I should be embarrassed at what a big deal I make out of having to have coffee, and not just coffee but MY coffee with MY creamer and all the things I like, on every trip. It’s sort of juvenile and picky, isn’t it, to go on a big trip and simply HAVE to carry extra stuff because of your inability to let go of a tiny luxury for a short amount of time. But hey. I’m over forty and I really don’t have to worry about what other people think so, dammit, I will have MY coffee on every trip or I just won’t go.
I take this far enough that I carry coffee even when it’s not my job to carry coffee. On this trip my friend Sierra assured us all repeatedly that she had the coffee side of things handled, but I didn’t believe her and brought my own stash. This paid off when, upon reaching our trapper cabin forty miles into our trip, Sierra affected an air of “Idontwannahearit” and announced “I have coffee.” And after a deep breath, “but it’s Via.”
Jezebel! Via is not coffee. Via is…well let’s not waste editorial space on the abomination that is Via. The point is that my foresight had me well into the caffeine stratosphere whilst my fellow riders were suffering deep in the deprivation cave. I admit I started to feel a little stupid when I carried an enormous French press and all the accoutrements into Havasupai this spring only to fail enormously at getting up early enough to make it for my best friend to have coffee before hiking the thirteen miles out (I took a helicopter, because see the part about me being over forty and not having to prove anything, P.S. if there is a helicopter option I will take it every single time, every time). The issue that French press presented was not so much weight, but size. It sure takes up room in the backpack, that’s for sure. Funny thing, people sure like to make fun of you for carrying a big pack in these superlightordie times, but somehow no one ever takes the high road so far as to refuse a cup in the early morn, do they?
But still, I was aching to reduce my pack size and not compromise on my favorite beverage. So when GSI Outdoors suggested some coffee stories, I was all about it. And I found my next, best out of all of them, favorite of all time, backcountry trip coffee maker. Here it is:
My husband, the beneficiary of many a French press-enabled good coffee morning in the backcountry, looked at this thing and said, “Naaaahhhhh.” Fine by me, he can carry the Frenchie and I’m sticking with this hot little number. For real, it’s the best. Snap the legs on your mug, put in the grounds, and start pouring hot water. BOOM. Coffee. Good coffee! In about 1/12th (or LESS) of the time a French press takes. Yes, you have to be careful to not burn yourself when you unclip the legs, but whatevs! Worth it. It weighs almost nothing, takes up almost no room, and makes great coffee. Just like my college boyfriend! Unlike my college boyfriend, I actually want to take this coffee maker on backpacking trips, so I’d say GSI has a winner on its hands.
Another coffee option for the not-exactly-ultralight-but-lighter-than-French-press crowd is the Collapsible Java Drip. It’s basically the top part of your drip coffee maker not attached to anything that will automatically pipe in hot water. It works great, can make a whole pot of coffee at once, and is sturdy while being small and unobtrusive in your pack. I prefer the flexibility of making just one cup at a time in the UL Java Drip, and it’s worth noting that you will need to carry filters for its big brother the Collapsible Java Drip, but if you have a big party or are just sick of the vultures hovering over your every move before breakfast, jostling for position to get their cup in front of you next as you dole out the dark juice from Satan’s dusky teats you may like this option for making more coffee all at once.
GSI Outdoors has an entire subcategory on its site dedicated to all things coffee. If neither one of these offerings has what you want, surely something here will. But if you don’t know what you want, trust me, you want the Ultralight Java Drip.