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Grinding coffee beans the old way...

Hey everyone,

So have any of you played around with grinding coffee on a rock?  Yeah you can get really light coffee grinders, but why not grind it with the back of your knife, hatchet or...a rock.  I was going to give it a try and thought I would use a fabric bag and put the beans in it and then lightly pound the bag.  It may take a little practice but there is no weight penalty.  

Snakey 

Several reasons I dont think I'll try that. I can barely deal with holding a coffee cup first thing in the morning. The thought of having to grind coffee sounds awful to me. I guess at camp the night before, but I am usually beat and busy with other chores.  Plus in the woods I find most coffee tastes good so don't need fresh grounds. The only negative to me of grinding ahead of time is space.

Good luck with the experiment.

I love good coffee and all, but...

The LW hand grinders you allude to are too much work!  But then I also don't use a pump filter for the same reasons.  I guess you can figure where I stand on the notion of using primitive grinding methods.  But good luck with it!  I don't go to the mountains to waste time and toil over mundane camp tasks.  In any case coffee from beans fresh ground just before the trip are plenty suitable for me.

FWIW:
Keep in mind what you do with the beans once ground is important, too.  I use a #4 size reusable coffee filter strainer in stock pots filled to just below the height of the lip on the strainer.  Makes 2 -4 cups, depending on size of stock pot.  (I assume if this matters to y'all then you already know proper brew temps and steep times.)  Friends compare quality to French press method.

Ed

I can make the coffee and have a system for that, and although I can get a lightweight grinder I figured that a more primitive way would be fun and save weight.  I am a coffee snob, it is the last vice I indulge in and there is no way that you can compare fresh ground to anything else.  Oh..there is no way that something tastes better when you are outdoors, at least to the point that you can use cheaper coffee (or whatever) and expect it to be better.  That is just in your mind.  I have offered coffee to people while camping and the look on their face when they taste it is fun, and one guy insisted on knowing how I made it.  He liked it that much.

Mundane tasks...?  I don't think that any task is mundane while in the outdoors. I had someone make that comment to me while I was making a wood fire in my stove.  He just could not get it when I said that it was fun.  That goes to the fact that people are in too big of a hurry. Like stoves...can boil water in X amount of minutes.  Who cares....you are out there to enjoy it.  Slow down...enjoy everything, as they say...smell the roses.  Or in my case...the coffee.  :)

I think it is fun to do things like grinding my own coffee and I thought for sure that one of you would too.  I am going to give it a go and practice on some cheap grocery store coffee.  Then I will make a video and post it on YouTube.  

Thanks for your comments.

Snakey

Michelle Luke said:

I'm not sure if this Bru Joy Portable Manual Coffee Grinder is good? Any thoughts on it? I hope you could give some feedback on other manual coffee grinders.

Thanks!

 I like the Hario the best.  However, I just don't want to use the space up as they are so bulky.  I think that if you want to make it quick and not take the time to grind it while in camp then grind it at home and put it in a zip lock.  

I do just what you're suggesting in your last post Snakey. I tend to buy better beans because camping coffee is more of a celebration of morning than an average pot made at home. Creating single day bags at home gives me portion control as well as a bag to store the grounds for packing out.

The only problem with that method is coming home and having to get used to industrial grade rather than the primo stuff :)

My "tastes better in the woods" comment was probably not reflective of what I practice...I grind the coffee at home and scoop it into a filter on the trail. It tastes good enough for me but I can't do anything weaker. Even have given up Via. I just don't want to mess with the grinding myself on the trail as I am not sure I would get as good a grind on it.

As far as mundane tasks, I agree totally. It's more about personal preference which tasks you like to do. I'll skip the trail grinding but will be nursing my wood stove constantly. Now, if you're camping near me I wouldnt turn down a cup of your coffee...sounds delicious.

I would be interested to see if you can get a good grind in camp and how you do it.

Via.  

I just grind my beans before I leave and put them in a zip bag.  No time to grind, I have hiking and climbing to do.

Every hiker has different goals.  If you like to enjoy camp life and a little back woods luxury, go get it.  I'm the lets hurry up and get there so we can get back home and share some celebratory beer kind of guy.

Pounding beans with a rock makes them taste better.

ppine said:

Pounding beans with a rock makes them taste better.

 haha really? have you tried it? kinda crunchy? haha

Thanks guys...I am going to try it out for grins and giggles.  I will use the butt of my kabar at first.  I am looking for a leather bag to put the beans in and then wack away. 

for decades

Ok. I'll bite...I like this. At home I grind my beans by hand in a giant molcajete, which works very well and makes a great cup. 

As you're unlikely to randomly find a proper concave stone surface near wherever your campsite happens to be for the night, I think you've got the right train of thought looking for something to contain the mash.

That said, you'll wear through a Cordura or even leather bag quickly, methinks. You'll want woven dyneema. Sewn with Kevlar thread. Luckily a commercial product exists which meets these requirements, and they've even employed both black and brown bears in testing it's durability for you.

So yeah, just get an Ursack, and go to town on it. Have fun and report back please!

I am in the camp with grind at home and just take it with you...I have a Java drip I take on 3 to 4 day trips from The awesome peeps at TS...Instant on week long or longer trips....I really hate extra camp chores and just want to chill with some coffee when I get some where...

pillowthread said:

..... just get an Ursack, and go to town on it. Have fun and report back please!

 Great idea!  That is just what I will get.  Do you think that the material would rub off some chemicals or other bad stuff? Once I do this I will report back...

Use the cotton bandanna from around your neck.

Coffee has been around for thousands of years.  The paraphernalia and rituals are new.  It originated on the shores of the Red Sea, "Cafe arabica."

Spectra/Dyneema is UHMWPE, which has been used in medical implants for decades. It is nontoxic, and wonderfully inert. 

Im not a coffee drinker, so I can't really comment on that, but I can say Vince is right. Woven Dyneema truly is a wonder fabric. Insanely expensive, but so worth it, literally nothing effects it.

I read with interest all of your coffee rituals while on the trail. I love coffee. Coffee is one of my favorite things. I'm enjoying some right now and will grab a quick half cup any time I'm in or around the house until it's gone as I do every day. 

Oddly enough, when I'm backpacking I don't bring coffee and never miss it. I bring a variety of tea from my wife's inventory and like it just fine. Was out for several days in June and discovered chi spiced black tea. Thought it was good stuff though as I sit here at my desk now the thought of having that or any other kind of tea isn't even a reasonable consideration. 

So while I'll not be grinding coffee on a stone, backpacking or any other time, I will watch with interest to see how this experiment works out. 

Spectra and hard to pronounce materials have no place in a discussion about the old ways.  They are simple and always have been.  Some people like to complicate everything and make it mysterious.

@snakey: I think we've got something here. I feel comfortable saying 50/50. Maybe 40/40/20 with ppine included for being our foil. Coffee bags you can both grind and brew in. We'd just have to test a few fabric options and settle on a name. I can sew them up and get a couple prototypes going in a couple weeks. I could do a website too.

Quick survey for everyone here: How much would you pay for a woven Dyneema bag, say 4x6 inches in size, in which one could both hand grind coffee and brew coffee? Nylon-sheathed, Spectra core cordage that is merely tied off by the user to close. $20? $9? Go pound sand?

@everybody: You mean my old '70's tube sock is no good? The one with the green and yellow stripe?

I understand the "old way" is to fold the beans in a bandanna, pound them up with the butt of your six shooter, throw a handful in a pot with water, boil the pot over the fire, and add a whole egg in the shell (or was it just egg shells?) to settle the grounds.  

Does the egg thing work?

Sean Van Cleve said:

@everybody: You mean my old '70's tube sock is no good? The one with the green and yellow stripe?

 LOL...damn funny

DrPhun said:

I understand the "old way" is to fold the beans in a bandanna, pound them up with the butt of your six shooter, throw a handful in a pot with water, boil the pot over the fire, and add a whole egg in the shell (or was it just egg shells?) to settle the grounds.  

Does the egg thing work?

 Your right...mainly what got me thinking about it.  It was an egg not the shells.  My mom used to do that all the time, although I don't think it did much good.  I used to do the cowboy coffee when I worked for the highway dept and we just boiled the coffee and then would dribble a circle of cold water.  The cold water settles to the bottom and so does the grounds.  It does not work that well either.  

pillowthread said:

@snakey: I think we've got something here. I feel comfortable saying 50/50. Maybe 40/40/20 with ppine included for being our foil. Coffee bags you can both grind and brew in. We'd just have to test a few fabric options and settle on a name. I can sew them up and get a couple prototypes going in a couple weeks. I could do a website too.

Quick survey for everyone here: How much would you pay for a woven Dyneema bag, say 4x6 inches in size, in which one could both hand grind coffee and brew coffee? Nylon-sheathed, Spectra core cordage that is merely tied off by the user to close. $20? $9? Go pound sand?

 Brewing in the bag?  Hmmm....I would want to see what chemicals may leech out of the bag under heat.

I grind whole beans using a burr grinder just before departure from home.  The ground coffee then goes into a ziplock freezer bag with a food grade dessicant pack to limit oxygen degradation while packed.   Makes it easy to use on the trail.  I've tried the portable hand-grinder but it's one of the first cuts I make when trying to shave pack weight in preparation for a trip.

I use an Aerobie AeroPress french press, which is lightweight and presses a mean cup of java. Cheers!

Egg shells are what you want to neutralize some of the acid. Adding cold water settles the ground just fine. You have to be patient. 

I made coffee at home in a porcelain  pot with nothing inside it for 25 years. It was only when I got a new girl that we use a press. She makes the coffee.

I haven't tried Coffee Grinder but French Press, yes.

just tried aeropress today for the first time 

Marcus Blakely said:

just tried aeropress today for the first time 

 Ughh....how water over PlAsTic!   Yeah that sounds healthy. Not me...that's why I considered the manual grind in the first place.  Plastic will outgas and god only knows the toxins that are being leeched into your coffee.  The last coffee maker I bought (years ago now) would smell like (melting) plastic while it brewed.  don't get me started on BPA's...

Seriously....stick with metal...and NOT aluminum. 

the Aeropress is Bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalate free

Sure it is...but no studies have been done with plastic while being used with boiling water.  You will probably be alright but I have always wanted to run a sample through a lab.  However that is really expensive. 

Snakey I keep seeing this How'd it turn out? Did you get pic's?

Snakey,

Hi, nice to meet you on here.  I am a newbie here.

I am also a true self professed coffee devotee!  I MUST have at least several cuppas a day!  At the bare bones first thing in the morning and before bed at night - especially when doing some tent camping overnights.  That said, I have never tried beating up my coffee before (teasing ya now) since I see coffee as a perfectly good friend of mine.  In fact, my husband and I think coffee is one of the primary food groups.  But since I am up for new and interesting things I may try it sometime on a whim.  If I do and it hits back at me - well - I may need a whole different kind of adventure next time :)

Kidding you aside, go for it!  Life is too short to wonder "what if"...

Let us know how it turns out.  Post some pics of the process please.  It could be the start of a new tradition :)

Doing ecological field work in Chile some years ago, we ground beans in a frying pan with a rock. I suppose the next step would be a bedrock mortar. Stone ground coffee -- you can't much more back-to-basics than that!

denis daly said:

Snakey I keep seeing this How'd it turn out? Did you get pic's?

 Working on it...

The problem is with the weight...  a mortar pestle is heavy, at least heavier that a decent hand grinder.  Using elements from nature does not seem to be easily repeatable nor consistent in grind.  I do have something else but I need to gather supplies.

Gotta go....my coffee is done.   ;)

a big rock and a small rock are all that is required.

ppine said:

a big rock and a small rock are all that is required.

 Oh no...there has to be system...no that's too simple.  

As I've mentioned in trying Aeropress, I haven't shared my experience. Honestly, I didn't like it. I still stick to my thermal coffee maker . Might have thoughts on this too.

a big rock and a small rock are all that is required

Usually I respect Ppine's experience and wisdom, but in this case have to disagree...the big rock would be way too heavy for the pack!

FlipNC said:

a big rock and a small rock are all that is required

Usually I respect Ppine's experience and wisdom, but in this case have to disagree...the big rock would be way too heavy for the pack!

 LOL...funny.   

While doing research for this fun project of mine I discovered a great website that you all may find interesting.

http://knowyourgrinder.com/coffee-grinder-history/

Here are some pictures I have found that show just how far back this goes...


wooden_mortar_pestle.jpg


-_1.jpg


b3fa8c83689812e4d9c604a1046f39fb.jpg

Of course I could always bring along this guy and have him do the work for me...


Monkey-Grinder.png

Snakey gets it.

October 25, 2020
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