The best coffee solutions for overlanding

There’s nothing like a slow-brewed cuppa in a wild campsite. Beans with the rising birds in Bwabwata National Park? Bliss. Java and jackals crooning across the Kalahari dawn? Jaw-dropping. Rusks and Ricoffy in the Richtersveld? Only in an absolute emergency. Self-confessed coffee snob Melanie van Zyl shares her favourite equipment for camping.  

Preparation is the key to success so don’t forget to pack the essentials: your T4A maps and a coffee solution. Picture by Melanie van Zyl

In camp

There’s something enchanting about being first to stir in a campsite. The zipper tearing through dawn, the flick and click of a lighter, followed by the whoosh of gas that brings water to boil. If there’s no fire to stoke, I prefer to use a tabletop gas plate, such as the Kaufmann Gas Burner Cooking Table (watch out – the metal feet get hot!), and an old-fashioned enamel kettle combination. Once the water is heated, a French press remains the simplest coffee camping solution. I’ve owned a GSI Java Press Plunger for years and am guilty of using it even in the kitchen at home. It’s lightweight, easy to pack with a rugged sleeve that prevents chafing and the shatter-resistant body won’t succumb to those rugged backroads. The silicone ringed plunger on my own jug is still intact, and no grains sneak through into the cup. The 1,5-litre capacity is also an excellent size for double servings (the sleeve is insulated keeping the contents warm) or if you’re a morning person, to share with the others when they arise.

TIP: If you want a smaller gadget, the Aeropress is another super portable coffee maker. The nifty gadget has a coffee press function that combines with a small filter patch to produce an exceptional Americano.

There’s nothing better than enjoying the magnificent African sunrise while waiting for the water to boil. Picture by Melanie van Zyl

In your backpack

When you’re pressed for space and time, the Jetboil is a champion. Designed for hiking, the compact Jetboil setup packs easily, is lightweight and super simple to use. It heats up water in a matter of minutes. There is also a coffee combo available that combines the pot with a specialised press for diehard java-junkies. If you’re on a budget, the Campingaz hiking stove range is another decent option, but the water takes a little longer to boil. (Also, the fittings only use Campingaz-specific gas cartridges and are not universal).

On the road

Stanley is a renowned name in hot beverage tools – and for a good reason. Quality, quality, quality. For coffee on the road, you can’t go wrong with the impressive insulation ability of the travel mug. The slim, stainless steel Classic Vacuum Travel Press fits standard vehicle holders and features a built-in plunger for coffee to go. Superior insulation keeps drinks piping hot for four hours, and you can use it for sundowners later too. Load it up with ice and sip on a fresh G&T. For picnic padkos stops, the Stanley Mountain Coffee System is exemplary. The silver flask is just as effective as the green classic, but it has a coffee press jug built around it.

TIP: The Bodum Travel Press is another great option, but it doesn’t keep the heat as well.

Generations of overlanders have used the green Stanley thermos flask. Now the Mountain Coffee System lets you brew on the road. Picture by Melanie van Zyl

On the go

This is the newest addition to my coffee collection. Admittedly, I use the Stojo more for airport runs to avoid purchasing a single-use takeaway cup, but the nifty collapsible container is an excellent camping addition. The 470ml cup folds down to a mere 5cm disk when not in use and the leak-proof, eco-friendly buy is made from recycled materials.

A collapsible, re-usable coffee cup is an eco-friendly solution to having your coffee on the go. Picture by Melanie van Zyl

5 thoughts on “The best coffee solutions for overlanding”

  1. My goto has to be fresh ground beans with a Bialetti vacuum pot. 10 man for campsite. 1 or 2 man for hiking and travelling.

  2. Don’t forget about the Kelly kettle, run out of gas, water boiling in less than 5 minutes. Used one across Botswana and Namibia for 7 weeks in 2017. Never let you down, little bits of fuel all over the place!

  3. No mention of Nanopresso? I only used moka pot but then found Nanopresso. Proper espresso shots in the bush, no electricity needed just hot water, nothing beats it. Add freshly ground beans and you will beat most coffees you get in town. I even use mine at home.

  4. My stalwarts here are a manual grinder and a mokka pot. There’s something special about the smell of coffee in a mokka pot and and the roar of a benzene stove, but freshly ground beans make all the difference.

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