Thursday, February 28, 2013

How Do You Make Coffee....

There are two things about the outdoors that I believe firmly. The first is, I don't care how beautiful the place you are is, if you aren't sleeping well, you won't have a good time. The same is true for coffee. I know the difference is that everyone sleeps, but not everyone drinks coffee, but in the outdoors there is something about a good hot cup of coffee to get the morning started. I should point out, that even though I drink decaf, I still believe this is true.

I was originally a backpacker, and I remember doing a backpacking trip with my brother in the 80's. We packed in instant coffee, and non-dairy creamer. I remember adding both of those to a cup while waiting for water to boil. Then adding sugar, and looking at the mix of powders in my cup and thinking there must be a better way.

I first got lured into the world of kayaking because I knew the food was better. Simply put, you don't have to carry anything on your back, if it fits in my kayak I can bring it along. I have even been known to pack in a jetboil in addition to my whisperlite just to make coffee. I am sure you have seen the little table I cook with, it just makes the world so much more civilized. So here are some options for coffee, from simple, to a little more demanding.

Java Juice -  I don't care what this review says, I don't think this stuff is very good. Simple to prepare, add a packet to hot water, and you are done. It is a coffee extract, I don't really know what that means. But I think it has a horrible after taste. It is however, better than nothing.

Starbucks Via - This stuff is pretty good. It is what we used on the inside passage trip, and it worked pretty well. Again, just add hot water. Good flavor, no funky after taste. My only complaint is this, one package makes 8 ounces of coffee. I generally used two for a large mug of coffee, and since they generally come in packets of three I need to do math to make sure I have enough. Hey, Starbucks! Make the packages double the size.

At home I use this French Press - It works beautifully. Add grounds to the bottom, pour in hot water. Let it steep for four minutes. Plunge, and pour. I think the french press is the way to go. They make a smaller one, but it is still a little big for paddling. The container is double wall, so it keeps things reasonably hot. On trips I use this little guy. works beautifully.

This silly little contraption works well too. Fill it with grinds, place it on top of a nalgene bottle or a mug and pour hot water through it. It is nice and small and light weight, but you see that lid? It just sort of sits there, it doesn't actually connect. They should make it snap on, so you don't loose it.

Ive used this too! Works beautifully. simple. light. awesome. one cup at a time though, so a little time consuming. There are dozens of variations on this product, and they all work well. This one even folds flat!

I pack in ground beans, but a buddy of mine uses this. A little hard to hold, while you grind. He finds that you have to hold it between your legs tightly and twist the crank. This is for the person who is serious about his coffee.

This is classic, and makes wonderful coffee. BUT, it takes a while. it doesn't work well on a stove because of how long it takes, you will use too much fuel. But it is awesome over a campfire.

If you are using freeze dried instant coffee, like folgers or maxwell house, you owe it to yourself to try one of these options with real beans. There is just no comparison.

So, those are coffee options. If you use a different option, or there is one I missed, head over to my facebook page and let me know. Now here is another video from the 'craftsmen' series. Just to get you in the mood for coffee.

STUMPTOWN from Stumptown Coffee Roasters on Vimeo.


  1. Heh, I live in Stumptown (Portland, Oregon) and I agree - Via all the way. I suggest you shop Costco they have 24 packs of Italian roast Via right now. I bought two.

    After rethinking, I need more. Like you I will drink coffee every day and with an 80 day expedition scheduled for April 20 I will need at least one more.

    The taste of Via is good and they take up no space and leave little to pack out; the best way to expedition.

    Mark Sherman

  2. Mark, where are you headed too end of April?


  3. Nice. I have done a lot of that route an it beautiful.

    Have a great time


  4. Since you like the MSR filter, but don't like the fact it doesn't snap on, you might like this:

    Screws right onto a Nalgene (or similar) and is threaded to accept the cap as well. Let's you make "cowboy coffee" minus the chewiness, or "infused" coffee.

    Pretty darn handy.

  5. Justin, I will definitely check that out. Thanks for stopping by, and the suggestion.