Into the Wild: Simplifying Camp Coffee That’s Still Damn Good

Travel lighter with your camp coffee ”waaaaay lighter


I needed my Hario kettle. That was what doomed my initial efforts to lighten my load. Because once you concede to packing a kettle, it’s awfully easy to justify bringing a travel grinder and scale. And digital probe thermometer.

Over the years, I’ve been determined to embrace the œless is more  ethic. But even as I continue to pursue the weightlessness of a simpler life, learning to travel light has presented its own set of challenges for me. It’s amazing what one can cram into a 65-liter pack! I didn’t want to be so attached to my little luxuries that I had lost my ability to distinguish between need and want. Soon, the books and camping chair got the boot. Not long after that, my Hario kettle, mini-mill burr grinder, glass dripper, and scale were all unpacked and moved to the discard pile next to the just-in-case layers and solar powered phone charger. I’ve been determined to learn how to carry the bare minimum, even when it comes to my love affair with coffee.

I imagine that many coffee industry professionals would approve of including all home-brewing equipment essentials when it comes to brewing the perfect cup of coffee in the woods. However, as someone who has made that valiant effort before, I have since been liberated as a result of the less is more ideal. The fact is, the more time I spend in the woods, the more time I want to be paying attention to what’s in the woods.

Into the Wild: Simplifying Camp Coffee That's Still Damn Good
It’s the summer of our Westfalia adventures ”make that, the first summer. As my fiancé and I learn what’s essential to our adventures, we’ve pared down the coffee brewing equipment to the basics, while making sure we can still brew the best.

Recently, my fiancé and I purchased the travel vehicle of our dreams: an ’86 VW Westfalia Weekender. It is the houseboat of all rides and literally feels like you’re floating down the highway at a jet-setting speed of 62 mph. It has been the perfect vehicle to accommodate our micro-adventures over the weekends, often serving as a reminder that less is best and begging the question, what’s the hurry?

Into the Wild: Simplifying Camp Coffee That's Still Damn Good
Our chariot for summer weekend adventures.

Nowadays, my coffee set up consists of a few very simple tools that make brewing coffee in the woods completely accessible, not to mention delicious: An AeroPress complete with the Able Brewing travel cap and reusable disk filter, pre-ground coffee (gasp!), a camping pot, and stove. This summer, I even made the decision to leave our ceramic mugs at home and brew into our travel camping cups instead that function as both coffee cups and bowls.

Into the Wild: Simplifying Camp Coffee That's Still Damn Good
Slim gear from Able Brewing makes for easy packing.

These may seem like small, insignificant details to show how one might experience coffee differently, but I think it serves as a reminder that the things I love most in the world are not actually things at all. Sure, I respect the mathematical answer and scientific approach to making coffee taste great using the proper tools that help ensure precision and repeatability. Equally, I appreciate the important distinction between the tools of one’s trade and acquiring œstuff  for stuff’s sake. However, as anyone who has ever fallen in love with their craft can understand, my obsession of it can somewhat narrow my ability to notice anything else.

Into the Wild: Simplifying Camp Coffee That's Still Damn Good
Could there be any more simple, travel-friendly device than the AeroPress?

The first things I hear in the mornings when I wake up in the Westfalia are the nuthatches chirping over fresh leftovers around the campfire. The first thing I smell is the subtle sweet smokiness lingering in my fiancé’s hair after hours of late night conversation. The first thing I feel is the coolness of the shifting weather from summer to fall: autumn is coming and that means more adventures in the woods, crawling up creeks and fishing for wild trout. It also means more great cups of coffee consumed without the pressure to muddle its perfectness by me fussing over it. I think my friend Marshall Hance (owner of Mountain Air Roasting) says it best: œCoffee, when unadulterated, is beautiful. It’s all part of the same aesthetics, where simplicity will give you a more profound experience than something that’s overly complicated. When you remove complexity, something really beautiful remains. 




Sarah Richmond  is a recent transplant to the Asheville, N.C. area from Berkeley, Calif., where she brings over 10 years of experience in the coffee industry. Wearing many hats over the years as a barista, trainer, coffee roaster, manager, and lover of all things coffee, she is most passionate about the growing coffee community in Asheville and its neighboring states. When she is not turning coffee brown, Sarah can usually be found hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her fiancée and their 1 year old pup, Mack. Sarah and her family live in a cabin in the woods located in Black Mountain, N.C., and are enjoying the fullness good mountain living can bring!

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