Just because you’ve decided to rough it for the weekend doesn’t mean that you have to go without excellent coffee. There are plenty of ways to brew a cup of coffee in the woods, or on the trail, without sacrificing quality or getting weighed down by bulky brewing contraptions.
First, you’ll need to bring coffee. If weight is an issue (especially if you’re backpacking) make sure you bring only as much as you need and weigh out your coffee at home.
The next question is whether or not you need to pre-grind your coffee. There are plenty of pocket mills and hand grinders on the market. Some of them fairly expensive and some of them very affordable. I personally always bring a hand grinder. I love brewing with freshly-ground coffee, and hand grinders don’t take up much space or weight. If you don’t want to grind in the wilderness, then grinding your coffee at home is the best solution. Just make sure you know how you’re going to brew so that you can correctly weigh out and grind your coffee according to your desired brew method.
You’ll also need to bring a container to heat your water in. There are plenty of ways to heat water while camping, just make sure you can keep ash and debris out of the water if you’re using a campfire. Make sure that the container has a spout, even if it’s very small (let’s be honest, you’re probably not going to bring a gooseneck kettle on a camping trip, but it’s not unheard of) so that you aren’t pouring hot water directly out of a large-mouthed pot which could potentially be dangerous.
Most importantly, you’ll need to decide how you want to brew your coffee. There are many ways to brew coffee in the woods, although some may be quicker and easier than others. It’s up to you! Here are some of the ways we do it:
Aeropress. The small, lightweight and compact the Aeropress is very high up on the favorites list for campers. It’s done in about two minutes and cleanup is a breeze. Just make sure you bring your favorite sturdy cup to press your coffee into, and don’t forget filters (the reusable stainless steel filter is perfect for use in the great outdoors). We think it’s perfect for backpacking and camping.
French Press. For those who like a little taste of home in the wilderness, the French press is another good choice. Cleanup is a little more involved than the Aeropress, but still easy to handle. It’s easy to achieve a smooth, balanced cup without all the gadgets in your kitchen. It’s great for camping or car camping, but may not be so great for the trail, especially if you have a glass model!
Pourover. Who says you can’t have a café in the woods? Although it requires a little more time and attention, the pourover is a great method for brewing outside. Just don’t forget your filters! For this brewing method, you’ll need a more gentle stream of water than you would need for the Aeropress and the French press, so take that into consideration when packing your water vessel. (REI sells a great camping pourover that’s collapsible; check it out HERE, especially if you’re backpacking — it’s a huge space saver!) This is good for camping, car camping and backpacking.
Percolator. Want an easy way to brew? You can always just set a percolator over the fire. Just set it and forget it! Ok, not for too long. All you’ll need for this is the percolator itself: no filters or separate water vessel, making it a convenient, durable all-in-one brewer. Percolators are an iconic camping brew method. Although not as popular in the specialty coffee scene, they get the job done. Don’t forget your beef jerky and harmonica.
Enjoy your caffeinated trip to the outdoors! What’s your favorite way to brew coffee in the wild? Let us know in the comments.