Cloth Coffee Filters and Eggnog “lattes”

It all started with the eggnog.

I love eggnog, but the calorie content is just too darned high for me to drink it very often.  And it’s a little too sweet and cloying even for me, unless it has a whole lot of alcohol in it to cut the sweetness; tossing a shot of brandy into it severely limits the hours and opportunities too, since during the holiday season my schedule has an annoying habit of requiring me to be completely alert in the evenings…

So a few years ago I discovered that I could put a little eggnog into my coffee instead of creamer, and suddenly I’d be drinking for mere pennies the equivalent of a $3.89 drink at the local SpendBucks.  My very own eggnog latte…sort of. This has become one of my big holiday addictions.  (As addictions go, I don’t suppose it’s so bad, really.)  I’d gotten mostly away from coffee since spring, so I haven’t made any in ages, but the eggnog lures me…

So last week I bought some coffee, and today I bought a little thing of nice eggnog.  (I found some from a semi-local, grass-fed dairy; unfortunately, I don’t like it as much as the brands I’ve gotten before, and it’s not even close to what my mom can make), And got out my coffeepot, which I haven’t used in months and months, to clean it out and start making coffee tomorrow morning.  Only to discover that last time I cleared out the kitchen cabinets, whenever that was, I had either tossed (!?!) or moved (!????!) my unbleached coffee filters.  Can’t find ’em anywhere.

Me being me, I am loath to go out and buy new ones.  And the toilet paper-as-filter thing has never appealed to me in the slightest.  So I looked around online and found a few sets of directions, none of which were complicated in the slightest…

 So: How to Make A Cloth Coffee Filter (basket type)

  • using a tight-weave cotton fabric (such as handkerchief fabric or unbleached muslin–make sure you pre-wash it!), cut three circles about 9 inches in diameter. (This is for my “standard” large coffeepot.)
  • Using an overlock or zigzag stitch, sew around the circumference of the circle through all three layers.
  • Press into the coffeemaker’s basket and spread out the way you would a paper filter. (I get best results from dampening and squeezing out the cloth before making the coffee.; I don’t know if it makes any difference at all, but it just sort of seems like the liquid more immediately soaks into the wet cloth without beading…)
  • After use, compost grounds, thoroughly rinse out filter in hot water, wring well, and hang to dry.  After every few uses, give it a good vinegar rinse. (Or make five filters and toss them in the wash Friday night. This would be easier.)

That’s IT.  Seriously easy.  The filter can be rinsed out well between uses and cleaned occasionally with vinegar; or machine washed; I’d be careful about using dish soap just in case some sticks around and your coffee winds up tasting like diswashing liquid.  But YMMV.

This is the time of year when I really want the coffee…

(UPDATE: I’m not sure if it’s the filter itself or the coffee I bought, but it’s honestly not great coffee; then again, my coffee was never very good even when I used paper filters…I think it may be my coffee maker. The eggnog goes a long way to make it yummy, though. 

One of the hardest things about trying to give up Dunkin Donuts coffee is the sheer knowledge that they just plain make better coffee than I do. I want a French Press.  I don’t need a French Press.  I am trying to consume less. I don’t need a French Press, no matter how much less electricity it uses…)

(Anyway, one might need to futz a bit with the fabric to get the “best” coffee with the right drip rate, if one is pickier about their caffiene than I…I’m not sure what’s going to give the best flavor…please let me know if you try this and how it works!)

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Posted on December 7, 2009, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I HEART my french press… and I also love love love grinding my own beans each morning. I resisted for MONTHS, thinking it would take more time… but really it doesn’t and the coffee tastes amazingly. it does mean a bit more monitoring- boiling the water, timing the oven for four minutes before pressing.
    But seriously, it’s awesome.
    I’ve also found that I have very particular tastes when it comes to type of coffee bean- medium roast or nothin’. The smell of the beans are a great indicator- I can usually tell if the coffee of a new roast will be good from the smell- right now my ‘Holiday Blend’ from the local organic company smells bitter and burnt… and the coffee also tastes that way.
    So, it might be that: you need a different roast, or you could grind your own beans for each pot (really takes two seconds) and greatly increase your flavour, or you could get a french press for xmas…. 🙂

    I’m gonna try some eggnog in my coffee tomorrow! Have you tried to make homemade eggnog before?

  2. greenmomintheburbs

    I LOVE homemade eggnog! I just can’t get past my freaked-out-ness about raw eggs, though I know intellectually it’s probably fine. And I have never tried doing it with cooked egg custard…I’d love your recipe if you don’t mind sharing it! (Or post it on your own blog and drop a comment here…)

    You may be onto something with the roast…mine doesn’t smell all that fabulous either, which surprised me. I’d need to get a coffee grinder to make my own, though…Hmm. Christmas IS coming…

  3. Meanwhile til you get your grinder, go to one of those grocery stores or coffee places that sell beans, and buy small amounts of several different promising coffees and have them ground there. when you get home, put each bag in a (ugh plastic) bag and freeze. then you can make your own coffee with your cloth filter maybe made into a bag – you probably could put this in the boiling water like a big tea bag – never tried it, but….. You may find a favorite coffee here! or try a glass measuring cup, boiling water and ground coffee, then poured thru your coffepot filter to strain out the grounds? Just a couple of thoughts. I love my french press and actually have 2 – one for coffee and one for loose tea.

    • greenmomintheburbs

      I was thinking of trying this! A good way to sample different coffees and not have to make much at a single go. I’ll let you know if it works.

  4. re homemade eggnog – if you beat the eggs first, then dump in a fair amount of brandy and rum, I like to think all that alcohol will kill the potential salmonella bugs. then you can add the milk/cream. sugar, vanilla, etc. to get the commercial eggnog flavor, use Meyers dark rum. not too much as the rum is pretty overwhelming in flavor.

    • greenmomintheburbs

      Well, yeah, I drink your highly pickled and INCREDIBLY delicious eggnog every year…but I’m not sure I should put it into my morning coffee, if you know what I mean. 🙂

      I know the salmonella thing is barely even a risk, it’s not very rational, I just get a little itchy about it. I think there are recipes where you cook the custard, I just haven’t tried it yet…

  5. Yep- trying out different coffee beans at a local bulk store (my local organic store has bulk organic fair trade beans) and getting them ground there is a good idea. 🙂

    About the eggnog- not sure on your thoughts of this, but I just learned that you can buy pasturized eggs (which i think is weird, but hey). so…… if you were alright with pasturized eggs in general, then that would help with the salmonella.

    However, I tend to think that you’d have to drink a lot of raw eggs to get salmonella poisoning… especially if you know where your eggs come from.

    I’ll post the recipe when we make it! 🙂 (and stop by to let you know!)

  6. I suspect the salmonella thing could be a problem if your eggs have any contamination and putting that into what I think is an incredibly nutrient rich mixture like eggnog (eggs and sugar) could make the little critters multiply like crazy.
    However, I have been using raw eggs for eggnog and drinking tons of it for years with no problems. maybe I am immune to the bugs by now? or maybe its one of those scare-of-the-week things.

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