Coffee is the second most consumed beverage in the U.S. behind soda, and number one in the world, not counting water. Most of us who love the black stuff have brewing equipment in our kitchens, but when we travel or go camping, we often endure whatever is available – sometimes even instant coffee. Advancements in coffee brewing technology, availability, and affordability over the last 10 years have made it relatively easy to make a great cup of coffee practically anywhere. Here are some things to consider when assembling your travel coffee kit.
Boiling Water: If you are staying at a hotel or bed and breakfast, you most likely will have access to hot water. Camping is a little more challenging. Campfire kettles and percolators, like Enamelware and Coleman, are straightforward and no-frills, but are heavy and bulky to pack. You have several light-weight options. Use a beer can for a pot with the 2.8-ounce FireFly UL Titanium Collapsible Wood Stove, or upgrade to an all-in-one cooking system like the Jetboil MiniMo, which won Backpacker Magazine’s 2015 Editors’ Choice Award. Or charge your phone while heating water with BioLite’s wood-burning CampStove. Unless you packed a Bialetti Moka, you will probably brew your coffee using a pour-over method. Pouring just after the boil has settled will promote the best extraction and flavor.
Grinding Beans: Hand or manual grinders can range in price from $30 for a Hario Mini Mill to $135 for a LIDO 3 Manual Coffee Grinder. When choosing a grinder, consider durability and grind consistency. Choosing one that utilizes conical burrs will also improve the flavor of your coffee. For pour over, grind your coffee at a medium consistency as you would for a drip machine. If you are going on a short trip, you can grind your beans beforehand and store them in an airtight container. Note: This will change the flavor of the coffee and reduce the quality.
Brewing: The most ideal travel brewing apparatus will give you a consistent, delicious cup of coffee, take up minimal space, and be easy to clean. The current top equipment choice for local coffee roasters and geeks is the AeroPress. Invented by Alan Adler, creator of the world-record holding Aerobie Pro Ring Flying Disc, this diminutive contraption claims to be self-cleaning, is uncomplicated and can even stow the Porlex Mini Hand Grinder inside its main body. It is affordable and comes standard with a measuring scoop and filters. Coffee lovers hold many opinions regarding the ideal water-to-coffee ratio, which can differ with the roast, growing region, and grind of the beans. For a quick brew, it is safe to stick with the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s recommendation of 16 parts water to one part ground coffee. You can also check with the roaster to find out what they recommend for a specific coffee.
Drinking: We all have a favorite mug or two in our cabinet, and chic travel cups like KeepCup and Joco are plentiful. But nothing beats an enamel steel mug when you are cozied up next to a campfire in the cool of the morning. Enamel steel is durable and functional and feels toasty against cold fingers.
What The Coffee Geeks Use
“Camp coffee is amazing, and our true passion at Vessel is getting outside. We use the Aeropress when camping. It’s easy, compact – and without a doubt always creates an amazing cup of coffee.” – Sean Tobin, Vessel Coffee Roasters, Spokane
“A common tool used among coffee geeks is the Aeropress. They usually pair it with a metal filter from Able Brewing and a Porlex Mini Hand Grinder. Then all they need is hot water, and they’re good to go!” – Bobby Enslow, Indaba Coffee, Spokane
“I travel with a Kalita Wave #155 Stainless Steel Dripper and its filters, an OE Lido 2 Hand Grinder, an AWS SC-2kg pocket scale, and some tasty coffee. I prefer the Kalita for two reasons: It’s not likely to break since it’s stainless steel and its narrow diameter makes consistent brewing without a gooseneck kettle a little easier.” – Scott Yost, DOMA Coffee Roasting Co., Post Falls
“For a long time, we’ve had the luxury of a Volkswagen camper, so for gear, I like the Hario kettle on the gas burner (heats quickly and pours nicely), a Kalita Wave dripper (I like the way the coffee tastes), and enamel steel mugs.” – Terry Patano, DOMA Coffee Roasting Co., Post Falls
“Randy and I both do a lot of camping and backcountry skiing. The Aeropress is our go-to brew method. It’s really easy, small and light to pack, and it makes a killer cup of coffee. Add the Rhinowares Hand Burr Grinder and our Evans Brothers Camp Mug for the full setup.” – Rick Evans, Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters, Sandpoint
“When we camp or backpack, I take an Aeropress, and I individually pack pre-measured ground coffee in re-useable vac bags. We are being sustainable and getting the best taste possible, and there is no guessing. Incremental changes in the coffee aren’t worth it for bringing all that gear!” – Deborah DiBernardo, Roast House Coffee, Spokane
“The Aeropress is like having home espresso, and it’s super light and fits into a backpack, no problem. If we want to condense space even more, we take an unbleached coffee filter, put in two tablespoons ground coffee, tie off the top, and drop it into boiling water like a tea bag.” – Hannah Jennings, Nectar of Life Coffee Co., Dalton Gardens
“We don’t really camp…my family kind-of glamps. We have a 32-foot RV and about six different ways to brew coffee when we camp. For me, it’s my tranquil place to do a lot of tasting and experimenting with coffee. Our go-to is probably the V60 Gold Cup 360ml pour over.” – Malcolm Wicks, Bumper Crop Coffee Roasters, Spokane Valley
“Some of my earliest memories are of looking under the wall of our lodgepole teepee at the cowboy coffee pot sitting next to the fire. In the early morning when it’s cold out, the aroma and warmth of coffee are incredible. Boil some water, get some instant coffee, pour the water over it, and you’ve got your cup. For tailgate camping, I prefer the Bialetti Moka pot. It’s universal and all right there.” – Young Bennett, Coffee Roboto, Coeur d’Alene. //