Coffee is one of those daily rituals a lot of us enjoy at home. Unfortunately, taking that experience out on the trail can be difficult, as the cup you make outdoors often doesn’t taste the same. For this reason, we are constantly in search of the perfect coffee for backpacking.
Initially, backpackers had only two options – either tug along heavy brewing equipment or settle for drinking cardboard-tasting coffee. Luckily, this is no longer the case. Coffeemakers have put in a lot of effort to create the best instant coffee that not only requires minimal equipment but also delivers a fantastic aroma.
Since tastes differ from one person to the next, we’ll take look at the best coffee for backpacking, ranging from milder lighter roasts to full-bodied dark roasts. We’ll also do our best to explain all the different features and give you key information. Once you’re finished with this guide, you’ll have a much easier time finding coffee you’ll love bringing with you wherever you go.
How To Choose A Backpacking Coffee – Buying Guide
Type of Coffee
When it comes to coffee outdoors, you have a few different methods you can use to make your brew. The most popular options for backpackers include instant coffees, bagged coffee, single-serve pour-overs, and (rarely) a French press or a percolator.
Instant coffee: A very popular choice, the most lightweight and compact way of having your cup of coffee. All you have to do is mix the pack contents with hot water. While it has often been criticized for its bland (bad) taste, it has undoubtedly improved over the years. You can now find some great products in this category (Starbucks VIA Instant being one of them).
Coffee in a bag: This method is as simple as it sounds – you just pour boiling water into a bag. This leaves minimal mess which is why it’s very convenient. Coffee purists may turn their nose up at this type of brewing method but it is highly effective at making a good cup of coffee.
Single-serve pour-overs: A great alternative to backpacking instant coffees, but more demanding to make. It’s a more traditional way of coffee making which requires you to carry a filter device and some fresh ground coffee. Many backpackers who don’t like the taste of instant coffee opt for this method.
French press or percolator: Traditional methods of making a great cup of coffee wherever you are. These devices deliver a great-tasting brew but also add a lot of weight to your gear. While they are not exactly great for backpacking, they could be a great option for campground coffee when going car camping.
With backpacking coffee, the taste is a common issue that many people have. If you are a big coffee enthusiast then it’s likely that you have one type of machine or another in your home and will happily take time to create your perfect coffee. Unfortunately, bringing your home setup on the trail isn’t possible.
When instant coffee first came out, it gained a bad reputation about the taste that was nowhere near homemade brew. Big progress has been made since, and nowadays the finest backpacking coffee can satisfy the taste buds of even the most demanding backpackers.
Instead of just a single type, you now have plenty of options to choose the best coffee. Instant coffee comes with a different roast (light, medium, dark), coffee beans (arabica, robusta) or whether you want some additions to the instant coffee (sugar, caramel, chocolate). And with a small portable device, you can even make yourself a cup of camping espresso.
All backpackers know that carefully planning what to pack in a backpack is crucial. In light of this, the coffee you bring on the trail shouldn’t be too heavy or require much space. For this reason, instant coffee for backpacking usually comes in individual packets that weigh just a fraction of an ounce.
While you might initially think that a French press won’t add too much weight to your gear, every ounce counts when you’re covering large distances. We advise you to leave your heavy gear at home and choose high-quality instant coffee that is easy to carry with you.
Q: What is backpacking coffee?
It’s essentially any type of coffee you can use for backpacking. In a more strict sense, it should be lightweight to take with you and easy to prepare a cup of coffee. The best choice here is instant coffee in either individual packets or bags, where you only have to add water to the mix.
Q: How to make coffee while backpacking?
The best way to make coffee backpacking (and easiest) is to empty the instant coffee pack into a mug, pour hot water over it and stir. Another easy way (great for several people) is to get a bag like Nature’s Kettle and pour hot water directly into the bag. If you don’t like instant coffees, you can make cowboy coffee or bring a filter to make coffee drip.
As we said before though, using a backpacking coffee press or a percolator are also possible options for backpacking coffee. However, bringing a backpacking coffee maker requires time, patience and hauling even more equipment which isn’t going to suit most backpackers.
Q: How do you make cowboy coffee?
The traditional wayincludes putting some coffee grounds in a pot, pouring water it, and bringing it to a boil. When the grounds float, remove the pot, and let it sit a couple of minutes. Then add a little cold water so the grounds sink and pour it into your backpacking coffee mug.
Q: What to do with coffee grounds when backpacking?
It’s best that you pack the used grounds and take them with you. While there are opposing opinions on this matter, it’s generally accepted that camping coffee grounds fall under the leave no trace principle and that you should therefore not scatter them on the ground.
Globo Surf Overview
A cup of coffee is an inseparable part of daily life for many of us, so why not enjoy it even when backpacking? With the best instant coffee from our list, you can have a full-flavor brew no matter where you are. Hopefully, we managed to break the prejudice about instant coffee and show you it can be good too. Feel free to try any of the brewing methods we suggested, we promise you won’t regret it.