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Living Off Grid Without a Coffee Machine

% ways to have coffe off grid without an automatic coffee maker


There’s no doubt my wife and I, before we moved off grid, took for granted the automatic coffee pot. This marvel of human ingenuity that allows a person to wake up to the smell of brewed coffee, mmmmm.

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  • Cowboy Coffee
  • The Percolator
  • Instant Coffee
  • The French Press
  • The Best Coffee I’ve ever brewed at home

Living off grid is a great way to live, but it requires letting go of some of life’s conveniences. The automatic coffee maker is one of them, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up a good cup of coffee. I should also say this only applies to those living off grid with small energy systems or none at all.

If you’re still in the planning stage of moving off grid these are the kind of choices to think about now.’ How am I going to brew my coffee?’. It seems like a simple question, but as we found out when we moved off grid, there are dozens of these “simple” little dilemmas to solve.

Check out the article below if your still planning to move off grid

* things to start doing today to prepare to move off grid

When we moved off grid we went through a few different ways to prepare coffee. Here are some options to consider. Most of these are great for camping also.

Cowboy coffee

Cowboy coffee has a bad rap. When done right it’s not so thick you can put spoon in it and it stands up. It should be a mild to weak coffee that’s smooth to drink black.

What’s needed for Cowboy coffee

All that’s needed for cowboy coffee is a pot, a fire, coffee, and water.

Click on the picture below to check out current prices of boiler pots on amazon

How to brew cowboy coffee

The process is pretty simple. First you need a pot with a lid and a spout.

Add 3/4 of the volume of the pot with water and set it on the fire or stove top. add in the amount of coffee you like then bring to a rolling boil. Immediately remove the pot from the heat and add 1/4 the volume of the pot with cold water.

Adding the cold water does two things. The cold water will help to sink the coffee grounds to the bottom of the pot so they don’t get poured into your cup. second, it stops the extraction process which gives the coffee a better taste .

This process doesn’t make a strong coffee, but if you do like a strong cup of coffee all you have to do is let the coffee boil for a couple of minutes before you remove the pot from the heat. Let the coffee stand for 1 minute before adding cold water.

This is also a great camp coffee. With a large boiler pot you can make a lot of coffee for a large group over a camp fire. It’s also important to remind everyone about the well known, scientifically proven, lab tested fact that everything tastes better when made on a campfire.

The Percolator

Coffee percolator on the wood stove
My stove top percolator on the wood stove

In my opinion a percolator makes a better cup of coffee than cowboy coffee. You control how weak or strong you want the coffee to be by the length of time you let it perk. The down side is the inconsistency. It will take some time to dial in the right amount of time to let it perk and how hot the fire is determines how fast it perks.

There are basically two types of percolators. One is designed to be used on a stove top and the other is designed to be used on a campfire.

Percolators have a pot with a spout and a lid(some lids will have a viewing port that allows you to see the percolating coffee). percolators also have a basket to hold the coffee grounds. This allows the water in the pot to travel up the tube in the basket and onto the coffee grounds draining down through the grounds and back into the pot. I make it a point to remember to remove the basket before I pour a cup of coffee. Forgetting to do this will result in a load of grounds in the first cup.

Percolators also have a place in the basket to put a filter to minimize the amount of grounds that end up in the coffee.

The stove top percolator

Stove top percolators tend to be more stylish and won’t have a hanging handle. On the stove top you will have more control over the heat therefore reducing some of the inconsistency inherent in percolating coffee.

Click any of the examples below to check out current prices on Amazon.

The campfire percolator

Campfire percolators will have a handle to hang the pot over an open flame. They are made to be light for hikers or they’re made to be durable for campers and off griders. Style seems to be second consideration to the first two design parameters. Campfire percolators will sometimes have a ring that is used to help pour the coffee while it’s still hanging over the fire.

Click any of the pictures below to check out current prices on Amazon.

Instant coffee

You can’t have a conversation about off grid coffee without talking about instant coffee. Now I know what most people think about instant coffee. “That’s not real coffee”, you might say. In my opinion most instant coffee doesn’t taste very good, but all you need to make it is hot water and a coffee cup. It doesn’t get any easier than that. Sometimes I just don’t have the time to brew coffee.

Now, that being said I will admit that my wife and I have, and still do at times, drink instant coffee. We only drink one brand of instant coffee. It’s pretty good and almost tastes like brewed coffee. A few years ago we were at some friends house and they offered us coffee. We were surprised to find out it was instant.

Below is an Amazon link.

The French Press

Finally I would like to talk about the french press. This is the favorite at my house. For an off grid household this is the perfect solution. The coffee made in a french press is delicious. It’s very simple to use and you get a consistent taste every time once you dial in how you like it.

What you need

All you need is a french press, coffee grounds and hot water. The press is a glass pot that has a filtered plunger that presses all the grounds the bottom of the pot.

How to use the french press

There seems to be a lot of discussion about the “right” way to use a french press. I’m just a guy who lives in the woods of the Ozarks. I’m not going to pretend to know what the “right” way is. I’m going to tell you how we use our french press to make great coffee.


Begin by heating up some water in a pot. We use a tea kettle. Then, when the water is really hot but not boiling fill the french press with the hot water. This warms up the french press so when you pour the boiling water into the french press it doesn’t crack the glass.

After letting the french press warm up for a few minutes pour the water back into the tea kettle to let it boil.

While you’re letting the water boil add the amount of coffee you like into the french press. Once the water has begun to boil fill the french press to within 1″ of the top of the french press and stir the grounds. Place the plunger and cap into the french press, but don’t press the plunger down yet.

Let the water with the coffee grounds stand for 4 to 5 minutes. Now, push the plunger down to press all the coffee grounds to the bottom of the french press.

That’s all there is to it.

Below is an Amazon link to the french press we use.

The Best Home Brew Coffee

I can’t talk about our off grid coffee experiences without talking about my favorite coffee. I can’t even come close to calling myself a coffee connoisseur, but I know what I like. I was given a specialty brand of coffee as a gift and I was excited to try it because this is the kind of thing I wouldn’t buy for myself. My wife brewed some up in our french press and WOW! It was really good. I mean I’ve never had coffee at home that was that good.

The coffee was Allegro brand coffee. The flavor was called Costa Lomas. It’s very flavorful, rich and bold. It’s a great coffee and it’s organic.

Thanks again Jeff for that great gift.

Click below to check out current prices on Amazon. Check out there other flavors also.

About the Author

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My wife and I have lived off-grid since 2013. We moved onto a raw piece of land and began building our off-grid homestead. Almost everything we did was a DIY project. The purpose of this blog is to share what we learned along the way.

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