“How do you take your coffee?”
“Seriously. Very, very seriously.”
Well, if this is you, then keep on reading! There are a million and one ways to make coffee in the outdoors (and a million gadgets to use), but here are a few of our favorite methods. Enjoy!
Great for ultra-light Alaska backpackers or people who forgot to pack the coffee filters, this method is best for rugged outdoorsmen who don’t mind chewing their coffee in the morning. Not advised for coffee aficionados, this is a bare-bones method, a throwback to the times of camping with bedrolls and pork n’ beans.
Here’s how: Bring your water to a boil on the stove, and add the coffee grinds directly into the pot, stirring well. Let it steep for 4 minutes. Add a small dash of cold water to help the grinds settle to the bottom, and draw straws to see who gets the first cup (which typically has the most grounds). Then sit, back, relax, and begin picking coffee grounds out of your teeth.
Bonus move: Carry a small filter and pour the brewed coffee through it into your cup. Goodbye grounds!
Another great ultra-light option, this method is more expensive, but makes up for it in ease. Quick to make and easy to clean up, Starbucks Via packets are great for backpacking. They might not pass the test for a “coffee snob,” but for the average Joe, they provide a pretty good cup-of-joe.
Here’s how: Open up the packet and pour the contents into your mug. They work best with 8-oz of water, so if you’ve got a large mug, we recommend using two. Pour boiling water into your mug, and give it a quick stir with the spoon. The powder dissolves almost instantly, so you don’t have to wait for it to steep. Enjoy!
If you like “Artisanal” coffee, this this is definitely the best option for you. Look for a lightweight, collapsible drip cone such as this one made by GSI. Filters are required, but do make it easier to pack out the grounds. This is a great method for personal use, but if you’ve got a large group, it can become very tedious and time consuming.
Here’s how: Open up the drip cone and set on top of your mug (note: this can be tricky on uneven ground – make sure you’ve got a stable surface!). Place filter and coffee in cone. The next couple of steps can be done as “artisanal-ly” as you’d like, but you’re basically pouring hot water into the cone to wet all the grounds, and then slowly keeping them wet as you pour the rest of the water through. This should take about 4 minutes, and make sure you don’t overflow your cup!
Heavy and bulky, it’s a difficult thing to bring on a backpacking trip, but for rafting trips or car camping, it sure does make a good cup of coffee. Great for groups, you can even buy large insulated ones to keep your coffee hot for a while. The main drawback is the cleanup – it’s difficult and messy to clean up the grounds and throw them away. Best tool for the job? Just dive in with your hands and scoop out as much as you can.
Here’s how: Add grounds to the French press and fill with water. Put the lid on, but don’t press down on the plunger. If you don’t have an insulated press, I like to wrap a towel or jacket around mine to keep it toasty while it steeps. After 4 minutes, slowly push down the plunger, and enjoy!