Coffee After the Apocalypse: 5 Off-the-Grid Coffee Makers for Smart Preppers

What would happen if you suddenly had to give up coffee starting tomorrow morning?

That’s not a question many of us want to answer, talk about zombie-ville. Without the jump-start of our compulsory morning coffee, many of us could easily be mistaken for the walking dead.

So, are you prepared to make coffee without a cord? If not, I suggest setting up your coffee-making world to include an off-the-grid coffee maker. Do it today so that should the worst-case scenario indeed come to pass – or even a far-from-worst-case-but-totally-normal hurricane, snowstorm, or blackout – you’ll be able to move into an electricity-free world with ease with a range of Off-the-Grid coffee makers.

1. Bialetti Moka Express

You’ll see these little Moka machines all over Italy (some people think that’s cool). The 6 cup model is ideal for a one-cup household (there is a good chance at leftovers) and will make a solid 2 cups of coffee. These are not dishwasher-safe, not that we plan on having a dishwasher after the apocalypse.

The Moka uses a rubber gasket, which can break down over time, especially when exposed to high heat.  So, heat it up slowly and stop when you hear it make a gurgling noise so you don’t burn it.

The only serious downside is that the beans must be ground to a fine espresso grind – more work when you use a hand grinder. But the Moka makes a rockin’ strong cup of joe – strong, intense and quite possibly the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had. If you like your coffee like the Italians and the Cubans do, then the Moka is for you.

2. French Press

After my initial “Coffee After the Apocalypse” article, I received several emails saying “hey, what about the French press – what’s so wrong with the French press, buddy?” Well, they didn’t call me “buddy,” but we did talk about coffee presses. I personally have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the coffee press – sometimes I find that it produces coffee that’s oily and too full-bodied. But I’m told that that may be the grind of the beans I was using – that the grind was too fine, thus leaving in too much of the bean. Fine. Whatever. Moving on.

However much I may malign it, the French coffee press has some really great things going for it for us “preppers” that I just can’t ignore:

  1. The coffee press doesn’t ever touch the fire directly, so you don’t have to worry about messing it up over a camp fire, for instance.
  2. All you need to heat up is just some plain water – and you can use anything you have on hand to do that with.
  3. The grind you use is coarse, so it’s easier to crank out by hand. You could even pummel some beans with a rock if you wanted.
  4. There’s no moving parts or gaskets to wear out over the long term, thus ensuring coffee for as long as you have beans. My sister still has the coffee press we used nearly 20 years ago!

So if you grind the beans coarsely, having a French press coffee pot will help ensure you have coffee for years to come. As long as you’ve stockpiled beans, that is (I talk about that here). The best one to get is the Bodum – it’s the classic, and is at an excellent price.


3. Cold Brewing

Did you know you can brew coffee without heat? Caribou Coffee makes their iced coffee this way, and it is fantastic. What makes it so good? There’s less acid in cold-brewed coffee, which makes it super smooth and easy to down. I’ve found that I can drink a ton more cold-brewed coffee because it won’t upset my tum-tum – no more coffee-induced heartburn. You don’t have to drink it cold, either. You can heat it up and have a nice cup of hot, low-acid coffee. It’s smashing.

The best system for making cold-brewed coffee is the Toddy.

Because you brew 12  – 16 ounces of coffee beans all at once, you make a coffee concentrate that lasts for 3 weeks at a time. This is a huge bonus for us in the post-apocalyptic world – we need our hands free for fighting zombies.


4. The Ol’ Percolator

Who doesn’t love a nuclear-hot cup of perked coffee out on the trail? Robust and super-hot, perked coffee is something that inspires a lot of nostalgia. For some of us, perked coffee was the first kind we ever tried – early morning, fried spam on the campfire, the cold river rushing by, Dad telling us how disappointed he is in us and life in general. Good times.

And it’s for this reason that I have one; I just want to always be able to make a pot of perked coffee. Plus, it is indeed awesome for camping. The Yosemite percolator is very pretty, and yet it’s heftier than the granite-colored ones we tend to think of. Steer clear of vintage glass percolators (I have one taking up space in my kitchen as we speak). They aren’t as practical and all that glass can be a tad nerve-wracking to deal with.

5. Coffee Siphon

This is my daily driver, so to speak. We use our coffee siphon every day – I talked about my experience in more detail here. The siphon makes for a clean, full-bodied cup of coffee, free of sludge. Here’s a recap as to why it’s awesome:

  • Coffee can be made on any type of stove, including an outdoors.
  • There’s no contact with metal or plastic.
  • It’s easy to use and get really clean (have you ever successfully cleaned your plug-in pot???).
  • The coffee tastes nearly as good as it smells while brewing, which has eluded me in previous brewing solutions.
  • The coffee siphon we chose is easily less than 1/2 the price of a nice plug-in pot.
  • Plus, it’s really beautiful. Don’t you agree? Here’s where to get one.

So there it is, 5 coffee makers you can use without electricity. What’s your favorite way of making coffee off-the-grid? Drop a comment below and share with the rest of us, we’ll all appreciate it.

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