MSR Backcountry Café: French Press Coffee

MSR French Press

A French press can produce rich, strong coffee that will supercharge your day in the backcountry. Collapsible presses allow you to use your cooking pot for a brewing vessel, saving weight and space in your pack. Best of all, good French press coffee is simple: get the grind and water temperature correct and you’re likely to have a great cup, or three.

The Coffee: You’ll need about one ounce of coffee per finished cup. It should be course-ground and stored in an air-tight container. With French Press coffee, an even grind is important – use a burr grinder rather than the blade type. Normal drip coffee will work if you can’t find the proper grind; our presses are designed to work with generic drip grounds too.

The Water: Backcountry water makes great coffee! Use clear, filtered water from a stream or lake. Make sure it is free of tannins and other natural flavors that can taint your finished cup.

  • Start heating your water in the pot. Use a little more than one liter of water to make three cups of coffee. If it’s cold, add a little extra for warming the cups.
  • Measure around 4.5 tablespoons of ground coffee and set it aside.
  • Take the water off just before it reaches boiling. This stage is often called “fish eyes” because of the small bubbles forming at the bottom of the pot.
  • If it’s cold out, pour a little hot water into your coffee cup to warm it before the brewing process. Dump this water before you serve the finished coffee.
  • Stir the coffee grounds into the hot water. Use a long spoon that reaches near the bottom of the pot.
  • Cover the pot with the press and lid. Allow the coffee to steep for a minimum of four minutes. If you’re camping in cold weather, use a fleece jacket or towel to insulate the press while it steeps. (Be careful not to melt synthetics on the hot pot!)
  • Press the coffee and pour it in your cups. Don’t leave excess coffee sitting in the press for too long, it will quickly become bitter.

MSR French Press