When word spread last week that we had a method for people to make great-tasting, hot coffee when the power goes out, Cheapsters went pretty nuts.
On The Cheap Facebook fan Amy Heydt-Pudliner in Hellertown got so worked up, she called us "hunny" and "sweetie" in the same note, and even invited us over for a hot thermos of joe. Sorry we had to take a rain check, Amy, but the invitation sure was thoughtful. Sometimes disasters bring out the best in people.
We also got a call from Frank Pietruch in Perkiomenville. He wanted to let us know how he makes coffee when the power goes out without using a camp stove. We suggested folks invest in a small camp stove so they can have coffee when they lose power. Frank wanted to make sure people don't buy things they don't need.
"If you have a wood stove, you can do the same thing," Frank said. "Just put the hot water on the wood stove and you can make the coffee. The other thing is a gas grill."
Frank made his discovery after Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to millions of homes.
"When I woke up, I didn't have power, but I had coffee," Frank said. "I thought, I'm going to make it on the grill. I didn't measure anything. I just kind of threw the coffee in and threw the water in. I don't particularly care for instant coffee, but it gets you through a pinch."
We took a trip to Perkiomenville and had a couple of cups of coffee with Frank. His wife even cooked some delicious oatmeal cookies, which made the long ride well worth it. The toughest part was deciding which coffee tasted better, the mug made on the wood stove or the mug made on the grill. We'll call it a tie.
You can see Frank's clever electric-free coffee-making ideas in a video at http://www.mcall.com/onthecheap. Just be careful not to put a pot with plastic handles on the grill or your wood stove because they might melt. And use pot holders when grabbing those hot pots of water.
"Instead of buying a camp stove and can of gas, if you already have a wood stove or a grill, you don't have to buy anything," Frank said.
We did some number-crunching in the On The Cheap lab and figure Frank's tip would save you $426.40 over 20 years if it keeps you from buying coffee at gas stations or convenience stores during power outages.
Another coffee drinker, Larry Hippenstiel in Bethlehem, sent us his own tip for those of you who use a Keurig, which makes single cups of coffee. The machines use K-cups, or pre-measured cups of coffee grounds for brewing an individual cup. Those cups can be pretty pricey, which is why Larry thinks his tip can come in handy.
"K-cups that read extra bold, extra rich, dark roast, French roast, etc., can produce two excellent mugs of coffee from a single K-cup that brings the cost down to less than 25 cents a cup," Larry said. "Thank you and enjoy."
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Cheapster: Frank Pietruch
Tip: Make coffee on a wood stove in power outage
Estimated savings: $426.40 over 20 years