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A Great Cup of Coffee Off Grid Style

by Lavender Lori Parr - on Wednesday, September 30, 2015
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Never in my life did I own an automatic drip coffee maker. Coffee that comes out of one of those pump holding containers, well, tastes like the container. Coffee is a ritual in my life. I enjoy the process. I don’t want to wake up to already-made, and every cup has to be fresh.

A couple years ago I had a disturbing epiphany. My single cup of morning coffee was not doing it for me. The only thing I can attribute this to is being peri-menopausal. I attribute much of the mayhem that occurs in my present life to this.

I really wanted to appreciate my coffee again. During this same period I was desirous of getting the benefits of green tea into my body on a regular basis. I tried adding an afternoon cup into my routine but the extra caffeine later in the day was not conducive to my sleep habit.

I decided on alternate days to trade between tea and coffee. I’m excited to tell you I so look forward to the coffee days! I also find that my coffee supply lasts twice as long! When I wish a tea day was a coffee day I opt for my own blend of chai instead of my standard green Earl Grey . It kind of looks like coffee…

It took about four months to acclimate to the lesser amount of caffeine on those alternate days. But during that time I was detoxifying from a lot of things: coffee, too much alcohol, a bad relationship, noisy, disruptive town life…hard to know how much of the headaches were caffeine related.

Coffee and tea are made in my off grid sitch, not by any unusual means, just old fashioned. No electricity required.

When I was first married, my husband and I would make a pot of really strong coffee, like we did when we went camping; in a stainless steel percolator, with a little glass bubble on the lid. I have fond memories of coffee being made this same way in the house when I was a kid. (I’m sorry I don’t have one of those pots now.) This would be the ultimate way to brew a perfect cup of coffee as the fragrance and steam would fill up my little cabin space.

A Great Cup of Coffee Off-Grid-Style

It felt like a confirmation of sorts to find my favorite local coffee roaster serving up fresh made cups at the local farmers market with the rustic drip method. And this is typically how I make it at home. I boil water from my solar powered well. While waiting for that, I put fresh roasted beans into my wall mounted 100 year old hand-crank grinder. I could plug in the auto grinder, but hey, I’m living off grid. And I love the little cardio workout first thing in the morning. Two handfuls of beans is equal to about 120 cranks. I can hone the degree of grind by turning the center screw to the right to make fine, left for coarse.  I use either bamboo #2 filters, or Melita recycled, or a paper towel works in a pinch.

Sometimes I feel a need for a chewier coffee.

When that mood strikes me I have various options in my off grid situation: cowboy coffee; boil water, throw in two handfuls of roughly ground coffee and boil for at least 4 minutes then strain thru a paper filter. The spoon should stand up in the pot when it’s ready!

The French press is a classic way to make an excellent cup, there is plenty of sediment in the bottom of the cup. But really, cleaning all the parts, is almost more trouble than its worth. Finally there is the little Italian espresso maker. Three parts to it: a basket that holds the very finely ground beans, the base which holds the water, and the top receptacle that screws onto the basket-nested-base is the receptacle for the distillate of the steamed bean. A marvelous contraption!

All these methods can be utilized at your house on the stove top or in the case of a power outage on a single burner camp stove or open fire. I admit that I do cheat a little in my use of a two burner propane fired cook stove for coffee and cooking.

If I were truly off grid, I’d go out and light a camp fire each morning and set my pots to boil on it.

One time when I drove off in a huff breaking up with the boyfriend I ended up at Monture campground. I woke in the morning and found I’d managed to bring water, single burner cook stove, coffee beans but no grinder or means to filter! I am nothing if but resourceful. I found the perfect Ponderosa branch piece and put it to work as my rolling pin, crushed the beans right there on the picnic table. I used an aluminum can, top cut off, and holes punched in the bottom, lined with a paper towel to filter it. I was pretty pleased with myself. And I had a great cup of coffee! Hell, had there been a milk cow or goat or even a wild sheep near-by I’d have stolen a squirt of milk, would even have pinched a bee for some honey ‘cuz I prefer mine blonde and sweet.

A Great Cup of Coffee Off Grid Style

Off grid coffee: fresh boiling water, whole bean, some way to grind the bean, some ingenious method to filter it into your cup. You better hope you can find a cup in that rig of yours, or you’re gonna have to carve one out of the burl of a tree! Did you bring your pocket knife?

Who needs electricity? Forget the auto drip coffee maker with timer. Where’s the magic in that?


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Author Lavender Lori Parr

About Lavender Lori Parr

Lavender Lori was recently described by a friend as elegant and rugged. Elegant is a stretch but rugged sums it up.

She never was one to play by society's rules or let anybody tell her what to do. And when others thought her a fool for trying something outside the box of normal reality she did it just to prove to herself that it could be done. She has bucked systems most of her life. Some might call her fiercely independent. She is, without a doubt self reliant and self sufficient and maybe stricken with a light case of LFWS - Lonely Farm Woman Syndrome due to circumstances that led to her sudden uprooting to different living quarters, a 90 mile round trip from her base town of Missoula, Montana.

She is the pioneer for growing a couple types of lavender that were never before tried in Montana, distills her own brand of essential oils and hydrosols, and teaches workshops on various topics.