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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Best Ways to Make Coffee While Out Camping: A Practical Guide for Outdoor Enthusiasts

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Camping trips provide an escape to the great outdoors, a chance to reconnect with nature, and an opportunity to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. For many, the ritual of brewing and sipping a cup of coffee is an integral part of the camping experience. Making coffee while camping may seem like a daunting task, but with the right techniques and equipment, it’s easy to enjoy a satisfying cup of coffee even in the heart of the wilderness.

There are several methods available for making coffee while camping, each with their own advantages and drawbacks. The key is to find the method that suits your specific needs, taking into consideration factors such as brewing time, convenience, and the equipment you already have on hand. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a first-time adventurer, mastering the art of making coffee while camping can truly elevate your outdoor experience.

So, with that, let’s explore some of the best ways to make coffee while camping! I’ll provide guidance on the right equipment and techniques to make the perfect cup. From portable espresso makers to classic drip coffee methods, there’s a solution for every coffee lover who wishes to have cup of their favorite brew while camping.

Table of Contents

Understanding Different Coffee Brewing Methods

different coffee brewing methods

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When out camping, a good cup of coffee can make all the difference in starting your day. Knowing the right method to brew your coffee while in the great outdoors will not only satisfy your taste buds, but also enhance your overall camping experience. In this section, we present various coffee brewing methods for campers.

Cowboy Coffee

Cowboy coffee is a classic and straightforward method often used by campers and cowboys (as the name suggests). To make it, you’ll need:

  • Ground coffee
  • Pot or pan with a handle
  • Campfire or heat source


  1. Boil water in the pot. For each cup of coffee, use 8 ounces (240 mL) of water and 2 tablespoons (30g) of coffee grounds.
  2. Remove the pot from heat and let it sit for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the coffee grounds and stir for 15 seconds.
  4. Let the coffee steep for 4-5 minutes, and pour slowly to avoid getting grounds in your cup.

French Press Coffee

French press coffee is a popular brewing method among coffee connoisseurs because of its rich and bold flavors. You’ll need:

  • French press
  • Coffee grounds (coarser grind)
  • Boiling water


  1. Add coffee grounds to the French press (approximately 1:15 coffee-to-water ratio).
  2. Pour boiling water over the grounds and stir.
  3. Place the lid and press on top of the French press (without pushing down) and steep for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Slowly push down the plunger and pour your coffee into the cup.

Instant Coffee

instant coffee

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Instant coffee is the simplest and most convenient option for campers. Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Boil water.
  2. Add instant coffee to your cup (follow the package instructions for the correct amount).
  3. Pour hot water over the coffee, stir, and enjoy.

Pour-Over Coffee

Pour-over coffee provides a clean and consistent flavor profile and is favored by many coffee enthusiasts. You’ll need:

  • Pour-over device (such as a V60 or Chemex)
  • Coffee grounds (the Extra Mile Espresso filter grounds from Get Sh!t Done Coffee are a personal favorite)
  • Hot water
  • Paper or metal filter


  1. Place the filter in the pour-over device.
  2. Add coffee grounds to the filter (usually 1:15 coffee-to-water ratio).
  3. Boil water and pour a small amount over the grounds to wet them evenly, then let them “bloom” for 30 seconds.
  4. Slowly pour the rest of the water in a circular motion, evenly saturating the grounds.

Aeropress Coffee

aeropress coffee

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Aeropress coffee is known for its smooth, full-bodied taste and is easily portable for camping trips. To make Aeropress coffee, you’ll need:

  • Aeropress
  • Coffee grounds (fine grind)
  • Boiling water


  1. Add coffee grounds to the Aeropress chamber (1:15 coffee-to-water ratio).
  2. Pour boiling water over the grounds and stir.
  3. Place the filter cap with a wet filter paper onto the Aeropress and invert onto a cup.
  4. Press down on the plunger slowly and steadily until the coffee is fully extracted.

Moka Pot

Moka pot is a stovetop coffee maker capable of producing a strong, espresso-like coffee. You’ll need:

  • Moka pot
  • Coffee grounds (fine grind)
  • Water


  1. Fill the bottom chamber of the Moka pot with water up to the safety valve.
  2. Add coffee grounds to the filter basket and level off.
  3. Assemble the Moka pot and place on a heat source (like a camp stove).
  4. Wait for the water to boil and the coffee to extract into the top chamber.

Coffee Sock

coffee sock is a reusable cloth filter, perfect for sustainability-minded campers. To use it, follow these steps:

  1. Suspend the sock above your cup or pot.
  2. Add coffee grounds (medium grind).
  3. Pour hot water slowly and evenly over the grounds, allowing it to drip through the fabric.

Selecting the Right Equipment for Camping Coffee

coffee equipment

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When planning a camping trip, having the perfect cup of coffee in the great outdoors can elevate the entire experience. Choosing the right equipment is crucial to ensure that your camp coffee is as enjoyable as possible. Let’s explore various options for portable coffee grinders and coffee makers to help you make an informed decision.

Portable Coffee Grinders

High-quality, freshly ground coffee is essential for a great cup of joe. These portable grinders make it possible to grind your favorite beans on the go:

  • Hario Mini Slim Plus: Compact manual grinder, adjustable grind size
  • Porlex Mini: Stainless steel manual grinder, easy to clean

Tip: Make sure to pack your favorite beans for the best taste. I’ve been grinding up the Extra Mile Espresso beans I got from Get Sh!t Done Coffee recently, and man, is it a good cup of joe!

Camp Coffee Makers

french press

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There is a wide variety of camp coffee makers on the market, each with unique features and brewing methods. Let’s take a look at some popular options:

French Press Coffee Maker

A classic favorite, the French press (shown above) is a simple and portable option for camp coffee. Bodum offers an excellent, durable French press that you can rely on during your camping trips.

Aeropress Coffee Maker

The AeroPress is a lightweight and compact option, making it perfect for backpacking. It uses air pressure to extract rich flavors from the coffee grounds, resulting in a smooth and delicious brew.


Percolators are a traditional method of brewing camp coffee. GSI Outdoors offers a durable percolator constructed from stainless steel, which is perfect for campfire brewing.

Stovetop Espresso Maker

For those who prefer a strong, bold cup of coffee, a Stovetop Espresso Maker is an excellent option. Suitable for use on a camping stove and easy to clean, it brews rich coffee with ease.

Submersible Filter

A submersible filter, like the GSI Javadrip, is another lightweight and portable option. Simply fill the filter with coffee grounds, place it in a mug, add hot water, and enjoy!

Finding the Best Coffee Beans and Accessories

Whole Beans Versus Coffee Granules

coffee beans

When it comes to choosing between whole beans and coffee granules for your camping trip, the difference in quality is significant. Whole beans generally offer a richer, fresher flavor as they retain their oils and aroma better compared to granules. If you have access to a portable grinder, it’s highly recommended to opt for whole beans.

However, coffee granules provide a level of convenience that is hard to beat when camping. They are pre-ground, easy to store, and require less equipment for brewing. Although they may sacrifice a bit of flavor, they can still provide an adequate cup for those who prioritize ease of use.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been sampling Get Sh!t Done Coffee recently, and have enjoyed grinding the beans for a fresh cup of coffee. But their filter grounds offer an incredible level of taste, too. And, while we’re at it, they offer other ways to get your caffeine fix, including a Sweet Cream Nitro Latte in a can and Extra Mile Espresso K-cup pods. In each instance, this stuff has proven to be as tasty a coffee as I’ve ever had!

Travel-Friendly Coffee Containers

travel coffee containers

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A proper travel-friendly coffee container is essential for ensuring that your beans or granules maintain their freshness and flavor during your camping trip. There are several options to consider:

  • Airtight canisters – These containers protect your coffee from exposure to air, moisture, and light, all of which contribute to the degradation of the coffee’s quality. Look for canisters made of materials such as stainless steel or ceramic.
  • Pour-over travel mugs – A pour-over travel mug serves a dual purpose, functioning as both a storage container and a brewing device. By placing the coffee grounds in a built-in filter and pouring hot water over them, you can brew directly into the mug, saving time and space.
  • Reusable vacuum-sealed bags – These bags are made from durable materials designed to preserve the freshness of your coffee while being compact and easy to transport.

Brewing Techniques for Car Camping Versus Backpacking

camping coffee percolator

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Car Camping Coffee Solutions

Car camping offers the luxury of being able to bring more gear with you, making coffee brewing more versatile. Here are a few popular techniques to try:

  1. Camping French Press: An easy, efficient way to make excellent coffee while car camping. This method allows for brewing multiple cups at once, making it ideal for larger groups. Simply add coffee grounds and hot water, let it steep for a few minutes, then press the plunger to separate the grounds from the liquid. Remember to pack a portable stove or heating source for boiling water.
  2. Pour-Over: Similar to the French press, the pour-over method also creates a rich and flavorful cup of coffee. Place a cone-shaped coffee filter over your cup, add coffee grounds, and slowly pour hot water over the grounds. This method requires more patience, as it takes time for the water to pass through the grounds and into your cup.
  3. Percolator: For those who prefer a stronger, more robust coffee, a percolator is a suitable option. It operates by cycling boiling water through coffee grounds using gravity until the desired strength is reached. Keep in mind that percolators can be heavy and bulky, so they may not be the best option for those with limited storage space.
Method Pros Cons
Camping French Press Easy to use, multiple cups, great taste Requires stove/heating source
Pour-Over Rich flavor, lightweight, easy to clean Slow process, patience needed
Percolator Strong coffee, great for larger groups Bulky, heavy, not suited for backpacking

Backpacking Coffee Solutions

backpacking coffee solutions

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Backpacking requires the utmost in lightweight, packable coffee brewing methods. Here are some popular options for making coffee while backpacking:

  1. Instant Coffee: The easiest and lightest option for backpackers, instant coffee is made from dehydrated, crystallized coffee. Simply add hot water to the coffee crystals, and your coffee is ready. Quality and taste can vary, but there are many high-quality instant coffee options available.
  2. Aeropress: This compact, lightweight coffee maker is perfect for backpackers who prioritize a high-quality coffee experience. The Aeropress works similarly to a French press, using air pressure to push water through the coffee grounds. It’s quick, easy to clean, and can make espresso-style coffee as well.
  3. Portable Drip Coffee: Lightweight drip coffee solutions, such as collapsible cones or cloth filters, offer backpackers a tasty and easy-to-use option. These devices are small and take up minimal space in your pack, but you may need to bring additional paper filters.
Method Pros Cons
Instant Coffee Lightweight, easy, no extra equipment Taste varies, not the freshest coffee
Aeropress Delicious coffee, compact, lightweight Requires hot water and grounds
Portable Drip Coffee Minimalist design, lightweight, tasty coffee Requires paper filters, can be messy

Tips for Making a Great Cup of Coffee Outdoors

camping coffee

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When camping, there is nothing like a great cup of coffee to start your day. You may not have your usual kitchen setup, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a delicious brew. Here are some tips and techniques to help you prepare the perfect cup of coffee when camping.

Choose the right brewing method. There are several options for camping coffee brewing methods, but it’s essential to pick the right one for your specific needs. Some popular methods include:

  • French press: Simple and reliable, a French press allows you to make a rich cup of coffee without much fuss. Be sure to use a coarser grind, as finer grinds can result in sludge at the bottom of your cup.
  • AeroPress: Lightweight and easy to clean, the AeroPress is another excellent option for the great outdoors. It requires a finer grind than the French press, so you’ll want to adjust accordingly.
  • Pour-over: A simple method with minimal moving parts, pour-over brewing can produce a clean, bright cup of coffee. It is ideal for those who prefer a lighter, crisper taste.

Quality ingredients matter. It goes without saying that using fresh beans and pure water can make a significant difference in the taste of your coffee. While it may not be feasible to carry a coffee grinder with you, it’s worth investing in a small, portable hand grinder to ensure you’re using freshly ground beans. Opt for bottled or filtered water whenever possible, as this can enhance the flavors of your coffee.

Use pre-measured coffee and water ratios. Before heading out on your camping trip, prepare ahead by measuring the appropriate amounts of coffee and water for each brewing method. Use the following table as a guideline:

Brewing Method Coffee-to-Water Ratio
French Press 1:15
AeroPress 1:16
Pour-Over 1:17

Sticking to these ratios will help ensure you end up with a consistently balanced and flavorful cup of coffee.

Pay attention to water temperature. The ideal water temperature for brewing coffee is between 195°F to 205°F (90°C to 96°C). When camping, it can be challenging to achieve precise temperatures, but you can use a thermometer or simply let the water sit for 30 seconds after coming to a boil.

Environmentally Conscious Coffee Brewing

environmentally conscious coffee

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Biodegradable Coffee Options

When camping, it is essential to consider the environmental impact of your actions. One way to brew coffee with minimal waste is to use biodegradable coffee optionsSingle-use coffee pods and paper filters are common choices, but more eco-friendly alternatives exist. Consider the following options that aid in reducing your environmental footprint:

  • Compostable coffee pods: These single-use pods are made from plant-based materials that break down naturally in a compost pile.
  • Unbleached paper filters: Unbleached filters reduce the environmental impact by eliminating the need for chemical bleaching processes.

Reusable Metal Filters

Another environmentally friendly option for brewing coffee outdoors is the use of reusable metal filters. These filters are made from materials like stainless steel and can be used multiple times, significantly reducing waste. There are several advantages to using metal filters:

  1. Durability: Metal filters are built to last and can withstand the rigors of outdoor use.
  2. Easy to clean: Simply rinse or wipe down the filter after each use.
  3. Full-bodied flavor: Metal filters allow more of the coffee’s natural oils to pass through, resulting in a richer and bolder taste.
Reusable Metal Filter Types Advantages
Pour-over Easy to use, compact, and portable
AeroPress Fast brewing, smooth flavors, and low acidity
French press Full immersion brew, rich flavor, and no need for electricity

Choose a reusable metal filter based on your preferred brewing method and desired taste. Investing in a durable filter helps minimize waste and contributes to an environmentally conscious camping experience while ensuring you still get that awesome cup of coffee you need to kickstart your day in the wilderness!

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