Coffee Beans to Go: Cowboy Coffee and Other Off-The-Grid Solutions
Planning on roughing it? Coffee lovers know that nothing beats a good cup of coffee when treading off the beaten path, be it camping, backpacking, or taking off on a fun vacation. Are we wrong, or is the coffee even more gratifying on such occasions? Planning a little venture on trail? Make sure you know all the ways to make a great cup of coffee on your trip!
The easiest way to get a cup of coffee when you’re on the go is instant coffee. But come on people. We must strive for better. The better option is to pre-grind some beans and bring them in a bag so you can steep them later. For the true boy scout, there’s also the option of bringing whole beans and grinding them using whatever tools you’ve brought.
A good option is a hand grinder with a ceramic burr—these get a nice consistency to your grind. Its quick, simple, and doesn’t take too much effort to get enough coffee ground for a few cups of joe. But there are other, more challenging ways to get the deed done.
You could use a mortar and pestle to crush the coffee beans to a fine consistency. Another option is putting the beans in a baggie and grinding them on a hard surface with a heavy rolling pin, chunk of wood or stone. Considering the possibilities, you really don’t have a good excuse to not be able to grind your beans.
Once you’ve got your beans ground, you’ll need a way to percolate the coffee and so get your perk on. The easiest method is to make cowboy coffee. This is similar to Turkish coffee, where the coffee grinds are simmered in hot water. You can do this in a kettle, a pot, or a tin can over a fire if needed. Bring the coffee to a simmer. Don’t let it come to a full boil or your coffee might get too bitter. Once the coffee is strong enough, let it cool, and sip your coffee off the top so you don’t unintentionally suck up the used coffee grounds.
If this doesn’t work for you, you can always bring along an old-fashioned camping coffee percolator. These have been around for a long time and you can simply use them on top of your camp stove. To use this type of brewer, fill the kettle part with water. Place a filter in the basket and put in the desired amount of coffee. Place the kettle on your fire or stove and allow it to boil. There should be a small window or a spot where you can see how dark your coffee is. Camping percolators are easy to find and not too expensive, either.
A French press can be pretty handy if you have room to pack it. To use a French press, you fill the bottom of your press with the desired amount of ground coffee. Heat your water over your camp stove or campfire in your cooking pot or kettle. Pour the simmering (but not boiling) water into the press and allow it to steep for several minutes. When your coffee has reached the desired brew color, press down on the top of the press to push the water through the grinds. The grinds will stay in bottom and will force the water to the top.
Similarly, if you want an even richer brew, you might try an aeropress. An aeropress works on a similar principle but uses more pressure to extract the coffee flavor. To use an aeropress to make coffee on the go, you’ll need an aeropress, filters, and coffee, of course. Place your filter in the aeropress and put your grinds in the filter. Heat your water to between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit, or 90 to 96 degrees Celsius. Just be careful not to let the water boil. Carefully pour the hot water in and allow it to steep a bit. Put the plunger on, and carefully press the coffee through the aeropress and into your cup. You’ll have a rich, full bodied brew.
For those more interested in glamping than camping, you can purchase a battery powered, rechargeable, coffee maker. Sure, this will set you back a few bucks, but for those desperate to take their coffee beans and java on the go, it could be worth the dough.