If you’re like me, a 30 something hipster with the taste for the finer things in life, you know there is just NO compromising on coffee; coffee-making-gadgets are worth the extra weight. But which makes the best coffee?
P.S. For the purposes of this post we’re looking at real ground coffee. Instant coffee just isn’t up for debate.
- There are extremes to which some of us will go make good coffee in the great outdoors. If you’re serious about this and don't mind the weight, there's the GSI Mini Espresso, in 1 cup or 4 cup sizes. Heavy and clunky but boy oh boy does it make an espresso that packs a punch! (We don't generally keep this in stock but can order them at short notice)
- The well-known AeroPress makes great coffee but really only 1-2 cups at a time. For groups larger than that, it’s just not practical. It's a hefty 225 grams and as far as size goes this unit is pretty chunky. Oh and you'll need their specially-designed paper filters. Another one our lightweight hikers should avoid!
- I experimented with Soto’s Helix Coffee Maker a few years ago. While I love its tiny size and fun spring popping design, I found I couldn't get my coffee strong enough. I felt like the pour-over coffee making method meant your coffee cooled down pretty quickly. Cold weak coffee? Not for me, no thanks!
- If you’ve got yourself a Jetboil already they make a super handy Jetboil Coffee Press attachment that fits nicely inside the unit. However, I found that the gap between the mesh disk and the side of the pot allowed a few coffee granules to escape into my brew. Maybe I was doing something wrong but I feel like Jetboil could solve this problem with a thin silicone ring for a tighter fit. Great idea but it involves a lot of little bits and pieces to make it fit the compact jetboil system. Comes in two sizes for the Flash/Zip and the Minimo. Don't have a Jetboil but still love an a classic french press, try the GSI Commuter Java Press.
- Hands down best way to brew a brew is the good old Cowboy coffee (aka Arabic style). It's my favourite way of making coffee, and the simplest too. Boil your water and throw your coffee straight into the pot. Let the mud (ahem, coffee grinds) settle, and sip away. Avoid the last centimeter lest you want a mouthful of grinds.
- GSI Java Drip. For me this is the best of both worlds because I get to have my strongly brewed cowboy coffee without all the mud at the bottom. How? It gets filtered through this spaceship looking apparatus that sits above or even in your cup. Light as a feather and packs flat. It even does tea too!
- Lastly there are coffee bags. Think tea bags but with coffee. A few issues with this method: 1) You don’t get to choose your artisan beans roasted by your local coffee roaster until the full moon with Venus is retrograde, or however else you insist on having your burnt caffeinated beans. 2) Some companies just don't make a good coffee. Robert Timms coffee bags seem to be available in most supermarkets in Australia but are only fractionally a step above instant. My favourite is Jed's Coffee Co. Bean Bags from New Zealand - available online and really good! 3) Then there’s the waste! The bag that holds the ground coffee, like a tea bag, is not biodegradable, and to keep the bags fresh each one has to be individually sealed in its own fresh foil & plastic packaging. This creates a whole lot of waste.
- A quick word about that other essential part of a cup of coffee - the cup! There are obviously loads of options here but my favourite is Sea to Summit's Delta Light insulMug. It's super light, and you can leave the lid at home for an even lighter option. It has a nice neoprene cozy, not super insulating but I drink quickly so it doesn't need it to be. I also like their funky X-Mug, which is 130ml bigger and folds flat. The Laken Stainless Steel Mug is solid and strong, and the handle can clip onto a pack strap to double as an easy-access vessel for scooping up (clean!) stream water along the way. If I want to make coffee in the morning and save some for later, I use a Laken Thermo Bottle. There is nothing like having a hot cuppa premade on a cold day on the trail. Talk about luxury!
- One a side note, if you drink your coffee with milk then consider your milk options. 1) Regular milk is heavy and will expire quickly. 2) Powdered milk is the lightest. 3) It might be my army-brat upbringing but I can’t go past a tube of sweetened condensed milk. It weighs a little more and you have to like your coffee sweet, but there is the bonus that you can gobble it straight from the tube for a little sugar pick me up!
Addicted to Coffee? So are we! :)