Whether you're hiking up a mountain, chilling by the beach or camping with your family, GSI Outdoors explain how you can make the perfect cup of coffee outside.
Picture this, you’re sat on top of a mountain, in the middle of a forest or on the water’s edge and the most incredible views meet your eyes. Life is good. You stop for a moment and take a sip of freshly brewed tea or coffee. Life is bliss!
We all have a favourite hot drink and whilst it would probably be a struggle to conjure up a double shot, extra hot, skinny caramel Frappuccino on the side of Helvellyn, making a decent brew outside has never been easier. Goodbye instant granules or stone-cold coffee from an old flask. Outdoor brands have developed some impressive portable products to help us enjoy a decent cuppa wherever the outdoors takes us.
Coffee on day trips
If you’re heading off for a day trip then making coffee at home and bringing it with you means you’ll probably look to invest in an insulated flask or mug that will keep your drink nice and warm all day.
GSI portable coffee grinder
Insulated flasks have come a long way in the last few years and gone are the days when a glass insulated flask filled would add significant weight to your daypack. Modern versions of these use stainless steel walls to create more efficient and much lighter flasks which keeps your brew nice and warm for hours, even on cold winter days. Lots of them are designed to be a similar size to a water bottle, allowing them to sit comfortably in the outside pockets of your backpack.
If you’re out and about for a few days and want a warm drink to enjoy later in the day, you could consider an insulated flask with an inbuilt coffee press. These make a great way of allowing you to have a cafetière style coffee without needing to take a separate bit of gear to brew the coffee in and are easy to use and clean when enjoying the outdoors as well as on the commute.
Portable coffee filter
Coffee when wild camping
If you’re planning on spending a few days in the outdoors carrying all your kit and moving between camping spots, then having something lightweight and packable really helps. Luckily there are a few options which will still give you a great tasting cup of coffee in the morning without bulking up your pack.
Pour over camp coffee makers are designed to sit on top of a mug and work like a drip filter, slowly allowing the hot water to infuse with the grounds. After a minute or two you’ll have a proper cup of coffee ready to drink, but these can also be used with insulated flasks and mugs if you’d like to prepare a drink for later in the day. Combined with a nice lightweight camping kettle, these filters make it a breeze to make a really good brew.
If you prefer coffee from a cafetière, then a portable coffee press flask will enable you to have a French press style coffee using just one flask.
Mini espresso makers
If you are an absolute aficionado and want to have the best coffee you can, then there are a range of mini espresso makers designed to work with gas camping stoves. Although a little heavier in weight than the filter style coffee makers they will allow anyone to make a proper Italian style espresso. Being made from stainless steel they are durable and for the real enthusiast are almost indispensable when on an adventure.
Whichever style you choose for your days out camping, it’s always worth having a trial run or two at home. Knowing how much coffee to add and how long it takes to get that ‘just right’ taste for you makes a real difference when it comes to making the perfect cuppa in the wild.
Coffee when family camping
If you’re planning on setting up a base to explore the outdoors from, in a campsite or from your van, then the weight of the kit is probably a bit less of a concern and you might instead want to make sure you can make a few cups nice and quickly for everyone.
Coffee presses will help make life easier and will work much the same as a cafetière at home, but are made from lighter materials, will be easier to stow in a bag or camper van cupboard and won’t feature any glass. A good feature to look out for is a rubberised or anti-slip base, which makes it a little less likely that the coffee press will slip on a smooth surface like a camp kitchen. Having an insulated cover with them also means you can easily and safely pour coffee for anyone desperately needing their hot drink.
For ultimate freshness, you may also want to grind your own beans using a portable coffee grinder. These weigh considerably less than glass grinders and are often smaller.
Enjoying coffee outside safely
It might sound strange to talk about safety when discussing brewing a good cup of tea or coffee, but there are a couple of things to be aware of.
As with any time you use a gas stove, make sure you have it placed on a nice stable platform and away from your tent or anything flammable. Some stoves will come with fold out feet which make it a little easier to balance pots and kettles, especially if you are using something with a larger capacity.
Spills or staining of you lovely outdoor clothing can also be avoided by using cups or mugs with a lid. While an insulated sleeve on the mug also means you can comfortably hold your drink as soon as it’s ready.
If you’re taking water from a natural source to use for making hot drinks it might be worth thinking about a filter to ensure it’s as clean as possible. Although boiling the water should help remove any nasties, you might need to think about how to remove any sediment or dirt from the water before.
Enjoying coffee outside responsibly
Although you’ll often see coffee shops offering their used grounds as a garden fertiliser, they can have an impact if thrown away outdoors. Removing all waste with you from your time outdoors is always best practice, so it’s important to consider how you’ll dispose of any used coffee grounds before packing up and heading out.
For drip style coffee filters, as well as the espresso sets, often carrying a small Ziploc bag and scooping the grounds out is a quick and easy way to leave no trace. Once clear of most of the grounds a quick swish with some clean water from your bottle should clean out any remnants and make sure your kit is ready for the next brew.