Adventurer, digital nomad, and Georgia travel expert Breanna Wilson knows a thing or two about being on the go, especially when it comes to being on the go in the Great Outdoors. Having traveled with the Pipamoka, Nanopresso, and now the brand new pour-over brewer, the Cuppamoka, as well as the Octaroma travel tumbler, we wanted to hear her insight on being a better leave no trace traveler, and what she does with her grinds before, during, and after each adventure.
When it comes to being a more conscious coffee lover and traveler, face it – none of us are perfect. No matter how well we LNT (Leave No Trace) at a campsite or on the trail, chances are we took a car, bus, or another engine-powered way to get there. And don’t even get me started on flying.
It’s an unfortunate part of the world we live in today. But, by bringing awareness to these things, putting small actionable steps in place, and demanding more from the companies and brands that we buy from, we’re already on the right path to change the world for the better.
And while none of us will be perfect in achieving this goal and putting these practices in place, it’s important to remember that we all have to start somewhere. From our morning brewing routine to disposing of our coffee grounds in the wild, this list is full of great ways and ideas for you to start adding conscious practices into your coffee drinking and travel routine. Let’s get into it.
No Batteries, No Plugs, No Chargers, No Problem: Everything You Need for Eco-Friendly Brewing
Let’s start with (drum roll, please) – your morning caffeine fix and my favorite eco-friendly portable espresso makers and coffee brewers. Because whether you want an espresso or prefer a coffee, you have plenty of options.
When it comes to the best portable espresso maker, the completely hand-powered Nanopresso is a lightweight, easy to travel with choice for campers, travelers, digital nomads, and anyone else who enjoys being on the go. And once you taste the quality of the espresso it produces, you’ll understand why people love this brewer in particular, not just for brewing on the road but for brewing at home, as well.
What makes the Nanopresso so camper and earth-friendly are that it doesn’t require batteries or a plug, and it doesn’t even need to be charged – you build the brewer’s pressure, which can reach 18 bars (261 PSI), using only the power of your hands. It’s a genius little brewing-on-the-go system.
That covers you, espresso lovers.
Now, for coffee lovers and connoisseurs, you have two choices – the Pipamoka, a vacuum pressure brewer, or Wacaco’s all-new Cuppamoka brewer, one of the smartest and most compact portable pour-over systems to hit the coffee brewer market. Both easily pack into one all-in-one brewer/tumbler stainless steel mug, but the Cuppamoka does require disposable paper filters for brewing – something you won’t want to forget at home. The Pipamoka uses a reusable micro-mesh filter basket that doesn’t require any additional filters, which is a bit more convenient if you’re a forgetful packer, like me.
All three brewers (Nanopress, Pipamoka, Cuppamoka) require hot water to brew, which means you’ll need a fire or a portable burner/camp stove, or you’ll have to pack in hot water in a reliable stainless steel thermos.
After you’ve decided which earth-friendly brewer you’re going to use, you’re going to need a way to grind your beans fresh, no matter where you are. There are plenty of options when it comes to portable hand-grinders. Simply look for one in your price range that allows for different grind settings (from fine to coarse) and opt for a grinder that uses stainless steel burr blades, which make for a more consistent, even grind for better brewing.
Now, brewing device ready, coffee beans milled, hot water ready to go, it’s time for the good stuff – it’s time to brew up something delicious.
RECIPE: How to Make a Latte Without Power When You’re Hiking or Traveling
For an extra special concoction (because you deserve that before or after a day of hiking or traveling), the Octaroma, the new to-go travel tumbler from Wacaco, is your new favorite secret weapon. Why? Well, because you’re going to use it to hand froth milk when you don’t have a frother, or power for that matter.
Top your hand-frothed milk with a shot of espresso from your hand-powered portable espresso maker, and voila! You have a tasty earth-friendly latte-on-the-go.
To hand-froth milk in the wild without a proper frother or power, heat the milk you’d like to use in your latte (I prefer almond milk for its sweetness). Pour your heated milk into your Octaroma, filling it only 1/3 of the way full. Place the lid on the Octaroma, ensuring it is secured tightly with the drinking tab closed, and shake hard for 30 to 60 seconds. The milk should be frothy and have doubled in volume after 30 seconds. Place a small towel over the drinking lid and pop up the drinking tab to infuse air into the Octaroma’s chamber and release the pressure that was built up inside (you’ll hear a small pop) before twisting the cap off and revealing beautifully frothed milk.
How to Properly Dispose of Coffee Grounds when Brewing Outdoors and On-the-Go
Next, let’s talk about disposing of your used coffee grounds. Because this is where everyone always has questions.
Knowing what to do with your coffee grounds after you’ve brewed can be confusing. Technically, coffee grounds are biodegradable, but does that mean you should just throw them out at your campsite? Well, if you’re following proper LNT (Leave No Trace) etiquette, then no. It would be best if you packed them back out with you.
This ultimately ensures you don’t disrupt the eco-system you’re in, which may be more delicate than you realize. Coffee grounds can have a small effect on the soil's pH balance they’re disposed of in. Some say for better. Some say for worse. Neither of which I’m here to argue.
I’m here to tell you that to be on the safe side, and because no camper wants to find your disposed coffee grounds anyways, here’s what I recommend you do with your used coffee grounds for proper disposal: always pack out your coffee grounds.
But, what do you do with them after your trip? Well, here’s an idea: make them into a facial scrub at home.
HOW TO: Make a Coffee Ground Facial Scrub at Home
Why spend money on an expensive face scrub when you have one of the best ingredients for your skin at your disposal already? Dry out your used coffee grounds, mix them with one tablespoon of Manuka honey and one tablespoon of coconut oil, and you have one of the most refreshing facial scrubs and exfoliators you’ll find anywhere.
Coffee grounds are said to reverse sun damage, restore and brighten skin, reduce puffiness and inflammation, reduce redness, and flush out toxins. At the same time, Manuka honey is a natural antibacterial that leaves fewer bacteria to infect pores and cause acne. It is known to balance your skin's pH level and help slough away dead cell debris to keep your skin clean.
And, since you’re using this after an adventure when your skin is at its most vulnerable, having been exposed to harsh elements for an extended period of time, it’s an amazing post-outdoors recovery trick.
Additionally, if you’re into being crafty, you could even upcycle your coffee grounds by adding them as an ingredient to soap, to scent candles, or simply compost them back at your home garden.
TIPS FOR DISPOSING OF COFFEE GROUNDS: What to do with Your Grounds After Brewing
If you’re brewing with your Nanopresso, remove the coffee filter basket from the Nanopresso after brewing and leave it out to dry. Once dry, you can quickly turn the coffee filter basket over and tap the grounds out in puck form.
Do the same for the Pipamoka. For the Cuppamoka, let your grounds dry in the paper filter, then pack them both out.
Place your grounds in a sealable sandwich bag (one you used to pack something in, preferably) or a small container that won’t spill, leak, or tear.
Additionally, coffee grounds help neutralize odors, so if you’re packing out a lot of trash in your bag – throw some of the dried, used grounds in there to help eliminate the smell if it’s getting unbearable (we’ve all been there!).
Additional Tips for Being A Better Traveler and How to Leave an Actionable Example for Others
Finally, let’s talk about actionable tips that you can start not only working into your coffee brewing and travel routines but into your everyday life as well.
Always travel with a to-go tumbler. It’s excellent for after-hike beers, morning brews, and everything in between – including a drink from the local natural water spring.
If you’re car camping, keep oversized jugs in your car and refill with water whenever possible, so you don’t have to buy numerous small bottles of water along the way. Keep the jugs full and in your car, and you always have safe drinking water with you. Travel with a portable water filter (preferably one that goes straight onto a tap, like this tap filter) and a hydration pack for more comfortable carrying when you’re away from your car. When you’re prepared, you prevent yourself from needing unplanned bottles of water along the way.
Another tip if you’re car camping – buy a plastic bin to pack out waste without smelling up your car. Reuse bags whenever possible (or purchase trash bags made from recycled materials) to pack out trash and be sure to pack out every single thing you packed in when you leave. Always leave a good example to the others sharing your campsite and go ahead and pick up a few pieces of other’s forgotten litter if you have space. (Throwing a pair of gardening gloves in your trunk will be appreciated when you do this.) Even the smallest effort to leave a place better than you found it will not go unnoticed and will surely inspire others around you to do the same.
Before you take off on your hiking or camping trip, remove any food you’re taking from its packaging and consolidate as much as possible. That way, you have less to pack in and even less to pack out.
Try to travel with gadgets that don’t require batteries, plugs, or charging as much as possible. That’s why Wacaco’s portable brewing systems are all so great. And, when that’s not possible, travel with gear that allows you to use rechargeable batteries.
Finally, always try to leave a good example for others to follow. Especially in foreign countries where recycling and LNT mentality isn’t as well known. These practices may not be a part of their educational upbringing like it was where you’re from, so show them by example. Don’t condemn someone because they don’t know – or haven’t been exposed to – the materials around awareness and earth-friendly practices you have. None of us are perfect, but if we all try a little bit harder and share what we know when and where we can, we’ll have a more significant collective impact than if we simply judge someone else for not knowing any better, discouraging them from ever learning on their own.
Now that you feel empowered to be a better and more conscious coffee drinker and traveler share your favorite tips with us and tell us how you’ve been practicing a more sustainable lifestyle on the go and in your everyday life.