Grid-Down? Have coffee anyway!

By John A. Heatherly, Author of The Survival Template and The Cave and The Sea

“Could I survive without coffee?”  Hopefully we will never have to find out. Try these three fun alternatives to modern, conventional coffee making to prepare for a grid-down scenario.

Campfire Coffee

A camping percolator like this one can be found at Walmart, Bass Pro Shop, etc…, and used on a Rocket Stove, propane stove, or campfire.  It takes a little longer to perc coffee, but the taste is worth it!


Cloth Filter

The canvas filters pictured below came from Williams-Sonoma (I know, sometimes I am an “urban cowboy”) though they could be easily improvised out of any cloth.


A bent coat-hanger and an old handle from a broken kitchen implement can hold the cloth filter in place.  These items are small enough to easily fit in a backpack, car, or bug-out bag.

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The coat hanger is threaded through the filter and is ready for coffee grounds…


We bring the water just to a boil then filter it into a mug.  Again, if the power is out, a rocket stove, campfire, propane or camp stove, etc… is necessary to heat the water.

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French Press

A French Press, like this Bodum Travel Press, is another compact, efficient option that makes great-tasting coffee.



Each of these options produces fantastic results and brings peace of mind – a power outage will not stop our coffee consumption!

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

© Copyright 2013 The Survival Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Survival Mom
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John's exploration of wilderness survival includes coursework at Tom Brown Jr.’s TrackerSchool, military service as a Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (S.E.R.E.) Instructor, and the study of leadership as an Officer. He is the author of THE SURVIVAL TEMPLATE and THE CAVE AND THE SEA, A NOVEL which can be found at

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  1. Carolyn Wostenberg says

    We just returned from a trip to Costa Rica. Many of the people who live in rural areas brew their coffee the way you describe in your filter section. They even have stands that hold the coffee filter. Visiters can buy these in many shops.

  2. says

    Hi Carolyn – I think the coffee tastes pretty good with the canvas filters and have considered trying to hunt down a stand. Williams-Sonoma had a couple of those, too. I am jealous of your trip to Costa Rica, by the way!

  3. Jef B says

    One that I use on the weekends is the Coleman French Press Model No.805-713T I boil the water and then add the coffee. One thing that I would suggest is if you get the ground coffee off the shelf is to add another screen.

  4. Linda says

    You’ll get quicker results and use less fuel, if you start with freeze-dried/instant coffee rather than ground coffee. The main thing is to have several ways of bringing small amounts of water to a quick boil so that you can make not just coffee but instant cocoa, herbal and regular tea, instant mashed potatoes, instant rice, ramen noodle meals, instant soups and assorted back packer meals such as those made by Mountain house. If time and mobility are not issues, you can bring water to a high temp (and pasteurize it) with a solar oven and at the same time not create a plume of smoke that will draw attention to your location.

    • Angela says

      Do a You Tube search for Fresnel lens. Free from any rear projection TV. Easy way to boil water as long as its sunny. I hear the lenses from older projection TVs focus a tighter beam. Treat it like a torch. You can easily set wood on fire. Be careful if you have a son. Boys will be boys!

    • Winnie says

      Since we have a problem with electrical outages where I live, I find my porcelain pot and filter set a lifesaver. Here is a link to the filter holder that comes in three sizes. Mine came as a set, pot and filter holder. For people who can’t do without your coffee, I’d make today the day that you plan your back-up for a grid down situation. I’m planning on building a rocket stove, but it will have to wait awhile because the snow here is still over knee high in the yard!

      I purchased a collapsible silicone filter holder that sits directly on your mug for camping last summer, but don’t remember where. This or the Melitta filter would be good in a bug out situation.

  5. Winnie says

    Have you ever heard of egg coffee? You mix an egg into your coffee grounds then pour it into a pot of water – a regular pan will do. As the coffee cooks, the egg also cooks and keeps the grounds together- well, mostly together. Just leave the egg and grounds together in the bottom of the pan and pour the coffee into your cup. We use to do this camping and it works in a pinch.

  6. says

    Great tips! You can also do Cowboy coffee. I was first introduced to this method about 15 years ago when I was out in Montana (beautiful state by the way) … this is where you put the grounds right in the hot water … it definitely makes a strong cup, so use the proper amount of grounds … I was wired all day when I first tried it.

  7. Barb says

    Yes, Cowboy coffee. Bring the water to boil. Remove from heat. Toss in a little handful of grounds. Swoosh it around and pour it through your bandanna. Hang bandanna from a twig to dry while you enjoy the mug of coffee. When dry, twist it up and tie it back around your neck. If you sweat a lot while out on the trail, you might want to rinse it out a bit before filtering your coffee. LOL My Dad’s kinda coffee.

  8. Ben Comeau says

    I love the brick (?) rocket stove pictured! Any chance the directions for building are on the web somewhere? Thanks for a great article!

  9. s hartin says

    I would love to read your blogs. I really like what I have read so far. Iv never signed up for a blog so I hope Iv done it correctly! I was born a prepper, all this is nothing new to me. I love hearing of new ideas and keeping the old ways alive. God bless

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