Whether you love camping with your family or you are just an outdoor enthusiast, learning how to brew your coffee outdoors is essential.
Methods of Outdoor Coffee Brewing
Cowboy coffee is one of the oldest coffee brewing methods. This name originated from the “American cowboys in the Wild West.” They loved their coffee black and strong, using a single pot to brew it. Their coffee was meant to keep them awake and alert.
Making cowboy coffee is quite easy. You don’t need extra equipment. You just need to place water in a pot and boil it. Add some coffee grounds into the pot, and wait for some time. Transfer it into a mug, and take it.
DIY Coffee Bag (Tea Bag)
This method does not add any weight to your stuff. You can use it to make a cup or a whole pot of coffee. You may just need to change how much coffee you add to the filter. Come with some paper coffee filters.
When you feel now it is time to brew your coffee, put the grounds into the center of the filter, depending on the amount you are looking to add. Draw up the edges and tie it shut; you may use a string, in that case.
Boil water and drop the bag inside the pot. Wait for some minutes and have your drink.
Instead of paper filters, you can use your handkerchief. You may also use your shirt, sock, or any clean cloth you can find, and use that as your filter. Use the same process as the DIY coffee bag but without the waste.
This is the simplest way to make coffee in the outdoors. You simply need to boil water over a fire, or camp stove. Add some coffee inside the boiling water but it will not taste as good as brewed. You can also use cold water for an ad hoc iced brew.
Simply put some water into heat, add some coffee, and then the water. Stir to mix and press for about 30 seconds.
Equipment and Accessories
If you want to make the perfect coffee outdoors, you need the right equipment and the right, brewing method. Of course, you need something to energize you and keep you alert as you enjoy camping moments. A great cup of coffee will work best for you.
When you are packing for outdoors, you can pack a whole bag of beans or grind them before you pack them. Also, depending on the type of your trip, decide on the brewing equipment you will use to make your coffee.
AeroPress – this is a simple, portable, and easy-to-use equipment. It is great for all outdoor trips. It can be used at home too, try using the inverted method, traditional method, or bypass method depending on how you want it to taste. Here is a guide https://thecoffeefolk.com/aeropress-advanced-guide/
Coleman camping coffeemaker – are outdoorsy who doesn’t care about the weight of the equipment? If all you want is a great cup of coffee at the campsite, Coleman camping coffeemaker is your only out.
Planetary Designs Table Top French Press – this equipment was specifically designed for making a large pot of coffee for a group of campers. It is portable, fast, and simple to use.
What to Consider When Buy Coffee Maker
Selecting the right coffee making for outdoor use can be challenging. Although many options are there for you to choose from, picking the right isn’t that simple as you think. There are some variables you may have to consider before making a purchase.
The number of people you are traveling with should be at the top of your list of considerations. Also, consider the weight and the size of the coffee equipment you want to carry with you. This will depend on the type of trip you are going to.
It is important to check on the features of your equipment before carrying it to your destination. There are several outdoor gear manufacturers with coffee equipment designed for activities such as camping. The best models for such equipment take portability, usability, speed, and efficiency into account. So, check on the features and pick equipment that best suits your needs.
To make a great cup or a pot of coffee in the outdoors, you need the right equipment as well as use the right methods for coffee brewing.
Caffeine Content in Coffee: Differences Between Roasts and Brands
To talk about coffee is to talk about caffeine. Caffeine is, after all, the reason why we like coffee so much. It was the reason coffee began to even be consumed in the first place. The most popular legends on the origins of coffee goes like this:
Once upon a time, there was a Sufi monk on a pilgrimage. Passing through Ethiopia, he rested when a flock of goats happened to be near him. As he tried to meditate, he witnessed the goats feeding on some local cherries – he thought nothing of it until, about half an hour later, the goats started becoming energetic, frisky. His curiosity was spiked and, after trying it himself, he decided to bring the beans with him to Yemen.
And it was precisely in Yemen where coffee began to be consumed and exported. The port city from where the coffee was shipped to Europe was -still is- called Mocha. Ring any bells?
Is Caffeine Content Always The Same?
The long answer would involve a lot of science and jargon. A lot of studies are still taking place about caffeine content. There are still a lot of things we don’t know about coffee.
What we do know is that the caffeine content varies depending on the type of roast because caffeine is “burnt” during the roasting process. But it’s more complicated than that.
During roasting, the coffee bean will lose most of its mass. The longer a coffee bean is roasted, the smaller it becomes. Water is evaporated, meaning that about 90% of the total volume of a coffee bean can disappear with just roasting.
A breakfast roast, for example, is somewhere around light and medium roasts. The bean is barely a light brown color and most of its volume is still there; the change in size is barely noticeable. It is roasted for a mere 4 to 6 minutes. That means that, per bean, the concentration of caffeine is going to be higher.
Yet a dark roast is a completely different thing. The beans are small, black, and have lost around 90% of their original size. This takes about 11 minutes, sometimes more. The concentration of caffeine, per bean, is going to be that much lower.
And that’s precisely the catch. Since dark roast beans are so much smaller, you end up using double the number of beans to reach the same amount of grams. In the end, this simple difference in weight evens out the amount of caffeine in different roasts.
Brands & Caffeine
Caffeine gets around. It is in your food, in your candy, and in your sodas. A regular soda will have about 60 to 100 mgs of caffeine… Depending on the brand.
Same thing happens with coffee. Whether you get your coffee at your regular coffee shop or at Starbucks, the amount of caffeine will be different— even if you order the same drink! This is mostly because the type of coffee bean used is the one thing that has the most effect on the amount of caffeine. And everyone gets their beans from a different source.
Starbucks Caffe Americano 16 oz. 225
Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee 14 oz. 210
Starbucks—Caffe Latte or Cappuccino 16 oz. 150
Dunkin’ Donuts Cappuccino 20 oz. 252
Keurig K-Cup, most varieties 1 K-Cup 75-150
Nespresso capsule 1 capsule 55-65
As you can see, different stores do, in fact, differ in the amount of caffeine contained in their drinks, no matter how similar they may be.
This boils down to the difference in beans that we mentioned before and, of course, how the drinks are prepared.
When it comes to buying whole beans or pre-ground coffee, the amount of caffeine should be virtually the same if you’re buying similar roasts.
Different Beans, Different Caffeine(s)
Be careful of blends, which tend to mix robusta beans with arabica beans. These are both coffee beans, but robusta are second-grade in terms of flavor and aroma. Robusta beans still do taste like coffee and are a great way to inflate volume and increase profits. It is also incredibly easier to grow compared to arabica. The difference is that robusta has about three times the amount of caffeine that arabica beans do, so caffeine amounts can skyrocket if the blend in question has a lot of robusta.
Robusta is easily grown in hot climates, with Brazil and Vietnam being some of the most proficient robusta growers in the world. Their flavor is nothing compared to that of arabica, however. Most instant coffee is made from these beans.
Arabica beans are harder to grow, favoring only temperate climates and high altitudes. They will only have one third of the caffeine contained in robusta beans.
Regular Coffee vs. Espresso: Is There a Difference?
When you make yourself a cup of coffee at home, you probably don’t feel like it energizes you as much as the espresso you order at a coffee shop. Is it placebo, or is espresso stronger than other coffees?
Technically, no. Espresso is made from dark roasts. As we explained before, there is no real difference between these types of roasts.
What does matter is the amount of water you use to make the coffee. With a regular coffee, you’ll be using about 200-300 ml for a whole cup. 500 ml for a mug. The amount of coffee you use is similar to that of an espresso… Except that espressos are a mere 30 ml per shot. A double shot is the standard for most drinks including lattes— so about 60 ml is what a regular person drinks.
A double shot of espresso contains about 200 mg of caffeine in 60 ml. A regular coffee contains from 200 to 300 mg of caffeine per cup, around 250 ml. When you drink an espresso, you’re drinking a whole cup in practically a couple of sips.
The difference, then, is not in the amount of caffeine each type of coffee has, but in how small the drink itself is.
So, yes: you ingest more caffeine when drinking espresso.
Is Decaf Coffee Really Decaf?
The Swiss Water Method, invented in 1933, uses only water to decaffeinate coffee beans and is the most used method today.
Green coffee is soaked in hot water to extract the caffeine, yet it is then passed through an activated charcoal filter. This filter traps in it most -if not all- of the caffeine molecules. Those beans are then discarded, and it’s the caffeine-free green coffee extract that is used.
Now, the good coffee is soaked in this water, and a magical thing happens: caffeine is attracted towards this water, and so it migrates from the beans and into this water.
Of course, you can’t take all of the caffeine out of the coffee; about 7% of it still remains. But that’s good enough. Instead of 200 mg of caffeine, you’d only be drinking about 14 mg per cup!
What About “Half Caffeine”?
This might sound like a whole other process (or even just cutting short the decaffeination process) but it is much more simple than that.
To create a blend that is only slightly less caffeinated than regular coffee, coffee sellers take a batch of fully decaffeinated beans and mix it with a batch of caffeinated beans. And, just like that, half caf!
This type of product is much less reliable than regular decaf coffee. Because there isn’t a real technique behind it, you never know how much caffeine you’re really drinking. One batch might have a lot of full caffeinated beans while another batch is made up mostly of decaf beans.
It’s still a great option for those who don’t tolerate caffeine too well but still need it to get through the day. If you have heart problems or can’t have caffeine for medical reasons, you should stick to regular decaf.
Can you Taste Caffeine?
Caffeine is actually in a lot of other foods besides coffee. Chocolate, tea, soft drinks— even some OTC medicines have caffeine in them to either help with headaches (yes, god bless caffeine) or to help you stay awake.
Yet the reason why caffeine is added to many of these products is not because of the taste. Actually, caffeine tastes bad. It’s like distilled bitterness and can cause acid reflux and discomfort if ingested in large amounts. If you’re interested to learn more about how caffeine can cause acid reflux, check out Refluxgate.
The reason why coffee and tea are bitter is, well, caffeine! You probably are not able to taste the caffeine in other products but that’s just because they are full of sugar to balance out the caffeine taste.
Soft drinks like pepsi and coke have quite a lot of caffeine in them (almost as much as regular coffee) which helps them have a certain kick both in terms of flavor and in terms of waking you up. This helps in making them addictive (it is, after all, a stimulant) and contributes to sales.
Have you ever tasted unadorned black coffee? No sugar, no cream…nothing but coffee. It matters little whether it is the vaunted Arabica variety of the harsher Robusta cherry. All coffee is bitter, nasty, and horrible—and all of our evolutionary gains have taught us specifically not to eat or drink bitter things because they are probably alkaloids, which are (quite often) poisonous.
There are many alkaloids found in plants, and though some may be toxic, a surprising number also have very useful pharmacological properties (as long as we don’t overdo it). Several authors and researchers still disagree on what the cut-off point might be for defining alkaloids.
For example, mescaline, dopamine, and even serotonin have been called (both or either) alkaloid or amine—the debate rages (quietly) on. A familiar selection of more typical alkaloids would include atropine, cocaine, cytisine, ephedrine, guanidine, harmine & harmaline, morphine, nicotine, quinine, scopolamine, and taxine, among many, many others.
On the whole, the bitterness warns us not to eat things that can harm us. The current theory is, however, that we’ve learned to intrinsically recognize certain helpful chemicals, and we’ve learned to prefer them, despite these natural warning features.
What is Coffee’s Addictive Ingredient?
C offee actually contains three major alkaloids from two different alkaloid families. One is the famous purine (C₅H₄N₄) alkaloid caffeine, with the formula C8H10N4O2. Another is the purine alkaloid theobromine (C7H8N4O2). Less well-known is the pyridine (C₅H₅N) alkaloid, trigonelline (C7H7NO2), which is quite plentiful in Arabica coffee.
Alkaloids are essentially hydrocarbons with at least one nitrogen atom attached to a structure, usually derived from ammonia (an amine), as you can see from the above molecular formulas. Generally no N(itrogen) means no alkaloid.
All three of these alkaloids have interesting properties. We’ll look at each one’s role shortly, but first, it is important to note that coffee has virtually no addictive properties… “What‽ How can you say that? I get horrible, mind-rending headaches when I don’t get my coffee!”, you splutter.
True, the lack of coffee when you’re acclimated to a specific amount, at a specific time, and a steady supply of replenishment all day long, results in some consequences to suddenly stopping. The headaches are bad enough, of course, but then there is also the yawning in the important meeting, the inability to focus and concentrate, and the sluggishness that overtakes you…
Nevertheless, it’s not an addiction. Addictions are driven by brain chemistry—most specifically by the reward chemical dopamine. Coffee doesn’t affect that chemical much at all. At best, you might call coffee a dependency, which also happens to have (relatively mild) withdrawal symptoms.
Coffee is not “bad” for you, as even the FDA, in its 2015-2020 Food Guide Update admitted. Enjoy your calorie-free coffee they said, but you should still remain aware of the saturated fats and calories added from cream and sugar, or the dangers of trans-fatty acids found in non-dairy creamers. These are a particular threat to developing cardiovascular disease.
The FDA changed a lot of important things in that update, such as “don’t eat sugar”, “eat more unsaturated fat and protein”, “don’t insist on 8 glasses of water per day—only drink when you’re thirsty”, “don’t eat breakfast if you don’t want to—it’s not the most important meal of the day” despite what breakfast food manufacturers have been telling us for decades.
It was quite a revealing and enlightening document, brushing aside a 60 year dietary experiment that made the United States one of the most overweight nations on Earth! The new 2020-2025 version will probably be equally interesting.
In point of fact, coffee is chock full of good things and effects. Several international studies have identified coffee as the primary source of antioxidants in our diets. Sure, there are more antioxidants in berries and suchlike, but we don’t eat nearly enough to make a difference. Without coffee (or tea) we’d be desperately short.
The role of antioxidants is well-established. Our bodies release oxidants into our tissues in order to function. We could not be alive without the oxidants. Oxygen is what fires the “burning” process that gives us energy.
Of course, oxidants release free radicals of oxygen (atoms unbound to other things) and those atoms like to connect to other things, even if not useful or intended. These are damaging, not just to ordinary cells, but to the DNA instructions that keep us healthy and alive, too. Consequently, all life on Earth has created processes for dampening these chemicals in tissues when we don’t need them. Antioxidants from our diet are a major contributor to our overall health.
These are plentiful in coffee, and are good antioxidants, which helps them be good antimicrobials, too. Studies have repeatedly shown that coffee drinking is inversely proportional to the incidence of cardiovascular disease. The more coffee you drink, the better protected you are from this disease process.
Metabolic Syndrome, on the other hand, is not well understood. It consists primarily of elevated blood fats, insulin resistance, obesity, and high blood pressure which lead almost inevitably to cardiovascular disease.
Polyphenols are excellent for risk reduction for cardiovascular disease. Vasculitis, for example, is essentially inflammation of the arteries that supply the heart muscle! Since most diseases and pain are rooted in inflammation, polyphenols’ use as an anti-inflammatory substance provides many desirable benefits.
We were going to talk about those three alkaloids, so let’s do that now. Caffeine is certainly the most famous one that gives you that boost by manipulating the Central Nervous System (CNS). It is often used as a medicine for premature infants to treat (or prevent) breathing problems—that alone justifies its existence.
For most of us, however, we use it to treat tiredness. To create its primary benefit for adults it specifically blocks the effects of adenosine on adenosine’s neural receptor site.
Adenosine is a multi-purpose molecule that helps us build DNA (and RNA), and that aids signaling in our nervous system. Three of its forms are also the energy carriers in our cells. When adenosine encounters caffeine in the CNS, it turns off the “I’m tired” signal for up to several hours. It’s a completely reversible effect, which means we can safely use it to push past our normal limits to complete something we consider to be a “vital task”.
Why is it safe? A toxic dose of caffeine would be 10 grams—a nearly impossible amount to obtain. You would have to drink approximately 75 cups of coffee, 70 more than the average person consumes—in the course of 4-5 hours—without peeing! Seventeen liters (almost five gallons) of coffee—it just can’t be done…
This alkaloid, theobromine, is a cardiac stimulant and a smooth muscle relaxant that does not affect the nervous system. It increases the heartbeat, thus raising the blood pressure, while simultaneously relaxing the blood vessels, lowering the blood pressure. What is the Net result? Our bodies can deliver more nutrients and oxygen to our tissues and brain with less stress.
It was formerly used to relax heart valves, and even control some types of fibrillation (atrial) of the heart muscle. Many better, more effective drugs have been invented, and theobromine no longer has any official therapeutic uses at this time. It does, however, increase the perception of pleasure, which may be part of why the coffee experience is often so enjoyable and relaxing.
Smooth muscles are the involuntary muscles that form hollow organs (except the heart), operate your irises, your gastrointestinal tract, and millions more of them in your skin make the hairs stand up. Theobromine makes it easier to urinate or excrete waste, and can kill your dog… “Wait, what‽ Kill my dog‽”
Human digestive systems can deal with theobromine quickly, rendering it into harmless byproducts. Dogs can’t. It builds up, first causing tremors and seizures, before moving onto arrhythmia, hemorrhaging, heart attacks, and then death.
Yes, poor Fido gets the raw part of the deal here. Theobromine, found in many things, particularly coffee and chocolate, can be fatal because it is processed much more slowly by canines—so no coffee for you, Fido—and secure that chocolate in a safe place! Note: Dark chocolate is three times more dangerous than milk chocolate.
By far the most interesting of these alkaloids is trigonelline. It doesn’t perk you up or make you more attentive—that’s caffeine’s job. One study shows that this chemical is useful as an antidiabetic by affecting insulin secretion, platelet aggregation, β-cell regeneration, enzymatic activities supporting glucose metabolism, and auditory neuropathy, reducing risk by 23-50%. It is also antibacterial, antiviral, and useful for treating CNS diseases by aiding axonal extensions/regrowth/repair, and enhancing neuron activation.
Not enough? It is anticarcinogenic and antitumor, as well as being antiinvasive (resisting cancer establishing itself). It is also useful for increasing the sensitivity of colon or pancreatic cancer cells to chemotherapy treatments. Not only is it essentially non-toxic, but it is an antioxidant to help clean up those free radicals of oxygen running around inside us.
Trigonelline is also useful for memory improvement and migraine reduction. It is neuroprotective, possibly decreasing the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease by 32-65%, hypoglycemic to control blood sugar, and hypolipidemic to control lipoproteins in the blood (similar to statin drugs). It can also be used as a sedative, which helps to explain why some people “wake up” with coffee while others “head for bed”.
Coffee, sometimes called Black Wine, was used as a substitute in the Muslim world when wine was forbidden. Throughout history it has been banned and permitted many times. Religious institutions called it the Devil’s Work, until they actually tried it and found it allowed them to stay awake and alert for the midnight devotions. In the end, it’s all in how you look at it.