Monday, May 19, 2014

Mindful Monday: 2 Easy Alternatives for Paper Coffee Filters

This weekend I ran out of coffee filters.  This is a dire situation in my house as my husband and I are both coffee addicts.  (I have him to thank for that since I never drank coffee before he introduced me to coffee with sugar and cream.)  It has become not only my morning ritual, but also the drink I need beside me when I'm writing, or if it's rainy, or when I'm curled up with a good book.

But, I didn't freak out and run to the store.  Oh no.  I got creative and thrifty.  I looked in my pantry to see what other materials might work as a filter.  I found paper napkins, paper towels, and cheese cloth.  I also have a nice selection of fabric with my sewing supplies.  

I immediately nixed the napkins because they were Disco birthday party napkins, and therefore covered in bright colored dyes.  The fabrics didn't even come into play since I can't get to them right now.  So, since I had two days to make coffee without filters, I chose to try the paper towels and cheese cloth as alternate filters.

This is my testimonial.

I started with the paper towel.  I have the smaller select-a-size type, so I used two still attached, but one regular paper towel would work the same.  It stuck out over the top of the basket, of course.
Paper towel sticking over the top.

An easy enough problem to solve with a pair of good scissors.
Cut paper towel 

I put the basket in the coffee maker and filled it with coffee grinds.
Fresh grinds added

Then I brewed it with typical coffee filter results.  One great thing about this method is that the paper towels can be tossed into the compost with the grinds.
Used paper towel filter

The next day I used the cheese cloth.  
Cheese cloth weave

My cheese cloth is a bit thin, so I cut it big and folded the corners down to double the thickness.  (It doesn't matter with my coffee maker because it filters the coffee before it goes in the cup, but for "normal" coffee makers the thread-bare quality of the thinner cheese cloth might allow grinds into the pot.)
Cheese cloth over top of basket
Corners folded down to double the thickness

Because my filter ended up a bit small, I only brewed a half pot.
Grinds in cheese cloth filter
This method was very tidy when it brewed.  However, I won't be putting the cheese cloth in the compost, so the grinds will have to be dumped out in the pail and the cloth thrown in the trash.  Technically, since the cloth is 100% cotton, it could be composted, but it would take much longer than everything else in my bin.
Used cheese cloth filter

Both filters produced fine-tasting coffee.

In looking this up on the internet, I found several other options that I wasn't able to try.  Apparently you can buy reusable metal filters, although this is more money than I want to spend on filtering my coffee regardless of how reusable it is.  

One sight mentioned using muslin, which is a fabric more loosely woven than most, but tighter than the cheese cloth.  I do have muslin stashed away with all the other cottons in my sewing box, but I couldn't get to it to try it.  One advantage I can see to using muslin, or other cotton materials, is the re-usability.  After using it, the grinds could be dumped in the compost pail and the filter washed and reused.

 Happy coffee drinking!

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