Build An Ark: The Perfect Cup of Camp Coffee

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The Perfect Cup of Camp Coffee

I can’t remember if you guys have seen this or not, but a search doesn’t turn it up so… here is my guide to the perfect cup of coffee. Now the roasting and grinding can be done before leaving home – but if “Base Camping” there is nothing more guaranteed to occasion a good wake up than fresh roasting coffee!

Now I haven’t compromised making this – I’m after the PERFECT brew here. So we will start with roasting our own beans. This needs a lot of heat and movement. It takes about 10 minutes and needs 200 degrees plus C (500F). So, take your green beans of choice. Green beans keep much longer and fresher than roasted beans. You can buy online from a number of sources and then roast them as needed. They are much smaller than roasted beans as they “pop” like popcorn when roasted. Some people do this in a popcorn maker or specialist air roaster. But we are hard core right? So we’ll use a skillet. Put a good double handful (or more) of beans in your skillet. Here’s what they look like in the pan

Now we need to get our pan hot. In camp, a good bed of coals is ideal, but I’m doing these photos at home as I just had a load of beans delivered. Out comes my MSR Dragonfly. A lid is useful here to get the heat up

Keep the beans moving in the pan. You can leave the lid on at this stage – the idea is to stop them burning on one side (they will cook a little unevenly – just try to minimise it so it evens out over time. After a few minutes they start to change colour

Soon you will hear faint popping (like popcorn). This is where the right pan is handy. You can do this in a billycan, but in a skillet, you can move and “toss” the beans. This lets the skin catch the breeze and blow away (like the fine skin you get making popcorn). See the stuff stuck to the sides of the pan? That’s the skin.

Now, you can roast darker or lighter at this stage. Not sure how dark? Well roast it a while, take some out, put in a bowl, roast some more to a darker roast. You’ll soon find what’s best for you. It varies with the type of bean too…

When you are happy with the roast, ideally let it rest for 3 or 4 hours. If impatient, just let it cool and transfer the cooled beans to your hand grinder. If you have loads of chaff, toss the beans in the air with a bit of a breeze – the chaff blows away (like winnowing wheat)

Crank your hand mill to grind the beans. You can adjust the coarse / fine nature of the grind. The one shown here was a little coarse so I tightened the mill and put it back through.

Grind enough coffee for the percolator basket. See below for the main parts of a percolator – a pot with a glass lid (important that bit – you’ll see why later). Fill the pot with cold water so that the basket, when put in the pot, is just clear of the water. Put the lid on the basket, put in the pot and close the lid. Put the pot on the stove or fire and raise the temperature

Raise the temperature of the put till “blurbs” of water force themselves up the pipe in the middle of the basket and filter back through the coffee into the water. Now regulate the temperature until you get a “blurp” of water every couple of seconds. The best coffee is not boiled hard but kept at a lowish even temperature. You can monitor the colour of the coffee and the speed of “blurp” through the glass lid

After five minutes – or when the coffee looks right, remove from the heat and pour into favourite mug. I take mine with a dash of milk if available – otherwise black. Purists say always black but hey – this is MY perfect coffee

If anyone wants it, I have one of these on making acorn coffee too

A Billy Can is a deep steel pot with a lid and a bail handle. Its an old woods tool used over here since its ideal for hanging off a fire crane or other suspension arrangement over a wood fire and works as well as any other pan on a stove. They are often made out of old tin cans or steel containers.

This sort of thing.

I guess they have another name over there?

I do like Billy Cans - far more flexible than other cooking gear. Cheap to buy (Zebra are the best I've found - shown centre right on the picture belpw) - better still if made by someone with a bit of talent like the others in the picture

Some even fashion removable handles for them so they can be removed from heat or used as mugs

Useful things and very Frugal

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