How to build a microcontroller-driven cold brew coffee drip tower

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You and coffee have an interesting relationship.


This one blew my mind…


Really, Boing Boing? Really?

Anyone who has made coldbrew knows how stupidsimple it is.
Drip? Micro-controller? You just soak the stuff and strain it off after 12-24hrs depending on how strong you like it. I could understand a hot drip - but cold has the water in contact with the coffee for so short a time - er…I don’t doubt that it makes a lovely insipid brew and that the beans can be used many times (as they scarcely have time to release their goodness). Tell me I’m wrong …or that my caveman style is too no-tech to be valid. I don’t care.

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You are not wrong.


I’ve never made cold brew and now I’m super curious. I just read an introduction on coffeegeek, but I’m still not clear on whether there would be a big difference between the tower vs just mixing the grounds with water in your fridge. The tower definitely has some remarkable theatrics.

In terms of flavor, anyone want to comment? Big difference? Close but not the same?

I can’t comment on the drip process but the “leave it at room temperature and drain after ~21 hours” process works fine and makes a delicious (and extremely caffeinated) brew.

I had to stop making it because ten ounces (counting milk and sugar) gave me an anxiety attack and I couldn’t help drinking forty ounces.

Need to try with decaf but it seems wrong somehow.

Anyway. Is a drip method better? I kinda doubt it.

I got curious about Bulletproof coffee and decided I needed to cut down on my caffeine intake. Anyways, I spoon about 10 heaped tablespoons of Expresso grade grounds into (its actually a large ceramic percolator with the percolation bits removed - the largest container that’ll fit in my fridge) and cover that with cold water. The lid wont fit due to the height so I cover it with ceram wrap to eliminate the possibility of any unwanted fridge odours. 24 hours later I pour that off (down to the grounds) through a strainer and keep it ready in the fridge to use. (Keep the grains out or it will taint the batch). This makes a very robust brew and I read about diluting the result but i like it as it is. When I want a mug I just nuke the cold stuff and instead of milk I put about a 1/4 inch thick postage stamp sized dob of butter (they say unsalted but regular is probably just as good - the salt might even enhance the taste) and a big dob of Coconut cream (not milk) - for the medium chain fatty acids. You don’t have to go all purist about buying MFC’s or “grass fed” butter grown on the lee side of a south facing hill. It tastes great and is filling and I only need about 2 mugs a day. One negative is that when I revert to my (quite strong) instant I now use 2 spoons of coffee as i am used to a stronger brew. Reading this it might sound like a heap of work but it is actually dead simple. Taste and try.

This is the boingiest headline.

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The theory behind the towers (as opposed to just mixing the cold water with the grounds all at once then letting the mixture sit) is that the dripping slows the extraction, changing the concentration profile of the extracted flavors. I’m not sure how pronounced the difference is, if at all. The idea is an old one, for example the Filtron cold brewers have a water compartment that drips the water into the coffee compartment through a pinhole. (Filtron has been around for a long time, certainly since the 50s when they were distributed by Helmco-Lacy, who made soda fountain equipment.)

The idea of controlling the dripping by microprocessors seems odd to me; one of the cool things about these towers is the way the drip is slowed down by mechanical means.

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