The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

August 26, 2013

Coffee in a Mason Jar

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 or in a cupboard 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 2.5 inch mesh tea strainer. 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.

Making more

Immediately after pouring out my coffee, I empty the jar into our compost bucket (the grounds can also 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?

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8 years ago

Hello, do you ever drink your coffee out of the mason jar? I’d like to but I can’t find any drinking lids that aren’t plastic or silicone.

8 years ago

Catahoula coffe which is local (bay area) sells their coffee beans in 100% compostable containers with a little blurb about the process the bag is made from. They also have very good coffee. I prefer it to the Whole Foods brand Allegro.

Colette Carney
10 years ago

We drink out of them, I also do a bit of canning. Can’t remember last time I bought glasses!

Maria Bartlett
10 years ago

That is how I make my teas and coffee!

Elizabeth Outlaw Crawford
10 years ago

Great post, thanks. My husband and I are continuously striving to reduce our waste, particularly plastic consumption. Tonight at Whole Foods, we wanted a cupcake to go for dessert. They normally put them in plastic cup-like containers. I asked the baker to put them in a paper box instead. She proceeded…and put the plastic container inside the paper box. She didn’t understand why I didn’t want plastic even when I tried to explain, so I let it go. Do you avoid all convenience foods even if put in recycled paper containers?

Gabriela Aoun
10 years ago

Paul Javier

Karina OConnor
10 years ago

I’m loving mason jars! Now that it’s cold, I’ve been using them for soup left overs!

10 years ago

You just reminded me… as kids my mom would give us the used coffee grounds to “make coffee” in our playhouse. We’d brew the grounds in a jar in the sun and pretend to have coffee. We never drank it, we were kids and it was COFFEE! and it was yucky back then. I think I’ll try this, again. Thanks for the reminder.

Anna@Green Talk
10 years ago

Mortira your plants love them too! And they make a great deodorizer for your refrigerator. Love the scrub idea.

10 years ago

I definitely want to try this! We drink a lot of cold coffee in the summer anyway.
I wanted to suggest saving the coffee grounds – particularly if you can’t compost. They are awesome for shower scrubs. You don’t need to add sugar or oil – just wet coffee grounds to make your knees and elbows smooth.

Anna@Green Talk
10 years ago

I wonder if you tried using egg shells when you brewed it if it would taste better? I don’t drink coffee but this was one of the egg re-use ideas I posted about. Anyone try using egg shells in their coffee?

10 years ago

Love your system. Have a great time at Burning Man! I had no idea coffee plungers would have plastic. Hubby has an all stainless steel one. The inner is metal mesh and metal spring and such. Glad to know it’s not one more thing I’d want to replace.

10 years ago

I don’t drink coffee – but I bought my hubby that Frieling after reading about it in your book :) I’m glad the cold brew method is working for you!