When Campcraft Coffee founder Chris Sanchez goes backpacking, he can live without breakfast on the trail, but he won’t start the day without a decent cup of coffee.
Back in the day, he’d dutifully pack along his AeroPress coffee brewer, but before long Chris got into the ultralight movement and started downsizing his gear. He reached the level of cutting the handle off his toothbrush and ditching the comforts of a travel pillow, so it was obvious the AeroPress would also have to go.
Thus began Chris’s quest for a quality cup of instant coffee that didn’t require packing in a brewing devise or packing out wet coffee grounds.
After taste testing dozens of instant coffee brands, Chris was plenty caffeinated, but still unquenched. “When you read how instant coffee is made, they’re using the cheapest coffee. I figured I could do high-end coffee, and it’ll still be good on the other end. I decided to create what we were all looking for.”
In the kitchen of his Southern California home, Chris brewed up a concentrated pot of coffee from a local third wave coffee shop. Using a small, home-unit freeze dryer, he ran the brew through the dehydrating process, and much to his delight, it worked!
Soon after, Chris connected with a supplier on the East Coast that uses the same methodology of freeze drying, only on a much larger scale. The instant coffee makers were up for experimenting with Chris’s premium coffee blend.
“That’s where the magic happened.” Once the finished product tasted like it came from a specialty coffee shop, Campcraft Coffee was in business.
The brand, made official in early 2019, is cognizant of the competition in the growing market of coffee on-the-go. Chris assures, with Campcraft, “you’ll immediately know the difference.”
Not only is he proud of the taste, but the aroma actually holds through the freeze drying process. He explains how spray dried instant coffee doesn’t actually have a coffee smell until you get it wet.
Also notably different is the price point. Campcraft uses high quality coffee beans and produces small batches at a time, leading to a higher price per unit than a large part of the industry. The beans are grown from small farms in the Carmo de Minas region of Brazil, an area widely known for coffee production. Chris jokes he doesn’t expect anyone to know where that is, “but it sounds exotic.”
As they’re still in their first year of business, the brand is not exempt from their share of growing pains. Chris explains “just growing and getting the word out” has proved challenging.
But, he’s quick to show his gratitude to his supporters and positive customer reviews. “I feel like I could do this for ten years at this pace and it will grow. I found something people want and what they desire; that keeps me going.”
Juggling this one-man-brand and his 40-hour/week day job, Chris still goes backpacking in the Sierras from time to time. He might forego a full-sized toothbrush or a plush camp pillow, but he’ll never have to go without a quality cup of joe again.
“I was waiting for something like this for so long. I can finally have that great cup of coffee when I want it and where I want.”