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Test Kitchen: Coffee

We perked more than 100 caffeinated cups to find the best trail-brew technique. Here’s how to choose your method, gear, and grounds.

Technique: Make a perfect cup of joe.

1. Cowboy
Best for: Ultralighters and groups
Convenience: 4 out of 5 stars Taste: 3 out of 5 stars
Grind: Medium; grains sink better.
Brew it: Remove boiling water from heat and add coffee, stirring to saturate grounds. Cover, and wait three minutes. Lift the pot’s lid and firmly rap its side with a spoon to break the liquid’s surface tension and sink floating particles. (For info on other grind-dropping techniques, see backpacker.com/cowboycup). Serve when the coffee has settled (30 to 60 seconds). Avoid stirring up grounds in the pot’s base.
Tip: Use a medium or light roast. Some dark roasts are parched, which makes beans and grounds more buoyant.
Tasting notes: A gritty, full-bodied brew.

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