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How to Make Crystal Clear Coffee: Recipe & Pictures

how to make crystal clear coffee

Different methods of brewing coffee lead to significant differences in the taste and mouthfeel of the final product. In part, the differences are due to how “clean” or clear the coffee is after brewing and filtering. Some brewing methods lead to an abundance of fine grounds and oils from the coffee beans in your cup, and these can change the flavor profile of your coffee quite a bit.

Many people who brew coffee at home have a desire to make crystal clear coffee, or coffee that is largely free of ground residue and the oils that make their way into coffee from roasted coffee beans. To aid you in your search for the cleanest cup possible, we’re going to go over step-by-step how to make crystal clear coffee at home.

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What is Crystal Clear Coffee?

Crystal clear coffee can actually refer to two different things. The more common definition is coffee that goes through some kind of process (the one we’re going to detail below) to get rid of fine, loose coffee grounds and oils.

Another more recent definition of crystal clear coffee is genuinely clear coffee. A company called CLR CFF in London makes “coffee” that looks like water! It’s clear, just as caffeinated as regular coffee, and will give your senses as many mixed feelings as critics have about the beverage as a whole.

Since the recipe for actually clear coffee isn’t readily available, we’ll instead be walking you through how to make residue-free, ground-free, and oil-free coffee that will taste smooth, clean, and crisp. Maybe not as cool as see-through coffee, but we bet it tastes better!

how to make crystal clear coffee recipe

How Do You Make Crystal Clear Coffee?

There are two ways of going about making super clear, clean coffee. The first is simply to use a very fine paper filter, like a Chemex filter, to make your coffee. This thicker paper filter will separate virtually all grinds from your beverage, and it will also filter out the majority of any oils that would otherwise cloud your caffeinated beverage.

The second method involves using agar-agar, which is essentially unflavored gelatin that is made from seaweed. Don’t worry — your final product using agar-agar won’t taste like saltwater!

Since the process of making Chemex coffee is pretty straightforward and since many people don’t like the papery taste filters can create, we’re instead going to detail how you can take brewed coffee and clear it up to crisp perfection using agar-agar.

Ingredients
  • 9 cups of coffee brewed using your preferred method — we recommend cold brew
  • 3 grams of agar-agar (unflavored gelatin)
Equipment
  • Large cooking pot
  • Cheesecloth
  • 5 sealable containers that can each hold at least 2 cups of liquid

Directions:

1. Begin by preparing 9 cups of coffee using your preferred method. Let cool.

Ingredients


2. Pour about 7 cups of this coffee into a separate container and set aside.

Separate coffee


3. Weigh the remaining 2 cups of coffee in grams, and divide by 100.

Pour remaining 2 cups of coffee


4. Weigh out that much agar-agar.

Weigh Agar


5. Bring the 2 cups of coffee to a boil and immediately whisk in agar-agar for 15 seconds.

Add Agar


6. Remove from heat and pour hot coffee mixture into a large container.

Pour hot coffee


7. Add remaining 7 cups of coffee to this mixture.

Pour coffee


8. Split the entire mixture into 5 sealable containers and place them in the fridge. Let sit for 24 hours.

Add cold coffee


9. Remove the containers from the refrigerator and use a fork or spoon to break up the mixture into small pieces.

Chop up jelly


10. Pour the newly solidified coffee jelly into your cheesecloth and let drain over a pot.

Don’t agitate the jelly at this point. Wait until it stops dripping coffee into the pot beneath.

Add jelly to bag


11. Dispose of cheesecloth and contents. Pour cleared coffee and serve.

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How Does This Work?

While you will find out for yourself that this process does yield very clear coffee, you may be wondering how exactly it works. Agar-agar is essentially unflavored gelatin, and when it solidifies, it captures the oils and grounds that would typically be left to float around in your coffee.

When you dispose of the cheesecloth at the end of the process, the contents remaining behind in it are loose coffee grounds, oils, and the gelatin holding them together!


how to make crystal clear coffee

Crystal Clear Coffee

We're making crystal clear coffee using agar-agar, which is essentially unflavored gelatin that is made from seaweed. Don't worry — your final product using agar-agar won't taste like saltwater! Here's how you can take brewed coffee and clear it up to crisp perfection.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 6 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Chilling Time 1 d
Total Time 1 d 11 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 9 drink(s)
Calories 5 kcal

Equipment

  • Large cooking pot
  • Cheesecloth
  • 5 sealable containers that can each hold at least 2 cups of liquid
  • Kitchen scale

Ingredients
 

  • 9 cups brewed coffee we recommend cold brew
  • 3 grams agar-agar

Instructions
 

  • Begin by preparing 9 cups of coffee using your preferred method. Let cool.
  • Pour about 7 cups of this coffee into a separate container and set aside.
  • Weigh the remaining 2 cups of coffee in grams, and divide by 100.
  • Weigh out that much agar-agar.
  • Bring the 2 cups of coffee to a boil and immediately whisk in agar-agar for 15 seconds.
  • Remove from heat and pour hot coffee mixture into a large container.
  • Add remaining 7 cups of coffee to this mixture.
  • Split the entire mixture into 5 sealable containers and place them in the fridge. Let sit for 24 hours.
  • Remove the containers from the refrigerator and use a fork or spoon to break up the mixture into small pieces.
  • Pour the newly solidified coffee jelly into your cheesecloth and let drain over a pot.
  • Don’t agitate the jelly at this point. Wait until it stops dripping coffee into the pot beneath.
  • Dispose of cheesecloth and contents. Pour cleared coffee and serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 5kcal
Keyword crystal clear coffee

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Conclusion

Clear coffee can be achieved in a variety of ways. However, many people looking for a clean, crisp taste don’t want their coffee to taste like the paper filters that are often used to filter out oils and coffee grounds. We’ve found that the agar-agar method of coffee clarification works well and leads to a clean-tasting coffee that won’t disappoint…and it’s easy to make!

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Featured Image: kazoka, Shutterstock

Dan Simms

Dan has been a coffee fanatic since caffeine became a necessity in college, and since then his enthusiasm has only grown. He has come a long way since his days of drinking mass-produced coffee, and he now has a love and appreciation of the entire coffee experience from farm to cup.

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