If you’re anything like me, coffee is not an optional extra but an essential, especially if I’ve had a less than optimal sleep in a bivi bag. I have, over the years, tried several different methods to making coffee whilst out camping. I started using instant coffee sachets. I really don’t like them, much preferring a ‘proper’ coffee. Then I tried coffee bags, but could only ever get an insipid, weak drink out of them even after letting them brew for ten minutes or more. Finally, a few years ago, I purchased an MSR MugMate camping coffee filter, and I’ve never looked back.
This really is a simple product. Essentially it’s a metal gauze ‘basket’ attached to a plastic frame. It has a lid, which doubles as a very handy stand to keep drips from going all over your tent floor, or to stop the filter from making contact with the ground when you are out wild camping.
It’s obviously very simple to use. Either grind some beans yourself before you leave, or buy some ready ground coffee and take some with you in a zip-lock bag (which will fit neatly inside the filter unless you are taking a lot of coffee). Put a couple of sporks of coffee in the filter, and pour not quite boiling water over it and allow it to filter. You could, if you are particularly keen, take loose leaf tea and use this to make tea as well, although tea bags seem perfectly adequate to me when wild camping.
Depending on how coarse the grind is it can take a minute or so to get a full coffee out of the filter but generally it’s pretty fast. If you must have milk in your coffee then either taking some in a flask, or using one of the plant based milks if you don’t mind them would work. I personally drink my coffee black so this isn’t an issue for me.
If there are a few people on your trip all requiring coffee, another option is to add the grinds directly to your pan, bring to near the boil and then use the filter to effectively strain the coffee into each person’s cup.
I do find that sometimes some fine coffee does make it’s way through the filter, so there is a little at the bottom of the cup. This is not really an issue, I simply discard the last mouthful. Aside from that, the filter does a good job and gives a very passable coffee whilst out hiking.
The filter is very light, weighing less than 30g. It packs inside my 400ml mug, which I then pack inside a 750ml pot and this then fits neatly in my pack. I have tried just taking a single mug and ‘swilling’ the coffee filter in the water. This doesn’t really work very well and I don’t recommend it. So if you purchase one of these filters be aware that you will really need at least two vessels to make a coffee, so factor this additional weight in if you currently only carry one. That said, if you are using titanium cookware then the weight is really not high anyway, and at least for me it’s worth it for a good coffee.
The filter is easily cleaned with a little water, and I’ve had mine for several years and it’s still going strong, although obviously pack it inside a mug to prevent it being crushed in your pack.
All in all, this is a great piece of kit. It’s light, packs easily, cleans easily, and I’ve yet to find a better way to make a coffee whilst out on my trips. I recommend this product.
If you wish to buy an MSR MugMate, you can purchase it from Alpinetrek.co.uk here.