Power outage coffee: using Stanley's camping French Press at home

The quality of the coffee is likely 90% of it but i certainly have a strong fondness for the pot + cloth filter process. My mom even has a really nice wood and fired clay set up so you can pour the coffee over the filter hands-free and into a cup or jar. though she doesn’t break it out often.



Yeah, getting close to RVing there! I would definitely draw the line at a TV and a 120v air conditioner.

But these terms are more descriptive of the activity, and to me not necessarily a hierarchy of badass. Every night on the ground feels slightly less comfortable than the prior. If it takes a camper to get a person in the outdoors, then so be it!


It’s not something I would use right now but I really appreciate the idea and execution.


When going minimalist on canoe trips, that’s pretty much my method: toss the coffee in a pot of boiling water, let steep for 5 minutes or so, then pour through a fine-mesh plastic tea strainer (approx. 2 grams).

Actually, it’s the same method as a french press, without the fancy plunger to do the straining.


Problem with the Aeropress for travel: I need to carry around a sturdy mug to press into. Pressing an Aeropress over a paper cup is asking for disaster.

I ended up switching to one of these pourover/grinder/mug combo things which packs more neatly than the aeropress, and has a plastic pouring “kettle” that can be used to heat water in a microwave in a pinch. I like pourover better than Aeropress anyway, personally.

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“Egg coffee.”
No French press necessary.
I have made this over a campfire. In the dark! I threw in the eggshells, to buffer the acid in the final brew.

This video shows it being made on a stovetop. Same process.


That strainer is a step up from my classic camp trip “oops forget to pack” socks-of-desperation.

I rinsed my well-worn cotton socks in river water prior to use, and boiled them. Amazingly, most of my fellow campers were ok with drinking the coffee those strained as long as they see that I really did have them boiled. Maybe they were just desperate. That was the last time I packed light-ish with ground coffee.

Instant coffee is way quicker to make, and lighter to carry, cup for cup, vs. ground coffee.

If I am “packing out” what I pack in, this goes double. I am not going to be dragging soggy coffee grounds the whole trip.

So instant is good, when not car-camping.

And I hate burning good daylight on a paddling trip if it means pitching a tent at the end of the day in the dark. :slightly_frowning_face:

I have a question: If you’re making campfires, would it be okay to dry out the used grounds and use them as fuel in the next fire? Or not?


(with the acknowledgement that every camper and hiker has an opinion… here’s mine)

If I am camping in a full-on civilized campground kinda place, with an officially provided fire ring or fire pit, I’d say not a sin to put dried grounds in that fire. I have a neighbor who makes firestarter out of old bacon grease and dryer lint. I bet old food grease and coffee grounds would smell better too. NB: He never camps in bear country.

If I am camping in a totally-leave-no-trace primitive area with a “no campfires” policy, having hiked in and hiked out, I bring my own stove. I’ve always been on a shoestring budget so I use this:

and a windscreen, maybe the alcove / rainfly of my tent, or maybe shielded by an overhanging rock, or in a ditch, just to save on fuel. Fancy people use a JetBoil, etc. At that point, it’s instant coffee all the time.

If I’m leaving no trace, I pack everything out in ziploc bags that can be compressed–for purists this includes packing out their own poop. Days-long hikes really discourage even a committed treehugger from being purist with ideals… some of us compromise by using catholes. Talmudic-level debates surround pack it in, pack it out practices. :grimacing:

Sometimes “leave no trace” campfire practices can bend a little if you have tinder and wood around, and you brought a fire pan (mine is just an old pie tin made of actual tin, propped up on rocks to protect the land, with a 4-inch perimeter collar of accordion-folded aluminum foil and two paperclips, with a small folding trivet in the middle to hold up the cookpot). There’s more housekeeping re fire scars and evidence of ashes or charred wood, but I’d bet oily spent coffee grounds, dried, would burn pretty quick and not leave much to clean up.


Ok it’s been nearly a whole day since I read this, and I still want to ask a question, so I will.

Where do your coffee grounds go where you’re done?

I had a minimalist camping partner who actually ate her coffee beans, often they were chocolate covered espresso beans if cooler weather permitted the carrying of unmelted chocolate because she was definitely not going to deal with coffee grounds, ever.

I will not judge. (Anyone who had seen my old wrap-rocked canoe will agree I am not the best camper, or paddler.)

I just want to find out if there’s a good (obscure) hack that I need to adopt!

I am not a 20 year old hiker any more, and my back would love to hear what you have to say. A neighbor who is in U.S. Army Special Forces tells me “ounces add up to pounds, and pounds add up to pain” and my older body now completely agrees. Eeek!


It’s been a very long time for me – I still have my Svea 123 – but as someone who has composted for decades, I’m not sure why strewing used coffee grounds on ground cover wouldn’t be acceptable. It’s totally natural and will help add nutrients to the soil. Also, earthworms LOVE it.


At home, we spread it on the garden, especially the roses.

The problem is traffic. If someone is spreading coffee grounds at a campsite every day for a season, that “natural wilderness” is going to smell like Starbucks.


I’m afraid I won’t be much help. Whatever you do with coffee grounds, the weight savings will be minor.

First of all, if absolute minimum weight or absolute no-trace camping is the goal, I do as you do and carry instant coffee or switch to tea (sacrifices must sometimes be made). I’m partial to Starbuck’s instant.

Next, by “minimalist” I meant carrying a minimum of gear, for example leaving the french press at home :wink: rather than minimizing any traces of my presence, although I do that as well. The canoeing I was talking about is mostly in provincial or national parks, where there are a fixed number of designated campsites per lake, each site consisting of a fire pit and a thunder box and not much else. Anyone entering the park is given a small plastic bag to pack out any garbage. Cans and glass bottles are banned, and fires are allowed only when conditions are suitable. Anything I say applies only to these conditions.

Under these conditions, I may pack out the coffee grounds or, if fires are permitted, I may burn them. They are one of the few things I would burn, since I hate to encounter a fire pit full of charred orange peel and foil.

However, as @chgoliz says, I don’t have much compunction about scattering coffee grounds in the bush well away from the campsite. I’m not worried about putting them on my vegetable garden, after all. I don’t see any negative consequences apart from a few hyperactive chipmunks. (I repeat, this applies only to northern Ontario conditions, where the grounds will biodegrade quickly and are almost invisible from the start. In a desert environment, different rules would apply.)

You did say that, right?

As an aside, the best weight-reducing advice I can give is to replace your stove with a butane canister one. Mine is the Primus Classic Trail. Both stove and canisters are lighter than the Coleman, and the Primus simmers exceptionally well for a camp stove.

There are lighter stoves, but they are quite a bit more expensive.

Hail fellow noisy Swedish stove user! Optimus 80 here (same guts, different case).


I guess it goes back to another recent discussion, but I am guessing that throwing the grounds on the ground is not an option? (I mean, in the wilderness – at home, I throw my spent grounds on the azaleas and hollies)

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Well look at Mr. La-dee-da with his special case!

Seriously, that is so cool, and looks like a much more stable base for cooking.

I still have two SIGG fuel bottles for my Svea. One time, I went for a quick weekend backpack on the Appalachian Trail by taking a commuter train from NYC into NJ and getting off at a stop that is literally right on the Trail. There was no way to buy butane or kerosene that I could determine (long time ago, no internet and no car) so I had to use gasoline. That Svea worked just fine all weekend. That thing is indestructible.

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Is there any way you can please post us a picture? [drool]

(apologies for the wall o’ text)

I’ve been composting stuff in outdoor piles and indoor vermiculture bins since the 1980s. I completely agree that

Urban, developed areas are different than, say, Shawnee National Forest, or Mark Twain National Forest, or Laguna Atascose National Wildlife Refuge. (Been there, loved them all, strongly recommended.) In a developed area, strew coffee grounds under the roses and azaleas with joyous abandon, as long as you’re pretty sure these are not washing into a ditch, creek, etc. I run coffee grounds through my worms first. I kept their bin in the kitchen. It was easy. And there was no smell. Now they are on the porch because it’s Austin and spring started last week.

And again, I do not judge.
I will take this opportunity to share know some of what I know, in case this will illuminate better practices for people who want to do so. (Do I think we’ve really fucked up this planet, ecologically? Yes. Do I withdraw my consent and participation from the wrongness, the madness wherever possible, daily? Yes, as much as I can.)

Much depends on whether the coffee dumping ground is a hole in soil that overlies karst or sand (transmissive, not much filtering) vs clay or silt (better at containing most of the problematic molecules); whether the dumping ground is on a slope, whether rain is expected soon (before the grounds can decompose), how far the dumping ground is from a water body, whether the grounds are likely to rot fast in a given climate, (I agree that the desert is fragile and things don’t decompose quickly there); whether the water body has a robust vegetative buffer to filter runoff from upslope through its roots and aerial parts, or if the water body is bounded by a sandy shore or muddy bank absent of any plants including grasses.

Will coffee grounds leach into a water body, a sink, cave system, or stream connected to a fragile aquifer that has endangered species in it? Some here may dismiss this as precious treehugger nitpickery, but often legal protections of federally listed species provide brakes on rampant development in areas that have inadequate monitoring or enforcement of environmental law. I know this firsthand, less than 100 feet from my front door.

I realize if it is just one camper with a single serving of coffee and coffee grounds, maybe talk of water contamination or ingestion by wildlife is not an issue. What if the area gets a lot of campers daily or annually, and each person is putting coffee grounds on the ground? What is the impact, multiplied by the number of campers, in the given area, which may or may not be fragile?

Suppose the dumping ground is above a direct unfiltered connection to an aquifer through critical environmental features (think: fault line, sink, cave)? That’s certainly what we have here in the central Texas Hill Country. I share my sole source community well (which draws from the middle Trinity aquifer) with about 100 neighbors. We have no other option for water except rainwater collection. Our exceptional drought of record in 2011 had no measurable rain for 18 months and was a terrifying reminder not to screw up the water supply.

The endangered Barton Springs Salamander is one of the chief reasons why Barton Springs in the heart of downtown Austin is still swimmable. Save Our Springs is another big reason.

Caffeine has known negative effects on mammals and plants etc.

Caffeine impacts reproduction of aquatic life (both fresh and marine biota).


In this context I refer to undecomposed coffee grounds that can wash into a water body such as a stream, lake or ocean, as well as pee/poop at a campsite to the vastly larger quantities from wastewater treatment plants unable to remove caffeine from human excreta. Wastewater also contains pharmaceuticals, e.g. antibiotics, birth control pills, steroids, and other stuff we excrete including cancer treatment stuff like radioactive elements and chemotherapy constituents. Once these are in wastewater, these are in our water supply.

If you have made it this far, thank you for reading.
If you have not made it to the bottom of my post, I do not blame you. Thank you if you tried.


It’ll have to wait until next weekend when i visit Houston but sure :slight_smile:


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