Coffee Filters

Are convenient single serve items more costly and time consuming in the long run? For example, I loved using my single pod brewer. It was great for my family because we each liked a different flavor of coffee. Just pop in my pod and place my coffee cup under the dispenser and presto my own hot brewed cup of coffee. Then I would remove the plastic pod and toss in the trash, no messing with used coffee grounds or filters. Convenient yes, but at what cost to the environment?

Last week I was forced to take a look at my coffee brewing behavior. My coffee pod brewer stopped working and I pulled out my 5 cup automatic drip coffee maker. The only problem was I was out of paper filters and paper towels. Oh no! I thought I can’t start my day without coffee. I searched the web for alternatives and I stumbled across a few reusable cloth filter options. One suggested using a 9 inch square piece of unbleached muslin. I was in luck, I just so happened to have some in my scrap material’s chest. I pulled the fabric out and hand washed it with a mild dish soap. Then I rinsed it with white vinegar and hung it to dry.

Next, I filled my coffee reservoir with water and placed my scrape of fabric into the filter holder. I carefully scooped my grounds into the center of the cloth, making sure the sides didn’t collapse. I shut the lid, put my carafe underneath and turned the brewer on. Would I produce a normal cup of coffee or would it be ground ridden and taste like soap? How messy was the clean up going to be?

The result: My cup of coffee was just fine, no grounds and no weird altered taste from laundered
fabric. Once my used grounds had cooled off, I lifted out the filter by the unstained edges. Since I wasn’t throwing this filter away, I needed to come up with a convenient clean up routine. This is when my composting bin comes in handy. I dumped the grounds into my scrape bowl and then place my soiled fabric in a empty dish pan. When ready to wash filters, I place the pan under my faucet and rinse the fabric under a cool stream of water. The few grounds that are rinsed off should remain in the dish pan and not go down the drain. Then dump the dish pan water into a outside garden or watering can. Hand wash or launder the filter with a mild, nontoxic, free and clear detergent and rinse with white vinegar to avoid any residue in future cups of coffee.

Yes, the cloth filter version is a little more work. But no more than using a ceramic plate instead of a paper one. And another advantage is no waste going to a landfill. Yippee!

Since I like drinking a lot of coffee throughout the day. I cut out and hemmed ten 10″ squares of cloth and monogrammed the word “coffee” along the hemline. This way I only have to deal with major laundering these once or twice a week.

So what’s your brewing behavior?

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