GSI JavaPress: Don’t leave home without it
One of my favorite childhood memories was waking up to see my dad making “camp coffee.” He’d boil the water over the campfire, throw in the grounds, let it boil some more, and voilà, good ol’ camp coffee. Sometimes he put in a dash of cold water to pull the grounds to the bottom of the pot, sometimes it would be eggshells. Usually the wind kicked in a few ashes to add flavor. Mmmm, chewy coffee.But times have changed and technology has improved the outdoor experience. Last year during our vacation, Susan and I grew tired of tea-bag-style coffee. It tasted weak and the water got cold while it brewed. We ended up stopping in towns for fresh-brewed java from local coffeehouses.
One day, while buying gas for the stove at a Moab outdoor store, we discovered a nifty little device: a GSI JavaPress coffee maker. After a minute of deliberation, we bought a 33-ounce press for $20 (Ute Mountaineer in Aspen sells a 10-ounce GSI JavaPress for $20 and the 33-ounce model for $25). Of course, then we had to stop by the store for fresh-ground coffee. After all, what good is a fancy coffee maker without quality beans?The next morning, I woke early and fired up the stove to heat some water. When I pulled the coffee maker from its cardboard prison, I felt freedom – freedom from the hellish bonds of bad camp coffee. I measured in some grounds, poured the water, put on the lid with the plunger and waited for a few minutes.
As the time passed, the coffee became dark and aromatic. My taste buds waited impatiently. All I had to do then was press down on the plunger and the coffee was ready.And so began a new camping tradition: Pour the water, plug the little screen in the spout, swirl the coffee, pour the coffee. It’s a bit tedious, but I’d rather do that than drink coffee grounds. And the coffee tasted great. No chewy joe anymore. No disrespect to Dad, but technology has advanced when it comes to camp coffee, and drinking ground is passé.The JavaPress instructions say to plunge the coffee only once. There’s an old saying: “If the spoon doesn’t stand up, it’s not ready.” So the next morning I plunged once, pulled it up, plunged again, pulled it up, and the plunger screen popped out. The coffee was still good, but I learned to go more slowly. Good brew should never be rushed.
The body of the press is Lexan plastic, which makes it sturdy and easy to clean. It also comes with an insulated “java jacket” to keep the coffee hot. And it works. Many cold mornings after starting the process, I’ve gotten busy and have forgotten about the coffee. Sometimes I’ve fallen back asleep. But with the java jacket, it’s still hot up to an hour later.The press is now one of my favorite pieces of gear. I may forget my sleeping bag and tent, but if I forget the press, I’m going home.
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Cam Daniel is a former youth addiction counselor who’s been a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy for three years.