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Coffee and tea are both things that should be in your food stockpile. A short to long emergency can be hard enough without being forced to do without something you are used to having. Consider that coffee and tea are also excellent for trade if you are looking for barter items to put back.
I had been considering adding a quality peculator to our preps. While we have a French Press, that is not the same thing. We have found that French presses take more coffee to get the same flavor. Stanley recently had a sale that allowed me to pick up one of their quality percolators for almost half the price it normally sells for. I trust Stanley products so it was just too good to pass up.
The percolator is 1.1 liters so it makes enough coffee for several adults to have a few cups. I like that my Stanley is stainless steel and not aluminum like a lot of percolators out there.
As I said, I don’t want to rely on a french press for my coffee but they are worth mentioning. For more info on making coffee with a french press, check out this article.
Secura French Press Coffee Maker, 50-Ounce, 18/10 Stainless Steel Insulated Coffee Press with Extra Screen
This is a french press that actually may change my opinion of them. While writing this post I actually found a larger stainless steel french press. The 51 oz capacity is much better than the 34 oz of most and it is stainless steel rather than fancy plastic or glass. If you do want a french press, this is the one I would recommend getting for household use.
Matt and I have been buying green coffee beans and roasting our own for many years now. It saves a lot of money over buying quality coffee at the grocery store and we get to roast it to a precise level we like rather than having to settle for beans that are often too dark. It seems like a lot of coffee brands have decided to go with a darker roast even if the bag says it is a medium roast.
Buying green coffee beans allows one to experience greater variety. Coffee has a lot of complex flavors. The region and variety of coffee as well as the harvesting and packaging process of the green beans all have an impact on the final flavor.
For green or roasted coffee beans, I recommend Coffee Bean Corral or Fresh Roasted Coffee. Coffee Bean Corral just sells green coffee beans while Fresh Roasted Coffee sells both roasted and green coffee beans. If you are unsure of what types of coffee you want to put back, Coffee Bean Corral has some very affordable sampler packs.
Whole Bean Roasted
Getting beans that are roasted but not ground is another option for those that want some coffee that doesn’t go stale in the bag as fast as ground coffees.
While this is very convenient, it doesn’t have the flavor and the shelf life of whole bean coffee. At the same time, I think ground coffee that is sealed in #10 cans is not a bad thing to have as part of your stockpile. It is inexpensive and does the trick.
Green coffee beans lose up to 20% of their weight when roasted. It is usually lower but it does vary based on the variety of coffee and how dark you like to roast it. This is important to keep in mind when buying green beans and calculating how many you need to put back to meet your long term food storage goals.
Deals On Coffee In Cans and Sealed Bags
I am going to include a few options here that my Dad likes. While we roast coffee and take it to him, he gets nostalgic for some brands. I have not tried these brands myself but I trust his opinion on this one. I do have to say he likes coffee with chicory in it sometimes. It is a bit of a French and Southern thing so I won’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of chicory coffee.
French Market Coffee, Coffee & Chicory, Medium-Dark Roast Ground Coffee, 12 Ounce Metal Can (Pack of 6)
You get 6 sealed 12 oz cans of this coffee at a bargain price. My Dad just had me order some for him. The roast is a true medium-dark roast from what he has told me.
This is another old Southern brand of coffee that is a bargain and a lot of people seem to like. You can get big cans of it online at Wal Mart. There are many roast styles and blends available so you may want to try out a few before you stock up. The Wal-Mart cans I just linked to are really inexpensive. You get 2 cans at 37 oz each for just $20 at the time of this writing.
Let’s talk about tea for a minute.
A Kettle or Two
A good teapot is important. While I like an electric kettle, a good stainless steel tea kettle or a cast-iron kettle that is lined with ceramic is a better option for an SHTF situation. If you have the space then I don’t blame you for having both.
While us preppers talk a lot about situations where the grid is down, the truth is that plenty of bug in situations and emergencies happen and the lights stay on. If you have some backup power like a Jackery you can also run some things a few times a day.
My mother in law gave me this exact electric kettle because it was a spare she had. She actually bought it used too. This is a real workhorse. I have used this kettle so much because it heats water up fast. When we were unsure about our supply of propane, I used it to get water boiling before using it for cooking foods on our electric hotplate.
I also use it to get water to boiling to pour over dry beans that I want to cook in our crockpot slow cooker. It gets the bean cooking process going a lot faster and is great for when you forget to put the beans on soon enough or want to give soup a headstart.
This is the tea kettle I am after. I like it because it can double as a steamer for our wood stove and it comes with a built-in strainer so using bulk teas is really easy. This pot is cast iron. Some cast-iron kettles are just designed to add humidity when using a wood stove. They don’t make great tasting tea. We were given a kettle that was just cast iron and it always seemed to give off an odor. It was labeled as not suitable for water used for consumption You can get cast iron and ceramic lined kettles in many different sizes too if you prefer something that is tough but not just metal.
This teapot is very similar to the one above but is much larger at 101 oz and it has a ceramic lining that many people find appealing. You can get the same style in a smaller version through the link above as well. These are really pretty and functional teapots that will last for many years.
These devices allow you to buy bulk teas. Buying tea by the pound is so inexpensive compared to tea bags. It is actually shocking how little tea is in a box of 20 or 100 bags. A lb of organic green tea on Amazon from Davidson’s Tea is under $10. To get that same amount of product in a premade tea bag, you would need to spend more than $50. While there is nothing wrong with having some tea bags on hand especially if you just have some that you like to drink occasionally and not regularly, for SHTF tea stashes, most of your tea stash should be bulk tea if you plan on drinking it with any regularity during the course of a long emergency.
As said before, it is a good idea to pick up a few hundred of these. They are very convenient and allow you to enjoy a cup of tea when using a tea ball or strainer is not convenient or possible. Tea bags are easier to throw in a kit or bag for use when traveling.
While writing this article I saw an interesting video from my friend Modern Refugee. Brick tea is an interesting historical method of tea storage. Be sure to subscribe to his Youtube channel. He has a lot of very interesting videos for those that like bushcraft and prepping topics.
I have a previous article that talks about roasting green coffee beans but I have to say that since that article was published, Matt and I have found an easier way to roast coffee. Due to the pandemic we decided to get a quality toaster oven that has a convection setting. This was a big game changer because it roasts coffee perfectly and you don’t have to babysit it the whole time.
The article I wrote on roasting coffee explains how we use a cast iron frying pan. This requires a lot of stirring and watching the pan and it creates more smoke. We have a standard exhaust fan above our stove. Nothing fancy. It does vent out which helps but it can still be a bit much. The plus side is that you can roast more coffee in a huge cast-iron pan than a single sheet pan in the toaster oven.
To roast coffee in a toaster oven with convection, do the following:
- Position your rack in the middle.
- Use whatever size sheet pan will fit in your model. Pour green beans in a single layer. If you put too much you will have to stir it some and the results are not as good.
- Turn toaster oven to the highest temperature setting and make sure the convection is on.
- Check beans occasionally after 15 minutes. Roast until they are the darkness you prefer. This is going to vary some.
- Remove pan. It will be steamy and smoky. I usually go outside with or set it on the regular stovetop and turn the exhaust fan on.
- Some coffee has flaky stuff on it after it is roasted. This is called chaff and the amount varies by the variety. Some have little to none and some have a lot. You can remove it by putting coffee in a colander with medium holes and shaking. It should fall out.
If you go the whole bean route then you are going to need a grinder. Now the small electric ones are the way to go if you have electricity or even a very small amount of back up electricity. We ran our coffee grinder at Prepper Camp last year with no problems using our smaller Jackery.
I recommend having an inexpensive electric grinder and a hand crank option. We have a hand-cranked grain mill we used to use for coffee when we first started roasting.
How much tea and coffee should a prepper plan for?
While a lot of preppers get portrayed in the media as planning for decades, the truth is that the vast majority of us don’t have the space to plan more than a few months or a year. You need to prioritize your prepping space and be honest with yourself or you will run out of space and be lacking some essentials while having too much of something else.
How many people you have in your household that drink tea and coffee must be considered. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, a pound of roasted coffee will make 48 cups with a cup being 6 oz. I really dislike how coffee and tea are calculated in 6 oz cups. I have never met anyone that uses a 6 oz coffee or teacup. 12 oz is more in range or maybe 10 oz. At that rate, you can expect to get 24 mugs at 12 oz each or close to 29 mugs at 10 oz.
12 oz mug x 2 adults x 2 mugs each x 7 days=28 mugs or around 1.2 lbs of coffee per week
52 weeks x 1.2 lbs=62.4 lbs per year
62.4 lbs of coffee doesn’t take up as much space as you would think.
I understand that space is limited, but a 10 lb bag of roasted coffee will keep two adults drinking their 2 mugs per day for about 2 months and won’t take up more space than a bag of rice or beans. If you are buying green coffee beans, remember that the beans lose some of their weight in roasting so you would need a little more.
A single lb of bulk tea will make 181 6 oz cups. This is based on using 2.5 grams of tea per 6 oz cup. So you would get 90 mugs at 12 oz each. A lb of tea, especially if you vacuum seal it using a Foodsaver or similar, takes up hardly any space. While tea has less caffeine than coffee, it does store in less space so for some folks, it may be a better choice for having an extra caffeine stash for SHTF. 4 lbs of loose bulk tea would allow for a single adult to drink a 12 oz mug each morning for a year or two mugs for 6 months.
Quick Note on Shelf Life
Tea can be sealed and kept in jars for a really long time. In Modern Refugee’s video on brick tea, he mentioned sealing tea in a jar for a decade and it being just fine. Some people like to say that coffee will only keep a few years even when stored as whole green beans.
I do not think that is true at all. If you vacuum seal green coffee and keep excessive heat, moisture, and vermin out, it should last for a decade or more. I cannot be sure exactly how long but there is really not that much in green coffee that can go bad unless exposed to the things I just mentioned. Staleness should be minimal as well if you have truly vacuum sealed it.
Tea Additions and Non Caffeinated Options
Having a tea ball or strainer allows you to create your own tea blends on demand if you want. I keep Hibiscus Flowers, Peppermint, and Raspberry on hand for this purpose.
Chamomile and other herbs can be bought in bulk and used for herbal teas. Of course, you can also buy herbal tea blends by the pound and put those back if you want some soothing non-caffeinated options.
For those that want to make custom blends but want the convenience of a teabag, you will be glad to know that you can get bags that you can fill yourself. Here is what I found on Amazon.