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Camp Coffee Explained

Here's how to make your morning cup of joe the best in camp.

There’s a bit of science behind why percolated backcountry brew tastes as good or better than home brew. It has to do with air pressure.

Normally, the worst way to prepare coffee is to percolate it. Percolation requires a rolling boil, which at around 212? F burns your grounds and makes them bitter. The darker the perked coffee, the worse the results. So a rich cup of percolated java is all but impossible-unless, that is, you can get it to perk at a lower temperature. And this is exactly what that thin air will do. Fire up your stove at 8,500 feet your coffee will boil at a relatively cool 196? F. Above 10,000 feet and your coffee will enjoy a boil at around 190? F, which is gentle on the beans but warm enough to coerce the flavor out.

The Big Question is at what exact elevation, and corresponding boiling point, is the pressure benefit realized? Research is pending, but sources in the field who’ve observed the “Man, this coffee is good” effect say it begins at or above 8,000 feet. Perk high, drip low.

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