Campers who don't have access to their favorite coffee maker at the campsite can still enjoy a rich mug of coffee using mostly basic kitchen utensils.
Campetent has developed this brewing method to assist novice campers. It all started with a broken French Press carafe and some improvising...
The procedure works fine for canned and for decaf coffee and produces a rich brew.
It's only slightly more work than using a dedicated coffee brewing apparatus, but may well offer a better result.
Campers should feel free to modify or borrow from these directions to suit their taste in coffee.
Family camping coffee recipe for one 12 oz mug
1 small (3 - 4 cup) pan to boil water
1 small separate pan or container to brew coffee.
1-1/4 cup (10 oz) water
2 TBSP coffee grind
1 fine mesh strainer (about 3 to 4 inches in diameter with handle)
1 single cup, plastic, Melitta brew cone that sits on a cup
1 8-cup basket filter (or 1 #2 paper cone filter)
1 12-oz mug
Timer or watch
Measure the coffee grind into an empty pan or into a heat resistant container.
In a separate pan, boil the 10 oz of water to a full boil.
Remove the boiling water from heat and add 2 to 3 TBSP of room temperature water to it.
Pour the hot water over the coffee grind in the other container. The water should fall about 6 to 8 inches total while poured.
Set the timer for 3 minutes.
Stir the brew gently for 1 minute and cover.
Fold the basket filter into a cone (see below) or use a cone filter, place it in the Melitta brewer and stack the brewer on the mug.
When the timer goes off, hold the strainer over the mug and pour the brewed coffee through the strainer and into the Melitta brewer basket for fine filtering.
Enjoy a rich cup of coffee.
When finished, knock the grounds from the strainer into the trash.
Rinse any brewing utensils clean.
With a bit of practice, campers should be able to brew a consistently rich cup of coffee with mostly basic utensils. Good coffee should have a rich bitter flavor and not a flat, bland or stale bitter flavor.
Tips and ideas
Brewing the coffee in a separate container is less fuss and more consistent than trying to brew it in the cone. The water is in contact with the grind long enough to extract a rich brew–even from canned coffee.
Most of the extra labor for this method is straining the coffee.
The cone is only used to filter the sediment out of the brew.
The heated water needs to reach the proper temperature, in order to extract a rich brew from the grind. Campers can consistently achieve this by bringing the water to a full boil and then adding about 3 to 4 tablespoons of room temperature water to slightly lower the temperature.
Bringing the water to a full boil removes oxygen from the water, which would normally cause the coffee brew to taste flat. Pouring the hot water into a second container adds oxygen back in, producing a rich flavor. The 6 to 8 inches is about the distance it falls while being poured into a French Press carafe.
This method works fine for either a coarse or a fine grind. Campers can shorten (finer grind) or lengthen (coarser grind) the brewing time, if preferred, but most should find this unnecessary.
This method uses a 3 minute, instead of the standard 4 minute brewing time, which eliminates the risk of over-extracting the grind and causing the coffee to be bland.
If the coffee grind is not stale, campers should see a creamy CO2 "bloom" develop on the brewing coffee, while stirring.
The fine mesh strainer removes most of the grounds, so that the paper filter does not clog so easily. (The strainer can be either fine or very fine mesh. A regular strainer does not catch grounds.)
After most of the coffee has filtered through, the paper filter may clog. Campers can shift the filter to get the coffee to flow again.
Campers who don't mind sediment in their coffee can just strain the brew directly into a mug and skip the paper filter and the Melitta brewer cone. A tea or tea cup strainer may work even better for this.
The second container with the coffee grind can instead be a French Press, which will eliminate many of steps above.
Campers who prefer to rough it with Cowboy Coffee and don't want to fuss with any straining or filtering can just measure the grind into a mug, heat the water according to the directions above, pour the heated water directly into the mug, gently stir and wait a few minutes. Gently tapping the mug on a table, on the ground or on the palm of the hand may encourage the coffee grounds to settle.
Campers who like their coffee black may prefer a 100% Arabica-bean grind.
Folding a basket filter into a cone filter
Fold the 8-cup paper filter in half.
Then, holding the folded filter, again fold 1/3 of the filter over to cause the semicircle to form a cone.
Holding the double-folded filter, open the original fold to form a cone filter and place in Melitta brewer basket.
Canned coffee for campsite brewing
Ground coffee in the 3-lb can works fine with this method, as long as campers use care in selecting and storing it:
When purchasing, check the freshness date on the cans and look for the most recent date. (These dates can vary by 3 months or more for cans sitting next to each other on the same shelf.)
Once the vacuum seal on the can has been broken, canned coffee, which may have been warehoused for some time, can go stale fairly quickly at room temperature.
Measure off about 2 or 3 cups of grind from the can into an empty, 12-oz coffee pouch (with the aluminum/plastic film), seal the bag and store the pouch away from heat. (The aluminum coffee pouches seal out moisture very well–much better than paper or plastic. The CO2 release valves on some of these pouches are not always reliable, so the grind may stay fresher in a bag without the plastic valve or campers can tape over the valve.)
To keep the coffee grind fresh in the opened 3 lb can, lay the round, aluminum vacuum-seal sheet over the grind, attach the plastic cover and freeze the can.