Make Your Own Cold-Brew Coffee Maker


In case our readers hadn’t noticed yet, it is now completely summertime (here in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway). Our air conditioning is running for a lot of the day, James is a little less excited about playing outside right after his morning nap, and Heidi and I are pretty much only drinking coffee that is full of ice.

We aren’t really coffee aficionados, but do we usually grind our own coffee and brew it in a French press like some coffee snobs swear by. Now that it’s warmer, we’ve begun cold-brewing our coffee, and despite the fact that cold-brewed coffee has a different flavor and possibly less caffeine, we like it. For those that haven’t tried the now popular practice, check out the how to video on, cold-brewing involves steeping ground coffee in much cooler water for a much longer time. We use room temperature water and let it steep for about 24 hours.

It’s just as easy to make, as long as you prepare the coffee far enough ahead of time that it will be ready when you want to drink it. We’ve been making tomorrow’s coffee right after pouring today’s coffee that we started brewing in our French press yesterday. However, the French press doesn’t hold too much, and it doesn’t filter out quite all the grounds. As usual, I thought there could be a better way.


So, I made an adapter that lets me attach two wide-mouth Mason jars together with a felt coffee filter in between. My idea was that I could flip it over like an hourglass once enough hours had passed and the coffee was ready to drink. Unfortunately, it didn’t work until I painstakingly cut a hole in the filter and threaded a straw though to equalize the air pressure and allow it to drain.


And then it did work! My straw was so short that we had to use a small jar, and so until I find a longer tube we can only brew as much as the French press, but it was very successful. Is it a better system than a proper, store-bought cold-brewing solution? Probably not, since there are only a few ways to filter grounds out of water, but it used stuff that we already had around the house, it’s one less container to store, and it was fun to build.

It turns out that a Toddy felt filter fits perfectly inside of a narrow-mouth Mason jar lid, and so it’s the perfect holder to glue between two wide-mouth lids. Because these lids are made of polypropylene, they are easy to cut and drill, but they do need a special glue to hold them together. I wasn’t sure that the glue was perfectly sealing everything, so I caulked the seams as well.


I do have a couple of cautions, though. I’m not sure how strong the glue is, so I’m sure it’s best to carefully support the weight of both jars while flipping the whole contraption over. Also, don’t build your own quite yet, because we haven’t tested it too much. I’ve had two delicious cups of coffee out of it, but in a couple of weeks you can read Heidi’s report on how well it is working, and she’ll compare it to the French press and muslin and other cold-brewing methods.


UPDATE: OK, here’s the link to Heidi’s conclusions. In short, this gadget was found wanting. It worked fine, and resulting coffee was great, but something else was faster, easier to clean and cheaper. You’ll have to go read the rest to see what it was.

  1. People drink a lot of cold coffee in Spain, where I come from. The method is quite simple: make coffee, let it cold down, add ice cubes. Enjoy it!

    - Carolina Jackson

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