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the most eco and last coffee maker - cowgirl coffee  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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First I have to confess that I am coffee's bitch.

When I was 18 I went to the doctor because of hundreds of blisters all over my hands. He said "you drink a lot of coffee, don't you?" Yes, about three pots a day. Plus mountain dew.

I've eliminated caffeine from my diet many times in my life, and those were really unproductive years. So now, I have exactly one cup of coffee each morning and no more.

I seem to have burned through lots of different coffee makers over the decades. And about five years ago became rather passionate about eliminating plastic from my life. I ended up using french presses that were just glass and stainless steel. But the glass seemed to break a lot. And it seemed like the "all glass and stainless steel" worked out to have some bits of plastic somewhere that would wear out. Then I would be on the hunt again for a french press that was truly plastic free.

One time when my french press broke, I switched over to something similar. I put the coffee and hot water in a glass measuring cup:



amazon
NOTE! Make sure that you get "anchor" and not "pyrex". We have both - the pyrex measuring cup always leaves a big mess!

And then over my cup I put this "extra fine" "for life" tea strainer thing:



amazon


Which worked great. Really great. Zero plastic. Easier to clean. I now own less stuff. Far less breakable. I cannot think of a reason why anything else could possibly be superior.

I think that this solution can last a hundred years. Therefore, it strikes me as frugal and eco. Plus I'm not having to clean up broken glass or spend time researching/buying something along these lines again.

Update: since the stuff before the filter is often called "cowboy coffee", we have called the process with the filter "cowgirl coffee".

 
Cj Sloane
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I would take it a step further and eliminate the measuring cup!

During my breadmaking phase, I decided to weigh all of my ingredients like the rest of the world! Only Americans measure by volume which is extremely variable. I've found that this cuts down on washing because I don't dirty cups and teaspoons & so on.

So, put your cup on a scale, put in the coffee and pour the hot water straight from the kettle into the cup. Bingo, 50% less dirty dishes.

ps I also switched to metric units which somehow makes me a "hippy" according to hubby, annal according to my son!
 
paul wheaton
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Well, I already have the measuring cup. And I am a lousy cook, so I do need to measure stuff. Plus, I think the coffee needs to brew for a bit. The coffee and hot water sits in the measuring cup for a while and then I pour it all through the filter.

 
Adam Briggs
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Is this not the same concept as a french press? http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=french+press
 
Kim Bozarth
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This is uncanny to have this message drop into my inbox today. I just broke the carafe on my french press so today put coffee and water into a big jar and then after letting it sit poured it through a fine sieve. It was way too strong so I deemed it Cafe Americano and added hot water for a decent cup of coffee. I'd be interested in ideas on the proper coffee to water ratio.
 
paul wheaton
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Adan Cristobal wrote:Is this not the same concept as a french press? http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=french+press


Kinda.

That's the issue: I've burned through about five french presses. About one per year. That's too much consumerism for me.


 
paul wheaton
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Kim Bozarth wrote:This is uncanny to have this message drop into my inbox today. I just broke the carafe on my french press so today put coffee and water into a big jar and then after letting it sit poured it through a fine sieve. It was way too strong so I deemed it Cafe Americano and added hot water for a decent cup of coffee. I'd be interested in ideas on the proper coffee to water ratio.


Cosmic!

I currently don't measure. I need to find a stainless spoon with a short handle to fit in my mason-jar-o-coffee so I can measure.


 
Adam Briggs
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paul wheaton wrote:
Adan Cristobal wrote:Is this not the same concept as a french press? http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=french+press


Kinda.

That's the issue: I've burned through about five french presses. About one per year. That's too much consumerism for me.


Understood. Actually, now that you bring it up, I have broken french presses before, quite easily. So, there you go.
 
Tim Crowhurst
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My parents have several of those deep strainers. They use them for home-grown herbal teas - mint, lemonbalm and nettle. They put the strainer in the mug with the fresh leaves in, then pour the water in on top and let it brew. That way no measuring jug is needed. There's no reason you couldn't do the same with coffee. You'd lose the crema, but unless you're a complete coffee snob I doubt that will matter to you.
 
Rick Valley
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I do cowboy coffee when I'm not going for the full deal- a half-caf double latte or a cafe en leche, or a Turkish with baklava.
slightly coarse grounds- drip grind at max, and a bit of dried, crushed egg shell (with the eggwhite dried on) bring the water to boil, through in the coffee and pull the pot off the heat and throw it the egg shell bits. a slight shake of the pot helps the process. The albumin in the egg shell will flocculate the grounds and facilitate settling. The calcium might help neutralize tannins (?) when it's cool enough to drink pour it off to a cup and sip through yer mustache to catch any stray grounds. A little roast chicory root in the mix ain't bad- some say it's tradition. A high elevation grown coffee, low acid, light roast, REALLY strong, is my choice, for extra caffeine and anti-oxidant content.
Disclosure: I may be caffeine's bitch, but I mostly drink Camellia sinensis infusion; I can grow that shit myself, I'm West of the Cascades. for me, coffee's for special occasions, like waking up by a granite-bound alpine tarn and watching flow patterns in the mist swirling on the water's surface, or getting cranked to stay up for a hip-hop show.
 
Adam Briggs
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Rick Valley wrote:I do cowboy coffee when I'm not going for the full deal- a half-caf double latte or a cafe en leche, or a Turkish with baklava.
slightly coarse grounds- drip grind at max, and a bit of dried, crushed egg shell (with the eggwhite dried on) bring the water to boil, through in the coffee and pull the pot off the heat and throw it the egg shell bits. a slight shake of the pot helps the process. The albumin in the egg shell will flocculate the grounds and facilitate settling. The calcium might help neutralize tannins (?) when it's cool enough to drink pour it off to a cup and sip through yer mustache to catch any stray grounds. A little roast chicory root in the mix ain't bad- some say it's tradition. A high elevation grown coffee, low acid, light roast, REALLY strong, is my choice, for extra caffeine and anti-oxidant content.
Disclosure: I may be caffeine's bitch, but I mostly drink Camellia sinensis infusion; I can grow that shit myself, I'm West of the Cascades. for me, coffee's for special occasions, like waking up by a granite-bound alpine tarn and watching flow patterns in the mist swirling on the water's surface, or getting cranked to stay up for a hip-hop show.


Sounds too complicated for me. I like the simple things.
 
wayne stephen
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The vacuum pot is steel and will last if you buy a good one. Poor water in the bottom , grounds in the middle , whoosh , and coffee on top. Then there is the requi - turkish or arabic coffee - just a simple pot and coffee ground to a flour . You end up drinking some of the grind - it'll make your heart feel like an alligator. There is a method to making coffee with the requi that requires a little practice . Either of the above has no waste and will last a lifetime for just a bit more investment.
 
Oliver Griswold
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Since the coffee grinds float this also eliminates the sometimes hard down press with a french press where the screen filter gets clogged up with the grinds (I like a finer grind extraction). Also, simpler matter to knock the spent grinds from this filter into the compost pile versus scraping them out of the french press. Nice!
 
Sasha Goldberg
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We have a stainless steel french press which we bought, for $60.00, after breaking the umpteenth glass one. Glass presses are a scam. There is nothing to stop them from using pyrex or any other thick, strong glass but then you wouldn't have to replace them every three or four months and we can't have that. The stainless steel press we have works well but the bottom piece has threads that strip easily, we had to replace it after just a month or so. The company blamed us for unscrewing it to clean. If we didn't already have the press, I would definitely move to this system. I really hate one-use items although I do use it to froth my milk when I make a latte with my moka pot.
 
Tom Haile
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For making coffee. I put medium ground coffee in a big mason jar filled with water and put it in the frig for a day. Then I strain out a cup. Cold brew coffee eliminates the need for a heat source.

Has anyone tried sun brewed coffee?

 
paul wheaton
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Tom Haile wrote:For making coffee. I put medium ground coffee in a big mason jar filled with water and put it in the frig for a day. Then I strain out a cup. Cold brew coffee eliminates the need for a heat source.

Has anyone tried sun brewed coffee?



I gotta try this!

Can you post pictures?

 
Lance Baker
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That seems way too complicated. Just stop buying glass french presses and buy a stainless one for good. I've had a stainless steel french press like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinox-Double-Wall-Coffee-Press/dp/B002KOAV80/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&qid=1343502123&sr=8-15&keywords=stainless+steel+french+press for the last 5 years. I used it every single day and it's still going strong. It's never going to break and there's nothing on it to wear out. Easy clean up, easy brewing. I assumed you were talking about burning through glass french presses before? I don't see how you could possibly burn through a french press like this, its virtually bullet proof.
 
E Reimer
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I like turkish coffee. It's easy to make, delicious, and green. Just boil two cups of water, grind your coffee to a fine powder. Stir in 1/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup of coffee, and a pinch of whole cardamom seeds (optional). Bring it back to a full boil until it foams, then remove from heat. Keep stirring and boiling until it boils without foaming. Let it settle and pour into turkish coffee cups (about the size of espresso shots).
 
Emma Fredsdotter
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Cj Verde wrote:Only Americans measure by volume which is extremely variable.

I don't know if you're speaking to some international baker industry procedure (in which case you may well be right), but if not it's simply not true. Having lived in Sweden, Scotland, and France, and watched cooking shows, read cooking websites, and bought cookbooks in all three countries, ingredients are almost exclusively measured by volume (although in Sweden we had to learn average weights of several common ingredients in school, and conversions are often available at the backs of cookbooks). The only time I've ever been instructed to weigh something? From an American book on artisan bread making (it used baker's percentages, hence weighing).

I hope I don't come off as if I'm trying to wag my finger at you or anything. It's not a big deal. I just try to fight "Only in (America/the UK/Sweden/France/wherever) are we smart/dumb enough to XYZ" when I see it, because more often than not it feeds false superiority/inferiority. No need to put ourselves (or others) down.
 
Emma Fredsdotter
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E Reimer wrote:I like turkish coffee. It's easy to make, delicious, and green. Just boil two cups of water, grind your coffee to a fine powder. Stir in 1/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup of coffee, and a pinch of whole cardamom seeds (optional). Bring it back to a full boil until it foams, then remove from heat. Keep stirring and boiling until it boils without foaming. Let it settle and pour into turkish coffee cups (about the size of espresso shots).

Yum! This is more or less how I learned to drink coffee. I was working on excavation in the Republic of Georgia and every morning we got a shot of "kava" (and sometimes "chacha", homemade grape vodka). The cook used more or less equal amounts coffee and sugar, and boiled it on the stove until it was a very thick syrup. That syrup was supposed to last through most of the week. Then, early in the morning, she got up and put on a kettle of water. One spoon of coffee syrup into the tiny cup, add boiling water. Instant Turkish (or Georgian) coffee!
 
Dave Bennett
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I use a stainless steel percolator that has a bail so it can hang over a fire or used on top of my rocket stove. No plastic, no filters, extremely long lasting. I do drink way more coffee than you do Paul so I need something to brew more volume. I have used my tea strainer which is similar to yours when I didn't have time to perk a whole pot.
 
Tom Haile
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paul wheaton here's a pic



Here's a pic of coffee grounds in a Ball jar filled with water. It's that simple then it sits in the frig. After a day I use a fine metal strainer to strain off a cup. I make sure to start another batch before I run out. Since I already use my frig there's no extra energy costs and it takes 1.5 minutes to make.

I was inspired to do a simple blog post on it. Cheap Simple Coffee Brewing.

 
jacque greenleaf
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I just love cold-extraction coffee. Smooth and rich, never old- or burnt-tasting. I let mine sit for at least 24 hours, then keep it in the fridge. Dilute with hot or cold water to taste when you want a cup. Filtering is the issue, I'm going to find one of those metal filters!

 
Tom Haile
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jacque greenleaf wrote:I just love cold-extraction coffee. Smooth and rich, never old- or burnt-tasting. I let mine sit for at least 24 hours, then keep it in the fridge. Dilute with hot or cold water to taste when you want a cup. Filtering is the issue, I'm going to find one of those metal filters!



I think this is the type of strainer that I use:

Fine Metal Strainer

It takes a little bit of time to strain out.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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The intravenous coffee queen here:
The proper coffee/water ratio is whatever works best for your palate. I am still on the french press. But if that goes then I’ll try this method.

Paul, I am interested in the bit about the blisters on your hands. I have been drinking coffee since I was six years old. Also have problems with sores on my hands. No conventional doctor has linked the sores with coffee. An alternative healer did say they were linked to problems with my liver or pancreas which is what started me on this chemical free food path.

Did you have blisters equally distributed on both hands?
 
paul wheaton
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There were so many blisters on each hand that I was surprised that my hands just didn't form one, big, glove-shaped blister.

I've never had it that bad since I cut my caffeine intake way back. I do still get two or three of those kinda of blisters each year. Nearly always in the winter.
 
Debbie Andrick
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Here's a great site for cold brew coffee and LOTS of yummy recipes.
http://www.southernplate.com/2009/03/todays-home-brew-secret-to-great-iced-coffee-without-great-expense.html


(You're more than welcome...thank you!)
 
Alex Ojeda
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Sasha Goldberg wrote:We have a stainless steel french press which we bought, for $60.00, after breaking the umpteenth glass one. Glass presses are a scam. There is nothing to stop them from using pyrex or any other thick, strong glass but then you wouldn't have to replace them every three or four months and we can't have that. The stainless steel press we have works well but the bottom piece has threads that strip easily, we had to replace it after just a month or so. The company blamed us for unscrewing it to clean. If we didn't already have the press, I would definitely move to this system. I really hate one-use items although I do use it to froth my milk when I make a latte with my moka pot.


The great thing about Paul's idea is that you have these things laying around anyway, so when your press dies you can actually get some space back in your world. I love the idea of multiple-use items. Things that do one job actually just junk up the place.

Now, I have a french press that I've had for 3 years now. It's made of blue ceramic. Definitely breakable if dropped, but MUCH thicker than the cheap fragile glass ones (definitely a scam), but it has plastic and rubber on it. I unscrew it to clean every time and it's held up. I'm determined to not replace anything that breaks unless I can find no other option.

I'm definitely already onto the idea of using two mugs (one over-sized and one normal sized), pour in your coffee scoops and hot water into the over-sized mug. Let steep and pour that mug into the normal sized mug through a tea strainer.

Note: Over-sized could be a 32 oz jug. Its purely subjective.
 
Fred Morgan
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This is how it is done here



Very simple, makes a great cup.

My method is a espresso machine, but with more water - makes one really good cup - 3 minutes tops. I barely can keep ahead of it while putting milk in my cup, sugar, etc. Of course, just a metal basket, so no nasty filters, etc.

If I want foamy milk, I put the milk in the cup, cup in microwave for 30 seconds, then I used a whisk spun between my hands to foam it up - no need to mess around with the steam, which then has to be cleaned.

Pretty easy to pick up a small espresso machine for well under 100 dollars - that will last for years and years.

The problem with cowboy coffee is soaking the grounds will result in much more acid than an espresso machine in my opinion-- but if flavor isn't the goal as much as caffeine it will serve you well.
 
Cj Sloane
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Well, all the European cookbooks I have give measurements in grams/ml. A french cookbook would say what exactly? I mean a cup of water is 240 grams and 240 ml so what's the dif?

Here's an example.
Eggs, by Michell Roux says "scant 1 cup (100g) ground almonds. This accommodates the American market but do Europeans still have measuring cups for dry ingredients using non-metric units? I guess I'll have to see if I can find metric volumetric cooking utensils but I'm doubtful.

Sorry for the OT but I'm scratching my head over this.


Emma Fredsdotter wrote:
Cj Verde wrote:Only Americans measure by volume which is extremely variable.

I don't know if you're speaking to some international baker industry procedure (in which case you may well be right), but if not it's simply not true. Having lived in Sweden, Scotland, and France, and watched cooking shows, read cooking websites, and bought cookbooks in all three countries, ingredients are almost exclusively measured by volume (although in Sweden we had to learn average weights of several common ingredients in school, and conversions are often available at the backs of cookbooks). The only time I've ever been instructed to weigh something? From an American book on artisan bread making (it used baker's percentages, hence weighing).

I hope I don't come off as if I'm trying to wag my finger at you or anything. It's not a big deal. I just try to fight "Only in (America/the UK/Sweden/France/wherever) are we smart/dumb enough to XYZ" when I see it, because more often than not it feeds false superiority/inferiority. No need to put ourselves (or others) down.
 
Emma Fredsdotter
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Cj Verde wrote:Well, all the European cookbooks I have give measurements in grams/ml. A french cookbook would say what exactly? I mean a cup of water is 240 grams and 240 ml so what's the dif?

Here's an example.
Eggs, by Michell Roux says "scant 1 cup (100g) ground almonds. This accommodates the American market but do Europeans still have measuring cups for dry ingredients using non-metric units? I guess I'll have to see if I can find metric volumetric cooking utensils but I'm doubtful.

Sorry for the OT but I'm scratching my head over this.

Cj, one litre of water weighs one kilo, that's true. But litres, decilitres, centilitres, millilitres, tea spoons (5 ml), and table spoons (15 ml) are all volumes, not weights. As you've noted, one cup of water is approximately 240 millilitres and also 240 grams - one cup of ground almonds, on the other hand, is approximately 240 millilitres, but 100 grams. The only time there isn't a difference is when you're dealing with water. There are certainly metric cooking utensils - I've used them my whole life. I'm used to being the odd one out who bought American cup-based measuring tools in order to not have to constantly do kitchen maths when working from anglophone recipes - pretty much no one I know has any clue what a "cup" is.

There are certainly times when things are weighed, though. Fresh fruits, for example, are usually given in weights since they are bought in weights and can't be squeezed into a certain shape. Cold butter is usually given in weight for the same reason. Sometimes very large quantities of flour are given in weight, since different brands have different density and it can really affect the outcome of the recipe (but it doesn't have to be so, my French cookbooks prefer weight in large quantities of flour - my Swedish cookbooks would rather give a huge interval like 1-1.5 litres and assume I know what consistency batter or dough is supposed to be).
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Alex Ojeda wrote:
The great thing about Paul's idea is that you have these things laying around anyway, so when your press dies you can actually get some space back in your world. I love the idea of multiple-use items. Things that do one job actually just junk up the place.


What a great permaculture idea...Stacking of functions! The measuring cup is useful for a pletora of cooking activities and the strainer can be used for tea, coffee, water kefir making, steeping herbs, etc. If I did not have an unbroken french press and an espresso maker, I would go for this system.

P.s. I have to admit the french presses are easy to break.
 
Christopher Purbaugh
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I have tried a few different ways, we have a standard coffee maker, an espresso machine that I bought for $1, and a stove top percolator that my father gave me. Some people don't like percolators, but it's my favorite way of making coffee.
 
Sasha Goldberg
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Of course, another consideration is, which method uses the least coffee because over the course of a lifetime, that matters too. I want to say that percolators use the least, followed by french press, followed by drip, followed by espresso makers but I'm not certain because my info is coming from an article I read several years ago. The basic idea was that the more contact the water had with the coffee grounds, the less coffee you would need, which makes intuitive sense to me. I've never tried to work it out myself but we have a small stove top espresso maker and I know it takes more coffee than the french press does. I would think that cowboy coffee takes even less coffee than a percolator.
 
Cj Sloane
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Well, I was coming from bread making always weighing things. For me, it's less messy to weigh everything (which is why I brought it up, of course).

I have never noticed a cup of any liquid, even oil, weighing more/less than 240g (based on the manufacturers conversion). If I was doing a science experiment it might make a difference but so far it's been fine for cooking.

Emma Fredsdotter wrote:The only time there isn't a difference is when you're dealing with water.
 
Chaya Foedus
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Paul,

Hmmm, I feel a challenge...your system uses what you have around the household, to be sure. You can't really beat that. But is it good coffee? And before someone runs out to get the things they might need, might they consider http://pantryparatus.com/kitchen-tools/kitchen-hardware/percolator.html? Paul--I DARE you--if you so choose to accept my challenge. I'll send you a percolator free for your review.

--Chaya
Pantry Paratus
 
Morana Revel
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I do used French presses. However, for the most part I just used a jar with a right fitting lid. I boil the water, pour it in and screw on the lid. Very easy transport back and fourth to work.

But I do not used glass. I found out long ago that my clumsiness far outweighed the benefits of glass.

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Tom Haile wrote:paul wheaton here's a pic



Here's a pic of coffee grounds in a Ball jar filled with water. It's that simple then it sits in the frig. After a day I use a fine metal strainer to strain off a cup. I make sure to start another batch before I run out. Since I already use my frig there's no extra energy costs and it takes 1.5 minutes to make.

I was inspired to do a simple blog post on it. Cheap Simple Coffee Brewing.



Excellent pic, Tom!

We had a permies thread on cold brew mason jar coffee back in 2011. Has other links to posts about cold brew coffee and discussion of the toddy as well.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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paul wheaton wrote:
Kim Bozarth wrote:This is uncanny to have this message drop into my inbox today. I just broke the carafe on my french press so today put coffee and water into a big jar and then after letting it sit poured it through a fine sieve. It was way too strong so I deemed it Cafe Americano and added hot water for a decent cup of coffee. I'd be interested in ideas on the proper coffee to water ratio.


Cosmic!

I currently don't measure. I need to find a stainless spoon with a short handle to fit in my mason-jar-o-coffee so I can measure.




Hey Paul, did you try that teaspoon in your drawer?

FWIW, for a big, permies mug of coffee, I use two coffee scoops (~2 tablespoons?) in my standard size (quart?) French press and fill it about halfway with boiling water.
 
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What "sustainable" coffee making/filtering system would you recommend to someone who just cannot stand lots of coffee tannins? I was considering a French press for a long time, but then I started finding information about how it gets more bitter than filtered coffee. A system requiring a fridge will not work for us since I gave up the fridge several years ago (we have a non-electric travel cooler for keeping the occasional food item chilled for 24 hours, but the husband wants coffee several times per day, every day, so that won't work). Will a percolator make more sour coffee than a filter?


Cj Verde wrote:Well, I was coming from bread making always weighing things. For me, it's less messy to weigh everything (which is why I brought it up, of course).

I have never noticed a cup of any liquid, even oil, weighing more/less than 240g (based on the manufacturers conversion). If I was doing a science experiment it might make a difference but so far it's been fine for cooking.

That's great. If you have a system that works for you and saves you time, then stick with that. If you're using very small quantities of things, you won't notice the difference in density. As long as you're aware that if you're cooking a larger batch (at even just 1 litre of ingredients you'll quickly be 1-3 decilitres off), you'll have to adjust.

Haha. This is veering off topic even for the off topic discussion.
 
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