Gourds have been used as containers of various sorts for centuries. But the idea of a coffee maker made from a gourd came to me after looking at the hourglass apparatus my oldest son brought home last summer. It’s called a Chemex® and it’s a simple device into which one places a heavy duty filter filled with coffee grounds and then pours boiling water into the container. The water passes through the coffee grounds and through the filter then collects in the bottom section of the flask. The family loves the device claiming it removes the bitter oils and makes a more delicious cup of coffee. Nonetheless, the idea of a gourd coffee maker that I could place in my haversack came to mind. I plant gourds every year and several were drying. After the first few dried I selected a medium size gourd to try the experiment. Cheap to grow, completely organic and ultralight; I figured this gourd coffee maker would be perfect for my stealthy camps in the woods.
After cutting the gourd into two parts, my first thought was simply to poke a hole in the bowl section and then set it over a tin coffee cup. There are several commercial versions of this type of set up but I was unaware of them when I started the project. Regardless, I prefer making as many of my camping tools as possible. Examining the bowl, however, I decided to instead save it for my oatmeal and use the funnel-shaped top portion of the gourd for my coffee maker. In this way I’d be able to use one gourd for both a bowl and for making my coffee.
The only prerequisite is to clean out the gourds thoroughly. I intended to use one of my hook knives for the process but my hooks are far too sharp for that. Instead I used a metal spoon as a scraper. I carefully removed the inner membrane until the gourd was clean. But before poking a small hole in the funnel (that would be at the very top of the gourd) I filled the funnel with hot coffee and let it sit for about an hour or perhaps a bit less. After dumping out the coffee I again cleaned out the inner gourd with a cloth and then poked a 3/32 (2.4 mm) hole in the top of the funnel. Remember that when in use the top of the gourd becomes the bottom of the coffee maker. BUT it didn’t work. The funnel was just too small to put over my tin cup which I had already figured out but was too stubborn to admit. I then went around looking for a suitable tin can but decided I was just being hard headed. I’ve got other gourds and I could use one of the others for my oatmeal bowl.
So I repeated the process on the bowl section. The gourd coffee maker is so simple to make and so neat to use that I’ve already had someone else ask me to make one. If you use a tin cup then this bowl gourd coffee maker is perfect. I’ve experimented with several types of filters and to me they all seem to work about the same. A two-cup filter fits perfectly but you can reuse a white cotton cloth when you go camping. Just place the filter into the bowl and add your coffee grounds. Place the bowl over your tin cup then pour boiling water into the bowl. I boil water in a tin can. The gourd coffee maker works just like any electric coffee maker except you’re out in the woods. It seems the more I use it the better the coffee tastes. It weighs less than half an ounce and is surprisingly strong but I imagine that the round (arched) shape gives the bowl its structural reliability. Enjoy!