How to make coffee 102

Coffee 101: put coffee in filter, add water to reservoir, and turn on the heat. You’ve got that, this is 102.

This is very-modestly advanced coffee making, but the payoffs are:

  • better tasting coffee (I don’t know why)
  • no coffee grounds in the pot
  • much easier to clean the basket after brewing
  • elevation in the coffee making ranks

Begin with standard hospital coffee reagents: low-bid coffee, two filters, and a budget drip coffeemaker:
Coffee making reagents needed

Add your normal amount of coffee to filter 1:

Coffee added to filter 1

Gather the edges of filter 1, to enclose all the coffee in one filter:

Coffee filter 1 gathered for next step

Place filter one gathered-edge down into filter 2:

Filter 1 in 2

Add filters 1 & 2 to the basket, and make your coffee.

Both filters in basket, ready to brew

Be prepared to do it over and over when people tell you your coffee is good!


  1. I find the lack of a a french press, very sad, a press or cold drip is the only way to make good coffee :D

  2. I’m not entirely in agreement with dagamore, but I’m assuming How to make coffee 201 involves something other than low bid coffee grounds? Of course, this is something I ask as I boil water for my one cup filter holder that I simply pour previously boiling water into.

  3. Having had to make coffee in an old helmet with a sock I can say that it is not so much the method of preparation as the care put into making it. Like anything in life if your “give a damn” is engaged you can make decent coffee even with piss poor old grounds, and without a fornicating french press. Coffee in Emergency Departments is a necessity and ground filled, weak coffee should be punishable by a large catheter followed up by a guaic from a large fingered individual.

  4. If that’s the size of your coffeemaker at work, you must get a lot of practice.

    Cardinal rule of coffeemaking: Do not have someone who doesn’t drink coffee make the coffee.

  5. Something else to mention, for those times when coffee may sit around. Coffee can actually last quite a long time if it’s not left cooking on the burner and just set aside. Yes, it will cool down, but with your handy microwave you just heat it up in your cup. Will taste very close to fresh if it didn’t sit on the burner for any length of time after it brewed.

  6. My first hypothesis regarding the double filtering producing better coffee is that, by slowing the flow rate it increases brew time. That might be necessary depending upon the brewer but also might cause filter cup overflowing.

    The general idea is that brew time should be about 4-5 minutes and the temperature should be about 200F.

    see if you really want to get into the esoterics.

    See also
    for a discussion about making good coffee and the use of a dewar flask to prevent oxidation and increase usable storage life. More links there, too.

    The Aerobie press is probably the best bet right now for being able to make a sizable mug of coffee on demand to your specific tastes without too much hassle.

    The time and temperature versus solubility rates of various coffee compounds make for an interesting study, especially when the results are so obvious to taste.

  7. I like the increased brew time hypothesis, but the problem is that most consumer coffeemakers take *too long* to brew and overextract rather than too short. I seem to recall that you only want water touching coffee for three minutes or something.

    My first hypothesis is that the second filter evens out the dispersion of water over the grounds – the showerhead design of most brewers does not evenly wet the grounds, resulting in overextracted grounds right under the orifices, and underextracted grounds most everywhere else. The second filter spreads the coffee better. My other hypothesis, based on your pictures, is that you use more coffee than the other people making it, resulting in a richer brew.

    Might I suggest that a modest upgrade in brewer technology could make even the crappy low-bid coffee taste better? The coffee supplier would probably give you a free pourover brewer, which results in fast-brewed coffee. They’d probably even have one with thermal carafes rather than a hot plate, which can ensure excellent coffee for hours per pot. The catch is that you need to be running a certain number of pots per day to keep the water fresh.

    Another option that I find makes rich, flavorful coffee is a vacuum pot such as the Starbucks Barista Utopia. This $170 piece of sculpture is *FAR* too difficult to assemble in a pre-caffeinated state, but is ideal for office environments, where it’s not the first cup of the day. Sadly, Starbucks had too many returns on the product due to complexity (and price), and has discontinued it, but if you see one on eBay or the like, snap it up. Your coffee will be extraordinary.


  8. Thanks for the comments, and here’s my take on the process in 102:

    I use the same, or maybe just a little less coffee than the single filter process. It takes about the same amount of time to make a pot (I haven’t timed it, but changes in the filters cannot change the rate water is added to the basket, and it’s never overflowed).

    This is a work device, and as we have people here who could destroy rebar I’m not spending any bucks on fancy / nice gear, just low priced modestly indestructible stuff.


  9. Tried it.

    You’re right.

    But you knew that.

  10. Adding to Gruntdoc’s comment about being at work and not going “all out,” one other tip for better coffee is keeping the grounds in something more airtight than the basin shown in one of the pictures. :) Some gallon Ziplocs will go a long way in keeping the grounds fresher, even if you don’t upgrade from the industrial coffee grounds purchased for the ED.

    Keeping coffee in the freezer is controversial, since condensation upon taking it out will do more damage than air would have. Refrigerating grounds is a good compromise, as it will also retard oxidation.

  11. That has to be the funniest way of describing inept coworkers. I will be adding “could destroy rebar” to my pithy comment library at once.

    I’ll stick with More Even Wetting as my hypothesis, then. Maybe Santa will bring you a commercial brewer with a thermal carafe, which is quite indestructible – no risk of an uncontained shattered glass carafe.

    Be thankful you’re not like one local ED, where the supplied coffee is a concentrated syrup that is shot into hot water on-demand. For the Seattle area, it’s a shame. Somebody from the Topless Mermaid should do some outreach.


  12. THE PICC GUY says:

    That set up has been affectionally called the “Coffee Bomb” by me and some’s Funny how ER Docs and Nurses can take “crap” and somehow make it better and slightly more enjoyable.

  13. I can never go back to insipid regular coffee after a trip to New Orleans. This is the only coffee I will drink any more. I order a case every few months. It has a life of its own, so strong you have to use cream.

    [I’ve had the coffee there. Chicory coffee isn’t my thing, but I’m glad you’ve found your favorite. GD]

  14. It really is good! Thanks. I was sure my coffeepot would overflow when I tried this, but alas – you were right.

  15. I don’t know why…but I have always felt like coffee tasted better in the ER. Just the aroma alone…wafting down the hallways. :)

    The docs went in on an industrial instant brewer coffee maker. I like it so much that I got a regular stainless steel Bunn coffee maker. I am so spoiled and love that the hot water instantly comes out. I don’t feel that the thermal carafe keeps the coffee hot for hours though, but if used fairly soon it’s still hot.

    Once I totally smashed a full pot of coffee in the ER. Fortunately no one was scalded! I turned quickly and knocked it into a metal cabinet. Little embarrassing and fortunately for me they had back up pots. God forbid we couldn’t get coffee in the ER. i actually think that is against the law! ;)

  16. Seaspray:

    The secret of a thermal carafe is to preheat it before brewing by filling it about a quarter full with hot water from the brewer’s bypass spigot or the hot tap. Nothing fancy, just taking the room chill off it. If your brewer is plumbed in, it doesn’t take any extra brainpower, which is a plus for me. If it’s a pourover, where you have to fill it with a carafe of water to start the brew process, you have to use a second carafe (cold water) to fill with the warmed one in place.

    E, Always thinking.

  17. Awesome trick. Here I was using about 10 filters to try and milk all the flavor out of the zombie coffee the hospital buys.

  18. Thanks Eric. I will try it tomorrow morning as well as Grunt Doc’s filter idea with wrapping the coffee.

    We had an ER nurse who was in some kind of world coffee club and I think she said you should use two filters for added filtering of the oils and better flavor but she didn’t wrap it. Looking forward to it. :)

  19. Done that!Thought im the only one that has ever made coffee like that :)