Coffee outside. Is there anything better? That’s a rhetorical question because the answer is no. There is nothing better. It’s a simple morning ritual that deserves some serious praise. And it’s not just about the coffee in the cup, it’s about the production.
No matter your brew method you’ll need something to boil water in, a hand-grinder or pre-ground coffee, and a mug. We also highly recommended reusable filters over paper where necessary.
Here’s a quick ‘n dirty guide to some choice brew methods walking the line between full-on coffee snobbery and convenience.
1. Cowboy Coffee
Best For: True dirtbagging, replicating the Wild Wild West
How to Brew: Recommended Ratio – 12.5 – 14 grams coffee per 8 ounces water
Fill your vessel of choice, such as the MSR Trail Lite Solo Cook Set, with water, dump in the grounds, and light your stove on fire. Allow the water to boil, set aside, and pour. Where do the grounds go? They simply float to the bottom. So don’t be surprised if you get some in your teeth. A little morning grit never hurt.
Pro: No special equipment required.
Con: It’s not going to produce a particularly amazing brew, and you’ll probably get grounds in your teeth.
Best For: Bikepacking, backpacking, camping
How to Brew: Recommended Ratio – 18 grams coffee per 9.5 ounces water
Put together Aeropress with filter (rinse if using paper filter) and place on top of mug. Add ground coffee. Let boiling water sit for 45 seconds. Pour water until it’s near top (~9.5 ounces or 270 grams if using recommended ratio). Place the plunger gently on top, just enough to seal. After 60 seconds, give it a stir. Place the plunger back. After another 45-60 seconds, flex (but not too hard) those guns and press gently on the plunger for 20 seconds.
Pro: Very portable, easy to clean, quick.
Con: Uses special filters, requires time/patience for brewing more than one cup.
3. Pour Over
Best For: Single serving cup, solo bike/backpacking, and camping
How to Brew: Recommended Ratio – 23 grams coffee per 12 ounces water
Put the filter in the pour over and rinse (if using paper). Add ground coffee. Place on top of your mug. Let boiling water sit for 45 seconds. Cover the grinds with hot water and let bloom for 30-45 seconds. Continue pouring, with some grace, until desired weight (~12 ounces or 350 grams if you’re using recommended ratio) is reached. Sip. Smile. Repeat.
Pro: Simple, reliable, lightweight.
Con: Requires time/patience for brewing more than one cup.
4. French Press
Best For: Car camping, sharing (is caring)
How to Brew: Recommended Ratio – based on an 8-cup French Press: 53 grams coffee per 28.5 ounces
Add ground coffee to French Press such as the Jetboil Flash Cooking System with Coffee Press. Submerge grounds with boiling water and continue pouring until you reach the top (~28.5 ounces or 850 milliliters if using recommended ratio). Place plunger gently to cover the top of the press. After 4 minutes, plunge, baby, plunge. Give it a minute before serving and share with your adventure buddy.
Pro: It takes four minutes (+boiling time) and can be shared.
Con: Flavor profiles are harder to taste, can be hard to clean.
5. Resuable Coffee/Tea Filter
Best For: Backpacking
How to Brew: Recommended Ratio – based on 1-cup: 25 grams coffee per 389 ounces water, coarse grind
Add ground coffee to the filter, such as the MSR Mugmate Coffee and Tea Filter. Submerge grounds with boiling water. Cover with lid and let it steep for 1-3 minutes (depending how strong you want it). Remove filter and fill up with the rest of the water.
Pro: No extra waste, lightweight
Con: Some flavor is lost without the use of a paper filter
6. Instant Coffee
Best For: Backpacking, emergencies, laziness
How to Brew: Recommended Ratio – 6-8 ounces of water per packet of instant coffee
Boil water, add instant coffee, stir. Yep, it’s that easy.
Pro: You don’t need any special equipment and it takes three seconds (+boiling time).
Con: Not sure there is one. Instant coffee nowadays, such as Alpine Start Premium Instant Coffee, is pretty darn good.
About the Author
Addie is a cycling, bit-of-a-dirtbag, wordsmith with a thirst for adventure. She excels at planning insane routes in the mountains and backcountry, enjoys making mean snacks, and is an expert in sleeping questionable places.
Follow addie on Instagram at @addiemargaret.
About the Photographer
Brian J. Lewis
After growing up in upstate New York, I found my true home in the mountains of Colorado in 2005. I’m a visual storyteller, a four-season adventurer, an unapologetic coffee snob, a semi-competitive trail runner, a seasoned traveller and a new dad. Through it all is a never-ending quest to document the beauty of the world – from the wilds of my Colorado backyard to the far corners of the planet.