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July 21, 2006

'How To Brew a Perfect Cup of Cowboy Coffee' — by Joe Poerschke


It's just one of many interesting and informative articles available on the ineedcoffee website.

Here's the piece.

    Cowboy Coffee, Backpacker Style

    I love cowboy coffee. Not so much for the taste as for the setting. I do a lot of backpacking. I used to use those coffee bags and then discovered cowboy coffee out of necessity when I couldn't find the bags in the podunk town general store near the trailhead. When you figure out how to make cowboy coffee it usually tastes better than the bags. Additionally, I feel OK dumping coffee grounds though I always pack the bags out with me.


    1. Bring one quart of water to a boil in a saucepan.
    2. Add 3/4 cup of ground coffee.
    3. Return to boil.
    4. Immediately remove from heat and cover.
    5. Wait till the grounds sink (approximately 5 minutes).
    6. Serve.

    The keys to cowboy coffee

    The first key to making decent cowboy coffee is process repetition. Measure the water and the coffee to ensure a consistent ratio every time. I use about 50% more coffee grounds than I do for an equivalent amount of water in my home coffee maker. I live in Albuquerque at 5,000 feet elevation. When you hike up above 10,000 feet the boiling temp goes way down and you need to add considerably more coffee grounds. If you live at normal altitudes it's really not much of a consideration. So measure your water and get it boiling, that's step one.

    Step two is adding the coffee grounds. I like to let the water return to a boil just long enough to get the grounds wet. Be very watchful, though, as a minute of boiling and the taste goes downhill. Caveat here is elevation: at 10,000 feet boiling for a minute seems OK bitter-wise and necessary to get any flavor at all.

    Don't add cold water

    I've read of adding cold water to sink the grounds. Grounds sink when they cool. Adding cold water makes cold coffee. I never add water. The grounds usually sink in 5 minutes, quicker if the air is cold. If it's over say, 70° F, after 5 minutes I take the lid off the pan for 5 seconds, put it back on, and in one minute the grounds will be settled. Fresh air cools the grounds and they fall leaving the rest of the brew as warm as possible.

    Keeping the coffee warm

    I carefully select where I'm going to set my pan of coffee. I always make numerous cups. After the 5 minutes of brewing the spot on the ground becomes warm and helps keep the remaining coffee warm. Sand or other soft ground works best, gravelly surfaces the worst as they let lots of air flow by the bottom of the pan. Always insulate your pot somehow. Usually I wrap it in a jacket or clothing, though in the winter your sleeping bag works the best. The ultimate is sand. I dig a hole, put my pot of coffee in it and push the sand up around the sides. Dribble a wee little bit of water around the outside of the pan and in 5 minutes when you pull the pot out of the hole the heat and moisture will hold the sand in perfect shape.

    It's good to set the pot somewhere with a mild slope. This way the grounds settle into the corner of the pan instead of evenly on the bottom. When you pour the coffee, handle the pot as gently as possible so as not to disturb the grounds. Best to maintain the slope the pan has been sitting at and pour by tilting in that direction. Hold the cup near the pot, move the pot as little as possible.

    Not "good to the last drop"

    Just like a finely brewed Turkish blend, cowboy coffee is not expected to be good to the last drop. It's a good habit to learn to throw away the last tablespoon or so of each cup so as to avoid consumption of the bitter solids. Grounds and water fly out of the pot nicely with a flick of the wrist. Distribute evenly over the land. Non-immersed grounds like to stick to the pot and each other. I think scattered single grounds qualify as "leave no trace" while a big pile of grounds does not. I don't like to spend any more resources cleaning pots than absolutely necessary.

    Percolators on the trails

    I've seen all manner of camping coffee devices for sale. I've finished my whole pot of coffee while friends were still waiting for their percolator to perk an ever so slightly tastier cup of joe. My method is somewhat simple, requires zero overhead and has worked wonderfully for me for five years. I've received many compliments on my coffee, normally "wow, this is a surprisingly good cup of coffee," usually from the frou-frou coffee-making-device set.

    Why I wrote this article

    A few years ago, Outside magazine did an article on backpacking coffee makers. They began with a diss of cowboy coffee, then proceeded to tout all these heavy and expensive devices. I wrote them a letter of complaint and stated that I felt they were trying to sell coffee makers. I suggested that a how-to article on cowboy coffee creation would have been much more appropriate than saying we've all had cold, awful cowboy coffee, straining the grounds through our teeth. I requested that my gift subscription be cancelled in that letter. I suppose this attempt at an article is my effort to right that wrong. I've never seen an article on making cowboy coffee. Once I got it figured out, I taught my dad (who has been camping his whole life). Now he's hooked too. An added bonus is that when I spend the night in a non-coffee drinker's house I only need to bring some grounds to get my early morning fix.

July 21, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Knit Picker Snag Fixer


From the website:

    Knit Picker

    This "fabric fixer" repairs snags on knits and wovens — without creating rips or tears.

    To use, simply push knit picker through the fabric, pick up snag, close latch and pull snag through to the other side.



July 21, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Museum of the African Diaspora


Above, what Edward Rothstein, writing in yesterday's New York Times, called "the single most telling exhibit at the museum."

From outside the building, as seen in the photo, it's the face of an African child (photographed by Chester Higgins Jr.) which, upon close inspection inside the museum, turns out to be a mosaic of over 2,000 smaller photographs.

See it for yourself if you visit San Francisco, where the museum is located (685 Mission Street [at Third]; 415-358-7200; www.moadsf.org).

We are all Africans.

July 21, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Shock Calculator — Because what's yours is yours


How nice for a change to let your calculator give someone else a jolt: it gets old seeing the numbers dwindle as you write endless checks in the face of a blocked cash flow inlet.

From the website:

    Shock Calculator

    If "office thieves" are bugging you, here's the cure.

    The Shock Calculator's electrifying answer is guaranteed to stop the "borrowing."

    Please do not use with young children or anyone with a medical condition.

    Requires one AAA battery (not included).



Originally $12.98 but now reduced to spark a buying urge: $6.98.

July 21, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Live Richard Branson's life — $141,000 a week


Well, it costs to be king, what?


For that sum — paid in advance, to be sure —


you can rent Necker Island, Sir Richard's 74-acre private Caribbean hideaway (above and below).


You say, "that's absurd."


But wait a minute.


According to the prospectus "the island accomodates 26-28 people."


Let's do the math: 28 into $141,000 = $5,037 per person per week, or $720 a day.


That's a heckuva lot less than a suite at the Four Seasons.


And the island offers "a full range of water sports... along with instruction, including windsurfing, waterskiing, sailing, wakeboarding and sea kayaking."


Branson throws in use of his helipad, two freshwater swimming pools, aqua trampoline, water exercise machine and full flotilla of sailing yachts at absolutely no extra cost.


Inquire within.

[via Belinda Archer and the Financial Times]

July 21, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

15-Minute Boots — As in fame


From the website:

    Fifteen-Minute Boots

    Look famous in washed red leather and polished brass hardware.

    Pull-on construction.

    Leather insole/sole.

    2" covered heel.





July 21, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Where's the watch?


July 21, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cast Iron Sandwich Maker For One


From the website:

    Cast Iron Sandwich Maker

    With a classic cast iron cooking surface and a new scaled-down size, this skillet is perfect for one grilled cheese sandwich or a single serving of French toast.

    Durable cooking surface has excellent heat conduction and retention for quick, even cooking.

    9"L x 5-1/2"W x 7/8"H.

    Hand wash.


July 21, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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