what is the best device for brewing good coffee when camping?
I'm looking for a tough, convenient and easy to clean device that allows me to brew good coffee when camping. I'm particularly interested in something that can easily brew coffee for up to 6 people, but suggestions for light weight single serving devices are also welcome.0
I have an Aeropress which is easily portable and makes the best cup of coffee I've ever had. It's great for a couple of servings at once but may be less useful for parties of 6.
To do more at once, maybe a larger french press like the Bodum 1548-01.
May I suggest brewing Turkish style coffee in an Ibrik? It may take a couple of rounds of production, but that's just a few minutes of coffee production interaction. Turkish coffee is a potent and intense concoction and IMO, 4 oz. is equal to an 8 oz. cup of conventionally brewed coffee. Preparation involves grinding whole bean coffee to a very fine powder (Your local coffee shop with a calibrated grinder will produce the proper grind #1 or "Turkish"). Pre-measure 125mL of cold water for a 4oz cup. Most Ibriks can easily hold 250mL. Add some sugar and about 2 well rounded tsp of coffee powder for each 125mL. Bring to boil two times allowing a rest of 20 seconds between each boil. After the third and last boil, allow to rest for more than a minute (allows the powder to settle). Carefully pour the coffee into small 4 oz cups. When poured correctly, there will be very little residue in the cup as most will be in the Ibrik. On a propane stove, the entire process would take up 3-4 minutes. Most importantly, the brewer must attend to the process full time as the trick is to remove the Ibrik to prevent boil-over. Your fellow campers will be happy and wired. No filters to clean/throwaway, easy cleanup and one or two tbl spoons of coffee residue in the Ibrik can be composted.
We use a melitta drip cone with a regular filter. Boil a pot of water then pour it over the beans and let it drip into another pan or a carafe. Not exotic or fancy but it's foolproof, indestructible, and very easy to clean/rinse while camping. http://www.amazon.com/Melitta-Cone-Filter-Coffeemaker-1-Count/dp/B000MIT2OK
I have to concur, the melitta drip cone is what I used for years. Light weight and easy to clean. If you go with a gold melitta cone (gold cone) there's no waste except the coffee grinds.
I've used a lexan french press (easy to find at REI or a similar outdoor store) in the past. This makes it easy to brew for a group. My last car camping trip, I brought my Aeropress and found it was perfect for 1 or 2 people.
I know this is heretical for real coffee snobs, but I usually just use Starbucks Via when backpacking.
Like ubizubi and kevy, we use a Melitta. It's a little slow-going for large groups (if you're using one cup for the whole group), but they certainly are light enough that each person could carry their own. With that said, they can be a bit tricky to fit in your pack. I usually pack mine between/with soft things (eg: spare socks, liner bag). Next time, I might just clip it to the outside of my pack. This is essentially the same method we use to make coffee at home. After use, the cone is basically still clean. We burn the used filters and grounds on our morning fire.
I like an old two cup aluminum percolator. Carry the grounds in a zip lock inside it, it's about the same size as a mug (which you can use it as if you don't mind a mug with a spout) and it's light. You can heat it over anything you can boil water with.
...and perked coffee? You can't beat the taste and aroma.
On the chance you are more interested in lots of coffee than portability, you could look into the Coleman 10-cup propane coffee maker. It is (obviously) a propane-powered version of a standard home drip coffee maker.
The Aeropress is a great option, but there is also a simpler way to make good coffee with minimal equipment. Get a gold mesh filter cone. Brew the coffee by stirring the ground coffee directly into a pot of hot water, let it steep for a couple minutes (equivalent to a French press brew time) then pour it in to individual cups, using the gold mesh filter as a sieve. If you pour carefully, most of the grounds stay in the pot, so you don't even need a very large gold mesh filter.
I'm with pelicanhook. Go one step simpler though. Toss the guts of the pot and make cowboy coffee. Just boil the stuff a while, toss in an eggshell to smooth out the acid if you have one, take it off the heat and add a little cold water to settle the grounds. Pour slowley and rinse out the last cup.
Hard to beat a Coleman stainless steel percolator if you have the room. It will also boil water for cleanup, cook pasta, beans, stew or about anything else you can fit in...one item at a time is preferred. Besides nothing is quite so fine as waking up to the sound of coffee percolating!
Here is some recommendations in terms of reading about this and selecting your preferred method. I find that for everyone the answer is going to be a different based on your taste, desired features, and how you weigh the pros/cons of each system.
My favorite solution is Starbucks Via. Especially if it's hot out, you can simply mix it with a small bottle (or half bottle) of cold bottled water and magic cold coffee! Costco sells a multipack at about half the per-unit price as Starbucks stores or the supermarket, and Amazon has a 60-ish count item intended as a foodservice pack at about the same per-unit cost.
I use a French Press attachment in my Jetboil stove. I coarsely grind my coffee and bag it before my trip with a small tablespoon to measure it. The French Press attachment weighs about an ounce. Cleanup is very, very easy. Rinse it off. Grounds go the fire. My stove is 900 ml, or about 1 quart. It's a little light for "coffee for six" but a solution is to increase the strength of the brew and use a little water in each cup as you pour in the coffee.
I use a French Press at home and love the full flavor of it. Some folks don't like the small amount of sediment that sneaks in and is left in the bottom of the cup. I am not bothered by it. I leave one gulp in the cup and discard.
The process (with the Jetboil): 1) Attach the plunger to your lid. Raise it all the way and snap it on the pot. 2) Get your water to 180 degrees -- steamy, hot, close-but-not-quite boiling. Takes about 2 minutes in my stove. 3) Pour in COARSE ground coffee (drip coffee makers use very fine grounds that are not good in a press pot). 1 tbsp. per six ounces of water (or double for the "make it go farther method") and stir it in thoroughly. With 32 ounces, that's about five tablespoons. 4) Recap it and wait four minutes before plunging the pot, forcing the grounds to the bottom to stop brewing. 5) Pour it out into cups. If you made a super strong brew, you can dilute with water to get your six coffee drinkers capped off.
For me, only carrying that press, a light plastic and stainless steel screen that attaches to a two-piece rod, makes this a terrific light, easy solution.
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