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Easy Backpacking Coffee Options

A lot of backpackers really like having coffee in the morning. In fact, I have friends who are so fanatical about it that they roast there own coffee at home and bring coffee presses to make it on the trail. I like hiking with them because they're willing to carry all this extra gear, but when I'm out hiking solo, I either abstain or bring along one of the lighter weight alternatives listed below. Most of these options provide less caffeine than the 65-120 mg provided in a cup of fresh brewed coffee and you'll need to consume multiple servings to get the same buzz you get at home or at Starbucks.

Taster's Choice single serving packs are currently my favorite way to bring coffee on the trail. In the past, I've brought instant coffee in a small ziploc sandwich bag, but that tends to solidify into a solid lump after a while from humidity. Instead, I like the packets because they stay fresh over a long period of time and they take up very little space in my food bag. The Taster's Choice packets also create virtually no waste since the packets are small tubes the size of designer sugar packs. A single packet of Taster's Choice contains 65 mg of caffeine and costs about $0.20.

Taster's Choice Instant Coffee

Before I discovered Taster's Choice packets, I used Folgers' Coffee Singles. These are individually wrapped tea bags that are filled with ground coffee instead of tea. You drop them in a pot of boiling water and let them steep. They produce very good tasting coffee and the wet coffee bag can be used as a scouring pad to clean out your pots after you cook up a meal. The only problem then is that you're left with this sopping wet coffee bag that you have to hump out with the rest of your trash. A single serving costs about $0.35. These deliver about 115 mg of caffeine, depending on how long you let them soak.

Stok (pronounced Stoke) is a relative newcomer to the coffee scene and I just discovered them in the supermarket a few weeks ago. Unlike Taster's Choice or Folger's, Stok delivers its coffee punch in a liquid form. Each box of stok contains 24 individually packaged coffee shots, packaged in small plastic containers the size of half & half cups. Stok is design to be added to an existing cup of coffee, but you can, in desperation, suck them down cold. A single serving contains 40 mg of caffiene and comes in pre-sweetened and unsweetened flavors. If you're going to shoot these straight. I'd recommend the sweetened ones. Cost per serving is about $0.40.


Finally, Java Juice is a favorite with many of my backpacking friends and packs an astonishing 140 mg of caffeine at a cost of about $1.30 per serving. You can drink it hot or cold and just need to add 12 oz of water to it. Each packet weighs just half an ounce and contains water and concentrated coffee, nothing else. Taste wise, Java Juice provides you with an excellent coffee experience and is definitely worth a try if you crave a big jolt. It also has a shelf life of about a year.

Java Juice is not sold in supermarkets, unlike Taster's Choice, Folgers or Stok. REI is probably the largest online retailer of Java Juice, but it is also carried by a lot of local backpacking gear outfitters.


  1. I have tried all of the above except stok, as well as a french press, and straight up cowboy (or cowgirl) coffee. they all have some limitations. an experiment i have recently conducted left me satisfied with the following method… using disposable tea bags, you can create the foldgers like coffe bag discussed above. the benefit is cost to quantity, and quality control. it's easy to find the just right amount for your favorite camp mug, and adjust to be as strong (or weak) as you like.


  2. Could you use a tea ball for coffee?

  3. “The only problem then is that you’re left with this sopping wet coffee bag that you have to hump out with the rest of your trash. ”

    Dig a hole. Leave it. It’ll be OK. It will decompose. Coffee grounds are one of my wife’s favo compost items. Do you hump out your human excrement….

    • I truly apologize for that last comment. It was less than appropriate because everyone has their own level comfort when it comes to their level of no trace left behind. In retrospect I applaud you for having that much care and should not judge your actions like I did. I respect your work here and I have learned quite a bit. It was just my unfiltered reaction.

  4. I have a gold filter that works fine, but it fits no cup that I take backpacking. Currently the lightest weight option that produces decent coffee is produced with paper coffee filters rubber banded to the cup. Pour boiling into it and let sit for like 5 minutes. I too scatter the grounds (they are after all a plant product). i bring the filters home but if you ever use a camp fire or a wood stove, they burn readily.

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