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While I was doing some research for another post, I got lost down a somewhat obscure rabbit hole (something not unusual for me). I came across some information on a style of coffee most commonly referred to as “Mud Coffee”. It was intriguing. Mud coffee meets the basic definition of a manual brewing method so I felt compelled to head to the brewing coffee manually labs and do a little experimenting.
I should mention that mud coffee is not the same thing as the popular coffee substitute, MudWTR.
Let’s get one other thing clear. There is no mud in this beverage. Please excuse the misleading nature of the cover photo.
Well, what is mud coffee and how do you make it? I will give you my version in the post below.
What is Mud Coffee?
Mud coffee is manual coffee brewing at its most basic. To make it, combine hot water with ground coffee in a mug or glass. Drink your coffee once it cools and the grounds have (hopefully) sunk to the bottom.
It is pretty simple.
There are quite a few origin stories surrounding mud coffee. The Polish, who call it “Kawa Plujka,” claim it was a result of learning to make do with what you have. In Indonesian, it is called “Kopi Tubruk.” They add a little sugar to the mix. People have also referred to Turkish and Greek coffee as mud coffee, although they use an Ibrik and also include sugar.
Since brewing mud coffee is about the simplest form of making a cup of coffee, I am not surprise there are a few cultures who claim it’s origin.
For the purpose of this post, I am going to be exploring the Polish, “Kawa Plujka” version. I put my own mark on the recipe by nailing down some important parameters like coffee dosage, water temperature and grind size.
Kawa Plujka roughly translates to “Spit Coffee.” This is a reference to the fact that if you drink a cup of this coffee down to the dregs, you will get a mouthful of coffee grounds and have to spit it out. (Something you may have already experienced if you get a lot of drive-thru coffee.)
What are some similar techniques?
I feel like mud coffee runs a fine line between two brewing methods. It lands somewhere between cowboy coffee and coffee cupping.
While these brewing methods all have some similarities, I think we can make a few small distinctions.
Cowboy Coffee vs. Mud Coffee
Mud coffee is a lot like cowboy coffee. in fact, when I gave my wife a sample of one of my experiments she said, “This tastes like cowboy coffee.”
I will make three small distinctions between cowboy coffee and mud coffee:
- Most cowboy coffee recipes (including my own), bring the coffee to a boiling point. You will want to brew with water below the boiling point when brewing mud coffee.
- Mud coffee is done in one cup increments and I typically see cowboy coffee as a type of batch brew method.
- With cowboy coffee, the coffee is removed from the grounds immediately after brewing is complete. The grounds are left at the bottom of a mug of mud coffee.
Mud Coffee vs. Coffee Cupping
In may ways, mud coffee is simply a twist on coffee cupping (or is coffee cupping a twist on mud coffee?). The most notable difference between the two is that for cupping coffee there are very distinct guidelines (SCA cupping guidelines here).
For cupping, the SCA breaks down everything: the ratio, water temperature, grind size, roast level and even the type of cup you should use (and how full they should be). It really is an interesting read.
Mud coffee is a brewing method that invites a little more imagination and tinkering. You can augment any variables you like and put it in whatever vessel you like.
You are also not slurping mud coffee off of a spoon (you can if you want). Mud coffee is brewed with the intention of drinking.
How to Brew Mud Coffee
I couldn’t find any in-depth mud coffee recipes but it isn’t a complicated process. After some experimenting, here are the results I enjoyed the most.
- Coffee dosage- I have been using a 1:17.8 coffee to water ratio. I went a little lighter on the dosage side for two reasons. First, since mud coffee gives a nod to coffee cupping, I gravitated closer to the 1:18.2 cupping ratio over the golden ratio. Secondly, I liked having a little less coffee grounds in the bottom of the cup. For this recipe, I used 14 grams of coffee and 250 mL of water.
- Grind Size- I found coffee ground on the finer side of pour-over brewing to be my favorite for this method. If you are using an Ode brewing grinder, I have been using just north of the 2 setting. However, grinding the coffee a little coarser (the finer side of French press) does make it a little easier to navigate the dregs when you get to the bottom of the cup.
- Water Temperature- I’ve been using water heated to 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grind 14 grams of coffee (see above for grind size) and put into the bottom of a mug or glass.
- Pour 250 mL of hot water (205 degrees Fahrenheit) on top of the ground coffee.
- Stir the mixture with a spoon and wait for the beverage to cool.
- As the coffee cools, the grounds should sink to the bottom.
- At around the 6 minute mark, the grounds should have migrated to the bottom of the mug. Your coffee should have also cooled to a point where it is enjoyable to drink.
When I started tinkering around with mud coffee, I was surprised by how much I liked it. To be sure, this brewing method has a little bit of a “chewy” result—it is not the clean cup of a v60 but it isn’t exactly like what you would expect. You are not getting a mouthful of grounds unless you are careless when you get to the bottom of the cup.
As I starting brewing and drinking coffee this way, I liked the absence of fussiness. Dump some ground coffee into a mug and add hot water. This method also forces you to slow down a bit. If you chug it, you are going to get some grounds.
Mud coffee also isn’t a coffee on the go brewing method. It is a “sitting around at home” brewing method. For instance, I found myself throwing together a cup of mud coffee before a card game and sipping on it throughout the game.
One more important reason to consider making some mud coffee is the Boy Scout reason. You never know when you may run into an “out of filters” or “forgot my brewer situation.” It is nice to be prepared and know how to make a cup of coffee with just that, a cup and some coffee (plus water).
Ever made mud coffee? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.