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There is no better way to start a busy day than with a nice cup of joe. When you are waking up, packing up your tent, and hitting the trail, that extra kick is even more important. Sticking with a routine and feeling the caffeine work its way through your body can be the perfect way to get up and get going. As long as you have some backpacking coffee options, you are good to go.
Knowing how to make coffee while backpacking can elevate your experience to an entirely new level. We will be talking about the various ways you can make a cup of joe when dealing with on-trail limitations.
The French press, pour-over, java drip, cowboy coffee, and instant coffee options all have advantages to ensure each morning starts on the right note.
If you can figure out which backpacking coffee option is best for you, being the early bird to get the worm becomes easier than ever. Here is how to make coffee while backpacking!
the french press is the Coffee aficionado’s choice
As the coffee world saw a boom in interest from the younger generation, the French press has become a super popular way to brew coffee. This is true even when faced with limitations inherent in backpacking.
However, this is going to be the heaviest of the options on this list. Due to the equipment required, there is not much you can do to cut that weight down. Options include switching your approach or finding the lightest French press on the market.
The GSI Personal Java Press(REI) and the Jet Boil Coffee Press (Amazon) are the two best options for French press coffee when backpacking. Because they are not too heavy and brew your coffee efficiently on the trail.
The Geez is always looking to reduce his pack weight so this titanium french press (REI) by Snow Peak fits the lightweight criteria at only 6.3 oz. Furthermore, it has the extra advantage of being able to heat it up on your backpacking stove.
Pour Over option is lightweight and budget friendly
The pour-over strategy is pretty standard and can be a good one if you have a little bit more time in the morning. Plus, this will harbor a nicer cup of joe than some of the later backpacking coffee options.
The pour-over coffee method consists of simply pouring boiling water over coffee grounds with a filter to create a great-tasting cup of joe. This is something you can do in the morning or on the side of the trail. Although this sounds easy, it is best to have a pot that doesn’t drip for easy pouring and no messes.
The GSI Coffee Rocket (Amazon) does not even require filters, and it has an internal filter that can be used over and over again. It does a good job of creating tasty coffee. When you can pair it with the GSI Infinity Mug (Amazon), you have the ultimate setup.
Java Drip for a quick backpacking coffee option
The java drip coffee maker is a unique, reusable filter for backpacking. You probably would not ever use it at home. Rather, it is readily identifiable in the backpacking sector. The GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip (Amazon) is fantastic for your backpacking coffee option because of how light it is.
There is a plastic cup outfitted with a reusable filter where you put your grounds and eventually the hot water. Although it will not make a large cup of coffee, it is great when wanting to save money and weight.
Since The Geez really likes his coffee without any hint of coffee grounds, he adds an additional paper filter for a smoother drink. The java drip makes brewing coffee while backpacking quick and easy. Yet it still makes a quality cup.
How to make Cowboy Coffee
If all you need is something quick and easy, cowboy coffee is calling your name. Cowboy coffee does not require any special equipment, so equipment costs and weight are non-existent. You simply boil water and add coffee grounds. Plain and simple.
Once you let it sit and brew for a couple of minutes, you can decant the coffee or simply drink it straight up. Obviously, the taste is not going to be as good as some of the other options, but because it does not require a ton of work or excess items, the appeal is there.
Although The Geez prefers another coffee option without coffee grounds in the mix, this is a valid backpacking coffee brewing technique for a lot of people.
Cold-brew Cowboy Coffee mud
If you want to really rough it, try an overnight cold brew. Check out this video on how to make cold Cowboy Coffee Mud.
The only thing to add regarding fresh-brewed coffee is the leave-no-trace wilderness etiquette. Plan ahead to pack out those used coffee grounds. If you have this covered, all brewing options are perfect for those who just need to get going in the morning and have a delicious cup of joe.
Instant Coffee is the best lightweight backpacking coffee option
Another good option for those who are willing to sacrifice a bit of taste for convenience is instant coffee. Companies like Starbucks (Amazon) and Folgers (Amazon) make highly rated single-serving instant coffee offerings. Another great brand and a personal favorite of the Geez is Alpine Start (Amazon).
Instant Coffee is basically a powder that only requires some hot water to create a decent cup. Like cowboy coffee, instant coffee is almost never as good as a properly brewed cup, but this helps you save weight and time on the trail.
So, when you wake up in the morning, all you need is a couple of minutes and your infinity cup along with some boiling water before you can head out for the day.
Accessories for backpacking with coffee
GSI Outdoors Microlite 720 Flip
Unless you like your coffee at room temperature or cold in a bad way, you need something to keep that brew steaming hot. The GSI Outdoors, Microlite 720 Flip (REI) can get the job done very well. As you hike, you can constantly tap back into the stash of hot coffee.
Compared to some of the other top brands, this is affordable and will keep your coffee hot for up to 12 hours at a time.
GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug
If you want something great for in-camp use, the is a great option. This is a compact, light mug (Amazon) that keeps coffee hot for as long as you need to get going in the morning. Weighing in at just 3.5 ounces, it is perfect for keeping it light on the trails.
How do you store coffee for backpacking?
How you store your coffee depends on the type of coffee being brought. If you are bringing instant coffee, storage is as simple as bringing the packets and putting them in your bear/critter-resistant food storage system at night.
If you are bringing ground coffee, your packaging must be strong enough so that it doesn’t break and spill. The last thing you need is loose coffee grounds everywhere in your pack. Again, place them in your bear vault or critter bag at night. As with all food items, you need to keep food smells away from your campsite.
What to do with coffee grounds when backpacking?
Leave No Trace is an important ruleset to follow in the outdoors. As an avid follower of LNT, the Geez always packs out all coffee grounds rather than leaving them somewhere on the trail. I take along an odor-proof aLOKSAK recloseable plastic bag for placing them in.
Although coffee is biodegradable and not inherently bad for the environment, it does attract wildlife and leaves evidence of human activity in the area. Plus, the caffeine remaining in the used coffee grounds can be harmful to both wildlife and plant life as time goes on. So, error on the side of caution by packing out your grounds.
Where do you buy backpacking coffee?
Where you buy your coffee for backpacking depends on what kind you like and where you buy coffee normally. Your local grocery store or cafe should have some good coffee options. Single serving instant coffee is easier to make while backpacking. The internet is your friend for finding these gourmet instant coffees.
If you want a specific, special blend of coffee, you will have to search for it. Name-brand coffees offer standard roasting options and are easy to find. They require little effort to find in stores or on the internet.
Can’t you just smell the coffee? A good cup of joe on the trail can’t be beat! Go check out the links above now and choose your favorite method for backpacking with coffee. You will be ready for your next hike.
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