As an admitted hard-core caffeine addict, I've tried just about every way there is to make coffee in the backcountry. From detailing the nitty (and very gritty) technique for making cowboy coffee to writing this more comprehensive round-up of the options, I've sampled the liquid drug from a full range of coffee-making devices.
So what do I use after all this sampling? The Jetboil Coffee Press. For a mere 0.8 ounce (and $14.95), this accessory upgrades the Jetboil Flash to coffee-making simplicity. (Note that the Flash is the current incarnation of the original Jetboil Personal Cooking System (PCS), which is what I've used for more than eight years.)
The two-piece aluminum handle screws together and then slides through the hole in the lid to attach to the press basket. It works like any French press system: Boil water, add your grounds, let it sit a few minutes, press it down, and caffeine up. The ultra-fast boil times of the Jetboil system make this process that much speedier. When you're done, the whole unit breaks down to neatly nest inside the cook pot for easy carry.
There are other, simpler options out there, most notably Starbucks Via instant coffee, which has the significant advantage of not leaving you with used coffee grounds at the end of the process. But unless I'm out for prolonged periods, I prefer the taste and very minor inconveniences of a French press.
A couple of things I've learned using this system, however. First, even though the Jetboil pot can be used like a mega-mug, complete with a nice drinking/sipping hole in the lid, it takes way too long for the coffee to cool down to drinkable temperatures. So I usually carry a one-ounce uber-simple plastic cup (like the Open Country plastic measuring cup) to drink from.
Second, the press isn't the most durable piece of gear, especially where the handle screws into the basket. My first press cracked at this point as I tried to force down some stubborn grounds.
Third, do not overtighten the handle into the basket. Once the slick aluminum is coated with coffee residue, it can be very difficult to get a grip to unscrew it.
Fourth—and this is perhaps the biggest drawback—making coffee in the Jetboil pot leaves an oily coffee residue behind, which can be challenging to clean in the backcountry. This means that any water boiled in it for other purposes often has a noticeable coffee-flavored tinge to it.
What is your coffee-making preference? Please share!
“Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.