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Calling all coffee lovers – this post is for you! I absolutely love a good cup of hot coffee in the morning – it’s my favorite time of the day, especially in the backcountry. Since the mornings are usually cold in the mountains, a hot cup of coffee really hits the spot!
I enjoy getting up early and watching the sun hit the mountain tops, then working its way down to the trees, and ultimately down to me and my campsite.
I probably care about coffee way more than I should, but after years of backpacking and trying different methods, I finally found a way of brewing coffee in the backcountry that I love!
I share that method below, along with 3 other methods so you can choose a way that works for you based on price, taste, and weight.
Backpacking coffee doesn’t have to be gross.
Check out this video below where I show you exactly how to brew the perfect cup of backpacking coffee:
How to Make Coffee While Backpacking (4 ways):
1. MSR Mugmate Coffee Reusable Filter
Weight: 1 ounce
The MSR Mugmate used to be my favorite way to brew coffee in the backcountry. Whenever I want to use fresh coffee (not instant), this is my preferred method.
The the longest time, I thought instant coffee was gross. I’ve since changed my mind on that. More on instant coffee below. Using the MSR Mugmate creates a really rich cup of coffee that’s similar to what you get if you use a french press.
All you need is the Mugmate, your favorite ground coffee, and a cup. Once you brew your coffee, just pour the grounds into your trash and pack them out.
Since I really enjoy my coffee, I don’t mind the extra weight of having to pack out wet coffee grounds.
Tip: Let the grounds dry slightly in the sun before putting them into the trash. They’ll be a lot easier to get out of the filter.
2. GSI Outdoors Java Drip
Weight: 0.4 ounce
The GSI Java Drip is a lightweight affordable backpacking coffee option. I love pour over coffee, and this makes a nice cup!
It’s very similar to the MSR Mugmate method – all you need is the Java Drip, your favorite ground coffee, and a cup.
Once you’ve brewed the coffee, you need to pack out the wet grounds in the trash.
This method of brewing coffee isn’t a gritty as the MSR Mugmate method, and I do like it a lot.
However, the Java Drip is a little flimsy and can possibly tip over, so just be careful when you’re pouring the hot water into it.
3. Single-Serve Pour Over Packets
Price: about $2 – $3 per pack
Weight: 0.5 ounce per pack
I think these single-serving pour over packets are a really cool idea and they do make a good cup of coffee, however, they generate a lot of trash and they’re relatively expensive.
In addition to wet coffee grounds, you have other packaging to pack out for each cup of coffee that you want to drink.
I usually drink 2 cups of coffee each morning, so if you want more than one cup, this method can get expensive and the trash can add up.
But like I said, it does make a good cup of coffee, and if you don’t go backpacking often and just want an easy option for the weekend, these might work for you.
4. Instant Coffee Packets
Price: about $1 per packet
Weight: 0.1 ounce
Lastly, we have instant coffee. This is a popular method because it’s super lightweight, small to pack, cheap, and you don’t need to pack out any coffee grounds.
I still haven’t found an instant coffee that I like as much as a fresh brew, but if you just need some caffeine and don’t want to deal with fresh coffee grounds, this method is probably for you!
You can get individual packets like I showed in the video, or make it even cheaper by buying a big jar of instant coffee and packaging it at home into individual servings. With this method, you hardly have any trash!
Update: I’ve since set out to find an instant coffee that actually tastes good, and I’m happy to report that I’ve succeeded! I did a full blind taste test comparison of different coffees and ended finding some that were really good.
Here are my current favorites:
The Black Rifle Coffee Instant is by far the best instant coffee out there! It really is SO good. My second choice is the Mount Hagen, followed by (surprisingly) Cafe Bustelo in third!
Further Reading: The full breakdown of the instant coffee taste test!
That wraps it up – how to make coffee in the backcountry 4 different ways! Which method are you most excited to try? Let me know in the comments below!