How to make coffee off-grid

Update After our pour-over fell to the rustic kitchen floor, we’ve been making cowgirl coffee. Quicker, and just as good!

You’re camping, your power’s out, you’re living in a van in Mexico…you should get so much natural sleep that you don’t need coffee, right? Ha - between the animals inside and storms outside, we’re as tired as ever. We drink as much coffee as ever, too.

Here’s our method:

  1. heat water
  2. grind coffee
  3. pour over

1: We have two options for heating water: electric kettle Phillip carefully researched what could run on our solar system (had to be fewer than 800w) and found this one.

Turns out low-watt kettles are rare, so we had to get one wired for UK, which means we had to buy an adapter, too

If we don’t have enough sunlight we use option two: propane.
Our grill takes a lot longer to heat water than the kettle, but we’re glad to have a back-up plan since coffee desire often arrives before the sun has charged our battery enough to use any electricity. Read more about our grill.

2: We prefer to buy beans for a fresher cup but our favorite coffee supplier (direct trade from Chiapas) only carries ground, so we usually get to skip this step. Yay!

Our grinder is an older version of this and we use it for spices and dry herbs, too. We expect it will last longer than the van. does work with the solar system, though a low battery struggles to get that initial whir of the blades. Pro tip: any appliance says how many watts it uses, but the initial power surge may be higher.

3: Our first pour-over was all-in-one and the coffee always tasted dusty. Phillip faithfully cleaned it using various internet-recommended methods. We read scads of reviews and ended up buying a separate filter and holder. The filter will last forever and the holder will last until a drop onto our rough concrete kitchen floor.

It’s hard to pour slowly from the small pot we heat the water in, so sometimes we use our wee 1-cup pot to dip and pour (slower pour makes better coffee).

The coffee grounds make great soil, so we dump them on different garden beds each brew.

Moka pots are a great option too - self-contained and no glass to break! They last nearly forever, and parts are replaceable.


mom July 31, 2018

I really should buy you a hand grinder but if you’re mostly only buying already-ground coffee, then it would be just one more thing! And I’m sure you do appreciate having your grinder for the other things you mention.

Anna Lisa Gross August 03, 2018

Well I have had this one on my amazon wish list for awhile, but we really can use our electric grinder these days! But if you ever just need to buy us something:-)

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