How Do You Make Coffee on a Mountain?

If you drink coffee in your usual daily life, then there is no reason why not enjoying it when you are in the mountains. Here you can see what I do.

For my mountaineering tours I always carry my MSR Pocket Rocket stove and a sports copy of a Bialetti Moka Pot. To start cooking, I always have at least two options. So I have my igniter, a few matches, and/or a classic lighter.

How Do You Make Coffee on a Mountain top picture.

So How Do You Make Coffee on a Mountain?

In my another text about activities on a mountain summit, I mentioned that I always have a coffee there. The top picture shows my coffee making on the summit of Spik in the Slovenian Alps.

This has become my habit and I have no plan of changing it. Only if the weather is not great, if it is too windy for example, I may do this at some more protected space below the summit.

I have a few original Bialetti Moka Pots at home, in several different sizes. They are all made of aluminum, but these classic post are a bit heavy for a backpack.

This is why I use a lighter copy which I bought in my local outdoor shop, it is almost half the weight of my home pot and the volume is the same.

The mentioned MSR Pocket Rocket 2 stove I have been using for several years already. It is reliable and convenient, it came with a plastic box and this is how I carry it in the pack.

As mentioned, I always have a few alternatives to matches. The reason is that classic matches can become wet and they will not work. I know this from my own bad experience.

So I use my Easy Camp fire starter which is almost identical to the ust SparkForce Fire Starter that can be found on Amazon. It is very inexpensive, reliable, and it will last for the rest of my life.

These several elements are shown in the picture below, together with a simple aluminum coffee cup. As for the coffee, I put it sometimes directly in the coffee pot, but this is for one cooking only. Otherwise, I have a small plastic container where it is kept safe.

My coffee making set for the mountains.
My coffee making set for the mountains.

Anyway, this is what I do for making coffee in the mountains, but I know that other people do this differently. Try a few ways and see what works best for you.

But note that the same set I use also to prepare meals. The picture below shows it in front of a mountain hut in the Slovenian Alps, from my tour to Razor. I was using the cup to boil water and to use it in the dehydrated food package visible in the picture.

Lunch preparing with great views.
Lunch preparing with great views.

Does altitude affect espresso? How does elevation affect the taste of coffee?

As you probably know, with elevation water boils at lower temperatures. Here are a few numbers to get some idea:

  • At sea level it boils at 212 °F (100 C).
  • At 7500 ft (2286 m) it boils at 198 °F (92 C).
  • At 10000 ft (3048 m), which is my frequent elevation in the Alps, water boils at 193 °F (90.5 C).

You can find more numbers here, and about cooking at high elevations in general you can read more in a reliable source.

Now, what does this tell you? You surely know that espresso machines provide such a tasty coffee because of a high water pressure.

From what I described above, you realize that my coffee is a sort of espresso. Though, A Bialetti pot is a simple steam machine but this is not a real espresso coffee maker as it produces far lower water pressure as compared to espresso machines.

So the pressure at which water is forced through the coffee from the boiling chamber in the Bialetti pot is obviously reduced with elevation. This should affect the taste, but I would not notice. In any case, I can tell you that it is a great feeling of having a coffee on a mountain summit. Try this and you will know, it cannot be described.

Can you drink coffee while hiking?

There is no difference here as compared with what I described in the text above. This is how I make my coffee outdoors in any case.

In some situations you can find yourself in a nice shelter with a wood stove and wood available. The picture below shows this from the Refuge Igloo des Pantalons Blancs (3280 m) in the Wallis region of Switzerland where I spent a night in solitude. I used snow to get water for cooking, hence the large pot on the stove:

Refuge Igloo des Pantalons Blancs - Swiss Alps.
Refuge Igloo des Pantalons Blancs – Swiss Alps.

How do you make coffee without camping fire?

In the areas where I normally go, making an open fire is usually not allowed. Strictly speaking, at high elevations there is no wood available so you cannot do this even if you want. But you have seen an exception in the picture above.

Many mountaineering and hiking shelters in the Italian, Slovenian, and Swiss Alps have some sort of cooking equipment available. At lower elevations this can be wood, and at higher places there are gas canisters outside and a gas stove inside. So all is connected and you can cook.

The picture below shows one example, this is from my tour to Monte Confinale. The gray container is where the gas bottles are placed. This is Bivacco del Pierro (3166 m), Italian Alps.

From my tour to Monte Confinale.
From my tour to Monte Confinale.

Actually, I had my coffee even there, but I was using my own stuff as you see in the picture:

My coffee is getting ready.
My coffee is getting ready.

I had a storm while drinking coffee there so I enjoyed watching the nature in its full display.

So I have shown some examples of my making a coffee in the mountains. This is my way, if you do this differently it would be great too hear from you. There is a comment box below.

You might want to check also about drinking glacier meltwater in my separate text. Thank you for reading and have a nice day.

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Me on Jalovec.Hi, I am Jovo, the founder of this OutdoorsFAQs site and several other outdoor sites. I have been mountaineering for almost 40 years already, and I have created this site to use as a reference for various questions that I receive in my sites. Being a theoretical physicist by profession, I tend to base my answers on facts and on my own personal experience.

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