HOWTO hotel-room upside-down cold-brew coffee

Kent sez, "Here's a travel hack that came to me all at once in a flash at SxSW this year: how to make cold-brewed coffee out of the horrible filter pack and inadequate equipment you often find in hotels in the USA."

Carefully unwrap (don't tear!) one or two of those premeasured filter-packs that came with your coffee service and stuff it gently into the cup. Ideally you want four parts water to one part coffee, but this is tough to estimate with filter packs.

Fill the remaining space in the cup all the way up with water. Tap water works; filtered or bottled is better. Try not to leave any air bubbles.

Don't worry if it seems it will result in a tiny amount of coffee; it will be concentrated, intensely flavored, and—assuming you're not stuck with decaf—highly caffeinated.

Kent's method is clever and upside-down-y, but I still like my method, which involves using your own coffee and a disposable plastic breast-milk bag.

Cold-Brewed Coffee In Your Hotel Room


  1. This method makes a lot of assumptions. 1) Most hotel rooms I have been in have only two coffee packets. One regular and one decaf. He ideally wants two regular packets. 2) The glass he uses is a tall plastic, 16 oz. bar glass. The in room glasses are typically shorter 8 oz glasses. These are not always available if you are checking in late in the night.

    1. He said this gives you a concentrated coffee, which you dilute down to drinking strength.  If so, 8 oz is probably fine; 16oz (~500ml) of concentrate would really be a lot.

  2. Does this really need to be at refrigerator temperatures?

    I’ve never really experimented with cold-brewing coffee, so I don’t know how much of a difference it would make.  I just figured, from a fridge to room temperature is a delta of maybe 18-20 C, from room temperature to coffee maker temperature should be around 70-75C.  So, doing the whole thing at room temperature you’re 75 or 80% of the way to fridge-cold – do those last few degrees make a big difference?

    EDIT – and for that matter, how much difference does reducing the filter bags’ exposure to oxygen make – is that the point of the inverted cup? Or is that just to stop them from floating up and losing contact with the water?

    1. I’m not a truly hardcore coffee freak, so some may disagree, but my cold-brew system sits on my kitchen counter for 24-48 hours before decanting. Good, concentrated coffee results.

      Of course, I store it in the fridge. My guess is that the method described in this post has more to do with having the coffee chilled for immediate consumption?

      1.  Another data point for making it at room temp.

        I think it’s like cold-brewed tea: making it in the sun, on the kitchen counter, or in the refrigerator are all slight variants.  The point (with tea) is to avoid bringing out the tannins by not using boiling or nearly-boiling water.

        If anything, if cold-brewed coffee *is* like tea, then making it in the refrigerator means it won’t be as good by morning as if it sat overnight at room temperature.  The cold seems to retard steepage in some way for tea, which would probably be similar for coffee.

  3. This seems unnecessarily complex.  What was the point of inverting it?  Wouldn’t just covering the top of the glass with something serve the same purpose without so much fiddling?

  4. Cold-brewed coffee is my new use for my old Nissan french press.  I drop in a couple of heaping spoons of medium roast coffee grounds, fill most of the way with cold tap water, place the plunger on top and press out the air, then let it sit over night.  In the morning I pour a cup full with a little cream and heat it up in the microwave.  Not the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had, but the reduction in acidity allows me to keep drinking coffee, otherwise… oy vey, heartburn that lasts all day.

  5. Why not just fill up the coffee pot with water, drop in the coffee packs, and be done with it? Why do you have to seal it off from the air?

  6. Hotel rooms are the most disgustingly filthy places on the planet. The toilet is frequently the cleanest part of the room.

    I hate staying in hotels.

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