Introduction: Drip Coffee Without K-cups
We have a Keurig coffeemaker. I like the coffee, but not the waste or expense of the K-cups. The machines require regular cleaning to work dependably, too. I wanted to try a low tech. drip coffeemaker from scrap materials.* The waste from a cup of coffee made with it can be composted. That is not true of a spent K-cup. I can also adjust the amount of coffee grounds to make a stronger or a weaker cup of coffee than I might get with a Keurig.
*Search Instructables for “drip coffeemaker” for examples others have done of similar coffeemakers. Some of those do not require welding. Mine does.
3/16 inch steel rod
20 gauge stainless steel sheet metal
Step 1: Cut a Disc
I have a compass I can use to make circles with a permanent marker pen. (See the first photo.) To keep the compass from skating I put down a piece of masking tape at the center. I made the disc 7 inches in diameter.
Once I had marked the circle, I used an angle grinder to cut out the disc. (See the second photo.) I found it most effective to push the wheel down into the sheet metal, like a string of connected dashes, rather than trying to cut a continuous kerf. I did a little grinding around the circumference to smooth the edge.
Step 2: Remove a Pie Piece
I want to convert the disc of metal to a cone or funnel shape. I cut out a pie shaped piece and pulled the disc edges together. That is the theory. Exact details follow.
This involved trial and error. When finished I had marked a couple of times and cut a couple of times. The photo shows both pieces next to each other on the angle indicator of a speed square. For the relatively shallow funnel shape in my coffeemaker I removed a 55 degree angle. A steeper funnel would require a greater angle to be removed. I wanted to keep the funnel relatively shallow so the paper filter does not fold over itself during brewing, but lays flat without assistance.
Step 3: Form a Cone and Tack the Edges Together
I clamped a larger diameter piece of pipe to a table and lightly bent the disc over it to form a cone. Then I used Vise-Grip pliers to clamp the edges on the disc together for welding. The edges of the disc are clamped to a piece of aluminum for welding. (Second photo)
I know a special formulation of wire is used to weld stainless steel. I decided to try using the same MIG wire I use for mild steel, and it worked acceptably well for this project. The proper wire would have resulted in smoother welds.
See the third photo. I welded most of the seam closed. I found I needed to stop often and let the weld cool if I wanted to avoid burning through. I left about half of an inch of the seam open near the center and drilled a 3/16 inch hole at the center of the disc to aid in the passage of water during brewing. How much opening to leave was a matter of guessing. The amount of drip during brewing looks about right with the opening I have chosen. UPDATE: I closed the seam and left only the 3/16 inch hole. The drip is slower, brewing takes more time, and the coffee has a stronger flavor, which I like.)
Step 4: Support Base
I used 3/16 inch rod for the support base. I bent a straight piece of rod so it had a slight angle near the end. This piece is welded to the outside of the funnel. To weld I began the arc on the 3/16 inch rod and moved to the sheet metal, but held the arc on the sheet metal only very briefly to prevent burn through. I could hold the arc on the rod until it turned red hot. It is possible to put the welded area into a vise and bend the rod if it is not straight and aligned properly.
I bent another rod around a larger diameter piece of pipe to fit around the coffee cup. Then I welded this “U” shaped piece to the upright support.
Bend as needed so the top of the funnel piece is level.
Step 5: To Use
Paper towel works well as an inexpensive filter. Tear off a half sheet. Cut it in half with a scissors. I like to moisten the paper towel filter so it lays flat in the funnel. (Regular coffee filters work well, too. I have come to prefer the coffee filters because the paper towel material does have its own taste.) Add a heaping Tablespoon of fresh coffee grounds. Heat enough water to fill the cup from which you want to drink. I use a Pyrex measuring cup and heat the water for 2 minutes 45 seconds in a microwave. I also get less pour back dribble with the measuring cup. A larger measuring cup works better. The ideal temperature is 190 to 220 degrees F. Do not bring the water to a boil. A boil releases bitter oils from the coffee grounds. Place your cup under the funnel. Pour the hot water over the coffee grounds slowly. Wait until all of the water has drained through the filter. Rinse the coffeemaker with water when finished. Enjoy.
This is a very inexpensive, low tech. way to enjoy good coffee. It also does not require the regular cleaning a Keurig machine needs to continue working dependably.
See the second photo. Our old ten cup coffeemaker stopped working once and for all. I saved the basket for the coffee filter and grounds. My metal coffeemaker shown above did not seem to give quite the flavor I expected. I simply set the old basket with filter and grounds over an empty cup and pour very hot water into the filter. It seems to give a good cup of coffee that is better than the metal fixture yields.