- Brew Quality (50%)7.2/10
- Design (15%)8.8/10
- Ease of Use (35%)8.7/10
- Brew Quality (50%)10.0/10
- Design (15%)9.4/10
- Ease of Use (35%)8.0/10
The Coffee Bear cold brew coffee maker is practically identical to the Coffee Gator. The difference is the Coffee Bear tries to stand out with a silicone base pad which is badly designed, and the black filter makes it difficult to see any coffee oils during cleaning. As much as it tries, Coffee Bear doesn’t really salvage much to bolster its less-than-average brewing capability. Coffee Gator, meanwhile, has some nice value-added extras.
The Toddy System, on the other hand, is a free-style cold brew coffee maker that produces a top-quality cold brew concentrate. It requires a fair bit of space on a fridge shelf to brew but after decanting, the stylish carafe can go into the refrigerator door. If you require in-door brewing, there are better options than both Coffee Bear and Coffee Gator. A glass carafe with a stainless steel filter is a more versatile option since it can be used to brew hot tea.
- Bouquet (10%)7.0/10
- Drinkability (70%)7.0/10
- Sediment (20%)8.0/10
- Bouquet (10%)10/10
- Drinkability (70%)10/10
- Sediment (20%)10/10
The Coffee Bear produced a somewhat medium-strength bouquet. It had a slight roasted note and a hint of woodiness. It had none of the complexity that you would get from a brewer that makes a real cold brew concentrate.
Like a good wine, the first thing you want to note about a cold brew coffee is the bouquet. Our three coffee appreciators found that the Toddy created a rich and complex bouquet. Hearty and bright notes complemented sharp and deep ones. The sweeter notes also tended to be more floral.
The Coffee Bear brew was reasonable. It was of medium strength and we felt it was best to drink undiluted. There was a slight sweetness to the aftertaste, but overall it was not so full-bodied. There was little discernible difference between this brew and that of the almost identical product, the Coffee Gator.
The Toddy Cold Brew System recommends a 1:2 or a 1:3 dilution. We chose a 1:2 ratio (one part coffee to two parts water) based on a sampling of the initial brew strength.
The Toddy has so far produced the most complex flavor balance of any device we’ve tested. The overall flavor was full-bodied and well-rounded. Roasted, nutty, and chocolate flavors were strong, with a somewhat sweetish aftertaste. There was no single overpowering flavor. Our tasters also picked up a very slight bitterness and sourness.
The Toddy brew quality was excellent all around with perhaps the most complex flavor balance of any device tested.
After allowing the brew to settle and decanting a second time, there was a moderate amount of fine sediment left behind. This was in line with the quality and design of the brewer, but you may want to decant the brew a second time yourself for a smoother drink.
While the Toddy Cold Brew System scored low in terms of the filter’s practicality and ease of use, the brew nevertheless had minimal sediment. The Toddy filter has proven one of the best we’ve seen in our testing program. Our initial test used the reusable felt filter which plugs into the bottom of the brew vessel. You can also use a paper brew bag or even double filtration if you wish.
- Stopper / Lid (30%)10/10
- Filter (40%)8.0/10
- Build Quality (30%)8.5/10
- Stopper / Lid (30%)10/10
- Filter (40%)9.0/10
- Build Quality (30%)9.5/10
In the Box
- Box WDH: 6.7 x 4.7 x 9.2 inches
- Assembled glass brewer
- Instruction leaflet in Brewer
- Product message card
Coffee Bear is a good-looking cold brew coffee maker. We liked its handy size and solid design. The design, as well as the box packaging, is almost identical to Coffee Gator. There are no other extras in the package except the brew guide and care manual all on one leaflet. The greeting card by ‘the founders’ seemed a little contrived.
- Box WDH: 7.5 x 7.5 x 11.8 inches
- Brew vessel with detachable handle
- Decanter with suction lid
- Silicone lid
- 2 felt reusable filters
- 3 paper brew bags
- Silicone stopper
- Product manual
The Toddy Cold Brew System is not only well-boxed, but also ecologically packaged with no unnecessary plastics. The decanter flask sits neatly in the brew vessel and a flip lid with a hole secures the flask in place.
The latest Toddy Brew System includes three sample paper brew bags. These can be used as alternatives to the felt filter, for extra filtration, or for tea brewing. The product manual breaks down how to do each.
- Heightwith Stopper Lid:10 in (255 mm)
- Base Diameter:3.9 in (100 mm)
- Width:6.7 in (170 mm)
- Weight:30.0 oz (850 g)
- Material:borosilicate glass, silicone
The brew decanter is quite solid and appears well-made. The silicone base, although non-slip, was not the most perfectly level. On careful examination, the Coffee Bear carafe, without the silicone base, is slightly shorter than the Coffee Gator.
- Heightwith Stopper Lid:8.7
- Base Diameter:5.1
- Weight:1.4 oz (40 g)
- Material:borosilicate glass
The elegant decanter is quite eye-catching. The ringed neck is easy to grip and pour from, but with a full-brew weight of around 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg), you should use both hands. A key design feature is its height — it measures just as tall as the brew vessel, meaning it can fit the same space in your fridge.
Stopper / Lid
- Diameter:4.3 in (110 mm)
- Material:BPA-free plastic
- Additional Features:2 white silicone gaskets
The screw-on plastic rim and lid are a very practical design. There are two silicone gaskets, but in comparison, it doesn’t screw on as easily as the Coffee Gator’s. The handle is likewise somewhat small and uncomfortable to grip.
- Diameter:3.5 in (90 mm)
- Material:low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
- Additional Features:N/A
The stopper is another excellent design feature of the Toddy. It sits slightly above the rim, thus protecting the rim from above. The stopper also has a clever suction design and the fit is perfectly secure and airtight.
- Length:7.5 in (190 mm)
- Diameter:2.5 in (65 mm)
- Material:Black plastic, nylon mesh
- Additional Features:Detachable base
The detachable base of the filter is not unique since we’ve encountered this design before. One drawback is it takes time to drain out all the liquid. Furthermore, a permeable base could possibly help in developing a better brew quality. We were eager to see what our test results would bring.
- Diameter:2.7 in (70 mm)
- Material:felt filter x 2
- Additional Features:3 paper brew bags
There are two types of filters you can use. Both are a healthy and environmental choice. The felt filter can be used up to 10 times. Newer models now include three unbleached paper filter bags. You can use a bag in lieu of a felt plug or in addition to it. The bag filter is perfect for finely ground coffee and for brewing tea. You can easily buy filter pads, Toddy brand filter bags, or generic replacements online.
Overall we were satisfied with the build quality. The silicone base, however, seemed less than the best. Compared to the almost identical Coffee Gator, the thread quality of the lid seemed not as good nor the filter assembly as smooth. Zoopolitics aside, we felt that the build quality of the Coffee Bear was not quite up to that of the contending Coffee Gator. Not a lion’s roar of a difference, but Coffee Bear also has fewer value-added extras.
The Toddy is made from safe, durable, high-quality materials. We particularly liked the quality of the decanter, and the design of the decanter stopper is excellent. The silicone lid is very practical, but we, like many reviewers, felt that the handle build could be improved. The packaging is very minimal and also environmentally friendly. If anything goes wrong, Toddy offers spare parts on their website.
Ease of Use
- Brewing (45%)8.5/10
- Decanting (35%)9.0/10
- Cleaning and Storage (20%)8.5/10
- Brewing (45%)8.0/10
- Decanting (35%)7.5/10
- Cleaning and Storage (20%)9.0/10
Brewing was a simple process of attaching the filter to the ring neck and then pouring in the grounds. The recommended amount of grounds is 95 g (3.3 oz) which is just below the mesh line.
You can pour in the grounds, but the last few inches may require a spoon. We used the silicon funnel and stainless steel measuring spoon from the similar Coffee Gator brewer. It was a lot easier but the Coffee Bear does not come with these useful little extras.
We also found that for a small refrigerator, we had to remove the silicone base for the Coffee Bear to fit in the door. Furthermore, the base is cumbersome to reattach especially if the carafe is full.
The Toddy Cold Brew System’s felt filter demands a bit more precision than most other brewers. You must add water and grounds in a staggered manner and be careful not to stir the contents. Also, it takes some time to properly wet the grounds by gently pushing them down and mixing in.
If you use a paper bag filter for brewing, it’s a lot easier. Just add the grounds and water, and you can stir around the contents all you want. If you try to stir without the paper bag, the felt filter will clog. The process takes a few brews to master.
The lack of measurement markings on the brew vessel is an unfortunate oversight. Therefore, we had to weigh grounds for each brewing. The brewer vessel may also be a bit heavy for some. We found it best to carry with two hands, but removing the detachable handle made it easier to fit the refrigerator.
We experienced no issues with decanting. After slowly removing the neck ring, we checked the filter and it was still securely attached. It’s best to detach the filter immediately and leave the remaining liquid to drain into another container. We rinsed the neck ring, resealed the carafe, and refrigerated again. Our next step was to do our brew score testing for bouquet, drinkability, and sediment.
- Total height when decanting: 15 in (380 mm)
Decanting is simple enough. You hold the brew vessel by the handle, pull the stopper, and slip it onto the decanter. The liquid won’t immediately come out, so it’s unlikely to make a mess.
We found, however, that the lively stream can slow to a steady drip. The felt plug filter was temperamental. We actually had to remove the contents of the brew vessel, clean the filter, and then resume. Decanting can thus take 20 to 40 minutes.
Alternatively, you can use a paper bag filter. This works out better and decanting takes 20 minutes or less.
The filter pad, despite its drawbacks, produced the best filtration results. It may also help remove coffee oils, especially if you use an additional paper brew bag. The biggest disadvantage is that you’ll need to continue buying replacement filters and/or bags.
Cleaning and Storage
Cleaning is about as straightforward as decanting. We detached the base of the filter, shook out the grounds, and rinsed thoroughly. Afterward, we gently cleaned inside with a bottle brush and outside with a non-abrasive sponge. The black plastic containing the mesh filter makes it hard to see where the coffee oils are. The carafe can be cleaned by hand, but larger hands may not fit inside.
The instructions say all parts are dishwasher friendly. We, however, disagree, feeling only the glass carafe should be put in a dishwasher.
- Storage diameter: 8.6 in (220 mm)
- Storage height: 11 in (280 mm)
The Toddy Cold Brew System has minimal components, so storage is straightforward. The brew vessel is easy to clean and all parts can go into a dishwasher, but hand washing is recommended for a longer lifespan.
The decanter neck is wide enough for all but the largest of hands to reach in and clean. It fits comfortably into the brew vessel for storage. Since the silicone lid is flexible, it too slips in nicely.
The felt filter, however, must be placed in a plastic bag while wet and then put into the refrigerator, which is a little inconvenient. You can easily keep the silicone stopper in the brew vessel when not in use, or place it into the empty decanter.