Day two on the Spey River began with bushcraft-expert Paul Kirtley blowing on the warm coals of our evening campfire. It was impressive. He got the morning fire and coffee on without a match or lighter. Paul was definitely used to this Celtic environment. The wood was so damp from days of rain and sleet that I doubt I could have gotten the fire going with a gallon of gasoline and a gigantic barbecue lighter.
That’s what I liked about this trip so far. I was well out of my element. I was paddling a river I knew nothing about, gathering wood I couldn’t identify and donning a dry-suit rather than my regular bush clothes. Even the cooking was all done on a fire. No high-tech camp stove or non-stick frying pans. A cast iron kettle was hung on a chain and wooden tripod, then placed over hot flames.
I embraced the change, however. It felt good not to know much about what I was doing. Even when making the morning coffee. I’d never seen Paul’s technique before, and it worked far better than any method I had tried in the past. He brought the river water to a rolling boil, took it off the heat source, tossed in a generous amount of coffee grounds and then let it steep for a few minutes. The part was the same process I use for camp coffee. It was how he settled the coffee grounds that I hadn’t witnessed before.
I’ve chucked in pieces of egg shell a few round pebbles. I’ve even taken hold of the wire handle on the pot, swung it with the speed of an aircraft propeller and had complete faith in centrifugal force.
Paul’s method was to drop the pot to the ground and slowly bring it back up. He repeated the process several times, claiming the grounds settle better with the gravitational thrust, and gives him a good morning workout at the same time. The action made him look like some kind of gorilla pounding his fist to the ground—but it worked. The coffee was free of grounds.
Have a look—watch my video, Scotland Spey River Paddle & Whisky Tour: Part 2.