winter killarney coffee

Believe in the force—centrifugal force that is

My Happy Camper video project is expanding this season. I'll be going to all sorts of places in Canada filming "how-to" segments. Our first was Ontario’s Land-O-Lakes region to hike the trails of Frontenac Provincial Park.

In this first of three parts I trade my canoe gear for light weight backpacking gear and demonstrate the best way to make true camp coffee on the trail.



True grit camp coffee

True camp coffee is nothing but real grounds-and-water-in-the-pot coffee. Bring water to a rolling boil, take it off the heat source, and dump in one generous tablespoon of coffee grounds per cup of water. Let it steep (covered) alongside the campfire for approximately five to 10 minutes. To settle the grounds, tap a spoon on the side of the pot three to five times.

The most crucial element of brewing “true grit” is to never let the coffee boil once you’ve taken it off the heat source. Old-timers used to say that boiled coffee tastes like rotten shoe leather, and they’re right! The reason for the bad taste of boiled coffee is in the bitter tanic acid and flavouring oils it contains. The tasty oils are released at 205 degrees F (86 degrees C), just below boiling point. The bitter acids, however, are released right at or just above boiling point.

Another important factor is how to settle the grounds before serving the coffee. Some people throw pieces of egg shell or toss in a few round pebbles. I’ve even witnessed campers take hold of the wire handle on the pot, swing it with the speed of an aircraft propeller, and have complete faith in centrifugal force. This suicidal action will pull the grounds to the bottom of the pot, guaranteed. I merely tap the side of the pot with a knife or spoon and then make sure to offer the first and last cup of coffee to someone else in the group.