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I use the "plunging" method of cold brew, and filtering the grounds out of the brew --I use a coffee filter in a funnel-- is very time-consuming (although thankfully it doesn't take me the "hours" this person describes).

How can I reduce the time and labour of filtering the grounds out of my plunged cold brew coffee?

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  • 1
    As "the person in question" I appreciate the question and answers. You beat me to it. +1 for time savings in typing and in filtering! :)
    – hoc_age
    Feb 12 '15 at 11:29
  • @hoc_age Happy to help the only other cold brew plunger I've ever encountered! You should come over to the Coffee Chat some time.
    – BESW
    Feb 12 '15 at 12:33
  • When I make cold brew I just filter it with an Aeropress. It's probably the fastest way.
    – chbaker0
    May 13 '15 at 20:39
  • Hey @chbaker0, sounds like a good idea, would you write it up as an answer?
    – fredley
    May 17 '15 at 17:41
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I tried making cold brew for the first time recently and I just poured the whole mess through the reusable metal screen filter that came with my cheap drip coffee machine.

My drip machine is the style where the top opens to add both coffee and water sort of like this:

enter image description here

So I just put the metal filter in and poured the cold brew straight into the filter allowing the filtered brew to flow into the regular pot below.

It worked pretty well for the 8 cups or so that I made and it looked like I probably could have gotten away with pouring a bit more.

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  • This is a flat-bottomed "basket" filter style. I suspect this will work better than the cone-style filter that I had used before. And certainly the metal filter will clog less (and let more through) than a paper filter. Good thoughts.
    – hoc_age
    Feb 12 '15 at 11:19
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Use a tea infuser!

I got a tea infuser with a very fine mesh and put my grounds in that. It holds fewer grounds than I used with the "raw" plunge, but it's much more pleasant to use: I just pluck the floating infuser out of the pitcher and empty the grounds from it. I may get a second filter, or a larger one, but for now I'm content making coffee more often because it's less of a chore each time.

There's no visible particulate in the resulting drink, though if I run the brew through a filter (which is a heckuva lot faster, as there's no clogging of grounds at all!) it comes out with a small amount of lint-like residue. And the last cup in the pitcher is much stronger than it used to be, but I'm not exactly complaining about that.

You could also go for an intermediate approach, using a tea strainer before you run the brew through a regular filter: that'll get the big stuff out fast so your filtering doesn't slow down. (Also, put a teaspoon in the funnel under the filter, so the grounds don't stick to the sides of the funnel through the paper. It gives the liquid more room to flow.)

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Well this idea was not entirely mine. Some of my senior colleagues gave me this idea a long time ago. When I make Cold Brew, what I do is:

  1. First simply let the coffee grounds steep in the water (no brainer here).
  2. Then, when it's brewed, I use a normal paper coffee filter.
  3. Then I use a very fine piece of silk cloth, thoroughly cleaned, as second filter (after a while you will need to throw away the silk as it will become contaminated and may have a bad flavor). The silk fibers are very thin and fine, so it normally gives me a nice and smooth result.
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Container brew and discard the sludge

As detailed in this answer, make the cold brew in a container. The grounds will settle to the bottom.

When you serve yourself, pour gently and the grounds will remain on the bottom. Discard the bottom inch of coffee (depending on the container). No filtering at all.

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I've also taken a hint from the tea world and decided to just bag it!

I've had good results using a cotton bag with a draw string top to hold my ground coffee. Dump the coffee in the bag, cinch the top closed and tie an extra knot around the top of the bag with the draw string for some extra security. Then the bag goes in the coffee and hangs out. I've tried sloshing the bag around with a spoon, trying to get it saturated and all the coffee inside it wet as well as just drop & forget. I haven't noticed much difference to either method. If I do just drop it, the bag & all the coffee inside it are thoroughly saturated by the time I'm ready to drain it.

When it's time, pull the bag out, and the coffee is filtered and ready to drink. I usually hang the bag from its string by one of my kitchen cabinet knobs hanging right over the cold brew container so the grounds can drip out and not make a big mess. You can also do all of that over the sink and not worry about it. Dump out the grounds, wash the bag, and dry thoroughly for next time. I've heard of people storing the still-damp bag in the freezer so it can't grow mold or anything. I've never had any trouble with just standing the bag up in the dish drainer rack and letting it air dry.

You can find purpose-made bags if you search for "cold brew bag" on the "bookstore site". Those are usually way overpriced at around $15 each. I got "Cotton 10- by 12-Inch Muslin Bags with Drawstring" for $17 for a dozen bags, and those work really well. Bonus points is they work for brewing huge tea batches for kombucha too, but I digress...

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  • I use this method too. It works well. The bags are inexpensive and reusable. But these kinds of bags double as tea infusers for loose leaf tea and are easier to use and clean than plastic or metal infusers in my experience.
    – R Mac
    May 3 at 13:22
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I have a Bunn airpot brewer and I just take the oversized specialty coffee basket and stick it on top of my french press. It works ok, but I would like to see better. Even using this method and having a very large filter, it still gets clogged up after about 4 cups of concentrate, and that's after pre-filtering using the french press filter to get the majority of the grounds out.

I've read that cheesecloth can be used as well, but I have yet to try it. I may try the french press filter, then filter through wire mesh cone drip, then filter through paper, although this is getting pretty work intensive!

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