BLOG //
Ella Takalainen //
Helsinki
// 20.6.2018

How to Make Coffee Over Fire: Best Brew Around the Woods

Have you ever thought how to make a perfect cup of coffee over fire outdoors. We gave outdoors coffee brewing a go and really loved the flavor of open fire coffee. Here are the best tips how to make coffee outdoors over fire.

I feel that the coffee scene at the moment is really full of different equipment and gadgets to use. But can you really make a perfect coffee without them? After all people have been brewing coffee for centuries and I felt that it would be cool to get back to the roots by doing coffee really old school. I mean going to woods and preparing the coffee over open fire.

In Finland people have been doing open fire coffee basically always and it is still an essential part of hiking, scout and in general being outdoors. Also there is lots of superstitions about the best brewing method. As soon as I started talking to people about my plan to write about this subject, it turned out there is much I didn’t know. For example the people on the north sometimes whirl the pot after they have boil it up.  But now I got head of myself and started to talk about the stories already. Let’s first go through how the coffee is traditionally done.

openfirecoffee

Step by Step guide: how to make coffee over fire

  1. Add water until the pot is little over half full. Remember to use fresh and clean water. Heat to the boiling point. 
  2. Remove pot from the heat source.
  3. Add coarse grounded coffee and mix well. More or less 7 grams per one decilitre of water is a good amount. One table spoon is pretty close to this. After using this method for a while one learns to measure the amount of coffee by handfuls. Some say two handful per pot should do the trick.
  4. Move pot back to the heat source and bring it close to the boiling point. When the coffee and water mixture start to bubble remove it from the heat. Do NOT let the mixture boil. Do this one to three times.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir well. Let it sit for 5 mins. The coffee grounds settle down in the bottom of your pot. (This is the part you do the local magic. See down)
  6. The coffee is at its best on 75-80 degrees. Serve immediately to have the best flavor.
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It is important not to boil your coffee while preparing it  or while keeping it warm. If you accidentally boil your coffee the result is bitter. Normally the taste of open fire coffee is pretty mellow and soft plus there is more fat in it - after all its not filtered practically at all. The taste depends what kind of coffee you are using. Both light and dark roast work really well in this method. Personally I would choose a coffee with fruity aromas, maybe a natural coffee from Ethiopia for example. The grinding is pretty important, normally quite coarse coffee works best; this is due to long brew time. Grounds stay in the pot (and keep on extracting until you drink your coffee). After your coffee is gone - remember to wash all the equipment well and dry the pot after washing. This way you are ready to rock on your next hike.

Remember to stir your coffee grounds

Then to the magic happening after the boiling up part. As I said earlier it turns out there is lot I didn’t know about the rituals of traditional coffee making. Here are few of my favourites:

  • Spinning the pot so the grounds settle faster. And I mean spin like it would be a fortune wheel sort of spin.
  • Knock it down three times before letting it settle down.
  • Knock on the side of the pot with a branch, stick or a knife. 
  • Pour some cold water or even vodka in so the grounds would settle faster.
  • Add a branch of pine tree at the nozzle of your pot or a pitcher to prevent any excess grounds to enter your perfect cup of coffee.
  • Spin the pot as it would be glass of cognac and little spiral of crema appear on top. At this beautiful spiral it is possible to see the future or outer space or something depending of the story teller.
  • Some people also say that the blacker your pot is, the better barista you are. This comes down to the fact that normally people preparing this type of coffee more often have better routine to this particular brewing method thus their pots are tarnished with the soot of the fire.
  • Scouts have many rituals around open fire coffee. They believe that the coffee has to be "scared" with loud sounds and spells. This way coffee grounds back up to the bottom of the pot. Each scout group have their own unique spells of course :)

Have great hike peeps <3

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After meeting and interviewing scout people, hike people, coffee people, hunting people, the outdoors people, it seemed that everyone had different way of brewing their coffee outdoors. But all of them were very, very sure their way was the only and the best way. Also most  people had lots of stories and memories related to this method. So I truly recommend to give it a go and to make more memories by yourself. And please share your own stories and tips in the comments!