Campfire Coffee

My only regular coffee routine takes place in the forest. I don't usually crave it on Monday mornings or after long, sleepless nights (let's be honest, we go to bed around 9:00 p.m.). But anytime I wake up in the woods, the first thing I want is a warm cup of coffee. And inevitably, each time I sip coffee in a camp chair, with dirt under my fingernails and Russ by my side, I think of Malawi.

When I went to Malawi the second time to stay with Russ for his last month in the Peace Corps, it immediately became clear that our sleeping habits were different. Russ can sleep all day, and in Malawi, I could barely stay in bed past 5:00 a.m. So, each morning, I would wake up, sit on the front porch and write, and then attempt to start the charcoal fire to heat water for coffee and gently ease him out of bed.

But, setting charcoal on fire is surprisingly difficult and inevitably, my morning intentions ended with me bursting into the bedroom, an entire box of spent matches in my hand, asking Russ to please come start the fire.

Those weeks together in Malawi were the foundation of our relationship - we were dirty and smelly and everything was difficult. Cooking a meal would take an entire day, washing clothes required your hands and a bar of soap, and a shower meant hauling a bucket of water up the hill into a mud hut.

But now, as we climb ladders and pay our mortgage and our lives get more and more complicated, I find myself missing Malawi. The requirements that simple tasks demanded in Malawi forced me to live intentionally and understand the affects my decisions had on the community and the environment. I never took a meal or a flushing toilet or a cup of coffee for granted. And the only certainty in each day was that Russ and I would be in it together.

Now, camping is the closest thing we get to Malawi. Camping makes you work a little harder for your meals and your comfort and your cleanliness, and that warm cup of coffee is such a delicacy in the wilderness.

The process of making camp coffee allows all of the stress and high speed demands of normal life melt away.  


how to make rathroy camp coffee

1. Build a fire with your bare hands. 

2. Prepare your tools. An insulated Klean Kanteen certainly would have been handy in Malawi.

3. Make a real mess trying to pour boiling water fresh off the fire into your tiny french press.


4. Fill that baby up!

5. Car camping means you can bring your cast iron and as many sugar cubes as you want. Add at least three.

6. Get in the hammock and enjoy the morning breeze, the smell of campfire, the sounds of nature, and your blank to-do list.