Roads Rivers and Trails

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Trail Beans: The Best Ways to get Caffeinated in the Backcountry

Author: Brandon Behymer

Forward: Brandon, in his other life was a barista at Milford’s Main Cup. Learning the ways of the bean led to his deeper understating of caffeination. Combining his experiences in the backcountry with his passion for coffee has led to his unofficial title of backcountry barista extraordinaire. While we celebrate Brandon’s knowledge of tiny brown split beans we also recognize it for what it is, an addiction. We all pray for Brandon that his strength may overcome his weakness. Here is Brandon’s blog.


  • AeroPress: The AeroPress coffee maker is my personal favorite for backcountry use. The plastic components make this option durable and light (not crazy light but acceptable weight to caffeination ratio). Its packed size will allow it to hide away in a corner of your pack previously relegated to less efficient things, such as apples, oranges, rocks, or that bag of oregano your hiking buddy constantly hides in your gear. There are many different recipes for using this contraption. My personal favorite is to use a dark roast bean ground to a medium-fine coarseness and brewed for two and a half minutes using the inverted method. Really perks you up on a cold groggy morning in the woods.


  • Pour Over: There are many versions of collapsible and single cup pour-overs. My experience is with the collapsible Sea to Summit X-Brew. It packs down flat and is light weight (2.9 ounces). Though slightly harder to clean than the AeroPress this pour-over will still score you serious points with hipsters surfing Instagram for sexy pictures of wannabe baristas in the backcountry. My favorite coffee to use with this delivery device is the Honduras Santa Rosa de Copan, from the lovely folks at Pneuma Coffee Roasters in Cincinnati.


  • Bialetti Moka Express: The most refined way to satisfy your caffeination fascination while exploring new-to-you places. Seriously, you will be judged. But if you’re into strong, espresso style coffee this is a great option. Packs down fairly small and doesn’t require paper filters.


  • Instant Coffee: Please don’t… But really there are some decent options for you knuckle dragging ultra-lighters. Alpine Start makes some really good classic instant coffee as well as coconut latte and chai options. Black Rifle Coffee Company has both instant coffee packets and coffee steep bags. They kick a lot of ass and do a ton for the active duty military and veteran communities.