Four Ways to Make Coffee While You’re on the River | Blog

If you’ve ever met a guide—river rafting or otherwise—you probably know that a lot of us run on caffeine. In the Pacific Northwest, where most people could just list their blood type as “coffee,” we’ve learned to get pretty creative when it comes to getting our coffee fix, even miles down a wilderness river. If you’re headed out on a Seattle whitewater rafting trip, commercial or personal, and worried about missing out on your morning caffeine buzz, never fear: here’s four ways to make coffee while you’re out on the river.


1.     Espresso

For those invested as much in the quality of their coffee as the quantity, there is the backcountry espresso maker. Yes, they really do exist. Designs range from a more traditional-looking kettle and spout made to fit on a single-canister backpacking stove to a hand-press tube, but all of them ensure a nice shot of espresso that will keep even the most discerning coffee aficionados happy.

2.     French Press

Still fancier than most backcountry setups you’ll encounter, the backcountry French press is lightweight, portable and provides a decent brew for those who aren’t quite at the espresso-maker commitment level. You have to carry in a fair amount of ground coffee for this one; just make sure your grounds are in a waterproof bag.

3.     Instant

For minimal time and maximum caffeine, there is instant coffee. Much more palatable than the first instant coffees (popular mostly among soldiers in the World Wars, where no one cared much what it tasted like if it was hot and caffeinated), today’s instant brews taste almost like real coffee and deliver just as much of a caffeine kick. Just boil some water and stir in the coffee and you’re ready to face the day. In truly desperate times you can skip the hot water and just dump the instant coffee into your food—or straight into your mouth—but I can’t say that’s recommended.

4.     Classic camp coffee

Classic camp coffee, or “cowboy coffee,” doesn’t require any special equipment. Just heat some water in your regular cooking pot, stir in your desired amount of ground coffee, and wait for it to settle. While it may not pass muster for all coffee drinkers—especially those more accustomed to the Pacific Northwest’s artisanal coffee scene—it’s hot, it’s caffeinated, and it’s been the standby of wilderness-bound coffee drinkers for centuries.


You’ll need plenty of energy for whitewater rafting in Seattle and the surrounding areas, and these methods of coffee-making give you plenty of options to get your fix while you’re on the river.

Read more:

Is River Water Safe to Drink?

What Should You Bring Rafting?