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Giuseppe Leone

Adventures in Coffee...and Coffee in Adventures

“The mountains are calling, and I must go...my coffee is getting cold.”


Maybe we’ve taken a little liberty with this iconic quote from John Muir. But with the heady combination of summer’s arrival and post-pandemic re-opening, the mountains are practically shouting. Campgrounds everywhere are full to bursting. And our Trailhead coffee is ready for its closeup. (Close-sip?)

There’s one thing that can improve even the best cuppa: enjoying it outdoors. Waking up at a campsite to the aroma of brewing coffee has to be one of life’s greatest pleasures. 

When you head out into nature and liberate your nose from the carnival of artificial odors that assault you daily, you’re treated to an olfactory “reset” courtesy of Mother Nature. The pine, fir and cedar essential oils drifting through Sierra air on a warm summer day prime your nose to better enjoy other natural aromas...like coffee! No wonder that morning brew by the Lake tastes so amazing. Your senses are on vacation and primed for delight.


Coffee by Donner Lake


Trailhead coffee was created with that vision. It’s a bright, medium roast coffee that’s smooth and sweet, with s’moreish-melty-chocolate flavors. It plays well with milk or au natural. Trailhead is the Swiss Army Knife of coffees, able to handle the vagaries and challenges of campsite preparation or just #vanlife.

Well, almost all the vagaries and challenges. David Wilson, our former Director of Coffee, realized that Coffeebar’s ass-kicking customers needed an instant version of the crowd-pleasing Trailhead blend that could be taken along on any outdoor adventure. Thus Trailhead Instant was born.

To keep it as fresh as possible, Trailhead Instant is packaged in individual sachets, perfect for tucking into a backpack. (Or, um, a purse. You don’t have to be scaling a mountain to appreciate a little convenience.)

How do you take your coffee...camping?


Coffeebar is full of outdoor coffee role models. The mountains are in our DNA, after all. Becky, our Education and Innovation Manager, may be among the hardest core. 

“Our camping coffee kit includes a full-blown, café-level coffee setup with an Aeropress, Comandante hand grinder, and Acaia coffee scale,” she says. “We even bring water from the Coffeebar Roastery that we know will make our coffee taste good. It’s brilliant, and we’ve had many a delicious cup to start our mornings in the wild. (And a few Instagram posts of our totally extra setup in front of our tent.)”




But even a water-packing purist needs a break once in a while. 

“This year for our trip to Zion and Bryce Canyon, we also brought along the Trailhead Instant coffee. It was a godsend the morning after a 15-mile hike when we just could not bring ourselves to go through the whole process of brewing an Aeropress,” she recounts. “I firmly believe that enjoyment of a cup of coffee is as much about what’s going on around you as it is about the coffee itself, and the Trailhead Instant was just exactly what we needed, which made it the best coffee ever, right in that moment.”

Courtney, Coffeebar’s Marketing Coordinator, recalls her most amazing camping cup.

“We were hiking in the Patagonia region of Chile. The crazy wind made it a little difficult to keep the Jetboil going, but once we had our coffee in hand, looking at those views, it was worth the struggle,” she recalls. Courtney’s planning a backpacking trip to the Eastern Sierras this summer. “June Lake looks gorgeous!” she enthuses. “I’ll definitely be taking Trailhead.”

Coffee for your inner lizard.


When you get a whiff of coffee and you’re instantly transported to another time and place, it’s because your sense of smell bypasses the cognitive processing of the other senses. Our sense of smell is directly wired to our primitive, limbic brain (fondly known as the “lizard brain”) which is the seat of memory and emotion. Think of it as an express train to the feels. 

Jenn, our director of retail stores, recalls an indelible outdoor coffee memory:

“After graduating college, my best friend and I moved to London and took two years to backpack Europe. We boarded a gulet (traditional Turkish sailing vessel) in Marmai for a few relaxing days on the Mediterranean. Hundreds of shooting stars darted across the sky as we fell asleep on the deck. When we woke up in the morning on the Turquoise Coast, it was to the smell of the most amazing coffee brewing! We sat down to a traditional Turkish breakfast and I had my first experience with Turkish coffee. We spent the morning learning about the origins of Turkish coffee and we fell in love with the small cup it was poured in. I’ve never forgotten the memories of being on that gulet each morning drinking coffee.”

Not surprisingly, Jenn and her husband are avid camping-coffee enthusiasts. 

“Camping and coffee go hand in hand. I don’t think I’ve ever done one without the other. There’s nothing better than waking up, making coffee, and slowing easing into the day: being inspired by the amazing, off-the-beaten path place we chose to camp! Sitting and enjoying the beauty around me with a good cup in my hand is such an inspiring way to start the day. My husband and I have done many multi-day backpacking trips, where the more weight you carry, the harder your trek will be. The amount of times we’ve headed out with a huge French Press in our packs to ensure we had coffee would make anyone shake their heads. (You’re going backpacking and half your pack is a French Press? Yep!) 

Jenn (and her knees) are glad that she can now take Trailhead Instant with her.

“We recently did our first trip down to Death Valley National Park. I packed my Trailhead and couldn’t believe how much room I had in my pack and how much easier coffee became in the morning! Trailhead became a game changer.” 




Coffeebar COO and Citizen of the World, John, a man with coffee in his veins (he spent his childhood playing on coffee plantations in Costa Rica) has some unforgettable al fresco coffee experiences. His fondest memory was from a trip he made to the East Side of the Sierra, near Mammoth, when he and his new fiance camped next to a hot spring in the desert. 

“I’d asked Blayne to marry me at the end of a hike by the side of a mountain lake the previous afternoon. The next morning, sitting with my feet in the water, a beautiful, desolate big sky above me, cup of coffee in hand, it finally hit me...she said “yes”. It was the first time the rest of my life dawned on me.” 

(We’re not crying…)

He and Blayne are talking about going back to that hot spring later this summer. There will definitely be some Trailhead in their packs. 


The mountains are calling us to do our part. 


Every Trailhead purchase supports the very National Forests that we enjoy so much. When you purchase a 12-ounce bag of Trailhead, a pound of beans, or a box of Trailhead Instant, we donate fifty cents to the Treasured Landscapes program of the National Forest Foundation. And it’s specifically targeted to benefit the Big Jack East Project just outside Truckee, an ambitious long-term effort to create defensible space for the community, while improving the health and resilience of the forest, and enhancing its ability to withstand climate change. 

The mountains—and all of us—thank you!

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