Making coffee with the BioLite CookStove

Originally published at:


I especially like that @markfrauenfelder used the Moka pot he replaced the handle on in a previous @BoingBoing story.

I could actually see myself buying one of these little stoves, not for camping but for cooking things with if the big statistically-inevitable Pacific NW earthquake happens when I’m still living in Portland’s suburbs. My tiny back yard and the wetlands reserve park next door have plenty of sticks.

And now I know I can make moka-espresso for myself and my neighbors while we’re waiting for the gas and electricity to be reconnected.


Isn’t this just a battery powered rocket stove? cool, but… 20 fan driven fires then you need to plug it in?

Why not get the big brother to this lil guy
that way you can charge your cellphone or tablet using combustion of small twigs as your energy source. Indefinitely! Why I bet it even burns dried dung pretty good too! Get back to us with this crucial info asap, k, thx!


I’ve owned the biolite for about 2 years. It’s the best truly portable stove/heat source IMHO, never mind the great ability to charge things, power lights…anything with a usb. The heat from the fire charges the battery. I’ve had mine sit for a couple of months and there is still charge enough left to start the fire to recharge the battery to then charge/power other devices.
This is an essential piece of gear for my bug-out bag. I also sprung for the fold up grill and the pitcher for camping. I’ll even break it out for a quick grill at home.
And no matter what, they always smoke like a freight train for a few seconds before it gets going. Another upside is that it will burn all kinds of things. I start mine with dryer lint. But I also keep hickory chips for grilling.


For the general welfare of humanity, I wouldn’t mind seeing a couple of billion cheap knock-offs of this being made by the Chinese or Indians and sold throughout southern Asia and Africa.


That’s the thing, biolite does donate them to the exact people you described. Another great reason to support the product.


[quote=“UberAlice, post:4, topic:96151”]
I start mine with dryer lint.[/quote]
Hey. I’ve been collecting dryer lint!

(Seriously, I have a little plastic container full of Vaseline-soaked dryer lint for starting camp fires. Now need to remember where I put it, so I can store it with BioLite I hope to buy.)


I use mine for the annual week-long camping trip I take in the summers. While I’ve yet to try out a Moka with it, having a hand-crank grinder and a French press means that I get better coffee in the woods than I usually do at home or at work. Bonus points for making it so I can have all the wonders of the internet and power it with FIRE.

Seriously, fuck roughing it, these things are awesome.


Same here. Got the first iteration and keep dragging it out (to the annoyance of Teh Missus) whenever I can. I’m interested in getting one of their larger ones but those aren’t for retail but for distribution to communities where needed. Still - a fun and useful bit of gear.

1 Like

I see that Amazon offers larger varieties. I’ll probably stick with the cheapest one myself.

They also sell a little grill and a kettle (?) accessory.

1 Like

One of my friends makes fanless backpacking woodstoves out of nested soup cans. They’re basically like a Bushbuddy, only not so big, heavy and indestructible. The relationship between the sizes of the various parts causes them to convect increasingly greater amounts of air through the fuel as the heat increases. If you keep shoving sticks in you get to the point that you would swear there was a fan under there… but the water’s already boiled by then anyway.

Pair one of Pedro’s ratty-looking but functional stoves with a Powerpot and you can charge batteries with your stove instead of draining them!

1 Like

Well, to be clear, the biolite doesn’t drain the battery, it charges it and is a power supply.


Depends on which model of biolite, right? The biolite referenced in my Powerpot link has a thermocouple, though.


It does look like they’ve slimmed it down from their initial model, and that’s always good. But reading the Amazon page, I think that this one is the CookStove, a battery pack/fan without the thermoelectric generator.

The Camp Stove 2 is the improved generator version:


Ah, you’re right. I really like the idea of charging with fire, so I might have to get the more pricey model.

I stand corrected.


While it’s great that they do so, a few dozen variations of cheap knockoffs at $20 each will go many times further that a 1-for-1 donation deal for a $130 high-end product.

At the end of the day, it’s a (nicely well-made) tin can, battery, fan and Peltier thermoelectric generator, right? A DIY version shouldn’t cost more than $40, and if you have access to cheap manufacturing, much less than that.

(To be clear, I’m not saying not to support these guys, or that they don’t make a good product, just echoing @stefanjones’s point about cheap knockoffs being a good thing.)

That’s right - I think the version in this article is a simplified model that doesn’t include the thermoelectric pile. You can achieve a high level of efficiency with a passive rocket stove, as you describe, but there is a marginal improvement in efficiency (higher heat, more complete burn, lower CO/CO2 emissions) with the inclusion of a powered forced air system such as the various Biolite models. This is the main function of the Biolite system, and the charge function is really just a side benefit.

1 Like

They developed a completely different stove - designed around the needs of 3rd world communities that they surveyed - that uses the same technology, and they sell this at an affordable price. This model is actually the raison d’etre of the company. The Campstoves etc are a product they produced to prove the concept, promote their work, and raise funding, for the much larger stove for 3rd world users.


Do you have a sketch or photo of the configuration? I have one of the little Solo stoves which uses sticks like this BioLite option, so I’m imagining 3 sizes of cans, nested inside each other, with cut-outs at the bottom to provide air circulation.