For obvious reasons, we're exploring closer to home. Getting to know our own backyards in ways we've never thought we would, and in ways we may have never considered before. (Packraft adventure, anyone?)
But, getting farther and farther away from people and society, deeper into the mountains, valleys, and deserts around us, means we're also looking for the best gadgets, hacks, and tricks to help us get the most out of these new camping experiences and adventures.
I, for one, have been finding solace in car camping. I pack up everything I can and drive as far away from cell phone service, news channels, and social media as humanly possible. (2020, am I right?)
Lucky for me – and now you – I've learned a few things along the way. (It doesn't help that the country I'm living in, Georgia, is pretty much the perfect destination for getting around on 4-wheels.)
Because when it comes to gear, I'm particular. (And not just because it's my job.) And even more so when it comes to my morning espresso – when I'm on the road, it's my greatest comfort and the one thing I won't ever deny myself the pleasure of, which is exactly why my Nanopresso is one of my favorite pieces of gear to travel with right now. (And to be honest, one of my favorite pieces of gear to pack with me on the road for the last year.)
It's easy to use. It's affordable. It doesn't require an outlet or batteries. There aren't a million pieces to lose and fiddle. And, oh yeah, the espresso is so legit it will make you forget you brewed it yourself. In the middle of nowhere. With only grounds and hot water.
Here are my top tips for making espresso while camping with your Nanopresso – from how to best pack your grounds to an easy overnight chia seed recipe and what to do with your coffee grounds after you've extracted the perfect morning espresso with just the power of your hands.
Espresso Camp Hacks 101: The Best Tips for Making Espresso in the Wild with Your Nanopresso
You've just woken up. You're in the wild. You're uncaffeinated. Here's how to make the most of your morning – and the rest of your adventure.
Lay everything for your morning espresso out the night before. No one wants to be woken up by the sound of you rustling through every single thing you own, trying to find just what you need to make your morning espresso.
They do, however, want to be woken up to the smell of espresso.
When you're camping, don't forget that sharing is caring. Don't be stingy – the Barista Kit is a great addition if you're going to be the camp barista. Just saying.
Less Mess, More Espresso: The NS Adapter is a Camper's Best Friend
Not only is the Nanopresso's NS Adapter for using coffee capsules a camper's best friend – hello, already measured, tamped, and ready to go coffee! – but coffee capsules have become so popular that they are no longer the arch-nemesis of Mother Nature.
When looking for pods, look for compostable, plant-based coffee pods, like the ones from Beaniac or SF Bay. They are usually commercially compostable, meaning you can't compost them yourself, but they are still compostable, meaning they won't end up in a landfill. This article from SF Bay explains the commercial composting process pretty well.
Reusable capsule pods are great for other pod-based espresso machines but don't really make sense for the Nanopresso. Just use the regular setup in that case.
If You're Cold, So is Your Nanopresso: Heat Her Up!
Run a batch of hot water through your Nanopresso before you begin extracting your own shot. It will make pumping easier, and the resulting extraction will be much smoother, creamier, and delightful. It's worth the extra effort. Trust me.
For the Love of Plants and Earthworms, Pack out Your Coffee Grounds when Camping
Don't forget to pack out your used grounds when you're in a national park, or really anywhere else – it's just general LNT (leave no trace) courtesy.
Plus, it's said that coffee grounds affect plants' growth rate, slowing it down, and there's an antibacterial property in used coffee grounds that tends to kill earthworms. So, save the plants and the earthworms, and pack out your coffee grounds.
Water, Water Everywhere, But You Really Only Want Espresso to Drink!
Water is always a valuable resource when you're camping. Always.
If you're car camping, it's easy to pack as much water as possible when you're not concerned about weight. Jerrycans are an easy way to pack water on your car roof, and you can get them in a range of sizes, from 5 liters to 20 liters.
However, if you're not car camping and need to get water at the campsite or from whatever freshwater source is at your disposal, packing a portable water filtration system is the way to go. (You can also go the old school boil for 3 minutes route, but I prefer not to drink dirt, microplastics, heavy metals, and not to mention whatever foul tastes and smells are coming from that water source.)
For portable water filtration systems, I prefer the Grayl Geopress, even if the area I'm in is known for having clean, drinkable water. When it comes to water, I refuse to take a chance. (And again, foul-smelling water results in foul-smelling espresso.)
Sawyer also makes handy water purifiers that are compact and easy to travel with.
I Want to Grind My Beans at Camp.
Ok, fine. I get it. Grinding your beans fresh does result in a better espresso, and there's something to be said about the process. (I may actually love the process more than the actual drinking part.)
In this case, let's talk about more gear I love (i.e., gear you'll love too).
My favorite thing to pack on any car camping adventure is my Goal Zero 50 Sherpa power bank and inverter. While I'm team prepare-my-grounds at home, grinding them into a fine grind and then packing them in a small, airtight container to keep them as fresh as possible, I do pack my grinder just in case I find a nice local roast along my road trip way. (Ahh, the beauty of car camping – you can bring the whole kitchen sink!)
However, when weight – and power – are a concern, hand-powered grinders are a gift-that-keeps-on-giving investment.
PRO TIP: If you find you've lost your scoop somewhere along your travels, tamp your grounds in the coffee filter basket using the piston of the Nanopresso. You're welcome.
How to Clean your Nanopresso When Water is a Limited Resource
When water is a limited resource, there are a few ways to save on the cleanup of your Nanopresso.
First, take your Nanopresso apart, letting your espresso grounds dry for 6 – 7 hours before tapping out the puck of used grounds in one singular piece. Wipe down the coffee filter basket with a clean towel.
While your grounds are drying, and immediately after extracting, once your Nanopresso is apart, use a reusable micro towel to wipe your (now empty) detachable cup clean. You can wash this towel when you get back to civilization. (Think of your micro towel as a reusable wet wipe – which are not exactly the most eco-friendly travel companions.)
Get a corner of the towel wet and wipe out the inside of your portafilter and the rest of the Nanopresso.
Let it all airdry separately. If there are still grounds in the portafilter after drying, use the brush to get these grounds out of the portafilter, so they don't prevent it from sealing tightly during your next extraction.
Once you’re back home, give your Nanopresso a good wipe down and clean.
The Perfect Campsite Breakfast Pairing: Overnight Espresso Chia Seeds with a Single Shot on the Side
I don't cook. Like, I hate it. I do, however, LOVE to eat. And eat well. Sorry, no hot dogs for this girl.
My favorite anyone-can-do-it recipe is my Overnight Espresso Chia Seeds. (I'm so obsessed with this combination I make it home, as well.)
To make it, you need:
- Almond milk
- Chia seeds
- Espresso shot
- Dark chocolate
Before you leave on your trip, throw chia seeds in a resealable jar or airtight container and pack them with the rest of your kitchen gear and foodstuffs and forget about it.
I like to use almond milk, or soy milk, with my chia seeds because I prefer some sweetness. If you're using milk without any sweetness, you can sweeten with agave or local honey. Pack your almond milk in an insulated thermos that will travel well and keep your milk cold until you get to camp.
At the end of the day, dig out your chia seeds and almond milk. Add the milk to the chia seeds and let the concoction sit for 5 minutes. Stir after 5 minutes to break up the clumps. (If you don't know the proportions for milk to chia seeds, aim for a 6:1 ratio.)
Once you've stirred your chia seeds, extract a shot of espresso from your Nanopresso on top of your mixture. I prefer not to mix the shot in, I like seeing the espresso shot layered on top, but this is just personal preference.
Keep the mixture sealed and outside overnight (as long as it's a bit chilly), or in a cold place, such as a cooler.
In the morning, shave dark chocolate on top and pair it with a shot of espresso on the side and watch as everyone's jaw drops in camp with this beautiful little anyone-can-do-it recipe.