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Inspired by this article from Outside Magazine, we decided to have our own camp coffee smackdown to compare and rate the different methods of making coffee outside.
We planned to arrive just before sunrise at the Beaver Marsh boardwalk on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I drove to the parking lot on Bolanz Road and bundled up for the brisk (about 40 degrees) morning ride of about 1.5 miles down to Beaver Marsh.
I was the first to arrive, but Brent showed up soon after. We were both on our way to getting our water boiling when Chris arrived.
Brent had boiling water first with his MSR WhisperLite Internationale stove (but a comparison of camp stoves is a topic for a completely separate discussion).
My coffee contribution came from a GSI JavaPress and a GSI Camp Espresso Maker. Brent uses an AeroPress, and Chris brought a Moka Pot and some Starbucks Via instant coffee.
So, the verdict? My preference was my own GSI JavaPress, but mainly because I put my own effort into it, which always makes something more enjoyable, and it’s what I’m used to. A shot of espresso added made it even better. Brent preferred the AeroPress for mostly the same reason — he drinks AeroPress coffee every day. Chris preferred the AeroPress as well. He said his Moka Pot coffee tasted kind of bitter, but I actually like that, and made it my second choice. Personally, when you’re standing in the cold, any hot coffee tastes good, and I don’t have the most discerning taste buds to begin with. And, this wasn’t a blind taste test by any means.
Conclusion; if you’re looking for another definitive answer as to what makes the best camp coffee, you’re not going to find it here. I suggest you plan your own camp coffee smackdown to find out! Get out and enjoy the outdoors with some friends, which is what this is all about!
I followed up our coffee with a solo ride further south on the Towpath Trail to Clinton and back, for a total of about 52 miles, a nice casual day ride.
P.S. Is camp cooking legal in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park? Probably not…
It ended up being a solo outing for me. The weather felt more pleasant than the mid-40’s temperature and the gray sky would suggest. At least coffee outside alone is better than coffee inside, accompanied by the soothing hum of traffic on State Route 8.
Other than a little miscommunication about out group’s start time to ride into town, the first Cleveland Camp Coffee was a success, with three participants. If anyone showed up at 7:00am, we’re sorry we missed you; we got there a little after 8:00am. Stay tuned for details about the next gathering!