One of the lifelong battles coffee fiends have is how to make a decent cup of joe in the backcountry. I love the taste of a fresh cup of coffee in the early morning regardless of where I am, especially if I am camping. Warms the body, soul and mind! For some folks they forgo coffee for tea simply because it is easy to carry into the backcountry. Others go so far as to bring a handy dandy espresso machine!!! That is a bit too hardcore for me, however I will never refuse a backcountry espresso.
I have been battling between the instant coffee such as Folgers and the real deal of ground coffee such as my beloved Peet’s French roast. Instant coffee has advantages such as portability, convenience, weight (very light) but unfortunately it tastes like, well, er instant coffee. Which I am not a huge fan of. Where as the Peet’s, or any other normal coffee tastes great (I think better when camping than at the house) but you have to deal with grounds.
- Coffee brewing bags pros: easy to use, light weight/cons: tastes like crap
You can buy these (expensive) or simply buy reusable tea bags and fill them yourself the only issue is that you are packing them in and out.
- Percolator pros: can make a ton/cons: weighs a ton, bulky
Think home on the range wagon train style, I would only use this if I was desperate!!
- Cowboy Coffee pros: mindless/cons: grounds can be an issue, messy
By far the easiest to deal with if you don’t mind the grounds this is a sure winner.
- French Press pros: style points, tastes great/cons: bulky, messy
Probably makes the best taste of home coffee.
- Sock (cotton filter) pros: easy/cons: tastes odd, psychologically damaging (drinking out of a sock)
For the grounds I have found that you can simply make cowboy coffee (leaving the grounds in) to which if you bring the coffee to a boil slowly and place a small stick on the surface of the coffee the majority of the grounds will settle to the bottom and leave you with out the classic coffee ground smile. In essence the stick is simply breaking the surface tension allowing the grounds to fall to the bottom of the pot.
You can use a cotton handkerchief as a filter to keep the grounds separate, or you can use a fancy french press or other like convenience to make it how you like it.
For me I usually pack the Snow Peak Titanium French Press – 3 Cup which doubles as my cook pot as well and I am quite pleased with it.
As for actual coffee selection if you don’t mind grounds go with what you know, use what you use at home. If you go instant be sure and experiment before heading out on the trail. Can you imagine your disappointment after lugging the coffee on the hike for it to taste like rancid water dressed in brown.
I do know quite a few people that a re straight black coffee drinkers until they are camping then it is the gourmet cappuccino mixed stuff, which is OK I guess but it leaves me feeling sick too much stuff in the coffee I think! The other AWESOME recommendation is simply and delicious, think chocolate covered coffee beans, yum! Unfortunately you miss out on the warming effect of the hot liquid. One thing I would caution you stay away from is the coffee concentrate, this stuff comes in small packets and is liquid coffee essence, I have never had the civilian stuff but the stuff we got in the military was horrid!