Enjoying a fine wine, good food or even a rare whisky in the bush is wonderful. But what about coffee? How do you make a top-quality cup of coffee while camping?
What are your options when preparing a cup of coffee in the bundu? Most of us resort to instant coffee, but this is less than ideal. If you’re used to good coffee at home, forcing down a cup of instant can be unpleasant. I often resort to drinking tea.
Finally, determined to find out how to brew real coffee in the bush, I approached an old friend, Peter Primich. He is a coffee fundi, having penned a book entitled Brew Tool – Coffee Culture. It is the South African coffee lover’s bible.
My request to Peter was simple: I want to be able to enjoy a hot, flavourful cup of coffee while camping, with minimal effort. This is what he suggested:
The AeroPress is a relative newcomer to the coffee industry, but its popularity is growing steadily. It uses the pressure of the gas (carbon dioxide) released when you add boiling water to coffee to force the water through the grounds under pressure. This creates a near-perfect espresso-style coffee at a fraction of the price of an expensive machine. And since it is robust and lightweight, it is the perfect coffee maker for camping.
You can use the press in an upright or inverted style and can either choose paper or stainless steel filters. The result is a strong brew. Depending on your taste, you may wish to add hot milk or water.
The classic Moka Pot is a two-part metal pot. You put water into the base (hot or cold) and coffee into the basket in the top section. The two are screwed together and the pot is put on a small gas stove or hot coals. The water in the base is heated and the steam is forced through the coffee, the brew ending up in the top section. It is rich and intense, much like an espresso.
The French press or plunger
The French press is a great device that is easy to use and can deliver a really nice cup of coffee. On a trip, though, some care has to be taken when packing and washing a press, which is usually made of glass. However, French presses are also available in stainless steel, which is far more durable material.
The lid of a press has a movable metal bar in the middle, with a base plate and sieve on the end. You put in your coffee after heating the pot and add water to settle the grounds. Then add the rest of the water and put the lid on.
Once the desired brew has been reached, you push the rod down through the lid and the sieve separates the grounds from the coffee.
A French press is relatively inexpensive, readily available and worth taking on a trip.
Filter or pour-over
This is a really simple device that sits on top of a cup. You simply add a filter and coffee, and pour the hot water through the filter. The coffee is extracted and flows into the cup.
You can opt for the simple plastic designs commercially available, or the more sophisticated brands such as Melitta, Chemex or Hario. Ask around, as the different makes have special features and design tweaks aimed at delivering a perfect cup of coffee.
Briki or ibrik
The briki is possibly the simplest of all coffee-making devices. It is used to make Turkish, Greek or Middle Eastern coffee. A traditional pot will be made of brass, but you can get enamel or stainless steel pots as well. The shape is not up for debate. It is flat-bottomed with a nipped-in waist and a long handle.
One would need some “training” to produce decent coffee in this way. The system may be simple, but there is some technique involved in the execution.
The coffee is put into the pot along with water, which is then heated over a small gas stove. The pot is held off the stove and constantly rotated until you get the desired brew. It is then dispensed into small espresso cups and allowed to settle and cool before drinking.
It’s a great coffee but be warned: do not drink the last centimetre of fluid as the grounds settle into a sediment at the bottom of the cup.
If you want to grind your own coffee beans, you will need a grinder. Since you may not have access to electricity in the bush, a hand grinder is best. You should look for a “burr” type, which works much like a pepper mill, forcing the beans through a series of interlocking burrs that grind the beans uniformly. This ensures an even extraction when making the coffee.
I have a French press and coffee pot that I’ve used extensively while travelling, but I like the look and simplicity of the pour-over. I also like the AeroPress, since it is easy to use.
Perhaps it’s time that outdoor stores started selling coffee kits. Life’s too short to drink bad coffee, even when camping.
* For more information, contact Koldserve on 011-791-1932; or visit www.koldserve.co.za.