“aside from bugs and strays, the rock that ruins most camping trips is baking.”
— Camping by Ernest Hemingway, Toronto Daily Star, June 26, 1920
Reading: Best way to make coffee camping
Coffee is a camp staple, and judging by Western lore, it’s easy to make. just throw a handful of coffee into a blackened pot filled with water from a nearby stream and place it on top of a roaring campfire under a blanket of stars.
this is romantic nonsense.
Coffee is a fragile and complex product, the flavor of which is directly affected by many variables. must be crafted with care.
That doesn’t mean a good cup of coffee can’t be made over a campfire, although most campers today make their coffee (and cook their meals) using a propane or liquid fuel stove: tools that are efficient, reliable, clean combustion and even heating.
cooking cart: historic throwback, competitive sport
There are numerous methods of brewing camp coffee. here are some tips for making the perfect (or near-perfect) cup:
start with beans. Freshly ground beans provide a fresh release of oils that are at the heart of coffee’s rich, complex flavor. the beans are available almost everywhere bagged coffee is sold. roasts vary, but I prefer a darker roast, which results in a darker, richer flavor, but not necessarily a stronger one.
Store beans in an airtight container, but don’t store them in the camp cooler or cooler. humidity will have a negative effect.
You’ll need a hand-cranked coffee grinder. the javamill ($29.95 from gsi) is a solid and simple unit. Snow Peak offers a stainless steel version with their Country Barista, which features a convenient hinged crank, but it comes at a hefty price tag of $99.95. both feature a ceramic grinding wheel. how finely to grind the beans is also a personal taste. I prefer a coarse grind, although generally, the finer the grind, the more oils are released and the more intense the flavor of the coffee. however, grinding too fine will produce a bitter brew.
(If you forget your grinder, the beans can be crushed by wrapping them in a cloth and hitting them with a stone.)
There are several methods for making beans into an infusion. for one or two cups, I prefer the pour-over method. you will need a cone, a filter, a cup and something to boil water. place the filter in the cone and place the cone in the cup. add the ground beans (three to four teaspoons per cup) to the filter and slowly add boiling water. the cones are available in ceramic or plastic. I prefer the melitta 1-cup pouring cone in red, which makes it easier to find in the camping gear box.
a more traditional camp brew method is cowboy coffee. fill your pot with about six cups of water and bring to a boil (this can be done over a campfire). remove pot from heat and add a half cup (about two handfuls) of freshly ground coffee. stir, cover, and let sit for three minutes, then add a small splash of cold water, which settles the soil.
For another version of cowboy coffee, add half a cup of freshly ground coffee and six cups of cold water and bring to a slow boil. when the mixture reaches a gentle boil, remove from the heat for three to four minutes, then add the splash of cold water to settle the ground. this generally produces a very strong brew, potent in western romance but often harsh in flavor.
A camping brewer also makes a great cup of coffee, and you can afford to brew your brew over a campfire, although a stovetop provides a more controlled cooking environment. coffee pots are available in various sizes at most outdoor retailers and online outlets.
gary garth writes a monthly outdoor column for usa. uu. today.