How to Brew: Coffee in the Wild
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
— Updated June 29, 2022
From the decaf demitasse drinker to the constantly caffeinated, coffee is either in the background or a faithful companion in life.
But what if you’re out in the wilderness and you’re struck suddenly with an unquenchable thirst for a toasty cup of your favorite magical elixir? Though civilization is shrouded by trees and the hum of car tires has been replaced by birdsong, don’t worry. Coffee is always on the menu.
Fresh Roasted Coffee’s C.J. Martin is something of an outdoorsman, having spent a good deal of time hiking and hunting. “Every summer, a number of friends of mine and I go out and do two- to three-day stints on the Appalachian Trail,” said Martin.
Martin loves his job, his family, and his coffee. When on the trail and in unpredictable elements, coffee should be one thing you can control, which is why Martin uses an AeroPress to brew in the woods.
Making Coffee with the AeroPress (According to the AeroPress Masters!)
- Pull apart the two sections of the AeroPress. The wider (bottom) piece is the water chamber. The narrower piece with the rubber end is the plunger.
- Unscrew and remove the filter cap from the water chamber.
- Put in a new filter and replace the cap.
- Place the water chamber on a sturdy mug.
- Add one AeroPress scoop (about 17 grams or two level tablespoons) of fine drip grind coffee to the chamber and shake to level.
- Add hot (not boiling) water up to level one (1) on the water chamber.
- Stir for 10 seconds.
- Insert the plunger and push down all the way.
- Drink as-is for espresso, add more hot water for Americano, or add milk to make a latte!
C.J. strongly recommends bringing your own water unless you are 100% certain the water at your campsite is safe to drink or you have the know-how and equipment to purify it.
Even without an AeroPress, you can still enjoy premium coffee when you’re on the trail. Cowboy coffee requires just a pan of water and your coffee grounds - and a campfire, of course!
First, figure out how many cowboys you’ve got and how many cups they’re going to have - let’s say you’ve got three buckaroos and they’re each going to have two cups. Pour six cups of water plus a little extra in your pan and set it near the fire to boil. Once the water boils, take your pan off the heat and let it rest for half a minute or so. Add your coffee - ideally, you want two tablespoons of finely ground coffee for every eight ounces of water, but a good cowpoke can eyeball it just right. Give it a stir and let it sit for two or three minutes, then do it again. Now you want to sprinkle some cold water over the top - that helps the coffee grounds settle. That’s it! Slooooowly pour out your gourmet-for-gauchos and enjoy! It’s best to pour out your second cup into another container and keep it near the heat. If you leave it in the coffee pan it will be cold and over-extracted by the time you’re ready for it.
Now a TRUE backpacking barista might just decide to hike with unroasted coffee beans. If that’s your cup of tea, you’ll need to pack a grinder along with your pan - and you’ll need a cover for that pan.
Roasting Coffee in the Wild
- Put your green coffee in a pan, cover, and place it over the fire. Let it heat up for 8-10 minutes. Give it a shake about half way through.
- Your beans should be very light brown. Now it’s time to agitate! Shake or stir at least every 30 seconds.
- In about 5 minutes, you’ll start to hear a popping noise. This is “first crack”! If you like a light roast, you’re done with this part. Skip to #5!
- For everyone else, keep shaking or stirring for another few minutes until you get to a color you like - stop before you burn your beans!
- Take your fresh roast off the fire. Now it’s time to cool and de-chaff. Toss your beans between two pans or bowls or whatever you’ve got until no more flakes fly.
- You could drink now, but your coffee will taste better if you let it rest and de-gas overnight.
Whether you use an AeroPress or take a more survivalist route, Fresh Roasted Coffee pairs well with any adventure.
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