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Step By Step #1 ~ French Press Camp Coffee

I will come out of camp, and retrace my steps/miles, for as long as it takes, if I forget the coffee. Camping just isn't DONE without it. It's an integral part of my particular experience, since I love coffee and breakfast and hanging out sipping by the morning campfire and reading~ it is simply a must.

Pictured: Morning deliciousness all brewed up for one


I DO have a percolator, it is one of the loves of my camping life. But I haven't ever gotten the hang of (ore mastered the art of) brewing coffee that way. I use my percolator as my hot-water-heater-vessel, and I brew in a French press I got at IKEA, which replaced the one I got at a thrift store when it gave out. What I am saying is, you don't have to go fancy with the French press. It's a means to an end.


Some of you may be familiar with a French press, and if so, this is going to be VERY redundant to you. To me, who learned to use a French press in the wild of camping with no instruction, no YouTube, never having seen it done before, and DESPERATE for my coffee, let's just say - mistakes were made. I am going to spell it all out, in case you, too, are a French press newbie.


SO, get your water boiling. I use spring water I bring for all drinking - campground water for doing dishes, etc.

Pictured: The percolator, perking along, but not percolating...


I originally got a 1-mug French press. This was a huge mistake. It meant that enjoying my cup of coffee was interrupted by setting up so that my NEXT cup of coffee could follow, ie's get the next pot of water going, etc etc. Get a 2-mug's-worth French press. I like to make 2 servings at a time. There isn't a microwave to heat it up, so, if you realllllly linger over your coffee, you'll want to either heat the second serving up in a small saucepan, which will take place in microseconds on a campstove, or you CAN do it a cup at a time... but if you do that, just make, enjoy, then make, enjoy. Sequentially.

Pictured: Start with good coffee...


I grind the night before I go camping - although a recent acquisition is a hand-grinder, and I may get JUST that precious about it on the next trip... stay tuned! Bring MORE coffee than you think you'll need. You'd hate to have to be that voice screaming in the wilderness because while flailing at the chipmunk that was stealing your English Muffin (a true event) you knocked over your whole, last pot of coffee before drinking even one cup. Bring in an airtight container and it will be plenty fresh for camp.


I fill the French press bottom with ground coffee up to where the plastic bottom holder stops, visually. That makes it about right for my taste, which is bold but not mud.

Pictured: The pour


Pour the boiling water into the French press, right onto the coffee grounds (there's not filter to put in, etc - the filter is permanent, and lives in the part you press down in a minute) filling up to within about 2" of the top. You need enough room for the lid to fit into it comfortably, But don't compress!!! You need to steep.

Pictured: Brewing, steeping - whatever term you use, you are letting it sit a bit.


Let it sit with the lid on, with the slotted part of the lid turned AWAY from the pour opening to seal it all in at this point (you'll twist to line the slotted up again with the pour opening when it's time to pour.). Sitting times vary - I give it about 3 minutes. Or, long enough to get my book, situate the camp chairs so I can put my feet up on one of them, stoke the fire, and maybe throw a bagel on the grill off to the side to toast.

Pictured: The Press


Gently press down continually on the handle; it will move the fine filter down through the coffee, allowing the coffee to rise above it, and keeping (most) of the grounds below it trapped at the bottom. DO NOT LIFT UP AGAIN UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO CLEAN IT OUT - the grounds will just mix back in with your coffee and, ugh. The handle stays down and the lid stays on throughout the pouring and drinking.


Twist the lid itself until you see the grill with openings, or just the opening, align with the pour spout.

Pictured: Oh boy, it's almost in my mouth!


Pour the coffee into your mug. If you take it black, you can have warmed your mug with some hot water from the kettle - pour it into the dishpan before you pour coffee into your nice warm mug. If you take it with cream, or with Irish cream :) you can mix just a bit of hot water with those in the bottom of the mug (I never warm them on the stove. It's fussy, it dirties a pan, it gets way too hot too fast and burns, and it's all just the opposite of a relaxed cup of morning coffee.)

Pictured: Ahhhhhhh. Well, this is a picture of mine half-empty, but you get the idea.


Sit down, put your feet up, listen to the morning birdsong, the sound of fellow campers in neighboring sites greeting the morning in community... and just smile, and open your book. Maybe grab one of those toasted bagels (one's probably burnt, but the other is alright) and take a bite of the beginning of a good day.




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