Posted by Chan Plett // Aug 22, 2019
The Best Way to Brew Coffee While Camping
There’s nothing more magical than cool morning air perfumed with the scent of your heavily wooded camp. Well, maybe one thing is more magical. That, plus a piping cup of coffee in your hand.
There’s more than one way to brew a cup. And there are a lot of choices, options and decisions to make around method, grind and bean. Low mess, full flavor and brew time are all factors when camping, so it can take a while before you find the system that’s right. Lucky for you, I’ve explored a lot of these choices. And I’ll tell you all about them so you don’t have to go the distance and can cut straight to your delicious cup of coffee at your camp.
Bodum makes a range of presses which are indisputable fan favorites. Unfortunately, the fragile glass and the outdoors don’t mix. So if you prefer the press, opt for a BPA-free non-glass one so you don’t make the mistake I did and shatter a perfectly good one in your fire pit. Recommended bean grind: coarse to medium
Pros: makes a lot of coffee at once
Cons: gets cold during brewing, you have to wait longer, difficult to clean, requires a large amount of grounds
Any pour-over will do, but this GSI one has a lot of great benefits. Filter-less, compact, sturdy, simple. But, cleaning this thing is like trying to hand wash coffee grounds out of a sock. Recommended bean grind: medium to fine
Pros: very flavorful, very simple
Cons: gets cold during brewing, you have to wait longer, very difficult to clean
The favorite. The star. The winner. Enjoy the perfect cup with little fuss. Eliminate clean-up time by using paper filters (which are compostable) versus metal mesh filters. Brew inverse method for full flavor. Top shot off with more hot water made with your JetBoil to make an Americano. Recommended bean grind: very fine
Pros: very flavorful, uncomplicated, easy to clean, brews fast, uses a small amount of coffee
Cons: makes a small amount
Porlex grinders are hand grinders that are known for achieving complex grind fineness levels. I’ve used one. It performs. It’s a quality product if you simply must have fresh grounds right before brew. And of course, you do!
Pros: fresh, many grind levels, easy to use
Cons: takes forever, small capacity
Breville conical burr grinders are really amazing. They achieve a consistent grind through-and-through and offer many options for fineness levels. If you don’t want to labor over having a delicious cup and would rather get to breakfast or your hike faster, go ahead and grind your beans at home right before you leave for your trip. It will save you lots of time. And, you won’t be able to taste a huge difference. There is a small difference however, but it’s very small and worth it versus the big level of effort of hand grinding at camp.
Pros: fast, easy, consistent
Cons: slightly less fresh than grinding right before
Go for a lighter, mellow roast
The three methods above tend to brew slow and without much pressure (yep, even the AeroPress doesn’t provide as much pressure as let’s say an espresso machine) and these methods tend to bring the bean flavor out more than other methods you might use at home. For this reason, you would want to choose a bean that has a delicate flavor (no dark roasts as they will have too much of the “roasted” flavor and not as much of the coffee flavor) and one that is not very acidic because the acid in the bean will really be brought out by some of the slower methods (yep, even though AeroPress is fast, it still tastes like a drip) and can cause the brew to taste too sour.
The best system
Consider your camping coffee situation sorted. Here’s what you’ll need to optimize your coffee drinking while enjoying nature’s finest sights and scents: