Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Guide to Backcountry Coffee

At home, I love nothing more than the sound of my coffeemaker in the morning. I can hear the steam building up and then the slow drip drip drip down through the filter and into the pot. It's always music to my ears and a wonderful way to start the day.

Coffee drinkers can find a number of ways to recreate this important comfort of home out in the mountains. If you can't imagine your day without a cup of java, there's no reason why you have to go to the backcountry without it. Here are some common methods for camp coffee-brewing to get you started:

Pourover Coffee


DISC_7416 by yoppy. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Access the original photo here.

I personally think the pourover method is one of the best-tasting ways to make coffee--in town, in the mountains, anywhere. Positives of this method is that the cone is relatively easy to clean--you just take the filter out and give it a rinse--and the coffee you make tastes pretty darn good. The biggest con (and this is an important one!) is you have grounds leftover that you have to pack out.

Supplies needed:
-A plastic coffee dripper
-Paper filters
-Ground coffee
-Hot water

French Press


Campground coffee by Citrix. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Access the original photo here.

There are a number of French press options that are lightweight and easy to carry on backcountry trips. GSI makes coffee presses in a variety of sizes and both the JetBoil and the MSR Reactor have French Press adaptors available.

You don't have to carry coffee filters for this method, which is a plus, but the press makes the whole setup a bit of a pain to clean. But if what you love at home is a French press, you can totally make it work to bring one with you in the backcountry.

Supplies needed:
-French press
-Ground coffee
-Hot water

Cowboy Coffee

DISC 0094 by Dick Clark. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Access the original photo here.

This is the simplest of the methods out there--but also the hardest to get right. Here's how you do it:
1. Fill up your saucepan with water for the amount of coffee you want to make.
2. Bring it to a boil
3. Remove the pot from heat and allow it cool a little from its boiling temperature.
4. Add coffee to the pot--about 2 tablespoons of finely ground coffee per 8oz of water.
5. Stir and let sit for two minutes.
6. Stir again and let it sit for another two minutes.
7. Serve it up!

This is another method where you still have to pack grounds out, but the plus is you can do this with minimal equipment--all you need is coffee grounds and your usual cooking stuff.

Supplies needed:
-Ground coffee
-Hot water

Instant Coffee

Starbucks Via by jamieanne. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Access the original photo here.

Instant coffee options for camping are getting better and better. Starbucks Via is probably the best tasting-option out there, though you could always do Folgers instant or another brand if you prefer. The Vias come in individual packs and in a variety of different roasts--though they can taste kind of acidic, so if you have a sensitive stomach be careful. These don't taste THAT different from brewed coffee and don't leave any grounds you have to pack out. These have become the go-to choice for AAI's Denali trips and other programs for their simplicity.

Supplies needed:
-Instant coffee (in bulk or individual packages)
-Hot water

--Shelby Carpenter, AAI Instructor and Guide

2 comments:

Jeff In Oregon said...

For the last several years I've gone with Medaglia D'Oro instant espresso. I buy a larger container and put what I need into a small Nalgene poly bottle.

Kaleb H said...

Great article! I know some backcountry folks who rave about their aeropress. It's another option for some good coffee. I recently tried Alpine Start instant coffee with really good results. I actually like the taste better than the starbucks instant!