Making a cloth coffee filter

As we have established long before now, I am a big fan of coffee. I’ve switched from a machine to a coffee cone — that was pre-project — and purchased a reusable filter a few months ago. I’ve tried a few techniques, as described in the comment section of THIS post, most notably using a revised “cupping” method which entailed soaking grounds in hot water for 4 minutes, then filtering the coffee before drinking.

I gave that up after a couple of months, though. I kept burning my fingers while trying to filter a hot glass jar of coffee into my cup. It’s just easier putting coffee into the filter and cone and calling it a day. I might be a coffee snob, but my laziness takes the worst of the edges off.

One thing I’ve noticed that I was not seeing when I was using paper cones is a silty residue that’s leftover after each brewing session. It’s a brown film in my cone and dingy sludge in my cup, like so:



(Sometimes when I’m writing posts, I have to stop to reevaluate my life. Why am I showing the world what essentially amounts to my dirty dishes? Yeah, I don’t know either.)

Surely there has got to be a better way.

It’s just that I’m not sure I’ve actually found it yet.

Inspired by THIS post I pinned to Pinterest months and months ago, I decided to attempt a reusable coffee filter made out of one of Eric’s discarded t-shirts. I’ve got a whole stack of those guys just waiting to be made into stuff. The trouble is, I’m not actually crafty and then there’s that aforementioned laziness. But hey, this is the fate of my coffee we’re talking about! Surely I could rouse myself for 10 minutes of work:

Old t-shirt, my good scissors that I have the sense to hide, and a small plate to use as a guide.

Then I cut around the plate to make a PERFECT circle. (I had my glasses on and everything.)

I made the blob circle a little bigger than the plate because I did not intend to do any sewing whatsoever to make this cone shaped. And who cares, it worked!

Not a bad fit.

That’s also why I decided to use a t-shirt — no sewing required to keep the edges from fraying.

So here’s where our story gets … well. The filter worked great — you can see below how little sludge was left in my cup after I brewed a test cup:

Much better.

But I could taste the cotton in my coffee. Is that even possible? I don’t know if it’s just that filter is new, or if a cotton t-shirt isn’t the best idea for material, or what.

So I’m not exactly excited to try it again … even though I’m semi-tempted. (It’s like poking a wound to see if it still hurts.) I think what will probably happen is that this filter is going to get composted, and I’ll just go back to sludgy coffee. Who knows, maybe something else will present itself later that will make a better cup?

I told you I’m optimistic about all the wrong things.

Next up: The area under my kitchen sink looks a little different this week.

4 Responses to Making a cloth coffee filter

  1. This won’t help with the slight sludge at the end, but I finally just bought a french press I saw at Goodwill and haven’t looked back. It makes great coffee and everything except the top is glass or stainless steel so it cleans up and doesn’t get a coffee smell or residue. I tried a few different filter options and couldn’t find one that really worked well that wasn’t single-use.

    • If I wasn’t committed to my coffee cone (I have attachment issues, LOL), I’d definitely try a French press. Very cool that you found a used one that works so well for you!

  2. Wow, who knew making coffee could be so complex! I never thought of being able to taste the cotton…ew. Also unhelpfully, I use a French press, which I love. It, too, leaves a silt at the bottom, though. I choose to see it as the sign of a great, strong cup of coffee! I just have to make sure not to drink it when I get to the bottom of the cup, blech.

    • It’s a little better with my backup coffee because I just pour that into my reusable cup … and then stop when it gets to the silty part.

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