Nothing says West Coast living like waking up at the edge of the Pacific Rainforest looking out over a rocky beach to a rumbling swell. And what better compliment to that view than a finely brewed cup of coffee?
From adventures to Nels Bight near Cape Scott, Mystic Beach on the Juan de Fuca trail, or Beale Cove on Texada Island, morning coffee on the beach always tops my highlight list. Admittedly, I do get a bit of side-eye from friends and fellow campers when I pull out my Aeropress, my Hario hand grinder, and my JetBoil; however, the offer of a finely brewed cup of coffee as the sun rises over the waves never fails to win them over.
Many backpackers forgo their usual brewing methods on the trail, opting for instant coffee or tea to satisfy their caffeine fix. However, there are some very light and portable brewing options for adventurous nature lovers across the island and beyond. I'll give a quick highlight here of three ways to brew better coffee on the beach as you explore Vancouver Island.
Ah, the Aeropress: simple, yet effective. This brewing device is light and portable, using both immersion and pressure to maximize extraction. The small, circular paper filters are easy to pack as long as you can keep them dry, ensuring a crystal clear brew with sharp flavors and next to no sediment. In terms of technique, the Aeropress is “low floor, high ceiling”, producing excellent brews even for novice coffee makers with room to expand and experiment. Calgary roasters Phil & Sebastian can get you started with some Aeropress basics.
This Japanese-designed pour-over coffee device won the coveted Good Design Award in 2007. The Hario V60 is named for the sixty degree angle of the conical sides which helps to optimize water flow during percolation. The portability of this device is attractive to many, though it demands much more in terms of technique. Brews are clean and full of flavor but highly susceptible to issues such as channeling, grind overflow, or errors in pouring technique. With patience and practice, you can wield the V60 like a pro with a little help from the experts at Union Hand-Roasted Coffee.
Ok, ok, hear me out. Old fashioned brew methods such as Cowboy Coffee, a descendent of more traditional preparations such as Turkish coffee, are often frowned upon by those who consider themselves coffee connoisseurs. However, in terms of measurable extraction, veterans at Barista Hustle believe there may be no better option than these traditional coffee brewing practices. What may appeal to hardcore and ultralight hikers about this technique is that it requires no extra equipment. Learn the good, the bad, and the ugly of Cowboy Coffee brewing techniques from Driftaway Coffee.
No matter how far or how wide you wander across Vancouver Island or up the strait, no beach is too remote for a good cup of coffee. If you can spare the weight, it is well worth it. Pair that with locally roasted beans using the Vancouver Island Coffee Tour Map and you're all set for a transcendent coffee experience on the beach. Travel safe and brew on!
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About the Curator
Joshua Gillingham is an author, board game designer, and coffee lover from Vancouver Island. He curates the Vancouver Island Coffee Tour. For questions or comments about VICT, map updates, or roaster openings and closures, send him a note via the community contact form.