OUTDOOR BASICS

Backpacking Coffee: Enjoy a Perfect Cup while on the Trail

Making coffee while camping
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

There is probably no joy greater in life than sitting outdoors, with the sun in your face and the wind in your hair while enjoying a steaming cup of coffee. For many people, having a cup of coffee in the morning is pretty much a ritual.

Or maybe you are practically a caffeine addict, and need your morning cup of coffee no matter where you are. If you are out camping, or backpacking, you can still brew yourself the perfect cup. We are here to tell you how to get the best backpacking coffee, so you never have to go without caffeine again.

Having coffee in the morning while out backpacking is so special. You can start with your day with fresh caffeine in your system, so you can feel energized. Not to mention that the aroma of freshly brewed coffee is enough to lift anyone’s mood and make them look forward to the day.

For people who brew a cup every day, doing so when they are hiking or camping can feel somewhat like a routine, and hence can be a comforting experience.

Having coffee in the morning

So, what are we waiting for? Let’s jump right in and find out all there is to know about making coffee while traveling.

What should you Look for When Buying Coffee Equipment for Camping Purposes?

Obviously, you cannot pack your home coffee maker with your stuff while out camping. You need proper coffee making equipment. Here are the things you should keep in mind when packing your coffee making material:

  • Weight: This is of utmost importance, particularly if you are planning on backpacking. Your coffee making materials should not be so heavy that you have trouble carrying them around.
  • Size: Whatever you carry needs to be adequately sized so that it can fit in your backpack.
  • Durability: It is best to avoid glass made equipment while out camping. You might drop your backpack and as a result break your coffee maker or coffee pot. Always choose your utensils and equipment based on how durable they are and how well they will be able to withstand the elements. Stainless steel and plastic materials work best.
  • Time: Everyone loves morning coffee but while out camping, no one wants to spend ages preparing it. Choose a method which will let you make a great cup of coffee in very little time, and with little effort.

camp coffee making

Great Options for Having Coffee while Camping:

Now that we have established that coffee is a must-have, let’s talk about a few options. When you are out camping or backpacking, what are the best methods through which you can get your coffee fix?

Instant Coffee

This is definitely the easiest and quickest method for having delicious coffee while backpacking. Instant coffee powder comes in sachets, where one is usually enough to make one cup. This process makes coffee instantly (hence the name!) and is free of any hassle.

If you are a coffee addict who savors the coffee-making ritual, perhaps this method is not for you. However, if you want an easy coffee preparation method that requires little to no effort, we suggest that you give instant coffee a try.

Instant coffee

Here is What you Need to do: Instant coffee powder has powder ground coffee beans, sugar and creamer mixed together. All you have to do is boil water, pour it in a cup and add the instant coffee mix. Now stir it with a spoon, and your perfect cup of coffee is ready! Really simple, isn’t it?

There are different brands out there which make these sachets, so if you try a few you will be sure to come across one which you love.

Pros:

  • Very quick method
  • Takes no effort
  • Very lightweight option. All you need to pack are the sachets
  • No special equipment is required

Cons:

  • The only negative point is that some people do not like the taste of this coffee. You will have to try it yourself to see if it suits your taste.
  • You might miss the aroma of freshly brewed coffee

Aeropress

This is another method which is popular among campers. Aeropress equipment is made of plastic, and is quite durable. It also has a measuring spoon and built in measuring units, which means that you can brew the exact amount of coffee that you want.

Although Aeropress might look bulky, it is quite lightweight and hence is beneficial for travelers. It will also produce a great cup of coffee, and you will be satisfied with the taste.

Aeropress

Here is What you Need to do: First of all, boil some water. Before adding this water to the Aeropress, you need to fix the filter into its cap and then assemble this on the brewing chamber.

Add the coffee beans to the Aeropress; coffee grounds work very well with this equipment. Now pour the boiling water into the chamber. If you want to make a truly perfect cup, add a little water first and let it sit for a few seconds. This helps in improving the flavor of the coffee. Then add the remaining water.

Now that your mixture is ready, press down on it with the plunger, and keep up the pressure for 30-45 seconds. Your coffee will be ready. Quite easy, right? This is a particularly good option for those who love espresso, as Aeropress coffee tastes a bit like that, because of the pressure applied during the preparation process.

Pros:

  • Quick option
  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Takes little effort

Cons:

  • You have to change the filters, and that could create a mess. If you want to get rid of that problem, you could buy a steel filter and get rid of the paper ones forever.
  • Tastes like espresso. That is not really a negative point but it may be a deal-breaker for people who love their traditional cup of coffee and do not want espresso in the morning.

Cowboy Coffee

If you want to travel ultra-light, and cannot be bothered with special coffee equipment, you can always brew cowboy style coffee. All you need is water and coffee beans. This method is quite simple, even though the taste itself might take some getting used to.

Cowboy Coffee

Here is What you Need to do: Boil some water in a pot over fire or on your camping stove. When the water is boiling, add the coffee beans. For reference, you should add about one quarter cup of coffee beans for each cup of water. Of course, the exact amount depends on your own preference and you will soon figure out the ratio you like

Now remove the pot from heat and let the water sit for 5-10 minutes. This will help in settling the beans at the bottom of the pot. Then simply pour the coffee in a mug and enjoy your caffeine fix. There is no method of coffee preparation quite as badass as cowboy coffee!

Pros:

  • You have to carry nothing special other than coffee beans.
  • Very quick method
  • No mess created because filters are not used.
  • Strong coffee is prepared through this method.

Cons:

  • The negative is that this method does not really prepare the world’s best coffee. It may taste really odd to some people.
  • Coffee beans can get stuck in the teeth.
  • The texture will be different than that of coffee you prepare at home. If cooked for a long time, it may get viscous.
  • You have to get rid of the undissolved beans without a filter.

Pour Over Coffee or Drip Over Coffee

Pour over coffee is great, because it tastes absolutely amazing. Not only that, is also an easy process and a rather lightweight option. This system is usually for brewing one perfect cup of coffee, so it is only suitable if you are a single backpacker or if everyone has his or her own drip over equipment. Otherwise you will have to wait for ages to prepare coffee for everyone.

You can choose from between a plastic dripper, a ceramic one or a stainless steel one.

Pour Over Coffee or Drip Over Coffee

Here is What you Need to do:  This method is simple. First of all, boil some water in a saucepan. This should be more than one cup of water, as this process requires more water than other methods.

Then add the filter to your dripper. Drippers are designed in such a way that they fit over a cup. Once the filter is in place, place the dripper over the cup. Add a little of the hot water to the dripper, and add your coffee beans. This will start the process called “blooming”, which gives a better taste and aroma to the coffee.

After about half a minute, add the rest of the water to the dripper. Make sure that the water does not overflow. After this, all you have to do is wait and watch. The coffee will slowly filter through the cone and drip into your mug.

Another method is to prepare the coffee in the pot, which means that you boil the coffee grounds in the water for some time, stir it with a spoon and let the mixture sit for a while. Then you pour it into the drip-over cone. As many of the ground beans will already have dissolved, the dripping process will be quicker and the equipment will simply work as a filter. And make sure you dispose off the filters properly.

Pros:

  • This coffee tastes very good.
  • It is also easy to prepare.
  • Nowadays, small, compact and lightweight pour-over equipment is present in the market, which you can pack and carry with you with ease.

Cons:

  • The downside is that you need to pack your used filters, unless you want to throw trash outdoors, which you surely don’t. An alternative is to get yourself a reusable filter.
  • If you use a reusable filter, you will have to clean it out after use, which could take some time.
  • This process is time consuming and you will have to wait for a bit to enjoy your cup.
  • You can only prepare one cup at a time.

French Press

This option is more for those people who will be reaching their destination by car. As a result, it is not so perfect as a backpacking option. However, we are still mentioning it here because coffee made by French press tastes great, and if you have a ride, it isa great option. The whole equipment can weight about 7 or 8 ounces.

These days, portable French press equipment are available, so you don’t have to carry your home French press around. Camping French press is sturdier and more durable than traditional household ones.

French press caffee

You need to buy a French press along with the mug, so the two will fit each other perfectly.

Here is What you Need to do: First of all, boil water in a pan. Remove the boiling water from the flame and let it sit for around two or three minutes, so it cools down a little. Now add ground coffee beans to the water. For every cup of coffee that you brew, add in 2 tablespoons of coffee beans. Remember, for making the perfect brew, the beans should be coarsely ground. Beans that are too finely ground alter the taste of the brewed coffee.

Stir the mixture properly, and steep for about four minutes. Then press the plunger and your coffee will be ready to drink!

Pros:

  • Coffee made by a French press tastes amazing.
  • There are no disposable filters, so there isn’t that much of a mess. You do need to clean the equipment, though.
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Relatively heavy
  • Bulky
  • Cleaning the equipment can take some time
  • Not highly suitable for backpackers

Should you Use Ground Coffee or not?

Ground coffee is easier to mix, and can be brewed in lesser amount of time. Not to mention that some methods of brewing coffee actually require ground coffee beans, like French press. But do you really want to grind coffee beans at home and then take them with you while you go backpacking? Coffee tastes best when it is freshly ground, and pre-ground coffee just does not has the same texture or taste.

Camp ground coffee

Taking a grinder with you is not really an ideal option. After all, you do not want to add to the bulk and carry more weight. This is why we suggest that you use coffee beans and only go for ground beans if you absolutely must.

Other Stuff that You Need

Obviously, you need coffee beans to make yourself a great cup of coffee outdoors. What else do you need?

  • Utensils: Always pack a proper coffee mug. This should be durable and should not break easily. You will also need a pot for boiling water. A camping stove will also be needed, unless you plan to heat your water over a fire, in which case you need matches and other equipment needed to start a fire.
  • Sugar: A lot of people prefer their coffee without any sugar. However, if you like your brewed cup sweet, do not forget to carry sugar packs with you. You should store your sugar in small plastic packs, or purchase pre-packaged sugar, like thy serve in diners and hotels.
  • Powdered Milk: Those who do not love their coffee black should take powdered milk sachets with them. Remember to add the powder in cool water, as adding it to water that is either too cold or too hot will only result in the formation of clumps. If you want your coffee to have a more creamy texture, make the powdered milk-water mixture thick and concentrated.

It is best to add milk to a little water and mix them together before adding the coffee, rather than preparing coffee and adding powdered milk in the end.

  • Filters: You need to carry spare filters with you so you can prepare coffee every day, unless you use reusable filters.

Camping with coffee

There is Nothing like Waking up to a Great Cup of Coffee!

For serious coffee addicts, it is not possible to go about their daily tasks without having a hot mug of coffee first. And when you are outdoors, ready to start a day of hiking or backpacking, what better way to get your day going than having a cup of coffee?

The first few satisfied seconds when the coffee hits your taste buds – there is nothing quite like it. And why should you miss that perfect moment only because you are not at home.

In fact, having coffee outdoors is an even better experience than having it at home because you have nature’s beauty all around you. Really, we cannot think of a better way to start the day.

With all the options we mentioned above, you can rest assured that you never have to go without your caffeine fix while out backpacking. The methods are all convenient, quick, free of much hassle and best of all, portable and lightweight. Do you often go backpacking and want to share your coffee brewing experience with us? Let us know in the comments section below!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Carraway
Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.

  • Sean Wright

    I love coffee and I will not last a day without drinking one. So when backpacking, I usually just bring sachets of instant coffee. And you are so right, having coffee outdoors is truly a great experience, looking at a magnificent scenery while sipping your favorite cup of coffee is truly priceless.

  • Lou Smith

    I consider coffee as a must have item for camping trips. I only bring instant coffee, but it is nice to know that I have actually so many options when I’m outdoors.I have looked into Aeropress and so far, I have only read great reviews. A lot of people say that the hype is real and that it really makes the best coffee.

  • Daniel Carraway

    Absolutely! This is one to check out. Let us know how you like it!

  • Daniel Carraway

    It is definitely a great way to start the day outdoors, before a hike. You get a few minutes to yourself and your coffee and you can enjoy nature.

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