Filtron 30L/30LD and comparables
by John Frum
I first heard about cold brew systems when I began researching alternatives to Starbucks' new instant coffee packets, including single-brew machines like Keurig's, and concentrates like NO Brew and Cool Brew.
I'd already had a Senseo and liked it, but that wasn't quite what I wanted. Keurigs abound, at places like doctors' offices and even auto repair shops, and they're clearly comparable to pod systems but at a higher price point, so it was out.
I'd tried the Cool Brew concentrate, and while convenient it had a definite "wang", as if there is alcohol in the mix even though there is nothing there but coffee and water. Maybe it's the plastic in the packaging.
From comments made about cold brew systems it was clear that this was something to try. Low acid. Low oil (who hasn't noticed the sheen floating atop the surface of their coffee?). What's not to like?
It became quickly apparent that, while the Toddy was the original cold brew system, the biggest seller was probably the Filtron
, if only as indicated by the number and quality of comments made at places like Amazon.com. I bought one--and loved it.
Functionally, the Filtron and the Toddy are virtually the same. It was difficult to decide between the two. I prefer white color of the Toddy, and the carafe that comes with the Filtron. The prices are comparable, so close as to be negligible. Unique to the Filtron is a concentrate dispenser, available with the "D" model. In retrospect, it isn't worth the extra $5 Filtron charges for it.
About two weeks after buying the Filtron I used it to make a couple of batches of concentrate in advance of a party. The person who helped us with preparations either misplaced or disposed of some of the parts of the Filtron. Being hooked on cold-brewed coffee by then, I immediately rushed out to a local retailer (Walgreens) who was selling the Ronco Coffee Time cold brew system in its "As
Seen On TV" section, and bought a couple of them. The price was equal to that of ten packets of Starbucks instant coffee, and by experience with the Filtron I had every reason to expect the results to be superior to Starbucks' in-store brew. So why not get two? In the very least one might make a dandy gift, for which I would be thanked profusely later.
The Ronco actually has a couple of advantages over the Filtron: being constructed of hard plastic, it feels more stable in the hand, and being white and smaller, it is less obvious when "at work" in the kitchen. It has a considerable disadvantage compared with the Filtron, however: being half the size, and having half the capacity, it must be refilled and reused twice as often as the Filtron. In addition, the people at Filtron are serious coffee enthusiasts who put a lot more information and advice about the cold brewing process in with the packaging for the Filtron cold brew system as do the infomercial marketeers at Ronco. (Ron, don't get me wrong: I love ya, especially if you're going to make a product as great as the Coffee Time!)
Having read all of Filtron's information, though, and not minding having to process cold-brew coffee continually, the Ronco system suits my needs well. And, having two of them, I should be able to manage the coffee brewing needs of large affairs as with a larger machine.
Frankly, everything a Toddy or Filtron or Ronco or Hourglass (much too limited capacity for my needs) does could be provided for much less cost by a large funnel, a rubber stopper, a thick felt pad, and a receptacle. All of which I had already.
Filtron apparently now also manufactures a "Pro" version cold brew system
that is capable of making 10-12 quarts of concentrate at a time. Hmm...tempting.
There are other manufacturers as well who cater to the restaurant industry, whose machines accept pre-packaged concentrate. But that's another story.