SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – June 2012

Test Kitchen: Coffee

We perked more than 100 caffeinated cups to find the best trail-brew technique. Here’s how to choose your method, gear, and grounds.

by: Mike Clelland

(Photo by: iStock Photo/P1Images)
(Photo by: iStock Photo/P1Images)
Coffee Grinder, Cafe Press, Coffee/Tea Filter (Photo by: Andrew Bydlon)
Coffee Grinder, Cafe Press, Coffee/Tea Filter (Photo by: Andrew Bydlon)

Technique: Make a perfect cup of joe.
Cowboy
French Press
Filtered






Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -

ALL READERS COMMENTS

Mike
Jan 03, 2014

Not a Starbucks fan either, but Via is different and better than other instants. It has both crystallized regular instant coffee and fine ground coffee. Costco sells it in bulk for considerably less. Via seems to have a good caffeine kick. The roasts other than the French roast have less of that familiar Starbucks burned bean taste. Pikes Place is good.
The Aeropress wasn't mentioned. It's fiddly but the coffee is top notch. It's a combo of French press and paper filter. I'd take in short trips but not for longer ones.

Mike
Jan 03, 2014

Not a Starbucks fan either, but Via is different and better than other instants. It has both crystallized regular instant coffee and fine ground coffee. Costco sells it in bulk for considerably less. Via seems to have a good caffeine kick. The roasts other than the French roast have less of that familiar Starbucks burned bean taste. Pikes Place is good.
The Aeropress wasn't mentioned. It's fiddly but the coffee is top notch. It's a combo of French press and paper filter. I'd take in short trips but not for longer ones.

Mike
Jan 03, 2014

Not a Starbucks fan either, but Via is different and better than other instants. It has both crystallized regular instant coffee and fine ground coffee. Costco sells it in bulk for considerably less. Via seems to have a good caffeine kick. The roasts other than the French roast have less of that familiar Starbucks burned bean taste. Pikes Place is good.
The Aeropress wasn't mentioned. It's fiddly but the coffee is top notch. It's a combo of French press and paper filter. I'd take in short trips but not for longer ones.

Mike
Jan 03, 2014

Not a Starbucks fan either, but Via is different and better than other instants. It has both crystallized regular instant coffee and fine ground coffee. Costco sells it in bulk for considerably less. Via seems to have a good caffeine kick. The roasts other than the French roast have less of that familiar Starbucks burned bean taste. Pikes Place is good.
The Aeropress wasn't mentioned. It's fiddly but the coffee is top notch. It's a combo of French press and paper filter. I'd take in short trips but not for longer ones.

Mike
Jan 03, 2014

Not a Starbucks fan either, but Via is different and better than other instants. It has both crystallized regular instant coffee and fine ground coffee. Costco sells it in bulk for considerably less. Via seems to have a good caffeine kick. The roasts other than the French roast have less of that familiar Starbucks burned bean taste. Pikes Place is good.
The Aeropress wasn't mentioned. It's fiddly but the coffee is top notch. It's a combo of French press and paper filter. I'd take in short trips but not for longer ones.

cheap jordans
Dec 30, 2013

<a href="http://www.pickairjordansforcheap.com/">jordan shoes for cheap</a>
<a href="http://www.pickairjordansforcheap.com/air-jordan-13-retro-c-79.html">air jordan 13 retro</a>
<a href="http://www.pickairjordansforcheap.com/women-jordan-shoes-c-112.html">jordan shoes for women</a>
<a href="http://www.pickairjordansforcheap.com/">http://www.pickairjordansforcheap.com/</a>
<a href="http://www.pickairjordansforcheap.com/">cheap jordan shoes for sale</a>

wyatt
Sep 02, 2012

Peter 8/20 got it right - it's backpacking = cut the weight.
Just use instant coffee. Backpacking nearly 40 years, I'll tell you a baggie of your own instant blends is all you need. A little decaf, a little Medaglia D'Oro instant espresso, maybe a little hot cocoa powder - a yummy morning jolt. Water, mug, spoon - all the gear you need.

Rick K
Aug 23, 2012

We've tried all these methods, but once Starbucks Via came along, my wife and I only use Via. Quick, easy, virtually as good as brewed.

As for diuretic effect, my understanding is that this is pretty minimal for those whose systems are used to regular morning coffee.

Peter
Aug 20, 2012

With all due respect to the coffee aficionados out there ... I'm no ultra-lighter but at my age (60) I look for every reasonable way to cut weight and volume and minimize clean-up. I love me a good cup of home-brewed coffee but when you're "out there" the instant coffee tubes (Taster's Choice) really are pretty decent (and cheap, too). It's quick, leaves no sediment, and there's essentially no clean-up. I generally don't like Starbucks coffees so I don't buy the Via but you get the idea ...

Joe
Aug 18, 2012

Not a Starbucks fan but the ease and great flavor it's the choice to go with and I've tried every method from cowboy to press to skoal style (pinch between cheek and gum) for that caff fix.
But ultimately it's your choice. Via is going to set ya back about 90 cents a cup not bad considering you probably pay a buck twenty at the gas station.

John
Aug 17, 2012

Am I missing something? I can not find the grinder on GSI.com.

Jeff
Aug 17, 2012

I use the GSR French Press. Light, easy to use and clean and it makes coffee full of rich flavor from selected grounds. No I do not pack out the gounds as they are excellent mulch for some stressed plant.

TheS
Jul 31, 2012

"The ideal temperature for extracting coffee’s flavors—without leeching bitterness—is between 195&#8457; and 205&#8457;."

Then why the need to boil? Unless you have no other way of sterilizing water, there is no need to boil. I personally use a steripen. You should not boil water for coffee. It removes minerals that are key to some flavors. Plus, boiling is a waste of fuel! Heat to almost a boil, but do not let your water boil!

Perry
Jul 31, 2012

I am a huge fan of Via. Can make it in cold or hot water. Obv. hot tastes better, but on the mornings where you have instant milk and cereal, it saves from using any type of stove.

To save on cleanup - use the packaging (the foil wrapper you just poured the coffee out of) as your stirrer. Then pack it out.

meanolddog
Jul 24, 2012

Out west, where I lived for 30 some odd years we avoided drinking coffee on the trail, particularly the Pacfic Crest Trail which is a hot and dusty trail, especially on the Southern end where water is not plentiful as one would hope. Because Coffee is a diuretic and makes you Urinate more fluid and more frequently than one would want to in a dry climate and having to carry all that extra water was the prime reason. Instead we used various types of Herbal Tea's which only required bringing water to an "almost" boil, which saved fuel, didn't require overly expensive additions to your equipment list and gave depending on what type of Tea you drank a slight caffine boost which was a lot better than that big jolt and the the subsequent let down a couple of hours later and probably a quart of Urine or more that you were going to be needed as a replacement..So if you find yourself real thirsty on that hike, think again about that big cup of coffee you had with breakfast. And switch to a more body and earth friendly as well as pocketbook friendly Tea. If you have read up on your Explorer History since Henry Hudson and even old Nessmuk, the true frontiersmen preferred Tea over Coffee except in the books or on Trail Drives with a Chuckwagon to haul the water and extra equipment...Just sayin'

Steve C.
Jul 23, 2012

Haul out grounds? Treat like other food waste.

WCcardinalsrule
Jul 21, 2012

i'm with calimobber. you simply can't top the jet-boil french press. is it a california thing?? convenience: 6 out of 5! except what do you do with all the icky grounds!? ;)

Susan
Jul 21, 2012

We usually have a group of 8 in the bwca and use a muslin coffee filter that we found at cubanmarket.com. It is only $1.99 and weighs practically nothing. Just hold it over your mug and pour water through the coffee filled filter. Don't use fine ground coffee or it takes too long to filter through.

Mudslide
Jul 21, 2012

You can make your own coffee packets to dip and dunk; Amazon sells empty tea bags that you can fill with your brand; just add boiling water and wait until strength desired.

Starbuck
Jul 21, 2012

Well, I have experimented with temps (using a meat thermometer) between 185° and 200°. I find 185 to 195 ideal.

Of course, that also depends on local conditions, like air temp and beginning temp of the brewing pot. When it's colder, I will go to 200 and above to start. The finish temp after 4 minutes can be as low as 165° in some cases.

simon
Jul 21, 2012

I take a screw together espresso pot away, the small model, and it works great over a small gas stove.

trail wench
Jul 21, 2012

via.....italian roast!! the only way to start the day!!!

Anonymous
Jul 20, 2012

I'll be in the woods tomorrow! Wut wut, first kayak expedition! Glen canyon here I come.

Carll
Jul 20, 2012

Ive tried the one cup espresso, the cowboy method, the coffee extract and instant. But once Via came along I save weight and have great flavor. The Italian is my favorite.

calimobber
Jul 20, 2012

fail, jet-boil french press only adds 2oz since the stove is already coming along to cook food.

Don Harris
Jul 20, 2012

Pouring a little cold water into the pot will also settle the grounds. Put coffee and water into the pot the night before and flavor will disperse through water for better cup of coffee.

Rick
Jul 20, 2012

Why have you not included Percolators? I love mine, on a stove or open fire.

crs
Jul 20, 2012

At higher elevation I would think the insoubles and solubles would be more easily extracted w/o the need for higher temps due to lack of air pressure. Genuinely curious, do you have a cite on the water temp/elevation issue? I extract at 185-190 degrees in my house @ 6800ft and get great coffee everyday.

Kindle McGuinness
Jul 20, 2012

Starbucks ViA wins hands down for me.
20 oz of water and 1 Columbian packet.

Even my wife will drink that black for it does not upset her stomach. I personally do not mind drinking it with the recommended 8 oz of water but I also like expresso.

Jim G
Jul 20, 2012

I use an Aeropress which is similar to a French Press with no sediment issue. Fantastic coffee but a bit on the bulky side - well worth it to me!

Cal 20 Sailor
Jul 20, 2012

The Backpacker staff must all be out in the woods: they've been offering up a bunch of rerun articles lately... Hopefully, most of their readers should be out there, too. I know I wish I was!

Bruce Tolley
Jul 20, 2012

Mike
How about combining the cowboy method with filtering my pouring through the MSR magmate before serving? I read about this on line and I starting doing this last year and found it made the perfect brew.

Can the MSR Mugmate do dual use? In that can it be used to pre-filter water before adding chlorine dioxide or using UV light/

G Dan Mitchell
Jul 20, 2012

Back in the day I carried small one-cup espresso maker on the trail. Yes, I'm that crazy about my coffee. But eventually it was just too much trouble and I reverted to tea. However, I am possibly bit embarrassed to admit that with the advent of the Starbucks Via packets, I'm carrying coffee again and happy to not have to deal with the fuss of the other methods. :-)

Dan

Dave Stancil
Jul 20, 2012

Alt method: boil water, add coffee, let sit until desired strength, stir let settle, then add about a cup of cold water to it and voila... you've dunk the grounds. Works great for my backcountry crew of 8 guys.

Dave Stancil
Crew Lead
Southwest Conservation Corps
Veterans Fire Corps : Tucson AZ

Jim
Jul 20, 2012

And what about Leave No Trace? Gonna haul out the wet grinds?

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Gear
Essentials of backpacking
Posted On: Jul 13, 2014
Submitted By: highpeakdrifter
Rocky Mountains
New Snow In Northwest Wyoming
Posted On: Jul 13, 2014
Submitted By: RoonilWazlib

Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

>
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions