If you’re a coffee lover like me, you know that a good cup of coffee can help you set your day up for success — especially in the backcountry. And just because you’re camping, or “roughing it,” it doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice a good cup of joe when you wake up after a night sleeping under the stars.
When you’re camping, packing a bulky household coffee maker and trying to find electricity (if you’re primitive camping) may be difficult and not the easiest option. You could consider one of the several ways to make coffee when you’re camping, like cowboy coffee (adding coffee grounds to hot water) or using coffee in a bag (like tea) or even instant coffee packs. I’ve tried all of these coffee-making methods, and they’ll all work in some fashion for you. But for me, instant coffee packs just don’t compare to making a fresh cup of coffee with a French press, also known as a press pot or coffee plunger.
Inventors in France designed a coffee press (now known as a French press) in the mid 1800s — originally using a cheesecloth screen fitted to a rod and pressed into a pot of hot water with coffee grounds. Today, the modern French press coffee maker is made of a narrow cylindrical pot with a plunger with a built-in filter screen. When you press the screen down into hot water through ground coffee, it separates the coffee grounds and creates a rich-tasting cup of coffee.
A French press isn’t as fancy as it sounds, and it’s actually easy to use. And, you can even find packable French press coffee makers in durable materials like plastic or stainless steel that are perfect for camping. Although, if you do choose a plastic French press coffee maker, be sure to do your research and make sure it’s free of bisphenol-A (BPA) so you know your coffee is safe to drink and doesn’t have a weird taste.
Throughout years of camping in my home state of Montana, I’ve figured out a French press set up that works best for me — giving me a bulletproof way to enjoy a great cup of coffee when I’m away from home. Here’s what I recommend:
French Press Coffee Makers
The BruTek Steel French Press Travel Mug made by Planetary Design is a durable one-person option for camping and weighs in at just 15.2 ounces. One of the best things about this French press is that you can drink right from the press — eliminating the need for extra coffee mugs or cups. And, it’s BPA free, has a tough exterior and will keep your coffee hot for hours.
This French press also makes a very clean (and great tasting) cup of coffee. You just add your own fresh coarse coffee grounds and hot water. (I typically add three heaping teaspoons of coffee grounds since this French press holds about 20 ounces of water). Then, you let the coffee set for four minutes, then slowly plunge the built-in plunger down, separating the coffee grounds from the water and leaving you with a delicious cup of hot coffee.