If you are anything like myself, It is probably safe to say you don't get much done before your first cup of coffee? Why should hiking or camping be any different? For years I have purchased numerous amounts of different "instant" coffees all promising to deliver that "fresh cup" experience, and every one of them failing miserably! But I never gave up hope of finding a way to enjoy a good cup of joe on the trail, and I'm glad I didn't. While uploading some pictures from a trip I had just returned from, I was browsing social media, when a claim almost too good to be true flashed on the page in front of me! Espresso on the Trail!!!!! That's right, I could hardly believe it myself, but being a lover of everything crowd-funded, I decided to investigate further. I am glad I did!
What I found was the Wacaco Minipresso, a handheld/pump actuated espresso machine, claiming to make quality espresso with nothing more than hot water, espresso grinds, and a little hand strength. To say I was a little skeptical would be an understatement. Especially with all the horrible coffees I had subjected myself to on the trail. So I started doing some research, reading reviews from people who had already purchased it. I looked high and low, but couldn't find anything negative being written about the Wacaco, besides it being shipped from Hong Kong and taking almost 5 weeks to arrive. So I decided to take a leap of faith in hopes of finally being able to start my mornings off right while hiking or camping.
So five weeks later, as promised by a customers review, I checked my mailbox and there it was. All the way from China, the moment of truth had arrived in a brown cardboard box. I quickly ran to the kitchen and began boiling water in my tea kettle. I disassembled the Wacaco and familiarized myself with all the parts, which fortunately wasn't too hard. I ground some fresh espresso and when the tea kettle began to whistle, I knew it was time to make some coffee! The process was very simple, and with only a minor risk of carpal tunnel, I had made my first shot of espresso using the Wacaco Minipresso. It was easy, and the espresso was very good. The crema, which if you ask anyone who enjoys espresso they will gladly tell you is an important part of the espresso, was very good and rich.
So the next test of course was taking the Wacaco on the trail. Had I been able to leave that very minute, I would have, but the adult in me knew I had to be at work the next day. So that weekend, I was 6 miles into a great local hike, I decided it was time to put the bullet-shaped hand espresso machine to the test. I broke out my kettle and stove and boiled some water, scooped some of the fresh ground espresso from the small plastic Tupperware I had in my pack, and began the rhythmic pumping action that now played the sound of coffee to me. It was a lullaby that quietly assured my soul that I would no longer have to deal with the bitter and sour taste that came along with the many "instant" coffees I had previously punished my pallet with.
After the first shot, I decided to try an Americana (espresso mixed with water, which produces a very strong and flavorful cup of coffee). As I sat peacefully along the side of the trail enjoying my fresh cup of coffee, I saw two hikers approaching from up the trail. As they approached me, I could see the puzzled look on their faces, as they tried to figure out where the smell of fresh, real coffee was coming from. When they finally spotted me, they both had huge smiles on their faces, as they realized this bearded man in his late thirties sitting on the side of the trail was drinking a hot flavorful cup of coffee at 3 PM in the middle of the Southern California 90+ degree summer! Maybe I was a little too excited to test out the Wacaco Minipresso? But hey, there is no judgement on the trail!
*This is a guest post from our friend Gary Patterson