When Jim and I were planning our Northwest Territories Adventure, he said he’d cover the food. When I asked about coffee, he mentioned something about grinds in a Nalgene bottle and instant creamer.
My stomach turned.
You see, I have a coffee problem. It takes a cup just to get me out of bed. By midday a pot is gone. In a pinch I’ll pack a frappuccino up a treestand. Duck hunting I carry a thermos as big as my leg. And like most coffee obsessives, I’m a terrible snob. I’ll happily drink dishwater brew in a diner at 2 a.m., but first thing in the morning its Organic Nicaraguan French Roast from my local importer.
I know, I know… Please don’t hate me.
So cowboy coffee of Folgers and river water? I’d do better without food.
I knew what kind of beans I was going to bring*, but how to make coffee–a lot of coffee–in the middle of nowhere? Car camping I like the old-fashioned campfire percolator. Backpacking I have a stainless mug that’s also a French press. This trip, however, demanded something more. Coffee would be a precious luxury, and Jim also drinks a cup in the morning, so I’d need to brew quantity.
Surfing the InterWeb I stumbled on the GSI 50 ounce Java Press. It looked more like a pitcher for Kool Aid you’d see at a kindergartners’ birthday party. I worried, too, if 50 ounces was enough, and whether the foam insulation sleeve would insulate anything at all, let alone 205-degree water. When it arrived in the office it seemed so flimsy I figured I could break it with thought. But it arrived three days before my flight north, so with a little fear inside that I was trusting a month of coffee drinking to 14.6 ounces of plastic and foam, I was off.
My fears proved unfounded. This trip, unlike anything I’ve ever done, destroyed, trashed, broke and busted gear–from ATVs to guns, clothing, food barrels and GPS units. Everything broke. Yet the Java Press held tough. The handle did snap off, but I can pardon it that after the abuse we put it through. The insulation worked, but didn’t really have too. Soon as the coffee was ready we emptied it into two big Stanley mugs. The Java Press’s light weight proved a virtue when our trailers evaporated from under us. Its bulk wasn’t an issue as we packed the coffee, creamer and other foodstuffs into its canister body. I’d take the Java Press on another backcountry adventure in a heartbeat. I just hope that between now and then they come out with an 80-ounce model.
*For this trip I went with a 40-ounce bag of Berkley and Jensen 100 Percent Kenya AA. It’s remarkably good for the price, with rather light berry notes. It’s an ethereal cup, airy–one you can easily drink all day, and not relive through acidic stomach acrobatics if you fail to eat breakfast, lunch, or even dinner.