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Coffee On The Trail

Coffee in my tent, in the morning.

When camping in the wilderness I don’t do complicated. Or I at least try to avoid it. That’s why I kicked coffee for my 2015 and 2017 AT section hikes. I decided to endure the caffeine headaches rather than make my coffee every morning on the trail.

In 2016 I opened a coffee shop and started offering pour-over coffee to my patrons. This was when I also began using the pour-over method at home. Unfortunately the idea of doing this at a campsite did not occur to me until halfway through the summer of 2019. Sigh.

Sometimes us old dogs take a while to learn new tricks.

I found a collapsible cone on Amazon (where else?).

The weight penalty for this is minor. I carry the collapsible cone, some small filters, and a small container of coffee.

Here’s my favorite part! Early in the morning I drag my arse out of my tent to retrieve my bear bag. Wait. That’s not my favorite part.

I return to my tent to brew my coffee while everyone is still asleep. That's my favorite part!

  • Note: I do not boil the water inside my tent. Never light a camp stove inside a tent. 

    • I realize most of the readers know this - just throwing it out there.

The process is simple:

  1. Heat water to boiling. Only 12 ounces. My drinking cup is small.

  2. Place my pour-over cone over my cup, and place the filter inside the cone. Carefully pour one scoop of grounds into filter.

  3. Once the water is done boiling slowly pour over grounds, soaking them, but not overfilling the cone. Continue doing this until the cup is full of coffee.

  4. Enjoy the coffee

pourovercoffee.png

I then crawl back into my bag to sip my coffee. Morning quiet time with the sound of a running stream. It’s hard to imagine a better feeling.

If the sun is up maybe I’ll sit next to the stream with my coffee. There’s options available as long as I have my warm cup of Jo.

#coffee #backpacking #campsitecoffee #pourovercoffee 

I used to do it your way about 30 years ago but discovered a much simpler method with the Finum brewing baskets. They are light weight and have a super fine mesh so no paper filter needed. The coffee is suspended in the boiled water in your cup for the entire brewing time so it is similar to French Press coffee, make a fabulous cup. 

I keep it simple-I boil water and use Folger's individual coffee bags [like a tea bag]...or tea.

A partner grinds and filters.

We're both happy.

ghostdog said:

I used to do it your way about 30 years ago but discovered a much simpler method with the Finum brewing baskets. They are light weight and have a super fine mesh so no paper filter needed. The coffee is suspended in the boiled water in your cup for the entire brewing time so it is similar to French Press coffee, make a fabulous cup. 

 

Interesting.

Does yours fit into a 12-ounce cup? If so, can you provide a link to the product? Perhaps Amazon? I'm all about finding simpler methods.

@jerry: I have yet to try making pour-over coffee in the backcountry...I picked up an Aeropress a little while back, a gadget whose results are so stellar I haven't looked back. Have you had an Aeropress-made cup?

I'm the guy with mini moos on a 12 day hike...

I've tried just about everything you can do, to coffee up in the BC.  My vote is for a variant of what Ghostdog describes, except my basket fits a pot good for two large (or four small) cups of Joe.  I find the coffee can cool too quickly with the mug pour-overs that I've tried.  Every French press I've tried was a good coffee, but I think they are tedious for the minor flavor boost over what the Ghostdog brew method delivers. 

I think Ghostdog brewing is close to French pressing because both allow the oils and liquors to pass to the cup of coffee, whereas most other approaches filter it out.  My lesson was to avoid paper filters. 

As for camping with or without Joe:
NOTHING revives you more effectively than a good, strong coffee after a long day on the trail.  Make it first thing upon arrival at camp.  By the time your camp is set and you are washed up, you will find the energy you thought you left a few miles back on the trail.

Ed

This a perennial topic here on TS (also here, here, herehere, here, here, herehere,  and here -- all coffee threads here on TS. This may be our hottest topic, yuk yuk.). 

This GSI collapsible silicone rubber cone works well for filtered coffee lovers, but it is rather heavy for backpacking and generates paper waste. We often take it with us on hut-to-hut trips where we don't have to carry our own cookware.

While the GSI hand grinder is tempting for gourmets, it takes a lot of work to grind enough for a good cup, and the threads on the shaft strip after not much use. 

The French press add-on for the MSR Windburner system delivers French press quality without having to have a specialized pot. Nice if you have already bought in to the system.

Cringe if you must, but on longer trips where weight and waste are at a premium, I'm not above going over to instant, and then Mount Hagen Organic is my brand.

I use an Aeropress with a stainless steel screen at home, but I think it's too heavy and bulky for backcountry use. Sure makes a good brew though, and I love the way you can just shoot the coffee puck out when you're done.

I’m having trouble making a short url on my iPad but here is the mile long link. They come in medium or large. I use the large for my 600 ml cup. Super light and nests in the cup for travel. Ukase a medium corse grind but I’ve found even fine ground will do just fine. The mesh is much, much finer than any other you will find.


https://www.amazon.com/Reusable-Stainless-Coffee-Infusing-Brewing/dp/B000J3JFJU/ref=sr_1_4?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIyO-7psaA5gIV4R6tBh1bNAAyEAAYASAAEgIysPD_BwE&hvadid=173363280863&hvdev=t&hvlocphy=9030243&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t1&hvqmt=e&hvrand=16493753818174092870&hvtargid=kwd-26329163611&hydadcr=15253_9588541&keywords=finum+brew+basket&qid=1574519528&sr=8-4

Context is important.  Keep it simple. 

I want to go camping with OG> 

I conducted a couple of tests, comparing on-site ground to coffee brewed from beans ground before the trip.  The longest trip was 11 days.  No one could discern the freshly ground brew from brew made with ten day old grinds.  I retired my hand grinder.

While I like my bougie coffee, I follow Rick's style and settle for a more humble brew, such as tea bag style brewing or other alternatives, especially on trips where simplicity is essential.

I hear the next thing will be coffee vaping...

Ed

pillowthread said:

@jerry: I have yet to try making pour-over coffee in the backcountry...I picked up an Aeropress a little while back, a gadget whose results are so stellar I haven't looked back. Have you had an Aeropress-made cup?

I have not tried that yet, but I plan to. For now I'm happy with my system. But your method definitely has my interest. :)

whomeworry said:

I conducted a couple of tests, comparing on-site ground to coffee brewed from beans ground before the trip.  The longest trip was 11 days.  No one could discern the freshly ground brew from brew made with ten day old grinds.  I retired my hand grinder.

While I like my bougie coffee, I follow Rick's style and settle for a more humble brew, such as tea bag style brewing or other alternatives, especially on trips where simplicity is essential.

I hear the next thing will be coffee vaping...

Ed

 That's hilarious! Your last sentence!

Also, here are the top-rated coffee presses and filters on Trailspace:

And the coffees:

Any suggestions for cream away from refrigeration?

@howardt: Gank the half-and-half single-serve jobbies from Denny's.

Ah Yes! I remember it well.

The morning hit to get everything together; first it was Nescafe instant quickly followed by cowboy coffee in a swung billy to settle the grounds then filtre papers in the mug then a micro collapsible filter from GSI and now!!! TA_RAH the ultimate, Jed's real bean coffee bags. These come in differing strengths from 1 through to 5 which is my personal choice, extra strong.

Easy to make without getting out of your sleeping bag (under my tarp) boil a cup of water, dunk coffee bag into the water, add 1/2 teaspoon of raw sugar, steep for 3/4 minutes then sit and admire the view sipping the perfection of a top brew. My day can now start.

howardt said:

Any suggestions for cream away from refrigeration?

 NIDO

Sitting here with a fire going enjoying a cup of coffee looking at the snow that needs to be plowed this morning so this touches my heart. I am rather a coffee snob that grinds/presses and mix different flavors.

Looking back I have almost done everything for a good cup in the morning when backpacking from cowboy, a small percolater, small French press, instant and teabag types. I have tried it all.

Then several years back I took a friend on a backpack trip to a lake at 11,400 ft. campsite and in the morning using my tea bag style for weight savings lo and behold got introduced to Starbuck's instant flavor packs. The Italian Roast was amazing.

Now all I carry if backpacking and always have a few packets in my car camping box and there is a box sitting atop my refrigerator now. Not cheap but hits the spot.

I’ve tried a lot of methods over the years but hate packing the used grounds and paraphernalia. After more than a few cups in huts, I settled on Nescafé instant. It’s quick, easy to carry, no waste or extra stuff to carry and, once you get the right portion dialed in, it tastes plenty good. 

No one discusses chocolate so I will!  I use an instant as Cafe Bustello,  Nescafe, or Starbucks Italian.  Then I add a 1/3 to 1/2 packet of the Starbucks instant Mocha and this time of year they have the peppermint mocha instant packages.  i don’t use the whole mocha and 1/2 or 1/3 gives enough creamer and sugar so I don’t carry that.  And  it lasts longer, but my day starts with chocolate and that is a great thing And worth the minimal weight.   You can of course add any Chocolate mix you want and there are many from gourmet to Swiss Miss and you can portion at Will.  

Sorry folks, but I'm a minimalist. Mount Hagen's Organic Instant coffee packs, and powdered soy milk does it for me.  I tried Folgers, Starbucks, Nescafe, and others.  IMHO, Mount Hagens is by far the best.  I buy from VitaCost when they have a sale.

Minimal thin sleeve to pack out, and no mess! 

howardt said:

Any suggestions for cream away from refrigeration?

Mini Moos - they are the single portion, half and half creamers used by many restaurants, but also commercially available at the grocery store.

Bob Withrow said:

"I’ve tried a lot of methods over the years but hate packing the used grounds and paraphernalia..."

Perhaps not PC, but I disperse my used grinds in leaf litter.  I am highly certain this has little consequence, since grounds are 100% compostable, and the boiling water used to brew kills off whatever bugs and microbes you may otherwise introduce into the ecology.  As for the filter, I have a reuseable screen, so disposing of the filter is mute.

Ed

@Ed: As an LNT Master Educator, I can attest that broadcasting cooled coffee grounds is at least an acceptable disposal method in appropriate ecosystems, if not the preferred method. Your eco-guilt has been deterred.

@howardt: There we go, Mini Moos. Store them in a hard-sided pot/cup (which I have to specify now because S2S makes silicone pots) to keep them from getting crushed. 

Michele Bullock said:

No one discusses chocolate

 Probably because the subject of this thread is coffee... =/

I like chocolate/cocoa but it makes a mess in a cup, coffee doesn't nor does tea...so I stick with them for the most part.

I sometimes mix cocoa with coffee.

Call me a purist but other than a minimum of sweetner NOTHING SHOULD BE ADDED TO COFFEE! And, the sweetner for me is only because so much coffee these days is very second rate with poor water (added fluoride and chlorinated) and over-roasting being the two most annoying factors. Lucky for us water on the trail is usually top quality spring water.

One of the things I enjoy most about backpacking is making my coffee in the morning.  I boil water and use instant coffee crystals.  If I’m just camping, I use a percolator.  

Its the ritual - getting out of the tent on a crisp fall/winter/early spring morning.  Watching and listening to the diurnal forest awaken. And boiling water in the serenity. :-)

This my go to method these days!
4E50646F-0F9D-4DA5-ABA8-B53F8850C064.jpg

In the bush I like to add things like cinnamon, powedered milk or hot chocolate mix to coffee.  Even a touch of red pepper flakes are good with coffee and chocolate. 

Tried this, this summer:  Waka Coffee 100% Columbian Arabica Medium Roast Instant Coffee.

For me, good enough to avoid the fuss of presses, filter pours, and just about everything else I've tried to get a suitable cup in the morning.  

October 1, 2020
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