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The Best Camping Coffee – Blends and Makers

I’ve got a confession to make.

My family is big into the day trip. We will adventure from sun up to sun down – taking a road trip, going for a hike, hitting the river. But with a five year old who doesn’t (always) sleep through the night, a four year old who doesn’t (often) sleep through the night and a one year old who doesn’t (ever) sleep through the night – we tend to call it quits by the time the sun sets and retreat into our own beds.

But occasionally you just need to spend a weekend in the mountains. And for that there’s camping coffee.

Of course, we all know there’s instant coffee. But maybe your taste buds (or your utter parenting fatigue) demands something more.

GSI Outdoors provided me with several of their camping coffee makers to test out for this review. Our kids contributed by ensuring we got a terrible night’s sleep the first night of our weekend away, so we were prepped to drink lots of coffee.

First up, the Gouret Pourover Java Set from GSI.

Best Camping Coffee

The Gourmet Pourover Java Set is a super lightweight, collapsible pour over system. The system also comes with a grinder (more on that in a minute). The mug pictured is the Cascadian mug. It’s very light weight and kept my camping coffee hot surprisingly long.

Best Camping Coffee

Out of all the products we tried, this was the easiest (especially if you bring ground coffee with you). All you need to do is add in a filter, a tablespoon or two of coffee (depending on how many times your baby woke up last night), and pour hot water in. For the best results, you should pour in enough to wet the grounds, wait about 30 seconds, and then slowly (and in a circular motion) pour in more. Let it drip for a few minutes and you’re done!

What I loved:

  • Super lightweight and collapsible. If you are backpacking, the cone only weighs a few ounces.
  • Simple design
  • Comes with a lid that you can also use to place your drip cone on while you drink your coffee.

What I didn’t love:

  • Pourovers seem to require a bit of practice. Delicately pour hot water can be difficult – I kept splashing with the old cabin kettle. This is nothing to do with the GSI product specifically, just something to keep in mind.

Best for: Car camping, backpacking

Coffee for this trial:

Craven’s Big Sky Blend: Craven’s Coffee generously sent some coffees for me to try. I first learned about Cravens when I lived in Spokane – they special roasted coffee for the charity I worked for, and they continue to give back to local charities. I tried coffees from their Montana Series, and this was my husband’s favorite blend – I swear he could pick out a Guatemala coffee out of blind taste test. It was very smooth, and while the website lists it as a combination of light and dark, I thought it tasted like a medium-light roast.

Like I said earlier, the Gourmet Pourover Java Set comes with a camping coffee grinder (it also comes with a spoon and carrying bag).

Some people just absolutely insist on freshly ground coffee. I don’t know if I could tell the difference (maybe after I have my first cup and am fully functioning, I could). My dad definitely can, and he helped me try this out. We both agreed it was a bit of a work out (tip: hold it between your legs if your wrists get tired). You can do a fine grind or a coarse grind with this depending on the direction you turn. The handle also comes off and can be stored the other way for easy storage.

Best Camping Coffee

What I love:

  • You really can get a fine grind with this grinder! Maybe not espresso fine, but I was impressed. The first time I used it, I found it a bit cumbersome but the second time was much smoother.
  • Light weight and small. My dad also recommended it for when you didn’t want to wake up guests and needed to grind coffee (As a former teenager who lived in his home, I do wish they either had a taste for pre-ground coffee or a silent grinder).

What I didn’t love:

  • This does take a while to grind enough for a couple cups of coffee. I wouldn’t attempt it for more than one or two cups.
  • My wrists got tired after a while.

Best for: Car camping, keeping your kids busy while you’re trying to make breakfast

Coffee for this trial:
Raven’s Brew Coffee Bruin Blend Raven’s Brew Coffees beautiful artwork always makes me smile. Plus it’s organic and shade grown (good for the birds!) This blend is medium dark with a bit of an herbal flavor.

Next cup: Commuter Javapress

Best Camping Coffee

The javapress is essentially a single serving French press coffee maker/to-go cup in one. To make the coffee, you add the grounds and hot water in the outer sleeve and wait for four minutes. Then you press the coffee with the inner carafe and drink straight from the cup. The grounds stay at the bottom of the mug.

What I loved:

  • This made a delicious cup of coffee. My father-in-law (who was camping with us) is a big fan of French press coffee and really enjoyed this one.
  • Stayed impressively warm the whole time I was drinking it.

What I didn’t love:

  • The inner carafe took a bit of finagling. The first time we used it, it wasn’t in quite right and it leaked. The last time I used it, it got stuck (and currently remains stuck). My dad has one of these and uses it regularly without a problem though.
  • I don’t love drinking hot drinks out of plastic.

Best for: Day hikes, car camping, going about your day

Coffee for this trial:

Cravens Coffee Angler’s Roast This coffee, like I said, was delicious. It was really well suited to the French press. I found it a little light when I used the blend with other coffee makers but it was really flavorful in the javapress.

Third coffee maker: Mini espresso set, 1 cup.

The mini espresso cup also comes with a cup (not pictured – at the time of the review GSI was out of the cups for the set. They did send me a mug but it unfortunately didn’t fit the pot. I did a teacup we found in the cabin instead just fine.) Also available on Amazon!

Best Camping Coffee

I had never used one of these and found the process pretty fun to watch. Basically you fill the small basket inside with coffee and the pot with water. Then you screw on the top, set it on the camp stove and wait. In a few minutes espresso comes out.

What I love:

  • This is just really fun to watch.
  • Pretty easy to use. I was a bit intimidated at first, but it wasn’t any effort.

What I didn’t love:

  • I don’t typically go camping and think “I must take an espresso pot!” But if you are car camping, it’s small enough to toss in as a “why not!”
  • It would be a bit heavy for backpacking.

Best for: Car camping, gifts for that person who has everything.

Coffee for this trial:
Cravens Montana Jacks This is another from Cravens Montana line, and by far my favorite. I used the blend in the pourover as well and loved it. It’s rich and dark. Plus, as a Jackie from Montana, I love the name.

At this point in the weekend, my husband has had way too much coffee to drink and has sworn it off forever. But there’s still more to try

Morning #2, first cup: Kuju coffee.

We are big, big fans of Kuju coffee. They have a system unlike any other that I’ve seen – the pocket pourover.

Best Camping Coffee

In the teabag sized pouch, there is a packet of coffee that has paper wings. The wings attach to the cup and the coffee rests (mostly) above the mug. You pour the water in and let it drip down just like a pourover.

Best Camping Coffee

What I love:

  • The coffee was delicious. I expected this to be a nifty system with at best decent coffee. But it was really, really good.
  • Very easy to pack.
    The coffee comes from a farm that employs sex trafficking survivors. Kuju also gives 1% to the National Park Foundation.

What I didn’t love:

  • It takes a bit of watching over. You can only pour in a few tablespoons of water at a time. So you have to stand there and baby sit it for a bit, which can be difficult to do while you are actually babysitting.
  • If you get the wings wet, you risk collapsing the whole system. That only happened once and I only had a few grounds spill in.
  • Creates a lot of waste. Not a big deal for the occasional cup, but not something I would use daily.
  • It’s a bit expensive. But like I said, it’s really good coffee.

Best for: Backpackers who just really hate instant coffee, keeping on hand when you have guests who drink coffee and you are not a coffee drinker.

Next cup: Hikers Brew Coffee

Hikers Brew Coffee also comes in small pouches, which is great for backpackers or even car campers who need room as much room as possible for diapers. Their packaging is 100% compostable, and the coffee is organic and fair trade.

Best Camping Coffee

Hikers Brew Coffee sent me their 6 pack sampler of venture pouches. Each pouch has enough grounds to make 4 small cups of coffee (or about one and a half “it was a really bad night” sized cups). The venture pack includes: French Vanilla, Caramel Canyon, Dark Roast, Hazy Hiker, S’Mores, and Medium Roast. Hikers Brew Coffee sells basecamp bags (regular coffee sized bags) as well.

I’m not usually a fan of flavored coffees. I find they need sugar to taste “right” and I typically don’t sugar my coffee. That being said, I did really enjoy the Caramel Canyon flavor (with a dash of sugar). And you might have guessed by now that Dark Roasts are my favorite, and Hikers Brew Coffee’s dark roast did not disappoint. It was my favorite out of the pack.

What I loved:

  • I love the commitment to earth friendly products.
  • While meant for hiking and camping, the pouches were also the perfect size for “I don’t feel like measuring and just want a pot of coffee.”

What I didn’t love:

  • The pouch sizes were a bit big for when I just wanted to make one cup of coffee.
  • Not a big fan of flavors – but the unflavored coffee was great and the Caramel Canyon surprised me.

Best for: Home brewing, making a full pot of coffee while car camping.

One more cup: Wildland Coffee

Wildland coffee sent me their “coffee in a tea bag” to review as well. It’s coffee in a tea bag, which I found especially intriguing after a sleepy night camping. Any coffee equipment seemed too difficult to navigate.

I tried two cups – the first, I felt was kind of weak. The second time, I tried pouring it slowly over the bag, bit by bit, like I did with the Kuru coffee, instead of dunking the bag into hot water. I also let it brew the full eight minutes. It was much tastier and plenty strong enough the second time around. Granted, if you aren’t a fan of strong coffee, this might be a great and easy choice.

So what’s the best?

Coffee is so personal that you just have to pick based on your personal tastes. I wish you many sleep-filled nights, but if that’s not happening, I hope some of these options will get you through.

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Best Coffee for Camping

Jackie is a coffee-lover, writer and a mom of a five year old, three year old and a baby living in Helena, MT. She thought that hiking might help tame her children’s wild spirits, and co-leads a Hike it Baby branch. All that hiking only made her crew wilder, but in a good way. Before kids she enjoyed reading, knitting and baking, but now she enjoys making it to bedtime.

© 2018, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.

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