For many camping enthusiasts, crawling out of your sleeping bag and brewing up a fresh batch of coffee is one life’s greatest joys. Morning camping coffee rituals are highly individualized and deeply personal; whatever your routine, you probably swear by it. From instant coffee to portable french presses, percolators, and drone delivery (seriously), here’s what your preferred camping coffee-making method says about you.
We’ll start simple. Some might say this is the lazy way to go about it, but instant coffee supporters know there’s beauty in simplicity. And maybe you’re one of those people who can’t quite wake up until that first cup of caffeine-infused-goodness brings you to life. If this is the case for you, simpler is better. This no-nonsense technique provides an ultralight, straightforward means to achieving quick and dirty caffeination. While it may be frowned upon by some (“Just eat a caffeine pill and save yourself!”), you take pride in knowing that you have no water-soaked grounds to pack out, and the peaceful knowledge that your secret insta-coffee stash will be a lifesaver in the backcountry. Besides, Starbucks “VIA” is actually pretty great.
For those of you who feel the need to keep your dignity, the pour over is the next best option. Pinteresters may go with the DIY coffee bag (or “tea bag it” method), while self-proclaimed dirtbags may prefer the “Hanky Coffee” technique: go green and use a handkerchief, shirt, sock, or what have you as a filter (the unique taste is an added bonus). The more sophisticated camper will prefer a drip cone such as the UST FlexWare Coffee Drip, or something like the Pocket PourOver by Kuju, both of which happened to be included in one of our rad Cairn boxes this month. Either way, you’re easy-going, and can get behind this economical, lightweight, easy-to-clean method.
You’re rugged and you don’t mind roughing it to get what you want. If you’re a male, you probably have a great beard. You know what life’s all about: sharing stories around the campfire, sleeping under the stars, the occasional ride off into the sunset, and denim--lots of denim. Some might cringe at the thought of drinking coffee grounds, but you know that a few extra grounds never hurt anyone. You’re a minimalist with an affinity for old school Westerns and drinking things out of mason jars, even if you don’t own a cowboy hat. The bottom line: cowboy coffee is ultralight, requires minimal effort and no extra equipment, and typically tastes gross, but no matter what, you’re a badass for drinking it.
You’re a crowd pleaser and a foodie. Whether you’ve packed the kitchen sink for some hard core family car-camping or you finally got the gang out for a (somewhat) annual camping caravan reunion, french press users have the power to provide exceptional coffee to the masses. Even though the french press is relatively small and lightweight, it requires a coarse grind and a longer steep time, plus more to clean, meaning more aggregate time to chat with the sleepy-eyed tent creatures of your group before anyone is caffeinated. You’re everyone’s favorite for providing the elixir of life and will probably get some extra s’mores around the campfire tonight.
Some might say you’re high maintenance, but they wouldn’t understand the nostalgia that comes with this camping classic. The percolator is relatively easy to use (for people who know what they’re doing), but this classic brewing device is a must for campers who care greatly for coffee, and you care. You care about the experience of hearing the bubbly noises and smelling that sweet aroma, even if it requires using up all your fuel to keep the thing boiling and making sure it doesn’t boil over. The humble percolator may get a bad rap from coffee snobs, but hey, old school is cool (and your Instagram followers can see how retro you are). Besides, it makes a perfectly decent large pot of coffee outdoors.
Friends call you “Backcountry Barista.” Although camping may take you far away from your favorite coffee shop, you’re not afraid; you’ve got a lightweight coffee-making-miracle-machine that’s easily packable and totally worth it for every golden drop of coffee that comes out. You’ve jumped on the aeropress bandwagon and you’re never getting off. You probably own at least five flannel shirts and have a mountain-related tattoo. Maybe you even have the aeropress camping coffee-making kit from Stumptown. Regardless of how hip and fancy you are, the aeropress makes a good clean cup of coffee so you’re sure to start your day of adventuring off right.
A Moka Pot, or macchinetta, for you Italian connoisseurs, is a designer’s dream. Not only can you easily use it on a camping stove, but it’s the closest you can get to an espresso out in the woods. If this is your go-to coffee-making appliance, you’ve gotta be serious, sophisticated, and fairly Euro, like a man who can pull off a scarf. The preferred fine espresso grind is a reflection of your appreciation of the finer things in life, and no amount of distance from your local coffee roaster can stop you from making a killer cup of morning joe.
No matter how you brew it, there’s nothing like sipping a steaming cup of coffee in the great outdoors (except for drone delivery--that’s where we draw the line). Every caffeinated camper has his or her own routine, and we’d love to hear about yours! Share your backcountry barista skills with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.