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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Making Coffee (was The case against inverter generators)
Date: Fri, 05 Dec 2003 23:09:26 -0500
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 05 Dec 2003 11:07:35 -0800, Bob Giddings <> wrote:

>Whatever floats your boat.  But I'm with Frosty.
>I fill up the tea kettle with water the night before.  Sometimes I
>grind the beans then too.  When I wake up I light the fire under the
>kettle.  By the time I've shaved and brushed my teeth it's whistling.

You uh, trust yourself with something as dangerous as a toothbrush before
caffeine?  A daring dude you are.

I'm a bit different.  Once I gather the energy to open an eye a bit I start
taking inventory of what will move.  Hopefully fingers and an arm will so that
I can kill the alarm if necessary.  That's exhausting so I have to recover for
15 minutes or so before I test the extremities.  As I get toes and fingers to
wiggle I can usually muster enough will to open both eyes.  A little.  After a
bit more rest I can usually will my arm up enough to hit whatever switch is
appropriate to fire off the coffeemaker.  After some more rest and recovery
I'll move Bob the Cat from wherever he is under the covers and try to swing a
leg down, usually helped along with clumsy kicks from the other.  That's a
major milestone, as gravity can now aid the blood down to the foot.  The other
leg follows, after which I lean back for more rest and recovery.

At that point I can usually lean over to the counter containing the
CoffeeMaster.  The worst part is popping off the funnel, a herculean effort.
That done I can grasp my first gorgeous cup of life itself.  That enables me
to remember where I am and what I'm doing.  And also to curse Mr. Arthur Itis.

Unless I'm on shore power, subsequent pots are brewed in a stove-top vacuum
brewer.  I'm a gallon-and-a-half guy myself so that includes several pots :-)

I do envy people who can turn on in an instant in the AM.  OTOH, bet you can't
hang in there with me on one of my all night marathons :-)

>I made a serious effort to avoid any need for electricity that
>couldn't be performed by the batteries/inverter.  I hate (there's that
>word again) the noise of a generator.  I admire your ingenuity in
>powering everything.  But I find it easier to do without electrical
>gadgets altogether.  Fans, lights, radio, and a coffee grinder about
>do me.
>Your priority seems to be convenience during a particularly vulnerable
>slice of the morning.  Mine is usually silence.  Somehow we both get
>through the day.

Yup. that's the great part.  I want all the comforts of home, only unlike the
stereotype, I don't want them showing.  I keep most of the gadgets hidden from

My genny is pretty quiet, quiet enough that someone has to want to be bothered
by it.  If you followed my cordless battery charger project a couple of years
ago you'll know that I've used ingenuity to confine the engine running to an
hour or so every day or two.

More importantly, I adopted a live-and-let-live philosophy when I started
camping again.  There really isn't much that will make me mad.  Drunks
probably top my get-pissed agenda.  I've never experienced your redneck
generator-from-hell nor for days at a time so I don't know how I'd react.  The
worst I've had was a construction generator running across the CG road for a
few hours.  I just put on my headphones and turn up the volume on the audio
book or music a bit.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Coffee in the RV
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007 20:30:53 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Mon, 11 Jun 2007 10:23:11 -0700, "Just plain \"Dusty\""
<> wrote:

>"Pegleg" <> wrote in message
>> On Mon, 11 Jun 2007 15:56:11 GMT, "Tom  J" <>
>> wrote:
>>> At home and
>>>on the road we use a drip coffee maker with Folgers in the red can.
>> Yeccccchhhhh!
>Dittos that...(;-o)!
>When I can't get the beans I want, we use MJB "European Roast", not great,
>but it'll do.  Although we'd not found so much as one single can the entire
>time we were in Az. or Ut....<big sigh!>  We did, however, find a good
>"private" blend in a store in Blanding, Ut.  Something like "Earth & Sky"

One of the best "consumer" grade coffees I know of is Walmart's house brand "100%
Arabica" blend.  I used to use it in the restaurant and my customers raved over it.
When I'm out of my more exotic beans, that coffee is perfectly drinkable.

It was rough going there for awhile.  Their roasting plant was down in La in the
Katrina-wrecked area.  When I heard that I cleared the shelves at the local
wallyworld.  I managed to eek through until they got a new plant online.

A second best and ironically more expensive is that "millstone" brand that Wallyworld
also carries.  Specifically the "morning blend".  It's smooth and woody and with
little acid.  If you want one that hurts, try the "Foglifter"  It lives up to its
name but my stomach protests for hours.

Hmmm, I think I hear my Kona beans callin' my name :-)


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Coffee in the RV
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007 20:19:09 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Mon, 11 Jun 2007 07:59:20 -0700, David The Hamster Malone <>

>Normally, we don't have electricity when we camp so we use an old 12
>cup percolator using coffee we've pre-ground at home or, in a pinch,
>ground coffee from the local store.  Someone suggested a 'French
>Press' as an alternative but we're not sure we can trust the media
>from Quebec. We should have electricity this weekend...
>Any better ideas. It just doesn't taste the same as our home coffee
>from the Capresso coffee maker. But the Capresso is too big to easily
>carry around and needs to be hooked up to a water source which might
>be a tad difficult to arrange in an RV.

Euwwwwww.  Boiling coffee (aka percolating) is the worst thing you can do to good
coffee.  There is little argument anymore that the Vacuum pot makes the best coffee.
The water boils separate from the coffee, the water temperature is just right, as is
the contact time and the process is pretty much idiot-proof.

The yuppie stores are reelin' 'em in wiht $300 pots but it's hard to beat the good
old $35 stove-top pot.  Here's a photo:

You fill the bottom with water and put coffee in the top.  Sit on the stove.  Steam
drives water to the top container.  When it quits bubbling with air and is only
rolling with steam, turn off the heat.  The steam head collapses in the bottom
container, sucking the coffee back down.  Easy as that.

I got mine from a restaurant supply on-line.  Superior Products I think.  Google
around some.

The gold standard in vacuum pots is the old Sumbeam CoffeeMaster.  Here's one:

They don't make 'em anymore but a blue zillion were made so finding one in excellent
shape in an antique store is simple.  I've never paid more than $30 for one.  I have
a lifetime supply :-)  I use one here in the cabin and one in the RV.  Yes, it's
electric.  That's what the inverter and the genny are for. It only draws about 650
watts and then for only about 5 minutes (less if you start with hot water) so it's
not a major impact on the power budget.

The major advantage is that it's fully automatic.  Fill it up, plug it in and wait.
When the bottom tank runs out of water, a thermostat clicks off the heater, the steam
head collapses and the brewing process is completed, all without external

One other nice thing about these pots.  When you're camping and the process is
finished, just grab the top funnel by the stem, open the door and give it a good
sling.  Voila!  The grounds turn into fertilizer :-)

This page is an index of old vacuum pot makers (and some new ones, it seems.)

If, for some reason I could not have a vacuum pot, then a drip pot would be my next
option.  Mr Coffees and the like run just fine on inverters but if you don't want to
mess with that, Coleman makes a nice drip pot that sits on top of a coleman stove. It
looks just like a Mr Coffee.  About $40 at Wallyworld, I think.

I carry a nice little Black & Decker burr mill that holds enough beans for maybe 5-6
pots.  Grind to order.  It too runs on the inverter.

Make sure you have good water.  For years I held the mistaken belief that distilled
water was best for coffee.  If nothing else, it was consistent.  I was wrong.  I
found a website somewhere on the net where a group of scientists set out to discover
what water made the best coffee.  Double-blind taste testing and all that.  It turns
out that mildly hard, slightly acidic (maybe 6.7pH) is consistently the best. They
identified what elements and in what quantity mattered. They went on to identify a
number of brands of bottled water that met the bill.  Among the waters tested was
NYC's municipal water.  Finally!  It's good for something :-)

I quickly found both by analysis and by taste that my well water here in Tellico
makes the best damned coffee I've ever had.  I already knew that to be true for iced
tea so that should have been a d'oh!  It's mildly hard with a little iron and
slightly acidic. Perfect drinking and coffee water.

Whereas I used to carry several jugs of distilled water in the rig, now I carry my
well water, both in the fresh water tank and in jugs, just in case I run out.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Coffee in the RV
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2007 19:27:20 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Tue, 12 Jun 2007 08:33:40 -0700, David The Hamster Malone <>

>On Jun 12, 11:27 am, Bob Giddings <> wrote:
>> Three problems:
>> 1.  it's electric.
>> 2.  it's expensive.
>> 3.  it's not stainless steel.
>And I've been reading the buyer's 'comments' on It's
>apparently not very reliable either and breaks a lot. Not what I'd
>call a quality appliance. I don't mind paying a premium for one
>that'll last a life-time, and I think I do want an electric one.
>Where can I get a stainless steel version? I tried the place Neon John
>suggested but they don't seem to carry it even though they have the

yeah, I dropped them a note asking where the thing had gone to.  Discontinued.  Bah!
You'll just have to find another restaurant supply company that carries it.  I'd grab
some of those filters in the meantime.  They're better than anything that comes OEM
on any other brand.  And they somehow seem to find their way into the garbage far too

Even though it's not "one-click buy" convenient, I suggest looking around for a
Sunbeam CoffeeMaster.  It really is the best of the best. And very common.  After I
(re) discovered the thing (by getting mom's out of the storage cubbard and wiping off
the dust), I kinda went on a buying spree, thinking that I'd better have several in
case one quit. (Ha! what a thought.  A CoffeeMaster quitting.)  Turned out that just
about every where I looked I found one.  Ended up with 7 or 8 before I slacked off.
Now mine's a "collection", of course :-0  Never paid more than $30 for one.

The amazing thing is, there is almost nothing to go bad and nothing to wear out in a
CoffeeMaster.  Not a single molecule of polymer anywhere in the thing, unless you
call the Bakelite handle and lower body "polymer".  All the working parts are steel,
ceramic and mica, the latter two being the electrical insulation.  The electrical
contacts in the thermostat are massive.  All I've ever had to do is dress them with a
nail file, probably after 50 years of constant use.  There are adjustments for both
the cutoff and the holding temperatures, easily accessible through a bottom access

About the only thing you have to watch out for is the rubber donut that seals the two
vessels together.  Original rubber donuts are, of course, like concrete now.  It
wasn't that many years ago that hardware stores stocked replacement donuts so if you
find one that's come out of service, the donut should be soft.  The complaints you
sometimes read about the halves being hard to separate come from the donut having
gotten too hard with age.  With a new donut and a little food grade silicone grease
maybe once a year, the two pieces separate easily.

Hey Bob, I know that it'd require a teeny-tiny paradigm shift but stumbling
sleep-drunk into the kitchen to flip on the little inverter for the electric pot
isn't THAT much different to turning on the gas burner.  The huge advantage with the
electric unit is that it is automatic.  You can drift back off to sleep until that
aroma wakens you.  The smell from drifting off to sleep with the manual version
sitting on a gas burner usually awakens you via the smoke alarm to a slightly
different odor :-)


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Coffee in the RV
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2007 20:28:13 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Tue, 12 Jun 2007 18:37:16 -0500, Bob Giddings <> wrote:

>On Tue, 12 Jun 2007 19:27:20 -0400, Neon John <>
>>Hey Bob, I know that it'd require a teeny-tiny paradigm shift but stumbling
>>sleep-drunk into the kitchen to flip on the little inverter for the electric pot
>>isn't THAT much different to turning on the gas burner.  The huge advantage with the
>>electric unit is that it is automatic.  You can drift back off to sleep until that
>>aroma wakens you.  The smell from drifting off to sleep with the manual version
>>sitting on a gas burner usually awakens you via the smoke alarm to a slightly
>>different odor :-)
>Go back to sleep?  Then why get up in the first place?  Sleep is
>sleep and up is up.  :o)

Tell THAT to my body....  It doesn't wanna go to sleep and it doesn't wanna wake up.
Makes my disgruntler work overtime!

>No unnecessary electric appliances and especially none that make
>heat.  It's one of Bob's Rules of Boondocking.  Think of it as
>natural law.  It's how I stay out longer.

I'm not arguing, of course, just doing some figurin'.  If a brew takes 5 minutes @
650 watts, that's 650 * 5/60 = 54 watt-hours.  54/12 = 4.5 amp-hours.  Call it 6 to
include Perkeurt.  That's just not a lot of battery power nor much of an impact on
stay-time between charges.

I actually have one of each in my rig.  The stove-top version's bottom unit is a good
general purpose water kettle.  Plus sometimes I like to stumble out and sit a pot on
the Coleman stove to brew while I try to jack my eyelids open.

>But if I ever find a metal vacuum pot that works on the stove,
>I'll try it.  Meanwhile, I have my solution with the Melitta
>filter.  It is not at all clear that the vacuum pot would make a
>better cup.

I'd sound like a coffee snob if I tried to make up some fancy-sounding explanation.
Since just about everyone who's used a vacuum pot and cared to comment has liked the
vacuum brewed coffee better, there IS a difference.

For that matter, there's a difference between all methods.  I have a Melitta (don't
like it very much), a Mr Coffee-type machine, a commercial drip machine, a french
press, a percolator and the vacuum pot.  Discounting the percolator as a coffee
burner (Starbucks imitator?), I can take coffee out of the same batch, make some in
each of the makers and not be able to tell that the original coffee was the same.  I
like the Vacuum pot the best with the French Press a close second.  Commercial drip
brewed third (civilian drip makers leave the hot water in contact with the grounds
too long, I think) and a distant forth, civilian drip makers.  I can't decide whether
your "drinking hot water" comment applies also to percolators but I think it does.

I like some of the more exotic coffees too, such as Kona, but even those have to be
taste-matched to the brewer.  I LOVE Kona in a vacuum pot and it's above average in a
commercial drip machine.  It's a loss in a French Press for some reason.  The only
analogy that comes to mind is that it tastes like a grey fog settled in over the
flavor.  OTOH, that Walmart house brand arabica is wonderful (though different) in
the french press, the vac pot and the commercial dripper.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Coffee in the RV
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 21:10:46 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Wed, 13 Jun 2007 04:23:39 -0700, wrote:

>with this method, you are actually DRINKING the volatile aromatics
>which you paid for, not letting them out the window so your neighbor
>can wake up and smell your coffee.....
>one problem is, they are not actually water soluble - they are oils.
>that's why the standard method is to using near-boiling water.... so
>you can thermally FORCE them out of the beans. the problem is they
>don't stay in the water, they go into the air!
>a theoretical solution would be to use a water-alcohol mix. oil does
>dissolve in alcohol.  Make certain that you allow enough time after
>the instillation, for all that  brand name 12-year old distilled
>liquer, to evaporate away.

This is just silly.  There are as many awful-tasting oil-soluble compounds in coffee
beans as there are good.  Just try your alcohol extraction method and see.  The hot
water brewing process has evolved over hundreds (thousands?) of years as the method
that extracts most of what tastes good and leaves behind most of what doesn't.

No accounting for taste but to me, cold "brewed" coffee tastes more like scorched
wood than coffee.  The reason is fairly obvious - some/many of the flavorful oils are
solids at room temperature and remain in the grounds in cold water.  This is easy to
see as the solid film that floats on the top of strong cold coffee.  And easy to see
as the fatty scum that deposits out inside coffee pots that are allowed to go cold.

>if you take enough xenical, you can smell the aroma a second
>time....   in your toilet.

When my pee stops smelling like coffee then I know that it's time for another pot! No
Xenical needed.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Coffee in the RV
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 21:22:35 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Wed, 13 Jun 2007 07:27:56 -0700, David The Hamster Malone <>

>On Jun 12, 4:46 pm, Hunter <> wrote:
>> I just want a cup of instant first thing in the morning... instantly.
>You have to boil the water... takes time. And then there's all that
>fuss with opening the instant coffee jar and measuring it into a cup.
>I'm too lazy to do all that - makes me tired just thinking about it...
>All I do in the morning at home is push a button. The machine grinds
>the coffee and brews it automatically. I bet the first cup is
>available in less time than it takes you to boil the water... and it's
>better tasting coffee.

Of course, if you happen to have one of those hot water dispensers then instant can
really be instant.  The water dispenser doesn't make it taste any more like coffee,
of course.

In my old office I had a hot water dispenser in my kitchenette sink.  I like really
fresh coffee so the way I did it was to sit an old Mr Coffee filter funnel on my mug
and fill it from the hot water dispenser to the little line that I'd scribed on the
inside.  A minute or two later, instant but good coffee. I used one of those "gold"
permanent filter inserts so that I didn't have to cause massive deforestation from
all the coffee I drank.

I now have one of those hot/cold jug water dispensers.  It does almost as well as the
in-sink thing.  It comes from the factory with the hot water set too cool - probably
lawyers mucking up things again.  Mine has an adjustable thermostat and I've tinkered
with it to get the water as hot as possible without actually boiling (whereupon the
thermostat never turns off and the thing turns into a steam humidifier!)

I still use it when I just want to make a mug at a time with my French Press.  Not
quite as good as vacuum pot brewed but good enough that the convenience makes up for

I've been kicking around the idea for an instant water heater, similar to an
on-demand water heater, only capable of hotter water.  I once energy-audited one of
those under-sink dispensers and was appalled at the standby power it consumed.  My
jug dispenser isn't as bad but it STILL dissipates a significant amount of energy on


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: McDonald's Hot Coffee -
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2007 18:06:17 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Mon, 20 Aug 2007 20:02:29 GMT, Robert Allison <> wrote:

>Is this a joke?  McDonalds coffee is drinkable, but Starbucks
>is the absolute worst coffee I have ever tasted.  It tastes
>like it has been burned.  And what does it cost now?  3 bucks
>for a cup!  When I HAVE to meet at Starbucks I always bring my
>own coffee.

$tarbucks coffee IS burnt.  I'm good friends with the plant manager of one of their
roasting plants.  We joke about this a lot.  Even HE won't drink the rot that they
produce.  Wanna hear the funny part?  $tarbucks won't allow plant tours because, get
this, "their roasting process is proprietary"!  That one made me bellow with


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Water filter
Date: Mon, 07 Apr 2008 13:54:48 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Mon, 07 Apr 2008 10:15:26 -0700, wrote:

>On Mon, 07 Apr 2008 09:41:48 -0500, william boyd
><> wrote:
>>No one with any knowledge of water would use distilled water for other
>>than batteries and steam irons.
>Why? Is it bad to drink or something?

Only to a boyd-brain.

I've been drinking and cooking with distilled water since, oh, '81 or thereabouts.
About the only thing that distilled water is NOT good for is coffee.  The trace
elements in medium to hard water interact with coffee to make it taste better. Both
experience and info from the net speaking there.

The health nutcakes claim that distilled water "leaches minerals from the body" or
some similar nonsense. Others claim that "essential minerals" are missing from
distilled water. A little math puts the lie to both claims.

From the feds:

Hardness		calcium (equiv)
soft			0-17 mg/l.
slightly hard		17-60
moderate hard		60-120
hard			120-180
very hard		>180

So for soft water like I have here, if I drank a gallon of water at the edge of
"soft", I'd get all of 64mg of calcium.  The RDA for calcium is 1000 mg.  D'oh.

To the claim that it leaches minerals, if I drank a gallon of distilled water (0mg of
calcium) and it "leached" enough calcium to be equivalent to soft water, I'd "lose"
all of 64mg of calcium.  D'oh again.


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