September 29 is National Coffee Day!
When you’re camping, there is nothing quite like the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning. It’s one of the top reasons why campers crawl out of their sleeping bags in the morning. It ranks right up there with the warmth of a crackling campfire and the smell of bacon frying!
For coffee lovers, enjoying a good cup of coffee can make or break a weekend camping trip. However, between the single cup brewers for home and office, and having a Starbucks on every corner, many people don’t “make” coffee anymore. Then, when they go camping, and those luxuries are not available, they either go without (and we have to put up with their grumpiness) or they “settle” for instant coffee or a coffee tea bag.
Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to settle. You can brew a great cup of java in your camp kitchen. Here’s how to do it.
For equipment, you’ll need a camp stove and a coffee percolator. For the percolator, you’ll want one with a clear-glass percolator knob so you can see the coffee as it brews. Being able to see the coffee will help you decide when it is done. Your percolator will also include a metal basket with a spreader plate that sits on a metal straw (I’m not sure if it has an official name).
The basket for the grounds is not really a filter and you may occasionally get a few grounds in your coffee, but that doesn’t bother me. But if you’re bugged about those things, you could use separate disc-style filters or strain your coffee when you pour it.
How the percolator works is by forcing water up through the straw where it spurts out over the spreader plate and seeps through the coffee grounds. (see diagram)
Now for the ingredients. You’ll want to start with good beans, medium ground. Either purchase your favorite coffee beans already ground or buy them whole and grind them yourself at home. Either way, store the ground coffee in an airtight container and bring more than you expect to consume because coffee always tastes better in the great outdoors.
Fill the coffee pot with water. It is important that the water level is below the bottom of the basket.
Before loading your coffee into the basket, wet the inside of the basket to help prevent grounds from going through the holes. Scoop the coffee into the basket (do not pack it in), set the plate on the basket, and insert the entire assembly into the coffee pot. Put the lid on the coffee pot and set it to flame.
Once it starts to boil, turn the heat down. Brewed coffee left on high heat for too long will acquire a bitter taste. Keep an eye on the coffee bubbling up into the clear-glass percolator knob. Coffee is ready when it’s a nice rich brown to your liking.
My red coffee pot (pictured below) holds 48 ounces or 6 cups of water (pot filled to the bottom of the bottom hole of the pour spout). To the basket, I add ¾ cup coffee grounds (6 scoops). This makes 8 (6 ounce) cups.
And don’t forget to pack the coffee extras like sugar and creamer for those of us who prefer our coffee on the blonder side. I love all the flavored creamers available today. My favorite is Hershey’s Chocolate Caramel by International Delight. Last summer, on our 50-mile bike trip, a friend of mine brought a chocolate chip cookie dough flavored creamer and it was yummy. If you don’t want to keep it refrigerated, there are many tasty flavored coffee creamers in powdered form.
In addition to coffee fixin’s, remember to pack a good supply of hot chocolate, apple cider, tang, and a variety of teas for the non-coffee drinkers. For a great Russian tea recipe, see my blog post “Russian Tea is a Tangy Beverage Hot or Cold.”
Now you have a reason to crawl out of that sleeping bag in the morning. And the rule in camp is: First one up starts the coffee.
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