Can I Carry A French Press While Hiking?

The simple answer is yes. A great cup of hot coffee in the morning may make your hiking vacation much more fun if you know how to brew it properly. And it’s easy to learn how to make French press coffee on the go.

There’s nothing quite like waking up on a sunny morning surrounded by towering pines, colorful desert cliffs, brilliant aqua-blue lake waters, or whatever environment you’ve chosen to base your camp around and sipping a wonderful cup of coffee. Even better if you’re lounging around at dusk, sipping campfire coffee prepared over a roaring fire.

You could be used to using an electric coffee maker at home, but such alternatives won’t work when hiking. You won’t have electricity and will be counting the grams in your bag when hiking, so you want something manageable and sophisticated.

What is a French press, and does it work?

A French Press is a coffee brewing equipment that uses hot water to soak coarse grinds. There are several designs and sizes of presses to select from. 

How to Make French Press Coffee

What you will need:

  • Your French press 
  • Coarse ground coffee (we’ll tell you why later in the article)
  • A coffee mug
  • Heat source to boil your water

How to make your coffee:

  1. Heat the water to the required near-boiling temperature.
  2. Take the plunger out of the French Press.
  3. Fill the brew chamber of the French Press with 2/1.5 teaspoons of coarse-ground coffee per cup of water.
  4. Add the necessary amount of water and carefully mix for 10-20 seconds.
  5. Replace the press plunger and set it just over the water or coffee grounds.
  6. Allow it to sit and brew: we’ve found that a brew for 5 minutes works well, but you can change the time as needed.
  7. Apply moderate downward pressure to the plunger to “press” the coffee grinds – this should take around 15-20 seconds.
  8. Once you’ve squeezed the plunger to the bottom, you’re ready to pour a great cup of French press coffee!

Which Coffee Beans Should you Carry on Your Hiking Trip?

The flavor of freshly ground coffee beans is unparalleled.

Because pre-ground coffee is more exposed to air than whole coffee beans, it oxidizes faster, resulting in a flavorless cup. Furthermore, most people usually have not learned how long their old grounds have been sitting in an open container and have passed their prime.

Purchasing whole beans and grinding them before use is an excellent general practice. It’s not required, but if you’re going out in the wild, you may as well drink the best coffee you can find. 

You can grind your coffee before you leave for your trip, but you have to estimate how much will be enough. Alternatively, you can also carry a small portable coffee grinder that you can use while on your hiking trip.

Read more on “What kind of coffee is best for a French Press?”

Tips for Storing Ground Coffee

If you opt to grind your coffee at home, here are some suggestions to ensure its fresh to use while hiking:

Vacuum Seal – you can have a small packet for each day. However, this will be determined by the number of people drinking coffee and the length of time you will be out in the woods. This is a wonderful alternative if you already have a vacuum sealer.

Ziploc Bags– This is a no-brainer, but we recommend buying freezer bags because they are thicker than regular ones. Also, use a second bag and double pack for added security!

 A coffee container– this will keep your ground coffee fresh, dry, and dust-free. I highly recommend this Coffee Gator set. It comes with a French Press and an air-tight travel jar to store your coffee.

Click the link for more great tips on how to keep your coffee fresh.

Essential tips to Enjoy French Press Coffee While Hiking

Use clean water

Coffee is primarily water, with an approximate water content of 98%. Using clean, good-tasting water will significantly improve the flavor of your coffee.

Purification tablets can be used to cleanse water taken from a lake or somewhere in the woods.

Make sure you thoroughly read the instructions. More importantly, allow enough time for the taste of the purification tablets to disappear. It will ensure none of the weird taste is noticeable once you brew your coffee.

If you don’t want to use tablets to purify your water, get a water filter instead. However, not all filters are created equal. Because of the many parasites in the region, several places throughout the world require different types of filters.

To learn more on what type of water you should be using, click the link.

Water temperature 

Ensure your water is between 195 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit (no lower than 190). It should be this hot to extract flavor from the coffee grounds for the best taste. 

If you don’t have a thermometer or don’t want to use one, a reasonable rule of thumb is to put the water on the fire, bring it to a boil, remove it from heat, wait 30-60 seconds, and then pour.

Related Reading: Why You Shouldn’t Use Boiling Water for Coffee.

Coffee-to-water ratio

Start with two teaspoons per 6-8 oz. of water. Regarding ratios, this approach is forgiving – in other words, it’s difficult to get it wrong. That is why, when brewing using a French press, you should be willing to experiment until you find the ratio that you enjoy. 

Most people usually use too little coffee in their brew. Remember that too little coffee (for example, one tablespoon to 8 oz. of water) results in a bitter-tasting brew. If you’re using a French press, you are looking for a rich, robust and nuanced brew. So ensure to use enough coffee to do this.

Check out this coffee-to-water ratio table to help you.

Use coarse grind

Set your burr grinder to coarse grind, and you’re good to go. The reason for a coarse grind is extraction; if you choose a medium or finer grind, your coffee will taste bitter, plus you will end up with a lot of sediment at the bottom of your coffee mug.

As a manual procedure, the French press allows you more control over the final brew. Because there are other processes, it also necessitates precision and practice. Expect a few tries to get it right if you’re new to the French press. 

Final Thoughts

You can most definitely use a French Press while hiking, and I highly recommend it. Another great feature about the French Press is that you can also take tea with it. Click here to learn how.

Further Reading: How to Carry Coffee When Hiking and Backpacking.

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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