Introduction: 6 Flask Coffee Cold Brewer
Based on my Cold Coffee Brewer, this version brews six cups at once. Try six different kinds of beans for a tasting, or just make enough for your friends.
Step 1: Design
Most of the large batch slow drip cold brewers I’ve seen use a large volume of water and drip into a large volume of coffee. This clearly makes economically and simplifies fabrication, but I liked the idea of being able to brew multiple kinds of beans at one time. Like wine snobs, coffee snobs have provided us with a wide variety of flavor profiles and if you pay attention, you’ll notice drastic differences in the taste of one bean from another.
I designed the piece in Fusion 360 (my go-to free 3D design and CAM software). 3D printing is a breeze with this program, making my life a lot easier with so many parts.
Fusion 360 is free for students and hobbyists, and there's a ton of educational support on it. If you want to learn to 3D model the kind of work I do, I think this is the best choice on the market. Click the links below to sign up:
I explored the idea of making a linear one (the all-to-common setup at your typical hipster coffee bar), but I thought a radial design would have a nice effect, and would also make the brewer more of a centerpiece. After all, the whole point of taking all this time to design and fabricate the thing is to draw attention to it; to make an event out of the slow process of cold brewing.
The piece is made with 39 3D printed parts (attached in this step), boiling flasks, needle valves, filter funnels, silicone stoppers, and wooden dowels.
Step 2: Parts & Materials
- 3D Printed Parts: I used white PLA filament on the Dremel 3D Idea Builder.
- Boiling Flasks (12): I used 500ml boiling flasks for this project. The neck sizing is important since the clips need to fit snugly, so I would suggest buying the ones in the link unless you want to do some 3D work.
- Silicone Stoppers Size 6 1/2 (12): The material of these is important. You could probably do this project with natural cork, but since the upper flasks are inverted, silicone seems like a more secure fit. Also, it’s food safe and tasteless, so it won’t taint your awesome coffee.
- Porcelain buchner funnel 50ml, 50mm filter size (6): These filter funnels fit well into the flask necks, and hold 50g of coffee grounds (ideal for 500ml of ice water)
- .50mm Paper Filters: These are used to filter the coffee grounds and keep an even distribution of water on top of the coffee grounds.
- Needle Valves (6): These valves allow you to set the drip speed of the cold water.
- Copper Tubing (18" total): This creates a connection to the stopper and a spout for the water drip.
- 1/8" Ø Brass Tubing: 36" total needed.
- 60 Second Epoxy: This is used to join all the the 3D printed and wooden parts.
- 1/2" Wooden Dowels: 138" total length. I used hard maple.
Step 3: 3D Printing
lf you're new to 3D printing, check out this 3D Printing Basics instructable by Printeraction. It's a great way to get started. I used a Dremel 3D Idea Builder for this project, but pretty much any FDM printed would work.
This is a large project that includes 39 3D printed parts, so be patient! Orientation is very important for getting good results. I find it's a good rule of thumb to find the largest flat area of a model and rotate it so that it's in contact with the build bed.
The printing process is basically as follows:
- Design the piece in Fusion 360
- Export the separate parts as STL files
- Open the STL files in Print Studio, combine them as desired with proper orientation
- Export to an SD card for the printer
The files types included in this step are F3D (the original design files with all the parts assembled), and STL (the exported files ready for 3D printing.
- Cap (1): This is the top piece to which 6 clip attach to hold the ice water flasks.
- Middle Ring (1): This is the middle piece to which 6 clips attach to hold the filter / coffee flasks.
- Lower Ring (1): This ring stabilizes the connection between the vertical posts and the diagonal posts.
- Clip (12): These clips hold all 12 flasks.
- Clip Sleeve (12): These attach to the clips in order to ensure the proper fit to the cap and middle ring.
- Elbow (6): These connect the 18" vertical posts to the 5" diagonal posts and are glued to the lower ring.
- Foot (6): These interconnect to create the base.
- Funnel Sleeve (6): These provide cradle for the fliter funnels that allows air to pass freely, preventing the filters from overflowing.
Step 4: Stand Assembly
- Cut the 1/2" Ø dowels to size. There are six at 5" long, and six at 18" long.
- The detailed instructions are included in the diagram for this step. Use 60 Second epoxy for all the the fitted connections as described in the diagram. It's important to hold or clamp the parts in place for over 60 seconds to ensure proper curing and prevent movement in the parts.
Step 5: Clip Assembly
The clips hold the boiling flasks in place with a small amount of pressure gripping the neck. To ensure their solid, flush, plumb connection with the ring and cap pieces, I added a sleeve that friction-fits onto each clip.
Use 60 second epoxy to join these parts to the cap and middle ring.
Step 6: Prepping the Stoppers
I borrowed these photos from the first version of this project, so they're black rubber in the photos. The process is exactly the same.
CREATING A SIPHON
In order for the water to drip, you have to have a siphon in the upper flask, otherwise you end up with a vacuum and no water will come out. To do this I inserted a brass tube into the stopper next to the valve. Cut the brass tube to about 6" long.
Make a boring tool: sand, file, or grind the end of the off-cut tube to make it sharp around the edge. Screw the stopper down to a piece of scrap wood so it's snug, but no compressing the stopper (you don't want distortion. Chuck the tube into a drill press, and bore into the stopper. Press the 6" piece of tubing into the new hole for an airtight seal!
ADD TUBING TO EACH VALVE
The needle valves need a 1 1/2" length of copper tubing clamped to each end. I used a mini tube cutter for this part. The valves have a specified flow direction, so be sure to insert the copper tube into the stopper's center hole with the correct flor direction. The valves are labeled, so it's hard to get it wrong.
Step 7: Assemble and Attach Flasks
ICE WATER FLASKS
Insert the assembled stopper / valve / siphon parts into six of the flasks. These will be filled with ice water and clipped to the upper ring of clips pointing down for brewing, so make sure you're able to get a water-tight fit.
COFFEE FILTER FLASKS
Insert the funnel sleeves into six of the boiling flasks first, then insert the filter funnels into the funnel sleeves. The order is important, because the filter funnels aren't preciesly shaped, and may be a bit bigger than the standard size the funnels are designed for. Doing it in this order will prevent unwanted pressure on the flask neck that might cause it to shatter.
The six coffee filter flasks fit into the clips on the middle ring with the filter funnels pointing up (duh).
Step 8: Brew Some Coffee
These photos are borrowed again from the previous version of the project, but the process is exactly the same.
- Fill the upper flask with ice and push in the stopper with the spigot. This one goes on the upper hook pointing down (duh).
- Place a piece of filter paper in the funnel. Get it wet to even out the contact with the coffee grounds.
- Place funnel and sleeve in the lower flask. Fill the funnel with medium-fine grind coffee grounds. Don't pack it in, because it'll overflow when it's saturated- just fill to the top and wipe off any excess so the grounds are level with the top of the funnel. Prima Coffee recommends 500ml of ice water to 80g of coffee grounds, but I just eyeballed it and the result was good.
- Saturate the grounds slowly with cold water.
- Place another piece of filter paper on top of the grounds. This piece keeps the water evenly distributed through all the grounds; without it, the dripping would slowly carve a tunnel through the middle and the coffee would be very weak.
- Open the valve ever-so-slightly. You'll want one drop every 5 seconds or so, but the key is to sync up the dripping of the steeped coffee with the dripping of the valve. If the valve is dripping faster than the funnel, it's going to overflow (again, duh).
Step 9: Be Patient and Savor
This piece gets a lot of attention at the office (people have been calling it the coffee space ship), so it's a success as a performative centerpiece. The coffee tastes great too.