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Using Espresso Pods for pack-it-out backpacking
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Kim Grant
(Kimberlymae) - F
Using Espresso Pods for pack-it-out backpacking on 05/06/2007 21:41:38 MDT Print View

Coffee is a non-neogtiable luxury for me. I've been experimenting with a variety of ways to make it light, easy to prepare, and now, easy to pack out (no putting the gounds in a campfire in a "blue zone" because campfires aren't allowed). The latest, yet to be tried test is to use Starbucks Esspresso Pods for a do-it-yourself 'americano' coffee. I'm curiuous about whether anyone else has tried this and what your results were.

These little gems are essentially coffee packed into a tiny disk-shaped tea bag. They're light and can be carried out in a ziplock. I'm concerned that because they are so dense that without the high-pressure water system, I'm going to get something more like tea than coffee, and I'm wondering about the durability of the tea-bag. Will it tear too easily and leave me with a mess of grounds I can't possibly port out with me?

I have scoured the web looking for other reviews or use of other brand's coffee pods. Nada. Everyone wants me to haul a portable espresso machine. Turkish style coffee suits me fine, but if I can get my fix with less mess, I'm going to be very happy.


Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Using Espresso Pods for pack-it-out backpacking on 05/06/2007 21:51:40 MDT Print View

If you Search Forums for "coffee" there are several older threads here on BPL (e.g., "Camp Coffee") that go deeply into strategies for UL coffee. I don't drink coffee much myself, but I carry Java Juice to motivate late-rising family members.

Edited by Otter on 05/06/2007 22:04:06 MDT.

Kim Grant
(Kimberlymae) - F
Re: Re: Using Espresso Pods for pack-it-out backpacking on 05/06/2007 22:16:50 MDT Print View

hmm. I did a search and didn't see anything about using Starbucks Espresso pods in particular. I'll look again. Othewise, my standby strategy works well.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
i've used the coffee pods on 05/06/2007 23:16:01 MDT Print View

though not specifically the starbucks kind

i put them in the water before heating then stirred it after - seemed to work well

i tore open after & buried the grounds

carried the paper out

it's a pretty easy solution

if you want to carry the whole shebang back you can dry them in the sun first, then they don't need to be in a baggie

Justin Ling
(ling_jd) - F

Locale: columbus ohio
Re: i've used the coffee pods on 05/07/2007 11:50:00 MDT Print View

You can set the used tea/coffee bag up against your heated windscreen the next time you use your stove to dry it out super fast. I've done this with tea bags, and it's amazing how quick it works, as long as your flames aren't too wild.

Also, if you do end up giving the pods from Starbuck's a try, please post a review for the rest of us. I am also interested in UL coffee solutions other than java juice.

Kim Grant
(Kimberlymae) - F
test results on 05/07/2007 12:07:36 MDT Print View

So I experimented with the espresso pods this morning and the results of the first test are not all that encouraging.

The espresso is packed so tight that there's not a lot of H20 flow. I ended up with espresso tea.

I'm going to try boiling a pod so see if the bubbling action gets better results. Some people feel that boiling your coffee ruins it. I'm not sure I agree in all instances. For example, my standard car-camping version is turkish coffee, which requires boiling (extra-finely ground espresso, cardamom, and a pinch of sugar). The required foamy head is a result of boiling, and sugar caramelizes along the way. But it's messy and not a pack-it-out option (In some fragile desert areas you're not even allowed to dig cat holes. Pack it out means *everything*).

Kim Grant
(Kimberlymae) - F
Update: make your own pods! on 05/07/2007 12:12:10 MDT Print View

This might be the solution!

Make Your Own Coffee Pods
by John Wolf

Do you really like your pod coffee maker, but wish you could use your favorite brand of coffee instead of paying a premium price for a mediocre blend -- just because it is shaped like a pod? Why not make your own?

Read how here:

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Using Espresso Pods for pack-it-out backpacking on 05/07/2007 18:44:59 MDT Print View

Hi Kim,
I second Douglas's Java Juice suggestion. You might consider trying one packet just to see if its taste agrees with you. The upside is simplicity. Heat water to drinking temp(boiling or near boiling is unnecessary) add the contents of the 1/2 oz. foil packet and, VOILA!!, CAFFEINE!! in what is IMHO a very nice cup of coffee. No grounds to deal with, only a nearly weightless foil packet. The only potential downside that I can see is price, $1.29/packet at REI, which usually uses the MSRP. If
you are near an REI, you can buy by the dozen from them and get a good discount-can't remember the exact amount. It's worth a try, unless you're absolutely determined to have espresso/Turkish coffee, both of which are fraught with complications in a backcountry setting. Good luck.

Kim Grant
(Kimberlymae) - F
Update! on 05/07/2007 18:53:20 MDT Print View

Thanks for the suggestion. I'ved tried the javajuice and find it unsatisfying,but better than some of the other options. But I have news....


The starbucks espresso pods suck for making coffee without an espresso machine. Boiling was useless.

Maxwell House and Folgers single serve coffee pods are barely worth mentioning. So that drove me to sample a few other brands.

I am pleased to announce there is a make-do solution for those of you near a Target superstore: Archer Farms (Target brand) individually wrapped coffee pods come in French Roast (and assorted bastardized flavors). These are straight up solid. I haven't found them in espresso roast, but maybe they're out there somewhere.

Detailed results: These need to steep for a good 5-8 minutes for flavor approaching good dark roasted coffee, but these are far superior to going without coffee at all.

I drink my coffee black -- those of you who prefer cream and/or sugar may feel they're just as good as anything you've tried.

The bags are strong and will handle being pushed around the cup a bit.

Box of 16 pods is $3.99. That's .25 cents a cup. Not bad!

Just went looking to see if there is an espresso roast out there and found this site with a bunch of user reviews.

Edited by Kimberlymae on 05/07/2007 19:04:44 MDT.

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
java juice is the bomb on 05/07/2007 18:59:49 MDT Print View

I have to have my coffee in the morning. It is my "one" bad habit. Java juice is good for me, but it is strong. My buddy uses Pres n Brew empty tea bags and fills them with flavored coffee and it works great. You can get them really cheap from: You just seal the end with an iron after you fill it with you favorite coffee or tea. I think I got 50 for $5.

Here is the actual link the site is confusing:

Edited by dmgoody on 05/07/2007 19:26:57 MDT.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Coffee in the backcountry on 05/07/2007 19:00:34 MDT Print View

Thank you for your research, Kim.
I have never really been pleased by my various UL coffee strategies but hope springs eternal.

Dark Roast and the blacker the better!

Edited by kdesign on 05/07/2007 19:01:46 MDT.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
dang kim! on 05/07/2007 19:11:20 MDT Print View

how much coffee did you have in the last 24 hours?!

(btw apparently the homonym for "dam" is unpostable)

Kim Grant
(Kimberlymae) - F
coffee tasting on 05/07/2007 19:16:47 MDT Print View

I threw a lot of coffee out.... it's like wine tasting. You only need a sip (if it looks dark enough to bother tasting) to know whether you've brewed something worth finishing. :-)

John Baird
(jbaird) - F

Locale: Deleware Watergap A_T
Re:Re: Update! on 05/07/2007 19:16:50 MDT Print View

Gonna try it Kim. Your the best.

"make-do solution for those of you near a Target superstore: Archer Farms (Target brand) individually wrapped coffee pods come in French Roast (and assorted bastardized flavors). These are straight up solid"

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
weight? on 05/07/2007 20:21:53 MDT Print View

Great research Kim.

How light are these pods. You've got my brain going now. If they are lighter than a tea bag and make a good cup of jo, then it might be worth looking at.



Kim Grant
(Kimberlymae) - F
not as light as a teabag on 05/07/2007 20:57:03 MDT Print View

But pretty darn light -- grams heavier than a tea-bag perhaps, but not ounces (not a scientific statement). The pod is 2.75" round and weighs about as much as double stuff oreo when damp. By math on the box, each is 8 grams, including the foil.

cofee pod

The foil packet is 4" square and has an air bubble. The pods themselve could be removed and put in a ziplock to lose the weight of the foil.

Edited by Kimberlymae on 05/07/2007 21:28:25 MDT.

David Zirkle
(zirkledw) - F
Coffee on 05/09/2007 22:38:49 MDT Print View

I've tried two things recently that worked pretty well.

I have used a press bot, which makes really good coffee, but you have to use a lot of water to clean up, and it weighs 2 oz plus the nalgene bottle. I decided that it was worth taking if there would be at least two of us drinking the coffee. I use it in my office at work rather than a 4 cup coffee maker because it makes good coffee, even with the cheap stuff. My main complaint is the amount of filtered water you have to use to clean out the bottle.

In the past I have used one of those pour through filters that turned out ok and the coffee singles which never ever make a good cup. They have two things going against them, the coffee sucks and there isn't enough of them. I bought some of those pods on sale a few months back and they were better, but still not a real cup of coffee.

One thing I tried last weekend at home, and will try in the field this weekend is unfilled tea bags.

Target had 100 count packages of large (pot sized) unfilled tea bags for $2. I was able to use more coffee (about 1.5 as much as I would use in my adc machine) and get a pretty good cup of coffee. You have some waste to pack out, but it isn't much.

Hope this helps.


Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Using Espresso Pods for pack-it-out backpacking on 05/10/2007 06:36:08 MDT Print View

Kim, after 3 years of trial and error, I've landed on modified cowboy coffee for a good backcountry brew. In BPL magazine, Issue 6, Mike Clelland has a superb article on this subject. He compares a half dozen or so different techniques. I agree with his observation that a French press is the best. If you're with a group of 4 it's a reasonable amount of weight. I have a lexan version made by GSI that weighs about 11 oz. before modifications.

But for solo use, I've been disappointed with numerous previous trials - the Folgers bags, pods, many types of instant, and Java Juice (far better than the rest).

In the modified cowboy coffee technique simply toss the grounds into a pot of boiling water. Cover the pot and set it aside for 3-5 minutes. A pot cozy (<1 oz. for my SP900) is handy here. After steeping, stir the coffee with a stick to encourage the grounds to settle some. Then pour the coffee into your mug or styrofoam cup through a mesh filter. I use the MSR Mugmate. It produces an excellent cup of coffee. For a very small weight penalty (the Mugmate without lid weighs 0.63 oz. on my scale) you can have a darned good cup of coffee.

Mina Loomis
(elmvine) - MLife

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Re: Using Espresso Pods for pack-it-out backpacking on 05/10/2007 08:09:57 MDT Print View

I, too, have been using finely ground coffee from home, stirring it into the boiled water in the pot, and after steeping, pouring it through an MSR filter into cups. Works very well, tastes great, and, another advantage--I can bring my own favorite coffee from home, and it can be Fair Trade coffee. The disadvantage, as compared to a contained method like instant packets or pods, is that there are coffee grounds all over the inside of the pot and the MSR, even after emptying most of the grounds into a trash ziplock. Rinse water can be broadcast, but sometimes bear rules or other rules prevent this. No real disadvantage to the MSR retaining grounds day-to-day, though. And if my companions don't notice the residue in the pot before it's mixed with the next meal, then I get away with that...

In my mind the biggest advantages of this method are: I get the coffee I like, it can be Fair Trade, and I don't have all that packaging. Now if I could just learn to drink it black to eliminate the cream (curdles after 2 days)/creamer (ick!)/small can of evaporated milk (heavy)/powdered milk (yuck)problem!

Henrietta Foster
( - F
Instant coffee singles on 05/10/2007 09:01:49 MDT Print View

Tasters Choice now markets instant coffee singles. No, its not brewed coffee, but it tastes okay and the only thing left is the foil pouch.