Brewing Coffee in the Back Country – Backpacking Brew

 Like so many people, I love coffee. I’m not a coffee snob by any stretch of the imagination … more of an equal opportunity coffee drinker.
It doesn’t really matter if it’s Folgers in the $35 drip maker before running out the door for work or a $5 latte from The Old Grind (a lovely independently owned coffee shop conveniently down the sidewalk from my office) … I love them all.
coffee brewing on the trail
When I started preparing for backpacking adventures it was imperative that good coffee happen on the trail. I had no idea how, so I hit the Internet. My extraordinary Google Fu did not let me down.
First option I’m going to present, believe it or not, is Instant … no really, instant. I freaked out a bit too when it was first mentioned and I pretty much totally wrote it off.
But I came around when I found out my local grocery store carried something called Nescafé 3 in 1
 coffee brewing on the trail
It’s a wee packet (one serving) of instant coffee with sugar and creamer – just add water. This stuff gets great reviews everywhere you look, so I had to try it. It has jumped right near the top of my list of favourite options, second only to real coffee.
I have also read that a lot of people like the Starbucks® VIA
… I’m not a fan. Just a personal preference though, as so many others really enjoy them.
There are also a lot of option in the instant coffee department that I haven’t even tried. So take a look at your grocery store aisle and start testing at home to find the one that works for you.
When it comes to real coffee … I go all the way to a coffee press. When I first saw the GSI Outdoors Commuter Javapress I knew I wanted it. The smell of fresh brewed coffee on a crisp morning outdoors is pretty much my entire reason for living.
coffee brewing on the trail

I now own three different GSI Java Presses … that’s how much I like them.

My first purchase was the smaller, personal Java Press, then I picked up a GSI Commuter Press as a Christmas gift and most recently purchased a 1L press, from Outdoor Outifitters in Hinton, for car camping trips and a good two full cups of coffee.
coffee brewing on the trail
The smaller press has been my go-to for trail coffee for most of my trips, along with a small bottle of French Vanilla coffee flavouring.
However, after a much despised introduction to the Commuter Press that saw me fumbling with the plunger, spilling coffee out the sides and writing angry letters to the company etc … I’ve possibly pulled a 180 on my views on this device.
coffee brewing on the trail
I’m not too proud to admit the problems I had with it were most likely user error. I successfully used the commuter mug on my last car camping trip and that was particularly handy because I had also splurged and purchased a GSI JavaMill. I’m guessing the first couple of times I tried, I wasn’t pressing directly down properly and messed with the plunger seal.
So, yes … I am now that person who goes out on a trail, grinds my coffee beans by hand and brews up a fresh cuppa joe … I am loving every minute of it.
The grinder is really a great little device. I’ve had no issues with it and the great thing about it is that a single fill is exactly the right amount of coffee for the commuter mug.
That’s one of the reasons I was recently so determined to make that thing work.
There are other options for trail coffee, that I don’t own, but are well reviewed by others, including the Jetboil Coffee Press accessory and even small percolating coffee pots for backpacking stoves.
And the ultimate … a backpackingespresso maker … hmmmm …
All in all, with a little research and some trial and error, coffee lovers have a lot of options out on the trail, just remember to pack out all your garbage … that includes your used coffee grounds. They are an amazingly fragrant bear attractant. I use a Ziploc bag for all my grounds.

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