A Good Cup Of Joe In The Backcountry

By Mike Boisvert.

For many of us, heading into the backcountry for a multi-day trip means that we’re carrying more than just a loaded backpack. The monkey of caffeine addiction rides along as well, and you’ve got to feed it or face the logy, headpounding consequences. And, hey, coffee tastes good anyway. So what’s the best way to make a great cup of wilderness joe?

Cowboy Up

Forgot everything but the grinds? Time to brew like a Marlboro man. Simply add grounds to a pot of water, bring it to a boil, and let it sit for about five minutes until the grounds settle. Then scoop off the top. For proper strength, add about 50 percent more coffee than you would normally use. Cowboy coffee is not exactly good to the last drop—it gets gritty near the bottom—but you can use a bandana or other item of clothing as an improvised filter to maximize grounds-free drinking. Mmmm, taste the frontier.

Jetboil Coffee Kit

There is a coffee kit that Jetboil makes for their personal cooking system. Use a good Kona grind and the coffee is pretty good. It is essentially a French Press and guys have had good results with it. However since this is designed to BOIL, there have been reports that it burns the coffee. I think the kit is $20.

Other Coffee Options

1. Coughlins Filters - Ultralight weight and good for a 20oz mug of strong coffee. These are nice little buddies to have in your pack.

2. MSR MugMate - Good for a very large mug of coffee. More Fragile and more expensive, but allows some of the finer silt to come through, giving you that french press taste. A smaller (2 oz?) Nalgene bottle fits inside the screen so it doesn't get crushed in the pack.

3. Cup.pour.ri - While the coffee bags are OK, they don't come in flavors or your favorite grind.

4. Aeropress - A little more weight and volume than some of the other options suggested. Makes a sort of psuedo-espresso that you can either drink straight or dilute with water to make a normal cup of joe.

French Press

A French Press is really awesome. You'll be absolutely impressed with this type: Clipper International X-Press Stainless Steel French Press. It also functions as a stainless steel pot, not much heavier than an MSR cascade cook-set, that you can cook in if you need to (carry the larger lexan spoon) including boiling water to rehydrate foods.

The Big Sky Bistro mug works really well. Snow peak makes a titanium press that is expensive but works great.  

This French Press rocks! Just attach it to yer cup and pour the hot water in. Works great.

Starbuck's Yukon blend ground for French Press is a favorite. Verona is the runner-up. The Bodum maker looks really good. Starbuck's sells a stainless steel french press mug for the great outdoors.

Here are some decent French Press Offerings from REI.
I would say that French Presses are the best solution- at least for me. I've tried just about everything else, and I cannot live without my Morning Joe :-)

Use Condensed Milk

What you might want to do is get some of the small individual prepackaged half and half containers that some diners give you with your coffee. They can be left in room temperature for very prolonged periods of time. I've read backpackers carrying these for 4 days in warm (70s) temps and 10 days in cooler weather (50s-60s) and they never went bad.

Coffee Filters

You can use regular triangular coffee filters (Mr Coffee type paper filters) loaded with enough grounds for the amount of coffee you'll need. Fold the corners over and over, in such a way the grounds won't leak out, then staple it shut. The amount of grounds depends on how strong you like your coffee.  Use about 2 table spoons for 10 ounces. Boiling instruction are critical..... Get the pot of water boiling, drop in one of the filters and slow boil it for a good 5 minutes, no less! If you like stronger.... boil longer. Enjoy!
Snow Peak Coffee Drip

Try the Snow Peak Coffee Drip. It folds flat, weighs nada, and uses #4 filters. You use your own grind, blend, amount or what ever. The funnel has legs that sit well on a mug or if your careful a thermos. It is also very easy to clean. Filter holds used grounds together so there is no spill. Easy to put in trash bag, rather than the scattering of grounds from the mesh filters. Also no plastic taste. Use a titanium or stainless steel cup.

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