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How to make awesome campfire coffee with the AeroPress

My wife and I have been outdoor enthusiasts since our childhood. Both of our families tent camped when we were kids, and right after we got married (20 yrs ago!) we honeymooned on the North Shore of Minnesota, along Lake Superior, and we camped and hiked at Gooseberry Falls State Park.

What we didn't have then, but I wish we had, was a simple and powerful tool for making awesome coffee when you're away from home doing things like camping and hiking. Or even just staying in a hotel where you know the coffee is going to be just terrible. I'm talking about the humble AeroPress.

AeroPressing at Devil's Tower, Wyoming(AeroPressing at Devil's Tower, Wyoming - Inverted method)

The AeroPress was what unseated the French Press in my home coffee making kit after a decade of brewing coffee manually. There are a few benefits of the AeroPress over the French Press:

  • Quicker brewing times
  • Less "grit" in your cup (better filtration)
  • Easier cleanup
  • It's plastic: It travels well and won't break

The French Press never left my house because it was big and made of glass. But once I got my first AeroPress, I immediately grasped the fact that I wouldn't have to be out on the road and put myself at the mercy of whatever probably terrible coffee I would encounter.

This guide is specific to the camping/hiking applications of brewing with an AeroPress, so I'll quickly list out the other things you'll need to pull it off:

  • Coffee (of course) - Pre-ground or Whole Bean
  • Hand grinder (optional) - If you're trying to be as lightweight and efficient as possible, you might just want to pre-ground the coffee you'll be brewing with on your trip and leave this home. But if you can pack it in, it's fun to grind your beans right before brewing at camp.
  • Hot Water - We've used backpacking stoves for years, and recently upgraded to the MiniMo system from JetBoil, and it's amazing. Heats water super fast. We also use it to cook food with, so it's better for us than their coffee-specific system.

Water safety note: Make sure you're either packing in potable water, or have a water filtration system if you're getting water from a natural source. Because I'm a nerd, we recently packed in a few pouches of water treated with Third Wave Water for maximum awesomeness.

Brewing Campfire Coffee with The AeroPress

Okay, you've got everything packed, now how does this thing work? The AeroPress is a single-serving brewer, so you'll be making coffee for one person at a time, unless you're good at sharing.

  1. Put a filter in the AeroPress - With filter placed, lock the filter cap on the bottom of the brewer (filters are included in the bundle)
  2. Dose out your coffee - For a "normal" cup of coffee, use 1 scoop of grounds (included in the AeroPress bundle)
  3. Set the AeroPress on your coffee mug without the plunger part
  4. Heat your water - Bring your water to a boil, and remove for 15-30 seconds
  5. Pour hot water into AeroPress - Stir grounds and water for a few seconds with a spoon or the included stirring paddle
  6. Wait about 30-60 secondd
  7. Insert the plunger part into the top of the AeroPress and start exerting some pressure down on it. Not too hard, not too soft - The plunger should slowly work its way down and coffee will start being pushed into your cup

Aaaaand, you're done! The total brew time including the first pour and stir doesn't have to be more than about 2 minutes. Check out the video to see it in action.

Make sure you follow Leave No Trace principles when disposing of the grounds and filter paper. If you're in the backwoods, it's best to pack out all your trash, and this would be included in that. 

That's the "quick and easy" way to make AeroPress coffee at the campsite. If you're already a trained AeroPress nerd, you might be gasping in horror and wanting to suggest the advanced brewing methods such as the "Inverted" approach pictured above. That's cool if you want to nerd out. I'll get more nerdy on those brewing methods in other posts.

Happy campfire coffee drinking, coffee friends!



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