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Timothy Chauran
(TimChauran) - F
Camp Coffee on 04/05/2005 14:21:55 MDT Print View

I'd like some input from forum members on the ultimate "ultralight camp coffee" solution...

In order to get a great cup of coffee in the backcountry, I've been using an insulated cup/coffee press unit with the handle cut off, but, at 6 oz., it weighs as much as the rest of my entire kitchen. Does a lighter/better solution exist?

Edited by TimChauran on 04/05/2005 14:22:32 MDT.

David Lisak

Locale: Grand Canyon hiker
Ultralight & good coffee? on 04/05/2005 15:25:48 MDT Print View


Let me second your appeal for lightweight solutions to good coffee. I used to bring a plastic melita filter holder (2 oz.), melita filters, pre-ground coffee, and a pre-mix of powdered milk and sugar. The coffee was quite good, certainly good enough. However, the weight! It isn't so much the melita holder and filters as the wet, used coffee grounds that you then carry with you in your garbage bag for the rest of the trip. Since I do all of my backpacking in the Grand Canyon, I have no options for disposal or burning other than carrying it out. As a result, this last trip I discarded the melita and went to a -- for me -- novel solution. I combined some very exotic hot chocolate powder/chili/other ingredients (from an individual in Taos)with the best freeze-dried instant espresso (Italian) I could find. I dole out about 4 spoonfuls of this mixture, add hot water, stir (a lot), and the result is an intense, actually very intense mocha drink. It certainly provides the morning lift. There is nothing to carry other than the mix. There is no garbage produced. And it is sufficiently different from ordinary coffee that I don't find myself wishing it were a little more this or that. It just is what it is. Different from the morning capuccino I make at home every morning.
So that's my current solution. But as I wrote above, I am wide open for other alternatives.


cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
coffee solutions on 04/05/2005 16:40:08 MDT Print View

I've done coffee a lot of ways:

1. Buy gourmet coffee bags (like tea bags). Works pretty well, pretty light but pricy. I usually leave the coffee grounds buried next to a plant since they are a good natural fertilzer. burn or carry out the paper.

2. Buy self sealing tea bags and make my own gourmet coffee bags - same as above but cheaper and I can use my favorite coffee (sorry don't have url with me right now for site that sells these, but I'll post again later).

3. little plastic coffee spoon-like thing with built in filter. works good, but harder to keep water/coffee warm while it steeps since handle sticks up out of cup. cheap, light. they have these at REI and other places.

4. similar to above but is small cone that fits over top of cup with screened cone below inside cup - not as light, still pretty cheap and easier to cover cup while coffee steeps.

5. long time now since I've used this one - those one cup plastic cones that take paper filters and sit on top of cups. cheap, but falls off easily, water cools too fast, and you still have paper to dispose of.

6. cowboy coffee - put coffee right in pot and then pour or scoop out coffee. you eat a few grinds, but it is cheapest and lightest option. also makes pretty good coffee and best option for full hot coffee aside from the coffee press methods, which are too heavy.

Camp Coffee on 04/05/2005 16:40:53 MDT Print View

The MSR coffee filter works great and doesn't weigh 2 oz. But for a truly great cup just throw some Starbucks into a cup of hot h2o and let it steep for a while, then scrape the grounds of the top and drink.....can you get lighter than that?

Timothy Chauran
(TimChauran) - F
Ultralight & good coffee? on 04/05/2005 17:22:59 MDT Print View

All the options posted so far are good as far as the ultralight requirement is oncerned, but most miss the mark for me in the "good coffee" criterium.

The mocha mix sounds pretty good, who makes the freeze-dried instant espresso you mentioned? I've never seen it....

Graeme Finley
(gfinley001) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Coffee on 04/05/2005 19:14:00 MDT Print View

Obviously everyone's standards for "good" coffee are different, but for a while now I've been packing General Foods' Cafe Vienna powdered coffee. Tastes good (to me) and nothing to pack out except the container you brought the powder in.

1 cup filter or super espresso on 04/05/2005 19:46:24 MDT Print View

I was going to recomend a one cup filter system that I use at home and weights 2 1/2 oz. But then I read the post above about disposal. Good point. Therefore, I would recomend making super concentrated espresso and then watering it down with hot water in camp. This wouldn't work on a long trip but for a weekend it would work fine.

Victor Karpenko
(Viktor) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
intense mocha drink on 04/05/2005 23:28:23 MDT Print View

Ok, now that you have us wondering about your intense mocha drink, what is the recipe?????

David Lisak

Locale: Grand Canyon hiker
That mocha drink... on 04/06/2005 04:40:32 MDT Print View

Wow. Do we all have coffee issues? For the entrepreneurs out there, the responses to this thread suggest there's a ready market for ultralight coffee solutions.

Here's the "recipe" for the intense mocha drink:

The instant expresso is the Medaglia D'Oro brand, which is often sold in speciality food stores. It's ubiquitous enough that you could probably also find it online. There are probably also some other equally good brands out there.

The chocolate drink powder is made by a company (individual) in Taos called Xocoatl (Mayan for chocolate). You can order the powder online from It's pricey, but the drink is truly heavenly, whether you're watching the sunrise in the Grand Canyon or in the comfort of your home.

Mix the chocolate and espresso to your own taste. Add enough water to make it the consistency you like. Traditionally, this chocolate is served very thick.

If necessity is the mother of invention, our collective need for coffee in the morning should produce some truly creative solutions.


Adam McFarren
(amcfarre) - F
Coffee options on 04/06/2005 08:38:25 MDT Print View

My rankings for good coffee (in my opinion, good coffee comes from increased contact with the grinds):

1) french press (best) - downsides are carrying the extra weight, cleaning and disposing of grinds

2) cowboy coffee - downside is grinds in your teeth. Maybe you can strain with a filter.

2) MSR mugmate (tie) - good contact with grinds, but only fits some sizes of mugs

3) Cup-pour-ri - okay contact, requires lots of seep time and swirling to increase contact, cleaning is a little messy

4) Re-usable tea bags - the kind I've tried didn't get much water flow through the bags and made really week coffee.

These days I usually settle for the Cup-pour-ri or mugmate. I may have to try the one poster's idea of freeze-dried quality instant expresso mixed with hot chocolate. As long as I'm not expecting my regular coffee taste that may work fine.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Good summary on 04/06/2005 12:04:35 MDT Print View

I've settled on using the Mugmate myself, but am still up for new options. Has anyone tried liquid coffee concentrate, either home-brewed or store-bought?

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
tea bagging coffee on 04/06/2005 13:12:18 MDT Print View

I've found that the coffee in tea bags works best if I put it in the pot before heating, not in the cup afterwards.

Robert Paul
Fast and Light Coffee on 04/06/2005 13:13:41 MDT Print View


Medaglia D'oro brand freeze dried espresso is available on the internet at various retailers. I just happen to be able to get it locally. This and chocolate covered espresso beans are the only fast and light options for coffee IMHO.

Medaglia D'oro espresso is much better than regular freeze dried coffee (Folgers and others), but it is still not the real deal (no crema in your espresso). It is very good for instant as some folks may even be fooled into thinking it was fresh espresso. It is certainly good enough for this coffee aficionado.

For a few shots to get rolling on an alpine start, it meets all my criteria for "true" fast and light. I am shocked more of us aren't using it.


David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
cowboy coffee on 04/06/2005 14:02:50 MDT Print View

The secret with cowboy coffee is to use eggshells to get the grounds to sink. One eggs worth in a ziploc last me through several days.

Timothy Chauran
(TimChauran) - F
Coffee Solutions on 04/06/2005 15:13:11 MDT Print View

Many thanks to all who posted replies --
I think my next trip will feature both instant espresso and chocolate-covered espresso beans, which should feed not only my coffee jones, but also my dirty little chocolate habit...

In the past I've justified the coffee press as my sole "luxury item," in an otherwise 7.5 -lb. 3-season kit, I'd rather save the ounces!

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Coffee solutions on 04/06/2005 17:58:46 MDT Print View

Ditto Tim. I've been experimenting with the MugMate and different bags. For an upcoming hike of the Buffalo River Trail, I'll be reverting to a quality instant espresso. My next challenge is carrying enough alcohol to heat the water for my 2 pot a day habit!

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Medaglia D'oro on 04/07/2005 00:42:54 MDT Print View

Medaglia D'oro is the official coffee - in both instant and ground variants over here at BPL HQ in Bozeman, and it's also my coffee du jour for the backcountry these days.

Nescafe also makes some excellent instant coffees.


Locale: Pacific Northwet
Instant Coffee on 04/07/2005 06:55:15 MDT Print View

Nescafe: They make some great instant coffee. The stuff to get, but hard to find, is Nescafe Espresso. This stuff blows away Medaglia d'Oro (which is good stuff). The only place I have seen this stuff is in Germany (though it is probably available in other European countries and Chile. This is different from Nescafe "classic" and its variations. The stuff is awesome, it even produces crema.

John Garberson
(Montana) - F
Coffee Concentrate on 04/07/2005 08:32:15 MDT Print View

I too am still searching for a lightweight trail coffee solution. What I used last year gave me the best trail coffee I've ever had but I didn't consider it lightweight. But it may be lighter than some of the solutions posted here.

I use "Toddy" coffee (a cold brew system) at home, and last year on the trail. From a rather overpriced system of carafes and filters one makes a coffee concentrate (at home). The concentrate makes very smooth, non-acidic coffee...just add hot water. I find that 1oz of concentrate makes 1cup of coffee. This means 4oz (plus squeeze bottle) will get me through a weekend backpack which seems pretty heavy. But with each cup of coffee, the pack weight drops another ounce until I'm down to the sub-ounce of the bottle. Theres no trash to deal with and nothing to carry out other than the squeeze bottle. See the system here:
Shop around online for a better price.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Nescafe Espresso on 04/07/2005 11:34:10 MDT Print View

Is this the stuff?