There’s no question that coffee is the 11th essential for me and that certainly doesn’t change when I hit the backcountry. Kicking back in the morning with a delicious breakfast and hot cup of coffee really is the perfect start to any outdoor morning!
Coffee is sort of like politics—everyone has an opinion! I’ve seen just about everything in the backcountry including Starbucks VIA, Nescafe, AeroPresses, french presses, pour overs, and the ever famous cowboy coffee.
Personally, I like to keep things simple when outside and my coffee is no exception. I’m a drip fan, with quality coffee of course, and my backcountry coffee maker of choice is the GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip Coffee Maker. It’s been serving me well for years!
Not only is it lightweight, collapsible, and easy to pack, but unlike other filters out there it actually filters your coffee! I’ve tried several other products and nothing has matched the GSI’s packability or ability to make consistently great coffee! At under half an ounce, you won’t even notice you’re carrying it.Buy it at REI
The GSI Java Drip comes with 3 little collapsible legs that snap onto just about anything. It’s ultra compact design makes it easy to carry in your cookware or stash in your pack. I nest mine into my GSI Pinnacle Soloist cook pot with my MSR fuel canister and a ziploc bag of my pre-ground coffee.
Making the Perfect Cup of Coffee
I like a simple, medium-strength cup of coffee and my go-to beans are Caffe Umbria’s Gusto Crema or South Seattle-based Tin Umbrella’s Single Origin Sidamo. Tin Umbrella is a coffee roaster owned by a great friend, but it doesn’t change the fact that she sells incredible coffee!
I use 3 rounded teaspoons of medium or medium/course grind for each cup, then pour enough water into the GSI to fill it. Slowly, I add more as it continues to brew. The GSI Java Drip does a great job filtering the medium grind and I always end up with a killer cup of coffee!
Once done, the filter is very easy to clean. I flip it inside out and put the used grinds into a small ziploc bag. I give it a quick rinse, prop the legs out, and put it in the sun so it can dry for a few minutes. No sun? Hang it to your pack and it’ll quickly drip dry.
Although many people toss their grounds or bury them, remember that if you truly want to practice Leave No Trace principles, you should pack out your coffee grounds. Even for a week-long backpacking trip they won’t weigh much, are easy to stuff into a bear canister, and you can bring them home to use as fertilizer, compost, or an odor absorber for your refrigerator. Check out this article for 14 ways to recycle your used coffee grounds!
If you’re a fan of french presses and the like, by all means, go right ahead! I’ll never get in the way of anyone’s coffee choices! But if you’re looking for a simple, lightweight way to enjoy a great cup of coffee on the go or in the backcountry, I recommend the GSI Java Drip. It’s so small, lightweight, and easy to pack you can use it for camping, road trips, and even travel. No need to ever use a hotel room coffee maker again! I’ve been brewing delicious coffee with the Java Drip for several years now and it’s still going strong!
Happy cup of joe everyone!
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Disclaimer: I believe in doing good in the world and purchase my gear from companies who feel the same. I’m not paid to support any of the companies or products I review. Unless prominently disclosed at the top of all of my reviews, this gear was purchased, tested, scuffed up, and loved by me!