Coffee with a view, Thermos Brand Stainless Steel French Press and Night Photography

acient tree like by light with Milky Way in background.

Ancient Bristlecone Pine, lit by blue light painting, the Milky Way contrasting in the sky. Being here under a sky like this I desire a Good cup of coffee! 9,000ft up in the White Mountains of Southeastern California. Some of the oldest living plants on Earth. Copyright Vanderhoof Photography 2015

Been chasing the night skies since the 1970’s……..

A bit older, but still feeling like a kid……digital media age is just starting!

The tools and creative fun of my past coupled with the new digital cameras and digital process to make prints.

A good photograph or any work of art should be taken in slowly, enjoyed like a mellow cup of fine coffee (or tea), and savor the flavors of the moment that was captured by the vision of the photographer/artist.

Which brings us to my story of the Thermos Brand Stainless Steel French Press and camping out.

Now, I know that lots of people when they go backpacking, they just take instant coffee and that is that.

Me, I have never liked the powder taste. In a pinch I’ll drink it, but camp coffee, a No. 10 tin can, cup of grounds and water is better.

I drink Expresso, Turkish, Armenian, to name a few, so, nope the grounds don’t bother me that much.

But a nice cup, free of grounds for the most part is better still.

When most people celebrate a victory, they use champagne. Me, It’s a Fine cup of Coffee!

I have been going camping over the past few years and it is a bit of an issue to have a decent cup of my Peet’s Coffee.

I’m getting older, so yep, I want to relax once in a while on photo sites. When you get up before the sun and come back a few hours later for breakfast, you want to relax and enjoy the cup of coffee with your surrounding.

My photographer buddy Clive, car camps and backpacks with me and we are planning some longer backpacks into the Yosemite and Kings Canyon area. We are both active Angeles Chapter Sierra Club Camera Committee members, going on outings and meetings regularly.

So I need to have just one simple coffee maker for backpacking and car camping that makes enough coffee that 2 people get a cup of Hot coffee.  I use a brand of coffee, a bit less known, but a major coffee House,

Peet’s Coffee, as the story was told to me in 1983, is the company that roasted and sold coffee in Berkeley California, who had a few employees leave and become STARBUCKS!

Peet’s Coffee is about the coffee bean, and Starbucks is More about all that sugar and flavors, in my opinion. Bean to Bean, I take Peet’s! I do drink at Starbucks from time to time. Me, I’ll take a nice coffee, hot or iced, just the beans, no added flavor.

But back to the camping, night photography and making coffee.

people hving breakfast at Trona Pinacles, Mojave

At camp in Trona Pinacles, Mojave CA, with Clive, (facing camera) and a client. The Thermos Stainless Steel French Press, stove and tea pot are on the table. Copyright Vanderhoof Photography

I’ve tried a few different coffee makers,

There are many ways to make coffee when camping,

  1. No.10 tin can – camp coffee, prospector’s coffee – throw grounds in water and boil. Let sit a few minutes for grounds to settle. If you have had Eastern European coffees, Expresso, you get the idea.
  2. Various cloth tea bag type filters – awkward and you hike with the wet bag to deal with ALL THE TIME. One cup at a time, coffee cold too often by time brewed. Or you are standing there wet filter in one hand, cup in the other and trying find some place to set the wet cloth bag, so you can get your plastic bag to put it in. Fresh grounds, a la nature.
  3. Plastic filter holder and filters like Melita – either too small, one cup at a time or too big to carry backpacking. Again often cold before you get to sit down and enjoy the coffee. A couple collapse-able out there, I don’t want to deal with one folding down on my hand. Worked in restaurants.
  4. Instant coffee……
  5. Percolator coffee pots – OK, but I prefer the single pass flavor of drip.
  6. French Presses – my JetBoil cooking system has a little French Press kit. It does a ok job after a few uses, but means I can’t cook anything else with it’s one pot set. (extras are $50 ea.) Glass French Presses won’t last long around me for camping and backpacking, but Thermos made a Stainless Steel French Press.

So as you can see, pretty much the same story, too bulky to carry backpacking and easy to break,

or, makes one cup of coffee at a time and is so slow the coffee is cold by the time it finishes brewing. has a Thermos Brand Stainless Steel French Press coffee pot. Which I had been looking at. I just knew it would NOT be light enough to carry backpacking.

I got have room for camera gear!!!! Everything else is the support of my creative moments with the camera.

Thermos brand french press, travel cup, thermos, MSR stove, Peet's Coffee

Coffee Loving Night Photographer’s, Coffee kit for car camping and backpacking. Thermos Brand Stainless Steel 1qt French Press, Thermos stainless steel travel cup, Thermos Stainless Steel 1qt thermos, MSR Whisperlite Universal stove, MSR 1qt tea pot and Peet’s Coffees. It’s coffee time at a rest stop near Mono Lake. Copyright Vanderhoof Photography 2015

Clive and I do a lot of car camping, carrying lights and equipment for night light painting. So I figured OK,  car camping we can have decent coffee if this thing works.

I have my Thermos brand Stainless Steel thermos and we can go out to shoot sunset for a few hours, come back and have some quick food, warm up some more coffee and go shoot the Milky Way or do light painting till 2 am. So yes, I know of Thermos from personal use.

I bought it.

The Thermos brand Stainless Steel French Press,

Thermos Stainless steel French Press for camping

Thermos Stainless Steel French Press for camping. Copyright Vanderhoof Photography

Stainlees steel Thermos brand French Press.

Thermos Stainless Steel French Press. After a year or so of use. Simple, well thought out. Copyright Vanderhoof photography 2015

The Thermos® Brand Stainless Steel French Press,

At 1.8 lbs, I figured it would never go backpacking, but as Clive will tell you. I will carry a lot of gear car camping so I have some options when the weather changes or we can’t get to the spot we wanted. What is another 2 lbs.

As you can see the Thermos® Brand Stainless Steel French Press is very utilitarian, smooth rounded corners. Simple all metal design, standard french press. In the bottom side and interior shot you can see a little of the thickness of the walls of the double stainless steel chamber.

The handle is a bit large and gets in the way during packing. However, a gloved hand will welcome the extra size. I work on my patience when packing.

The press is a plastic lid and the button on the press rod. The rest is stainless steel. Solid course threads help you keep the screen snug. Yet easy to remove. The screen is heavy enough to withstand many pots of coffee and adjusting the screen after cleaning. It will remain in place and not get bent up easy, letting grounds passed. Mine is over a year old. site has the product info saying that Thermos French Press will keep coffee hot for 6 hrs. Well maybe it’s a new version, but my Thermos French Press does NOT have any kind of special seal on the top and is just a single layer of plastic. I would say an hour or 2 at best.

BUT when everyone else does Not come close, not a problem.

The matte black finish of the plastic handles the abuse very well, and does not become slippery when wet. The Stainless steel is 18/8 so you have good quality material.

The photos you see in the exploded view of the Thermos® Brand Stainless Steel French Press has a battle scar or 2 in the photos. Otherwise, out of the camping box, wiped off and shot, (with a camera 🙂 )

The 1 quart capacity is the same as my  Thermos® Brand Stainless Steel Thermos, so it makes one thermos full at a time very nice. I can make a pot for us and then put on another pot for the thermos. My MSR tea pot is 1 quart also. K.I.S.S.

That is why I changed to the MSR Whisperlite Universal. The burner collapses down small, but it is wide enough for a 7 or 8 inch pot. Standard backpacking mess kits. And it still has an inside stable area when some one wants to heat their food in a tin can. Uses the Isobutane/Propane fuel canisters, (special note in minute about the fitting!!!!) or white gas/unleaded gas, or kerosene. A few minutes changing fuel jets and connections, and ALMOST anywhere in the world, I can find fuel. SPECIAL NOTE: MSR is aware of the issue of the screw fitting for the Isobutane/propane cans stripping out. I carry a few extras, $5 or so each. I first thought is was the canisters, BE VERY CAREFUL ATTACHING THE CANISTERS. MSR will replace the piece, just send it to them and they will send a new one, call first for a RMA. Once it started I was still able to use the connector for a few more trips, (till I figured it out, duh!).

With a 1qt tea pot, I put water on first, then we either both use my stove for our meals, it takes 5 or s0 minutes to boil a quart of water and meals are ready in minutes too.

However, because we are running around getting gear together, coffee and food sit for a while.

Our cups of coffee if made hot, sitting in camping cups, still cools off.

Yes, I have a Thermos Brand Stainless Steel Travel cup too. I have had it keep my coffee hot for 8 hours sitting on my backpack in the night air. Note to Thermos and everyone else, there is no easy way to know where the drink holes are. I put a piece of gaffer’s tape on 1 side to note where the hole is. The tape is rough enough to feel in the dark and easy to see while driving. Saves a lot of coffee from going down the side of my face. The button also is very hard to know if the valve is open or shut. I freaking will hold the cup out and try to pour out, spilling hot coffee on one’s self is never fun. And the button is not trust-able. Be Aware!

but we were so use to cold coffee……..

we came over for that first cup of coffee from the Thermos® Brand Stainless Steel French Press, poured our cups.

Took our fist sips,

And burned our tongues………

That coffee was still hot and I knew it had been 20-30 minutes since I poured the water.

I now heat the water to less than boiling on coffee for our cups and will boil it for the thermos.


When I go go backpacking, all my gear is being re-decided, the Thermos Brand Stainless Steel French Press is Going!!!!

Yes! I love Coffee! And will make some sacrifice…..

I may put the press parts inside and hang the pot by the handle outside, but it is going backpacking.


yes, but I love my photography/ art much more,

truck with light painting at Trona Pinacles

Truck set up at Trona, coffee gear by rear wheel of truck, canopy was up more for shade during day. Note I lit the rocks up, light painting for the shot. Milky Way in the sky. Copyright Vanderhoof Photography 2015


and the finished shot of that night,

Milky way in sky with light painting on Trona Pinacles rocks.

Light painting in Trona Pinacles with Milky Way. Copyright Vanderhoof Photography 2015

Sometimes I even get to walk out my studio door with my cup of Peet’s Coffee and shoot something,

Lunar ring with branches of joshua tree in forground

Lunar ring and Joshua Tree. Pearblossom Calif. Copyright Vanderhoof Photography 2015

So now you know the old man’s secret to staying out there deep in the middle of nowhere with a Great cup of Peet’s Coffee.

SPECIAL NOTE: This page is being created to go on the site of Nick Usbourne’s website, if I do it well enough. I am a student in his instructional Money Making Website program. I kind of get to give the instructor and apple…..he doesn’t have a camping COFFEE section on his site yet.

Creative Shooting,

Let me know what you think.

Ask some questions. I will be announcing some upcoming workshops including a very special by reservation only Ghost Town workshop.


All comments in artistic, opened minded opinions are welcome.

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