How to Up Your Coffee Game on the Trail

Take your java game to a whole new level on the trail.
Take your java game to a whole new level on the trail. Philipp Lublasser
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Simplicity is key when you’re out on the trail, which often means sacrificing some of the luxuries we enjoy at home. Coffee shouldn’t be one of those things. Starting the day off with a shot of caffeine is a must-do for many—and even more so when you need the energy to make it through the day’s adventure or help offset a not-so-great night of sleep in the tent.

But getting your daily fix doesn’t have to mean settling for subpar joe via instant mixes or weak brews. With a little insider know-how, plus a few easy-to-transport ingredients, it’s possible to create the perfect cup even when you’re in the great outdoors.

Check out these six tried-and-tested recipes to take your java game to a whole new level on the trail.

1. Café Bombón

When you hear the word “bombon”, you probably think of the sweet treat with a similar name (bonbon). The same applies to this style of coffee, which hails from Spain. The café bombón is a rich style made with sweetened condensed coconut milk and espresso. If you serve it in a glass mug, its elegant layers make it eye candy on social media, but it will taste just as good in your camping cup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup espresso or strong coffee

  • 3 tbsp sweetened condensed coconut milk

How to Make It:

  1. Spoon the sweetened condensed coconut milk into a mug, trying to create an even layer.

  2. Carefully pour the espresso or coffee on top of the milk. The goal is to have two separate layers that you can see through the glass (if you’re using a glass mug).

  3. Snap an Insta shot, mix it up, and enjoy!

2. Cafezinho

If you’ve ever been to Brazil, you’ve probably been offered a cafezinho—a Brazilian coffee. This small, strong cup of lightly sweetened coffee packs a punch—it’s brewed in a saucepan (which makes it a super convenient choice for outdoor prep) and then poured through a cloth filter. There are traditional Brazilian filters for this, but you can also use an eco-friendly cloth filter (like CoffeeSock), a cone coffee filter, or even a paper towel.

Depending on how fine your filter is, the filtering process can take a few minutes, so this is an ideal recipe for leisurely mornings at the campsite when a little extra time makes a big difference for a tasty cuppa.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup cold water

  • 1 heaping tbsp ground strong coffee

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • Cloth filter (like CoffeeSock or substitute with paper filter) and pour over cone or sieve

How to Make It:

  1. Heat the water and sugar in a saucepan to just below boiling. Stir a few times to ensure the sugar dissolves.

  2. Add the coffee grounds to the water, remove from the heat and stir well.

  3. Pour the coffee (grounds and all) through the filter, allowing it to drip into a cup or mug. It can be a slow process, but the slower the drip, the tastier the java.

3. Cafe de Olla

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Orange peel and cinnamon give this Mexican style its unique flavor. Lauren Rutkowski

The café de olla is a warm, rich style that hails from Mexico. It’s said to have been widely enjoyed by soldiers during the Mexican Revolution to help keep them energized and sustained. It’s made with cinnamon and often orange peel, whose citrus notes are a surprisingly nice complement to the flavor of the coffee and also help balance the sweetness of the sugar and the spice of the cinnamon.

Though most commonly served black, café de olla also can be enjoyed with your creamer of choice. And, served with a shot of liquor (Kahlúa would be delicious), it makes for a tasty post-adventure adult beverage, especially in cooler months.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

  • 1-inch piece of orange peel

  • Half a cinnamon stick

  • 2 tbsp ground coffee

How to Make It:

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the water, cinnamon, brown sugar, and orange peel to a boil.

  2. When the water starts boiling, add the coffee, turn the heat off, and stir.

  3. Cover the pot and let steep for 5 minutes.

  4. Pour through a strainer to serve.

4. French Press

When you have time in the morning (or whatever time of day you drink coffee), the French press is definitely the way to go. This method is also super convenient when camping, because all you really need is hot water and the French press itself. Pro tip: Be sure the grounds you use are coarse and maybe even gritty, so they don't pass through the mesh of your press.

Ingredients:

  • Coarse ground coffee (1 heaping tbsp per 200 ml of water)

  • Hot water (about 1 minute off the boil)

  • French press pot

How to Make It:

  1. Add the measured dry coffee grounds to your pot.

  2. Add hot water, just enough to cover the grounds. Stir the water and coffee with a long spoon, allowing the grounds to bloom for about 30 seconds.

  3. Add the rest of the water to the coffee grounds, place the lid on top of the pot (with the plunger all the way up), and let steep for 3 minutes and 30 seconds.

  4. Once the time is up, press the plunger all the way down. The plunger will be a little resistant.

  5. Pour the coffee into mugs and add any remaining coffee to a carafe. (If it remains in the pot with the grounds for too long, it will become too strong and bitter.)

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Camping mugs are the perfect pick for your morning cuppa. Lexi Ruskell

5. Vietnamese Coffee

Coffee makers and filters that don’t require an external filter are amazing (and eco-friendly, to boot). Though they’re lesser known than French presses and moka pots, a phin is something that coffee lovers should check out. This Vietnamese coffee filter is used to make cà phê sữa nóng and cà phê đá, Vietnamese hot and iced coffee, respectively. The recipe below is for the hot variation, but you can just as easily make it and serve it over ice for a refreshing pick-me-up during warmer weather.

Ingredients:

  • Vietnamese coffee filter (a phin), or you can use a French press

  • 3 tbsp ground coffee

  • 1-3 tbsp sweetened condensed coconut milk

  • 1 cup (maybe a little less) water, about a minute off the boil

How to Make It:

  1. Add the sweetened condensed coconut milk to the bottom of a glass mug.

  2. Place the filter over the mug. Add the coffee to the bottom of the filter.

  3. Add 2 tbsp of the hot water to the coffee grounds to allow them to begin to release their flavor, also known as the bloom. Let sit for about 10 seconds, gently press the filter lid to the coffee, and add the rest of the hot water.

  4. The coffee will slowly drip into your mug over a couple of minutes. Once all the coffee has dripped through, you should see distinct layers of condensed coconut milk and coffee.

  5. Mix it up and enjoy.

6. Espresso (in a moka pot)

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The moka pot is a convenient way to make a cup you’re proud of in the great outdoors. Kevin Schmid

First patented in the 1930s, the Italian moka pot was one of the first options to make espresso accessible at home. Prior to this nifty invention, you could only enjoy this type of coffee in restaurants that had commercial-grade machines. And now you can enjoy it pretty much anywhere—even in the great outdoors, since the pot itself is inexpensive, easy to toss in a backpack, and only requires heat and water to get started.

The result? Easily made, impeccably delicious espresso—the perfect pre-hike kickstarter or post-adventure pick-me-up. (This brewing method would also be perfect to use when making a café bombón.)

Ingredients:

  • Dark roast coffee or espresso, finely ground

  • Water

  • Moka pot

How to Make It:

  1. Fill the water tank (the bottom part of the pot) up to the safety valve (the notch on the side of the pot).

  2. Rest the filter basket into the top of the water tank and pack the grounds into it. Press the grounds into the basket and fill to the top.

  3. Screw on the upper chamber and place the pot over medium-high heat.

  4. The espresso will begin to bubble and rise to the upper chamber.

  5. When the upper chamber is full, take the pot off the heat and allow the espresso to cool for a few minutes.

  6. Pour into your favorite mug, enjoy black or with milk of your choice, and enjoy.

Written by Lauren Rutkowski for RootsRated.

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