A little bit about coffee and coffee cups

coffee filter, cups and kettle
A simple, single-serving system with a minimal amount of mess and waste.

One of the first items to go flying off the counter when we started RV-ing was our fairly unsatisfactory Keurig coffee maker. As it turned out, that was a happy accident. It gave us the opportunity to rethink how we made coffee and what we did with the grounds.  Now we have a system we love, both for at home and on the road.

Grinders and coffee beans

No matter how small the living space, I think everyone has an arguably “non-essential” item they can’t do without. For us, it’s a coffee grinder.

The coffee grinder we have easily passes The Test that I use to decide whether to bring something on the road:

1.   Is it light?
2.   Does it take up a lot of space?
3.   Does it serve more than one purpose?

(In theory, the coffee grinder could be cleaned out and used to grind other items like nuts or spices. While I’ve never actually done this, it pleases me to know I could!)

When we’re plugged in, we try to remember to grind extra coffee for those days when we’ll be boondocking or dry camping (IOW: not hooked up to electric power), but we have been known to fire up the generator just to grind some beans.

Speaking of which, we really don’t practice any brand loyalty. We tend to try whatever coffee is on offer, always stocking up on organic, fair trade options where we find them.

coffee grinder, cups and beans
Our coffee brand varies with location but we’ve found organic, fair trade brands almost everywhere we’ve… bean.

Souvenir coffee cups

Coffee cups are another great #collapsiblelife souvenir. They are practical and fun. We buy them to use and enjoy. And when they chip, break, fade or are otherwise finished, we let them go. (There’s always another one to find around the next corner, and recycling them helps keeps the clutter in check.)

Kettles, coffee filters and water conservation

In our pre-RV days, we used a reusable mesh filter in our coffee pot, simply dumping the grounds and unfinished coffee in the compost and washing out the filter and the pot for the next use.

Off the grid in the RV though, water is at a premium, and composting facilities are rare or non-existent. Rinsing out filters and coffee pots isn’t a great use of this limited resource (you actually don’t want stray grounds settling into the bottom of your grey water tank), and dealing with half-finished pots of coffee can be a bit of a nuisance. (Although refrigerating the leftovers in a sealed container for an iced coffee in the afternoon is one nice option.)

That’s why we landed on using unbleached paper filters in single-serving cones; a simple solution with a minimal amount of waste and mess. You can find these little plastic Melitta pour-over coffee makers in almost any housewares department for about $6.99US. The #2 filters that fit in them (various brands and prices) are in the grocery store with the coffee.

Finally, we use an electric kettle when we’ve got power, but keep a stovetop kettle on board to use on the propane stove when we don’t. The second kettle is light, small and serves a second function as an extra water jug. (Passes The Test indeed!)

two coffee cups with filters
Long before Starbucks made it an art form, Melitta coffee-makers offered an easy, inexpensive way to make a perfect pour-over coffee.

Our friends like it too!

Recently we were gifted with a new coffee maker for when our friends came over to our rental house, and it would seem that making a maximum of two cups at a time was a little too slow. And wouldn’t you know it? Our friends also opted to wait for their own  individualized pour-over: fresh, hot and ready when they were. To me, it’s a small example of how a simple, inexpensive solution can be good enough for almost all situations. Dare I say it? For me, it’s a solution that is “good to the last drop.”

Enjoy your coffee,









  1. We are at a park but are still using the cone you let us “borrow”..you will have to travel with us again to get it back.(giggle, giggle) We find that we don’t waste coffee and we drink a bit less than when we brew a pot. Good post and thank you. Oh, FYI, I found all my colored pencil, I thought I had lost, and am having fun just coloring!


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