Podcast Episode November 30, 2019

Episode 21 | Backcountry Coffee




Coffee. What makes a good cup, what makes a bad cup, and what are the best ways to java yourself in the backcountry? All these questions and more are the subject of this episode of the Backpacking Light Podcast.

To shed some light on this issue, Andrew turned to two experts. The first is Emylene VanderVelden. Emylene is a longtime-author at Backpacking Light – she partnered with BPL publisher Ryan Jordan to write an article on coffee that we published recently – and she is a self-described caffeine enthusiast and former barista. Emylene is from Alberta, Canada, where she enjoys backpacking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, canoeing, kayaking, and horseback riding.

Today’s other guest is Jono Ramey. Jono is the owner and head roaster at Savage Boys Coffee Roasters in Newnan, GA. Savage Boys only purchases fair-trade and direct trade beans and are committed to roasting organic beans whenever possible.

So brew yourself a cup and settle in – your backcountry coffee skills are about to level up.


  • Guest introduction
  • Bean origin
    • Flavor profiles by region
  • Roasting method
  • Compensating for altitude (water temperature)
  • Flow rate
    • Oils!
  • Pressure
    • Crema
    • How to avoid dead shots
  • Backcountry Coffee Preparation Methods
  • Grinding your own coffee in the backcountry
  • Chocolate covered espresso beans – and other direct methods!
  • Final thoughts


Feedback, Questions, Tips?


  • Backpacking Light – Executive Producer
  • Ryan Jordan – Director and Host
  • Andrew Marshall – Producer, Host, and Editor
  • Look for Me in the Mountains – Music

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Updated November 7, 2019

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Home Forums Episode 21 | Backcountry Coffee

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • Author
  • #3620957
    Backpacking Light


    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    Companion forum thread to: Episode 21 | Backcountry Coffee

    Coffee. What makes a good cup, what makes a bad cup, and what are the best ways to java yourself in the backcountry? All these questions and more are the subject of this episode of the Backpacking Light Podcast.

    James Marco
    BPL Member


    Locale: Finger Lakes

    Thanks, Guys! A good overview of coffee making.

    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mojave Desert

    for high altitudes backpacking I’m not wanting the vasoconstriction, especially in my alveoli capillaries, that caffeine brings. That said I do enjoy a cup of Starbucks VIA Decaf at dinner time.

    Via is easy to carry and “good enough” ’til I get home to my coffee grinder and drip coffee maker.

    But food ia another matter. Like the French I “live to eat” and not the other way around. Thus I’ll make Pad Thai from supermarket noodles and retort pouch shrimp plus some chopped scallion greens and extra crushed peanuts that I brin in a snack bag. The taste and aroma is SO much better than freeze-dried Pad Thai.

    Todd P
    BPL Member


    Hi There. Yes, I am sooooo late to the game joining you all. On my drive to my 3 night trip in the Ansel Adams Wilderness this last weekend I binged on your podcast, this being one of them. First, I am by NO means a coffee brewing expert. However, I love a good cup. I take the BSI ultra light and I cannot say enough good stuff about it.

    One topic that you all missed, which I found interesting is the ratio of weight of grounds to weight of water. My neighbor is a huge coffee dude and has every coffee making device known to man or woman. He taught me pour overs and how to pull shoots. Ratio of weights was super important.

    Now I get that we are not going to carry a scale into the back country and I for one am not going to get crazy and pre-weigh baggies of ground coffee (although I guess I could), but could you all speak and offer your thought on how to control this better in the back country.

    Thanks and Happy Packing an Brewing,


    James Marco
    BPL Member


    Locale: Finger Lakes

    There are many ways to weigh stuff. You are not really looking at any standard, but need to weigh a ratio. A small balance beam can work, for example. Set it up at home to be able to replicate consistently on the trail. There are a thousand different ways to do that. I would suggest a simple stick with a couple strings attached to a couple “S” hooks (made from pieces of larger paper clips. A third string at the correct balance point to hold up the rig. Hook a small cup to one side to pour coffee into and clip your pot to the other with the desired amount of water…the actual amount won’t matter. I would suggest that when the top of your pot is even with the top of the little cup, a correct ratio will be made. Should work for anything between 1-4 cups accurately and repeatable.

    Of course you need to determine the balance point, so notch the stick at that point when you hit the correct ratio, then the string will tend to lock in the same every time. Likely, you could do this with a chopstick and a pocket knife. Hmm, it should even work if gravity changes soo you could use it on Mars.

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