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[Photo: Robyn Lee]

Growlers: they're not just for lugging beer anymore. As you may have seen The New York Times, you can now score a growler (64 ounces!) of cold-brewed ice coffee at Nolita Mart and Birch Coffee in New York.

At Birch, the 64-ounce growler costs $20 the first time, though once you own the growler, you can trade in your empty for a filled one for $15. (And yes, you have to buy their growler, you can't bring in a random beer growler for filling.)

20110428birchnewsign.jpgIs buying a growler a good deal? At $20, the cold brewed coffee is about 31 cents an ounce for straight coffee. If you bought individual cups instead, you'd pay $3.50 for a small 16 ounce cup, but you have to include the fact that at least 6 ounces of that cup is ice. So you're probably getting 8 to 10 ounces of coffee, and it's costing you about 35 to 44 cents an ounce if you buy it by the cup.

The folks at Birch say the growler is good for up to two months in the fridge, so it may be much more convenient to have the growler around than to stop by the cafe every day. (Or maybe you're just lazy enough to justify it.) If you're getting coffee for the whole office, this is much easier to lug than a tray of cups.

The important part: how does it taste?

It's just about perfect. Birch's Filtron-brewed coffee, made from beans roasted at Coffee Labs, is earthy and smooth, intense, but not at all burnt-tasting, with pleasant chocolate notes. It's happy with milk or black, and it's delicately fruity, without the tart acidity that's too common in lesser iced coffees. It's strong stuff, and delicious enough that you may find yourself a little wired too fast.

Birch Coffee

5 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016 (between Madison and 5th Avenue; map)
212-686-1444; birchcoffee.com

Do It Yourself!

Prefer to make your own cold brew? Here's how »

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