Like wine to cheese, a steaming mug of anything belongs with the great outdoors. As you plan out your rations, consider which morning brews will best resonate with the landscape you’ll be walking through. Only those who wake up in the wilderness get to know the subtle art of trailside haute beverages, pairing flavor with place.
Drink This: Gourmet Coffee
Early morning brings thin, mineral air to a mountain camp, and pairs well with bright, clean flavors. Think of your mountain beverage as a single, pure note harmonizing with the expansive view. For a visionary experience, try a pour-over of Blue Bottle’s Burundi Kayanza Ninga or other high-elevation bean. Dirtbag alternate:Starbuck’s Via Ready Brew.
Photo by Sarah West
Drink This: Full-Bodied Tea
Waking through the soft light and lush aromas of the forest calls for something earthy, full-bodied, and contemplative. For a truly unique pairing, try the cedar- and humus-scented Yong De Ripe Puerh from Jasmine Pearl Tea Co. Dirtbag alternate: A strongly brewed cup of English Breakfast tea.
Photo by Mark Smith / Flickr
Drink This: Salty Cocoa
Oceanside camping is a full sensory experience—bold, briny scents mingle with the sparkling view and rhythmic crush of the surf. Match your morning beverage to this sonorous experience by mixing a cup of Treehouse Chocolate Co.’s Cherrywood Sea Salt Drinking Chocolate. Dirtbag alternate: Instant coffee with a pinch of salt.
Photo by Rob Lee / Flickr
Drink This: Spicy Chai
It’s best to rise early in the desert, when pre-dawn glow animates the stark landscape. Pair this stoic mood with a restorative blend of warming flavors, such as Smith Teamaker’s Masala Chai, enriched with a few half-and-half packets or non-dairy creamer. Dirtbag alternate: Stick with Edward Abbey’s standard—a cup of Twinings tea.
Drink This: Coffee + Chocolate
Morning in a winter camp needs an invigorating, indulgent beverage to buffer the chill. And why brew just one when you can have two at once? Treehouse Chocolate Co.’s Camp Coffee + Drinking Chocolate has your caffeine bases covered with fast-acting coffee and slow-but-steady chocolate. Dirtbag alternate: Whisk a butter cube or chocolate square into your instant coffee. Kick it up a notch: To either, add a shot of bourbon for extra warmth.
Photo by Matthew Shipp / Flickr
Drink This: Vanilla Rooibos
The end of the day, the open, infinite night sky—this humbling scene calls for a beverage more inspiring than water. Try the dreamy, meditative Vanilla Rooibos from Jasmine Pearl Tea Co. for a robust but caffeine-free brew. Dirtbag alternate: Celestial Seasonings Madagascar Vanilla Red
Backcountry Brewing Tips
Photo by yoppy / Flickr
- If instant coffee isn’t your thing, you'll find the Snow Peak collapsible pour-over brewer indispensable. Its svelte 4.9-ounces, plus a few paper filters and a sack of ground beans, convincingly recreates the richness of café-fresh coffee wherever you go.
- Pre-portion loose-leaf teas in fillable teabags.
- The water source itself can make a hot beverage haute—when it’s available, choose freshly collected water over bottled.
- Only use clean, clear water, and bring it to a full boil to sterilize it.
- For shorter trips (or for a treat), bring half & half packets instead of instant creamer.