as being reminiscent of barns, "it has that kind of sweet alfalfa grassy smell to me, one of the best smells on the planet."

Once you've tried the Toddy, I highly recommend trying some of the other delicious cold coffee drinks these shops offer that you won't find anywhere else in town, like Backporch's Americola, espresso and Mexican Coca Cola on ice. Lone Pine has a house-made chai with freshly ground spices that is wonderful iced and the Icy Spicy, house-made chili-infused chocolate, espresso and milk over ice. They also offer a refreshing non-coffee drink called a Fruit Shrub, fruit-infused apple cider vinegar with a tiny bit of simply syrup and sparkling water.


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