Coffee – Just gotta have it

We’ve been off-grid for about a month now. Although we expected some lifestyle changes would be in order it’s entirely a different thing to live through than theorize about. Coffee is a must around here. I’ll chew the beans and pour scalding water in my mouth if I have to. But that’s kind of a last resort. On one of the first days of our off-grid adventure I tried to use our drip coffee maker. Amazing how much power that thing pulls. It tripped the low voltage disconnect on the inverter. No coffee and suddenly no lights either. So the faithful old coffee pot is now retired. To the rescue, a small stovetop espresso maker.

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This thing is awesome. It only makes one cup at a time but the coffee is excellent. When the woodstove is up to temperature, a cup of coffee takes less than two minutes to prepare. We bought two of them for $12 each. About the cost of a cheap electric coffee machine that takes as much power as we would use for all our computer setups in a full day. You can’t swing a dead cat in here without hitting several computers. (Or a dead baby seal, or a dead bunny, you get the idea…)

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4 thoughts on “Coffee – Just gotta have it”

  1. I’ve an old fashioned stove top coffee perculator. Also a fan of the French press. With a big kettle of water on the stove at all time, it doesn’t take long to get a good cup of coffee.

    What I’ve got to build is a good coffee roaster that doesn’t work off electricity. In a pinch, I can do it with a covered cast iron frying pan, but the roast is a bit uneven.

  2. Hi Shane, Espresso is a non-optional requirement around here as well. I think our machine is on its last legs, and that’s the third one in the last four years. Further, we are about to go full off grid at the end of the month, so we want to look at going with a stove top espresso maker. What type are you using, and where did you get it? Also wanted to know what you would recommend now that you have been using the stove top for awhile.
    Thanks, Mark.

    1. Hi Mark, There is no brand name on the ones we have. They are single cup ones we picked up at Superstore for $12 each. When the stove is hot, they make the coffee faster than I can drink it. (And I can drink it pretty fast, I had thought about turning pro…) Down the road I may pick up a 6 cup one but I’m in no rush. One thing I don’t like is that they don’t work on the induction cooker, but I’ve got a small electric dripper that I use when there is no need for the woodstove. One thing I would definitely recommend for the stove top is to try toast. I use a stainless steel wire rack on the stove and my wife’s homemade bread makes the world’s best toast in this way. BTW, both the coffee and the toast are made on our heating stove, not our cook stove because it is on more. In fact tonight our supper is being made on the heat stove.

  3. Thanks Shane, We are going to keep looking at getting our coffee making away from the typical espresso machines. They are expensive, unreliable and huge hogs on the electrical. I like the idea of getting as much use out of the heat stove as possible. My wife is adapting to these changes at her own speed. At first there was a lot of resistance to the idea of any cooking whatsoever with the wood heat. Out at the homestead right now the shop is heated by an airtight fireplace insert that I scrounged about ten years ago. The thing about that style of stove is that it has a second layer of steel over the top with about an inch of airspace. Therefore the top never gets hot enough to quickly boil a kettle or do what we would think of as normal cooking. When I first started working out there last fall, it was normal to haul out the propane camp stove to heat up lunch. That gradually changed as we found that even though the heat stove was slow, it did a very nice job of warming up lunch (kind of a crock pot sort of heat). The adjustment needed was that you put your lunch on to heat up 30-45 minutes before you want to eat rather than the 5 or 10 minutes that the gas stove would require. The point is I suppose that going off grid is a series of adjustments. I have my sights set on getting to the point where 100% of the energy requirements of the homestead are met without sourcing any type of purchased energy. This has to be done however without exceeding the comfort level of any member of the partnership. I will be interested to hear how you make out with the induction cooker this summer. It makes a lot of sense to me to take some of that surplus solar during the summer and use it for cooking, cutting down the propane bill and avoiding heating up the house at the same time.
    Cheers! Mark.

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