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Staff Videocast: Cowboy Coffee

How do BPL Staffers stay warm, hydrated, and caffeinated in the backcountry?

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by Staff | 2009-01-13 00:02:00-07


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For a better viewing experience, please download the Flash Player. Cowboy Coffee, by Backpacking Light Staff.


Coffee. Tea.

Hot, caffeinated beverages keep some of us sane when in the backcountry. Some might argue that such beverages can even keep you alive. Here, a few Backpacking Light staffers share their favorite methods for staying warm, hydrated, and caffeinated while out and about. Whether you prefer tea (filtered or not), coffee extract, or cowboy coffee, there's a little something for everyone... except the one editor who shall remain unnamed. He just takes two NoDoz and hits the trail.

Which could be why I might never backpack with him. - Addie


"Staff Videocast: Cowboy Coffee," by Staff. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2009-01-13 00:02:00-07.


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Staff Videocast: Cowboy Coffee
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Staff Videocast: Cowboy Coffee on 01/13/2009 22:35:06 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Staff Videocast: Cowboy Coffee

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Staff Cowboy Coffee on 01/13/2009 22:56:45 MST Print View

Great stuff!! I really like the pot cozy idea.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Coffee on 01/13/2009 23:06:35 MST Print View

Please pass the cream and sugar!

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Staff Videocast: Cowboy Coffee on 01/13/2009 23:18:22 MST Print View

Hey, NoDoze is a lot lighter than all those "luxury" caffeine fixes. What's next, backcountry espresso makers? How about a Starbucks every 10 miles on the PCT?


-Mike M. -- The editor formerly known as "nameless" ;-)

Edited by MikeMartin on 01/13/2009 23:40:27 MST.

Mike Saxton
(Hokie) - F
Re: Staff videocast: cowboy coffee - music? on 01/13/2009 23:43:24 MST Print View

The coffee and tea are great, but what is the name of the music that went with that coffee!

Steven Nelson
(slnsf) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Speaking too fast... on 01/14/2009 00:54:12 MST Print View

So, those are "Melita" filters I'm using, and I like that they're "unbleached". Spoke a little too fast to be clearly understood there.

Fun to see everyone's methods, and that I'm not the only one who uses a cozy.

I don't have a cool theme song like Sam, though...

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Staff Videocast: Cowboy Coffee on 01/14/2009 05:18:05 MST Print View

Sam needs a theme song since he doesn't talk during his clip...

Scott McClure
(scottmphoto) - F

Locale: The beautiful Arkansas River Valley
Cowboy Coffee on 01/14/2009 05:35:12 MST Print View

Where can I get a copy of the song that was playing during the video?

Tracy Novak
(tracyn) - F
MSR Mugmate on 01/14/2009 08:45:34 MST Print View

MSR Mugmate is easier, less mess. 1 ounce.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Staff Videocast: Cowboy Coffee on 01/14/2009 09:08:32 MST Print View

We'd love to see your techniques for backcountry coffee as well. Post your photos, ideas, or video links here and share with the rest of us.

There has been a great discussion going on about this in another thread here as well.


Locale: Pacific Northwet
Re: Staff Videocast: Cowboy Coffee on 01/14/2009 09:12:38 MST Print View

I too like the MSR mugmate. Great for coffee. It also works great for loose tea, so you don't end up with tea bags. It also can be used to pre-filter water.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Staff Videocast: Cowboy Coffee on 01/14/2009 09:17:19 MST Print View

I agree the MSR Mug Mate is the way to go. Simple, easy to clean, and I can use the same organic, fair trade coffee that I use in my French press while not backpacking.

I think the important thing to note is how a person makes coffee wihle *not* backpacking. If you drink crap coffee on a daily basis, odds are good that I'm not gonna care what you do while in the backcounty. ;)

On the other hand, if you use NoDoze on the trail, then I have to wonder what you do for coffee when all the amenities of home are at your disposal. Well Mike?

Edited by Ramapo on 01/14/2009 09:19:56 MST.

Lewis Martin
(MrtyMrtn) - F

Locale: Sierra Nevadas Golden Trout W
Have to have my coffee and tea... on 01/14/2009 10:28:37 MST Print View

One thing to remember, if you have your coffee ground, or do it yourself, have them grind it to French Press size... They grounds are bigger and they fall to the bottom after a quick stir, no need to strain....Throw out the last quarter inch.

I too have been wondering if I can download the song somewhere to my iTunes... Been looking for a year. I would gladly buy it..

Ben Pearre
(fugue137) - MLife
So how does it taste? on 01/14/2009 10:38:13 MST Print View

There are lots of ways to make coffee. The question, it would seem to me, is less "how to steep coffee grounds in water?" and more "find a few optima on the coffee-taste vs. equipment-weight function." I'd love to see you recruit Chris Kimball to the BPL staff :)

The parts of an Aeropress that are strictly necessary (syringe and stirring rod) are 246 grams. Damn if it doesn't make fine coffee (in about a minute including cleanup; no cozy needed as steeping time is about 10 seconds), but I tend to take tea into the woods due to weight and simplicity.

Speaking of which, those "MSR tea infusers" ( for $17) appear to be a re-branding of the Finum infuser ( for $7), and the Chatsford infusers ( are at least as good and far lighter (one for the Chatsford 6-cup pot weighs 12g). That sounds competitive vs. the strainer, and may be more convenient for tea, albeit less versatile?

Roger B
(rogerb) - MLife

Locale: Here and there
Re: Staff Videocast: Cowboy Coffee on 01/14/2009 10:41:42 MST Print View

Its great to see Alan making Tea, had not thought of doing it in that way I have always used tea bags. So I need to buy some loose green tea. And the cosy system seems ideal as a tea pot cover, just like my grandma used to use.

John Haley
(Quoddy) - F

Locale: New York/Vermont Border
Re: Staff Videocast: Cowboy Coffee on 01/14/2009 11:40:47 MST Print View

For those liking more of an espresso or Turkish/Greek coffee: Use a slightly higher mixture using darker roasted coffee grounds. Stir then boil over a gentle heat until about to overflow x three times. One final stir to get the grounds to sink, then pour. Although I use this method to make it on the trail using a FireLite 550, at home I use a copper and tin ten ounce Ibrik.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Staff Videocast: Cowboy Coffee on 01/14/2009 14:23:22 MST Print View

Side Note: We're exploring ways to make the BPL theme song available to our members. It's come up so many times that it's something we really need to do.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Multi-use SS filter on 01/14/2009 16:58:23 MST Print View

I made up a filter out of fine stainless steel mesh. Some dust gets through, but not much.

Coffee Filter, with coffee
Coffee filter in cup, empty of coffee
Empty coffee filter
Coffee brewing.

This is years old now, and went with me across France. It seems pretty rugged. An old face cream jar fits inside it neatly - that holds several day's worth of ground coffee.


Edited by rcaffin on 01/14/2009 16:59:05 MST.

Mark Hurd
(markhurd) - M

Locale: South Texas
Re: So how does it taste? on 01/14/2009 18:43:45 MST Print View

>The parts of an Aeropress that are strictly necessary (syringe and stirring rod) are 246 grams. Damn if it doesn't make fine coffee (in about a minute including cleanup; no cozy needed as steeping time is about 10 seconds), but I tend to take tea into the woods due to weight and simplicity.<

Ben P,

Hey! I use an Aeropress at home to make up "shots" for the trail. I usually use about 1/2 the water they suggest, but otherwise make coffee with the Aeropress as usual. I pour the "shots into a small plastic bottle for the trail then dispense as needed and add hot water. The concentrate will last without refrigeration for at least 10 days. Tastes great! Basically it is a do-it-yourself Java Juice.


Jared Cook
(rooinater) - F

Locale: Northwet
Re: Staff Videocast: Cowboy Coffee on 01/15/2009 14:08:59 MST Print View

will there be an announcement if and when the song is available?

i fell for the simplicity of java juice last season when i bought the cup, fire starter and coffee package. my morning cup of coffee is no nonsense, fairly smooth, boil, pour, drink. BPL isn't getting rid of java juice are they? I saw it labeled as closeout in the store...