MSR Backcountry Café: French Press Coffee
A French press can produce rich, strong coffee that will supercharge your day in the backcountry. Collapsible presses, available as accessories for our Windburner® and Reactor® stoves, allow you to use your cooking pot for a brewing vessel, saving weight and space in your pack. Best of all, French press coffee is simple and delicious: get the grind and water temperature correct and you’re likely to have a great cup (or three).
You’ll need about one ounce of coffee per finished cup. It should be coarse-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.
Tip: Normal drip coffee will work if you can’t find the proper grind; MSR presses are designed to work with generic drip grounds too.
Backcountry water makes great coffee! Use clear, filtered water from a stream or lake. Make sure it is free of tannins (sometimes identified by an orange hue in the water) 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 before you brew.
- Measure out 4.5 tablespoons of ground coffee and set it aside.
- Turn the heat 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. 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 into your cups. Don’t leave excess coffee sitting in the press for too long, it will quickly become bitter.
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Updated. Originally Published April 10, 2013.