There are two major factors that (in my humble opinion) stop people from enjoying the outdoors. The first is a strong desire NOT to potty in nature, and the other is a crippling fear that there won’t be coffee. I know, I’m making that sound really simple and it does sound like I’m making fun here, but you can’t know how serious I am.
I’ll address pottying in another blog post because that one can take some explaining and maybe even a chart or diagram or two. So this post is about the other vital issue: coffee.
I went on a camping trip back in March with my good friend and adventure buddy Wendy. We’d brought our two-kids-apiece and were having a grand time until the second day when I woke up to find Wendy and her car were gone. Her kids were still asleep in their tent, so I knew it wasn’t something I’d done to offend her! Before I could even reach for my phone to text her, she pulled up to our campsite and got out of the car with a to-go carrier of coffee from a fast food place about twenty miles away. I thanked her (because I’m polite like that), but reminded her I’d brought instant coffee packets. She glared at me over the rim of her styrofoam cup, put out that I’d even use the words “instant” and “coffee” in the same sentence.
But then the great folks at Stanley (the awesome thermos and lunchbox people) sent me their answer to the camping coffee dilemma: the Mountain Vacuum Coffee System!
Basically, it’s a French press, except this one has no glass to worry about. In fact, the model they sent me to try out is actually built for two or more coffee drinkers. Here’s the breakdown:
Step One – heat your water in the handy bottom container with the flip up handle.
Step Two – when the water’s hot enough, add your coffee grounds which store in the vacuum bottle cap for easy and waterproof transport. I use the same measurements of water-to-coffee ratio that I do when making coffee in a regular coffee maker, basically one tablespoon per liquid serving.
Step Three – this one’s the only tough step since it requires knowing how long to brew your coffee based on how strong you want it to taste. I’m a medium roast kind of gal, and even then I’m going to add a good bit of creamer to it. I only let my grounds sit in the water for four minutes before halting the process.
Step Four – push the plastic plunger down into the pot GENTLY. Yes, if you push it down too fast it will splash out the sides and burn you. Even if it doesn’t burn you, it will force some of the ground up in the drinkable coffee part, and nobody wants that.
Step Five – with the plunger still in place to hold the coffee grounds, pour the hot coffee into the included vacuum bottle and put the lid on. That will keep it warm between servings.
Here’s a special hint if you’re making coffee for several people. Purposely heat TOO much water before you add the grounds. Once the water is the right temperature, go ahead and pour some of it in the vacuum bottle, then add the grounds to the pot like you’d planned. The hot water in the vacuum bottle will “activate” it for keeping the coffee hot, especially if you’re the early riser who got up and made coffee for everyone, and the others won’t be drinking theirs until they roll out of their sleeping bags later. Just remember to dump that water out of the thermos part before you pour in the coffee!
This is important! If you’re going backpacking (meaning camping involving hiking any great distances), this item is a little on the heavy side. If you can base many of your meals on heating water to warm up a pre-made pouch, then you’re fine since the coffee pot base will heat water for anything. Of course, if it’s just you or one other coffee drinker on this hiking trip, you could leave the vacuum bottle at home and pack other necessary items down in the pot/plunger set up, just to save on weight. That would just mean you have to drink the coffee as soon as it’s made instead of being able to keep some hot for a second cup.
This system–again, my humble opinion here–is superior to other camping French presses because the pot that actually makes the coffee is the same pot you’ll use to heat the water. Other systems are really just a non-breakable metal cylinder for pressing the coffee; you still have to have an additional pot to heat the water in the first place. While this system will cost a little more than those camping presses, its pot-base not only serves several cooking purposes, it comes backed by the Stanley name.