Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Setting up your camp kitchen, part 2. The morning cup of coffee.

Continued from Setting up your camp kitchen, part 1.

As you continue setting up your camp kitchen, there are must haves, and nice to haves, and what was I thinking items. Depending on your sensibilities, the definition of must have can be pretty broad, so with that said, let's dive in and talk about the gear.

I should mention that where possible, I WILL steer you away from anything that touches your food or beverage when hot that includes either plastics, or aluminum. The health concerns of both of those materials are well documented and long standing. I do have safety / durability concerns with glass as well, but will select glass over plastic almost every single time. In a later post we will discuss glass food storage containers.

#7. Coffee making equipment. No morning for me is quite complete without a good cup of coffee. When I first started out of the car camping, I would boil water in the regular cook pot, and dunk a Folgers Coffee single into a mug and steep it like a tea bag. The results were barely adequate at best, and honestly, I think cowboy coffee where you use your teeth to filter out the grounds provided better results. Through many years of trial and error, I have found 2 solutions that work well, but may or may not be your cup of... well not tea in this case...

The first solution I tried that gave marginally acceptable results, was a Texsport stainless steel percolator. This is probably the most popular method for brewing coffee until the 1970s when the automatic drip coffee maker rose in popularity, but for most people, taking your Mr. Coffee tot he camp site was beyond unreasonable, so for camping, many of us, myself included, suffered through with percolator brewed coffee on camping trips. The flavor certainly is much better than the coffee singles approach, but once you get to drip brewed coffee, percolated coffee is, well... bitter. I don't mean to badmouth percolator brewed coffee, it's just not my favorite, HOWEVER, a percolator is super reliable, and even if your camp stove fails, you can brew percolated coffee on a camp fire which is an extra special experience.

In the 1970s, particularly the late 1970s, drip brewed coffee has been the norm for almost all coffee, except for when camping. I do not recall exactly when I first saw one, but in 2006 I discovered for myself the joys of owning a camping drip coffee maker that runs off of your camp stove. The Coleman Camping Coffee maker. It is almost a normal drip coffee maker, except the heat source used is from your camp stove, either propane or liquid fuel. It is designed to be used on the Coleman 2 burner camp stoves, but works on similar stoves, and I have seen it used in RVs, boats, and residential applications where there is a gas stove. My home brewer is a Ninja Coffee Bar, and while the results aren't as fancy, the quality is quite good from the Coleman, and the brew time is acceptable, On par with the old Black and Decker coffee maker I wore out. My only complaint is that the glass carafe always leaves me scared I am going to drop and break it far away from a source of replacements.

Fast forward to late 2016 when I learned about a stainless steel replacement carafe for Coleman's fancier propane fueled stand alone Quickpot coffee maker. It would appear the carafe is the same between the two. So my latest iteration of the coffee maker is the Coleman Camping Coffee Maker fitted with a Quickpot stainless steel carafe. This eliminates my terror of being coffee less on a camping trip. The remaining item I need to add to my coffee rig is a permanent filter to take the place of paper filters. I want to do what I can to reduce waste and excess use.

There is also the Melida Cone filter brewer. A simple funnel shaped to hold a coffee filter, and brew your coffee one cup at a time. I used one of these as my first home coffee maker when I got my first apartment when I moved out of my parents place. It works, reasonably well, doesn't use much space, and has the advantage of making you brew a fresh cup of coffee every time. It's not like you are going to be able to brew an entire pot at once. I guess you could, but it's not going to stay hot...

Another method for brewing coffee in camp is a French press, again for durability sake, I strongly advise if you do go this method, get and use a Stainless Steel model.

Lastly, if you are like me, and you love a hot mocha, or a good approximation of a cappuccino then a milk frother is a msut. Just like the carafe, the french press etc... you are going to want to have a stainless steel frother. One thing I found was in a clean protein shake shaker, milk froths up VERY nicely if you don't fill it up more than 1/4.

Of course you will need your supplies. For that I use old / reused 1lb plastic coffee cans. You will want filters, or your favorite permanent filter, coffee grounds, sweetener of your choice, milk, creamer, or even almond milk, and any add ins you would like such as chocolate or caramel syrup, whipped cream etc...

Now picture if you will, you get up before your spouse, go start up the stove, brew a pot Mexican Chocolate flavored coffee (It's a thing, if you can find it, do yourself a favor and try it!), froth the milk, and...

In a 20oz stainless steel vacuum tumbler add.
5 packets sweet and low.
4 oz skim milk, frothed.
1 oz sugar free chocolate syrup
Fill to 7/8 mark with coffee and stir.
Finish off with whipped cream and drizzle a few stripes of chocolate syrup.

See if you can get that into the tent to your spouse before you start drinking it!

Probably better make 2 at the same time to avoid that issue...

So while you are considering the coffee options, remember...

Get out there and find your own... road less traveled.

Amazon links to the equipment and supplies from this post. The coffee and sugar free chocolate syrup are not the lowest prices, but can be hard to find.

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