Co-Founder of Clunes Outdoors & Owner of Blume Coffee
As a kid growing up in Victoria my parents were always keen to get out and about around the country so we could get a greater understanding of our place in the world, a broader perspective. Whether that was a trip down the Murray on a house boat, visiting friends on their rain forest/farm in Tasmania or a campervan adventure from Darwin to Perth, these were what I looked forward to the most during the school year.
Most of my fondest memories have always included food. From arriving into Coral Bay in the north west at sunset, tired and beaten with the only food in town prawns & chips, followed by a walk along the shore next to a coral reef or cooking on a fire beside the Murray River. Now as a fully grown, food obsessed, coffee roaster I'd like to share with you an updated version of a family tradition, Billy Coffee.
This is the easiest, and I believe tastiest, way to make coffee for a bunch of people. It's also a nice slow process perfect for sitting around camp. Especially if you are able to have a fire.
All you need for this is a vessel to boil water in, some coarse ground coffee and something to drink it from. Nothing fancy, no confusing geeky equipment or annoying hand grinder.
Firstly get your water to boiling point. For this guide I was camping in state forest was able to have a safe and well contained fire. If you are in a national park, caravan park or it's a total fire ban you can easily do this on a fuel stove.
Whilst your water is coming up to the boil it's time to get your coffee ready to brew. I highly recommend getting your local roaster or cafe to grind the coffee for you before you leave town. If you're in the area we can do this for you at the shop.
The ratio of coffee to water is an important part of the process. For complicated reasons I know you don't care about a tasty starting point is 60g per litre. You can adjust for strength as you make more brews. More coffee for stronger, less for weaker. Simple. This time around I made a 2L brew, so used 120g of coffee. If don't want to mess around with scales a full cup is roughly about 120g, half a cup is 60g. Again, you can adjust for taste.
Once your water has come up to the boil, take it off the flame and let it chill for a couple of minutes. Perfect time to relax and take in where you are.
Now that the water has cooled and you've taken a minute or so to appreciate your surroundings it's time to add your coffee. Just dump it in and give a quick stir and get all the coffee wet. Here's the hard part. Wait. For 2-4 minutes. Tough I know. Time is slow in the bush, so is camp coffee.
When your time is up you need to stir your coffee again. This makes all the grounds sink to the bottom of the Billy, and steep through the water.
This next step is optional. Use whatever you have lying around. I like to use two spoons. The idea is remove all the gassy, floaty bits from the top of your brew. This just makes the final product a bit cleaner and you don't get bits stuck in your teeth!
Now we wait again. Stoke the fire for some flame grilled bacon, wrap up some mushrooms to throw in coals or just chill in paradise with your mates or loved ones. Hell, if you're really kicking loose or feel a little dusty, crack a beer. I recommend at least five minutes, ten is better.
Now you're ready to serve and enjoy. Sit back and wait for the compliments to flow in.
Now I know enamel camp mugs are nostalgic and look cool as shit, but to be honest they drive me crazy. In summer they burn your hands and are almost impossible to hold and in winter your coffee goes cold before you can drink it. I like to use the bamboo mugs from Eco SoulLife. Not only are they far more functional, but you can feel good about your impact on the world at the same time.
If you have brewed up more than you can drink, or can resist that delicious second cup, pour it out into a flask. That way you're backed up for an afternoon pick me up or a life saver on a cold hike. Recently on a three degree celsius, rainy hike at Lake Sinclair in Tasmania we pulled out a flask three quarters of the way through a six hour hike. I can honestly say it not only warmed us up but perked up our spirits so we were laughing all the way back to camp.
Now get out there! Pack up your gear, pick up some coffee and go have an awesome, delicious, adventure!