If you’re a serious coffee lover then you have likely thought to yourself about how to make a satisfying brew whilst camping in the backcountry. We took a trip out to test a few methods to see which one brewed the best cup in the great outdoors.
Camping somewhere in the Mendip hills in the South West of England miles away from your local independent coffee shop, you may be thinking, how on earth do I fulfil my coffee fix? Well, thankfully we have done the hard work for you and tested a few of our favourite outdoor brew methods. Here’s what we found out.
First off, how do you boil the water to make the coffee? Well, there are many camp stoves out there that can provide a stable heating platform to boil up some water. Our personal preference goes to the awesome looking Jetboil cooking system (£68.00). Super small and light, it will boil water in a swift 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Great if your looking for a quick cup.
Another brilliant options is the Trangia cooking system (£46.99). You get a lot for your money here, not just something to boil water in, but post and pans, a kettle and the stove top ready to connect to your gas supply. It will boil a decent litre of water in about 8 minutes, slow in comparison to the Jetboil, but at least you can make a cup for your whole crew in one hit.
Now, lets get down to the fun bit. Brewing.
Normally, assembling your AeroPress at home is a breeze and one of the fastest, easiest ways to brew a good cup of coffee. Outside however it becomes a different kettle of fish. The wind becomes your worst enemy very quickly. Not only trying to whisk away your paper filter, but a larger gust will have your whole AeroPress rattling down pathway too. Lightness, one of the AeroPress’s greatest features, actually becomes it’s downfall when out in the wild.
Once you get a hold of all your equipment though, you can make yourself a decent brew in a few minutes, just like at home. We suggest trying to find as flatter surface as you can to plunge your AeroPress into the cup. Once we’d managed find a flat spot on a tock and to get the press together we found the coffee to be delicious – just like you would make at home. Not the method we would choose for making many cups of coffee though due to the fiddly nature of the parts in the outdoor setting.
The Cafflano (£64.99) is an all in one grinder, filter and insulated cup. Our initial thought was that this sounds like a great tool for brewing outdoors at a fairly decent price point for how much it contains. This is a fairly new product to the market, so we were rather happy to test it out. To start, all you need to do is unscrew the lid and drop some fresh beans into the grinder at the top.
The grinder is of a decent quality for the price you pay for the whole product. I could see it would work pretty perfectly if you have a solid flat surface to place the Cafflano when grinding, but we didn’t have that luxury. Instead, the ‘chuck it between your legs and grind’ method was the best we could do.
It took some getting used to, and at first we had beans flying out the hopper every which way. Not exactly how you want the process to begin. Once we took a little more care and time over the grinding though, we managed to get a half decent grind without the beans escaping.
Next, we tipped the ground beans into the filter and poured over the water and watched as the coffee was dripped and brewed through the built in permanent filter. This was mighty satisfying. The coffee drips into the solid stainless steel cup below, which includes a pouring spout to decant your drink into cups. Very smooth!
Overall we found the Cafflano to be a pretty easy process, especially for just one person to achieve. Away from the actual brewing process, we sadly found that it didn’t quite yield the quality of coffee we were after. If you don’t manage to get a decent grind, you can end up with an over-extracted rather bitter coffee. It also leaves behind rather a lot of residue in the bottom of your cup, which you don’t get with the AeroPress for example.
Another new product on the market, the Handpresso, comes in on the expensive side at around £75.00. The premise here is that you use the integrated hand pump to pressurise the cylinder, which then at the press of a button forces the water through the ground coffee. This sounds rather intriguing as a concept, but we didn’t find it very practical. Unless you get the right amount of coffee in the chamber you will find is hard to pressurise.
If you want super fresh ground coffee you will have to take a separate grinder with you. We used some pre-ground coffee to speed up the process. After a few attempts without huge success we managed to pump the Handpresso in around 5 minutes before then brewing the coffee. Not a bad time. But it was all a bit too much effort for what it felt it was worth.
The yield was a tasty cup, but after the effort and multiple failed attempts to pressurise properly, we don’t think it’s worth the money.
So we tried out three methods to try and brew a decent cup in the wilderness. Overall the three different methods did brew a half decent coffee at not an over reasonable effort. If you are planning on making a cup, or two at most, then our personal choice would still be the AeroPress over the other two methods. It seems the simplest method that honestly brewed the better cup in regards to taste.
If you are planning on brewing more than one or two cups, we would have to choose the Cafflano. Even though the yield wasn’t as nice a quality as the AeroPress, it still made a satisfying caffeine hit.
Whatever you choose, our best advice would be to practise before you head out. It would make the experience much quicker and easier. More importantly, pack right for your journey, walk long and enjoy the outdoors.
Featured image from Kinfolk.