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Bush brew


Words and pictures by Jess Fogarty.

How to make good coffee in the bush

If you live in urban surrounds, you’re never very far away from a decent cup of coffee. There’s a coffee shop on every corner, a coffee machine in every office and coffee gadgets in every household. But when you’re driving off into the back of beyond, it becomes a little trickier. Few of us have enough space to pack a fancy coffee machine or carry enough juice to power up an espresso maker, so we thought we’d look at some of the simplest ways of brewing up a great cup of coffee when you’re out in the bush.


Most popular, by far, is the Afrikaans moerkoffie. It’s made with ground coffee, in a simple enamel or aluminium coffee pot, on a stove or over an open fire. Contrary to popular belief, its name does not come from the aggressive Afrikaans term, but actually from the Dutch noun moer which means “a layer of sediment”. This may not sound appealing, but many swear by this one, and a cup of moerkoffie is sure to keep your motor ticking over nicely. There are different methods of making moerkoffie, but simpler is always better.


1. Check the instructions of your chosen coffee for the correct coffee-to-water ratio. The rule of thumb is to use no less than 60 grams of coffee per litre of water.
2. Add cold water and ground coffee to your coffee pot.
3. Place on stove or fire, and allow to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Pour into a coffee cup (traditionally an enamel mug) through a fine strainer, to filter out the coffee grounds.
5. Add sweetened condensed milk, to taste.
6. Add hot milk to adjust the strength of the coffee to your taste.
7. If the weather’s cold, or if morale is down, a shot of brandy or rum might be added.

The key to great coffee is to make sure that the water is very hot, but doesn’t actually start boiling, which can make the coffee bitter. Your best bet is to heat the water enough so that the coffee grounds move through it without it actually boiling – at least not bubbling violently.