When you read this, I’ll be (hopefully) on the road to Burning Man. Being without a cooking stove for a week will mean a change in my diet… but no change in the way I drink my coffee because I don’t heat it anymore anyway.
Making cold brewed coffee
I think I learned about cold brewed coffee from my friend Tracey TieF (with whom I went to Burning Man last year), and the idea intrigued me. Checking on Google (because that’s my first impulse any time I learn about anything new these days), I learned that brewing coffee cold produces a full-flavored but mellower, less bitter cup.
Some people use a French press to make cold brewed coffee, and in fact Frieling makes one that is entirely plastic-free.
Impulsively, I almost bought one a couple of weeks ago, but I thought better of it in time to cancel the order. Because despite some of the products I have endorsed, my plastic-free life is not about buying a bunch of new stuff when I don’t have to. And for coffee, a mason jar works just fine.
Here’s what I do:
1) Fill a mason jar with cool water.
2) Add coarsely ground* coffee to the top and just let it sink to the bottom on its own. Different people recommend different proportions of coffee to water. Experiment to see what tastes good to you.
Leave on the counter 12 to 24 hours, depending on how strong you like it.
The next day, filter coffee with a fine metal sieve into your cup. I use a mesh tea infuser. This is why it’s important to grind the coffee coarsely, to minimize fine grounds that can get through the sieve into your cup.
And that’s it. You can add ice and milk, cream, sugar… whatever. You can also heat it if you wish. I just drink it black and at room temperature… it does the job for me.
Note: some recipes online call this concentrate and say it needs to be diluted with milk or water. For me, it’s the perfect strength right out of the jar.
Immediately after pouring out my coffee, I empty the jar (the grounds can be dumped into your garden) and then refill it and start the process all over again.
Buying the coffee waste-free
As for how I buy my coffee… I carry an empty folded-up paper coffee bag in my purse or backpack at all times for filling from the bulk coffee stations found in many grocery stores. It doesn’t matter what store… if they’re selling beans from a bulk bin, I’ll whip out my bag and use it.
My Whole Foods provides bags that are completely compostable with no plastic inside. I like reusing the same bag over and over to save paper.
So anyway, this is how I’ll be making my coffee on the playa. Have you tried cold-brewed coffee? What’s been your experience?