Taste Test: Camp Coffee

Whether you're going ultralight or ultra gourmet, it's crucial to pour the right cuppa joe.

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coffee light and fast

Medaglia D’Oro Instant Espresso (Julia Vandenoever)

coffee antioxidant boost

Cafझ Sonora Organic Dark Roast (Julia Vandenoever)

coffee bold roast

Silver Joe’s (Julia Vandenoever)

Light and fast | Bold roast | Antioxidant boost

Light and fast

Coffee snobs, hold onto your mugs: We found instant java that doesn’t taste like day-old gas station brew. Café Bustelo Mexican Blend ($2.75, 2 oz.) made the cut for its smooth and strong flavor. Fans of Medaglia D’Oro Instant Espresso ($3, 2 oz.) said “robust, with a hint of cinnamon.” After dinner, go with Café Bustelo Cappuccino ($3, five single-serving packets). The mocha-flavored version is great alone as a cocoa alternative, or blended with a shot of whiskey. All are available at javacabana.com.

Light and fast | Bold roast | Antioxidant boost

Bold roast

Forgot to pack your Peet’s? You might just be able to grab a bag of Silver Joe’s at the outdoor shop when you pick up a fuel canister on the way to the trailhead. Silver Joe’s is popping up in outdoor retailers from Alaska to Colorado, and the bold, fresh taste of the company’s French Roast wowed even our resident coffee purists. $10, 12 oz. (866) 558-6333; silverjoes.com

Light and fast | Bold roast | Antioxidant boost

Antioxidant boost

We’re sure you’ve heard by now that coffee, like tea, includes beneficial doses of antioxidants. But not all beans are created nutrionally equal. Due to a unique roasting process that smoothes out temperature fluctuations, a cup of Café Sonora Organic Dark Roast contains 39 percent more antioxidants (vitamins and nutrients that bond with free radicals inside your cells to help muscles and organs rebound after exercise) than the average premium-brand coffee. One mug of Café Sonora equals the antioxidant benefits of a cup of green tea. Taste-wise, our well-caffeinated testers gave this brew a thumbs-up, though the flavor isn’t quite as fresh and rich as our favorites, like Silver Joe’s (left). $10, 12 oz. (866) 972-6879; worldpantry.com

Dedicated to brewing fresh beans every morning? For a review of the best coffee-making gadgets for the trail, read “Make Perfect Camp Coffee”.