Toddy-style brewed iced coffee is better than hot drip for a few reasons. First of all, the acidity levels are lower in cold-brewed coffee, making it more drinkable in those indigestion-filled crunch times. It's also higher in caffeine, which means you pretty much only need one cup to keep you going through the workday. We love the more complex flavor of the toddy, which is why we had to know which local coffee roaster did it best.
In This Corner: Press Coffee Roasters
The Setup: Local news personality Tram Mai dipped her toes in the coffee roasting pool in 2008 and quickly expanded it to several other locations, including Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. The simple, bright coffee shop in Scottsdale Quarter is a great place to chill out and grab a cup of joe while shopping.
The Good: Press offers several different sizes for toddy so you can caffeinate exactly to your specifications. Unfortunately, we weren't wild about the product we got.
The Bad: For an iced coffee, Press' toddy would be run-of-the-mill. However, for boutique-roasted beans with special brewing techniques, the bitterness of their toddy was just baffling. It pretty much just tasted like a hot-brewed drip that had been iced.
In The Other Corner: Cartel Coffee Lab
The Setup: We've been Cartel addicts for years. With recent expansions, the small, cave-like coffee house has developed into a more open and light space. While the extra seating doesn't help how packed Cartel always seems to be, the crowd should indicate just why the no frills cafe has stuck around so long.
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SHOW ME HOW
The Good: Walking into Cartel, there's a good chance they'll be roasting their beans right then and there. You can tell by the intoxicating smell when it's roasting time and that time (and smell) is probably one of the best things about Tempe's Maple Ash neighborhood. The toddy itself is made just how it should be -- cold-brewed in specially made toddy bags for 24 hours to assure maximum caffeination. One sip of a toddy straight-up reveals a nutty, roasty complex flavor that doesn't even seem possible for just an iced coffee drink.
The Bad: When we're trying to get work done, we gulp down toddies quicker than is probably medically advisable. Too many toddies can definitely cause super-shaky hands and small stress freak-outs, but that's not really Cartel's fault. Just remember to drink responsibly.
And the winner is... Cartel. There's no comparison. Though both places roast their own beans, Cartel clearly knows a thing or two more about brewing toddy to make it a flavorful and addicting summer time drink.