If you’re reading this article then it’s likely that you enjoy both camping and coffee; not many feelings equate to watching the sunrise with the morning dew on the grass beneath your feet and a hot cup of coffee to get you started on the day. It’s a feeling that many of us wouldn’t trade for anything.
If you are looking for ways to get a hit of caffeine, instant coffee is a very viable option to go with. Us backpackers were not the first ones to discover the convenience and usefulness of instant coffee; it was invented in Britain back in 1771 as a coffee compound and grew in popularity from there. During the civil war, soldiers had instant coffee cakes given to them as part of their rations, and in World War I this practice continued on a larger scale. Nowadays instant coffee is an ingrained part of everyday life for many citizens, including outdoorsy individuals such as ourselves.
Comparisons: Brewed vs Instant Coffee
We have articles that explain different methods of brewing regular coffee grounds when roughing it, but whether you want to use those methods or just consume instant coffee is entirely up to you, depending on your preferences. Here are some comparisons between instant and brewed coffee.
Instant coffee has the convenience of being light and easy to carry. The product itself is a lighter material than coffee grounds, and you don’t need to bring any cumbersome brewing items with you; all you need is something to heat water, and you’ll combine that with the instant coffee for a cup that requires minimal cleanup since you don’t need to clean out any grinds or coffee-making apparatus.
Most people who’ll denounce instant coffee will do so for this reason. The drying process of the instant stuff sadly makes it so that there is less flavor that makes it through, especially when compared to normally packaged coffee which has more of the aromatic compounds that so many people can’t go without. It’s also no secret that certain manufacturers try to reduce costs by using Robusta beans instead of the higher quality Arabica beans that you’ll find for brewed coffee. The cheaper beans have a bitter taste that is not ideal for many, so if you want to avoid that then you’ll need to find more expensive instant coffee brands.
On average instant coffee has less caffeine than a freshly brewed cup made the traditional way. Choose instant coffee only if you are okay with having to drink a little more to get that morning buzz.
As a result of using less expensive beans, instant coffee can be much cheaper than its brewing counterpart. The prices will vary depending on the beans used but in general, the instant stuff is comparatively inexpensive, saving you the additional cost of purchasing filters.
Instant coffee is made in a way that allows it to stay good for a longer time than a bag of beans or grounds. To preserve the maximum amount of freshness, keep your product in a cool dry space with minimal sunlight. Avoid putting it in a refrigerator, as it can absorb smells and moisture from other foods.
Types of Instant Coffee
There are several ways that instant coffee can be prepared, and many factors to consider before making a purchase. Here’s some useful information to get you started.
You’re most likely to find instant coffee come in the form of a powder for convenience. Simply scoop the powder into a cup, pour in some hot water, and enjoy one of the fastest and easiest cups of coffee you’ve ever had.
Imagine if you took a spoonful of instant coffee and condensed it into a cube–that’s what you get with this version of instant coffee. Drop the cube into a cup of piping hot water and stir it with whatever extra flavorings you may desire. The main difference between the cube and the powder is that with a powder you can make smaller adjustments with how much you want in your cup. You can put in a little bit more powder for stronger stuff; this isn’t the case with the cube.
Even though this method uses traditional coffee grounds, it’s so quick that it can be argued as being instant coffee. It uses a pouch that acts as its filter. Simply place the pouch over your mug and pour hot water over the grounds to get a fast coffee cup. This method is incredibly convenient, but you will need to keep in mind that you’ll have garbage to throw away; if you’re cool with disposing of a small pouch of grounds, then consider this option.
Hopefully, this offers some insight into the world of instant coffees for backpacking and the options it brings to the table–happy camping!
Written by Evyn Carter