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There is nothing like a great cup of coffee or tea in the morning after a night under the stars. There is also nothing quite as infuriating as burning your limited supply of coffee beans or tea leaves, then being left without proper caffeination when a day of adventuring awaits. The good thing is, making coffee while camping isn’t that hard. All it requires is a few essentials, a bit of know-how, and a dash of patience. We spoke with a few experts in the world of coffee and tea to help better prepare you for an excellent cup whenever you might find yourself outside.
For the Coffee Enthusiast
Short of bringing your own scale, a good way to immediately elevate the quality of your outdoor coffee is by packing a small hand grinder.
VSSL founder Todd Weimer uses his company’s Java hand grinder to add that bit of freshness on site and runs it through an AeroPress. It’s essentially the industry standard when it comes to making a decent mechanical shot without an actual espresso machine.
If you’re really discerning about your espresso, you can pre-weigh your beans at home (you can roast them there too). Then you can run the appropriate amount of water and voila you have a great cup of joe. You can potentially bring a portable thermometer to really dial in your temperature so you don’t burn your brew.
Consider Instant Coffee
“While backpacking or hiking, it’s really important to leave no trace behind. I always try to carry the least amount of packaging as possible,” says Kelly Miyar, content specialist at Verve Coffee Roasters. One of the easiest ways to pack light is to bring along a pouch of instant coffee. Almost every coffee brand worth its salt has an instant coffee option. You can also find options for hot or cold instant coffee. It’s tried, true and always a standby when carry weight is an issue.
Tea is Less Temperamental
Steven Smith Teamaker culinary director, Karl Holl takes a simple approach to tea making outdoors, especially as the weather begins to turn and he’s outside foraging for mushrooms.
“Hot tea really plays a role in my fall foraging trips when it’s wet and freezing cold and I’m spending a couple of days out in the woods,” he says.
He uses a simple, campfire-ready tea kettle over a fire pit tripod, or just on the coals themselves. Holl says investing in a simple tea steeper makes it easy to bring loose-leaf tea for a more biodegradable experience.
Gear for Better Coffee & Tea Outdoors
A smaller version of the gold standard when it comes to outdoor brewing. This “travel” version is a no-brainer when it comes to efficient and portable coffee brewing outside. (Just be prepared to put a little bit of muscle in for your morning beverage.)
VSSL’s Java is not only a well-performing grinder, it’s also one of the best looking mechanical options with portability built into the overall design. Sure, it’s an investment, but you might just find yourself using it at home as much as around the campfire.
Cold brew is a sneakily-great way to power your mornings with minimal fuss. MiiR’s new cold brew filter is ready to pop into one of many existing bottle sizes, and all you’ll need is 8-10 hours to let some grind steep, and you’ll have morning jet fuel before you hit the trail.
Easily one of the best and most durable portable stove options when it comes to quick water heating. Use it in the morning for coffee and meal prep/dishwashing throughout the day.
A true backpacker’s French Press, weighing in at just 6.3 ounces. The Japanese brand’s insanely-durable titanium shell can also be used to boil water over a heat source, making this a nifty dual-purpose option for backcountry treks.
There are a handful of companies that make well-designed, well-insulated mugs optimized for the outdoors. Hydro Flask is certainly one of them. The flagship 12oz. Mug is a great standby for morning perks (and doubles as the ideal vessel for evening tipples).
If you want to get weird with your camping coffee, there is this torch-powered option, which only requires water, ground coffee and an included butane lighter to brew one shot in a claimed sub-three minutes. It also happens to look like you’re partaking in another stimulant on the trail, but reviewers say it’s quickly become a go-to both on- and off-grid.
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