It cannot, gentle reader, have escaped your attention that I am partial to a cup of coffee nor, furthermore, that I can be a bit picky about it. So, I hear you ask, how do I maintain my coffee pedantry when camping? I’m so glad I imagined you enquiring.
I’ve been making coffee at home with and Aeropress for around 4 years now. For uninitiated, I suppose you could say it’s a bit like a cafètiere but with a much finer filter (you use paper filters) and more pressure. It looks (sort of) like a massive syringe. To make a cup of coffee, grind your preferred weight of beans (16g for me) fairly finely, pour into the inverted Aeropress, fill with water, stir for 10 seconds, leave for 30 seconds while you fit the filter, un-invert(?) over a warmed cup and press the plunger. The bung on the plunger is sufficiently tight that you can actually achieve some real pressure as you press down. Once plunged, top up with hot water (or hot milk if white coffee is your thing). The original model was made of a rather brittle plastic, and my first one snapped around the rim of the plunger (stop it), but they’ve sorted that out on the latest version. The bung can be replaced when it starts to wear and pressure drops (so that’s what Toots and the Maytals we’re singing about).
So far, so delicious, but my coffee grinder is a commercial unit, weighs as much as Grunty and not that practical for camping. Why not just grind in advance and take ground coffee with me? As we’ve already observed, I’m a bit picky about coffee and somewhere around 65% of the volatile oils that make coffee coffee evaporate within 15 minutes of grinding.
There are quite a few decent quality hand grinders on the market – I went for the Rhinowares Compact because it comes with an adaptor that lets you grind directly into the Aeropress. To be honest, the adaptor is not really that practical – it’s slow work trying to keep everything together while you’re whirring the grinding arm round. Not to fret – I just weigh the beans in the little cup on the bottom of the grinder, tip them into the top, reattach the cup, grind briskly (it takes me around 3 minutes), take the cup back off (now full of ground coffee), tip the coffee into the Aeropress and <see above>. It’s well made – stainless steel body, ceramic burrs – easy to adjust the fineness of the grind and can be completely dismantled for cleaning.
A nice feature of the grinder is that it slips inside the plunger of the Aeropress, to minimise packed space – I also got the little carrier (the holdall of joy), into which everything fits. To minimise camping/filter paper faffage I got a couple of steel filters from Kofi. One is laughingly tabled fine (it isn’t) and the other mesh (it is). From the Has Bean website, I got a set of compact scales that are accurate to two more decimal places than I require. All packed up in the holdall of joy, it comes to around 700g. I haven’t been backpacking for well over a decade now, but I reckon I could suck that up for the sake of my habit (plus a 250g bag of beans). For car camping, it’s ideal.
So that’s me set up for coffee while camping – I can grind the beans while my terrifying stove boils the water; it’s simultaneously stressful and comforting. I’m thinking about investing in a Staresso, which gets you a bit closer to what you’d make in an espresso machine. It uses some kind of hand pump to develop pressure. What the Aeropress lacks in actual pressure, though, it gains in simplicity. It has one moving part so is pretty difficult to break.
How do you get your coffee fix when you’re away from home?
Note: I bought all this kit myself and have not been in anyway remunerated for this review. Sadly.