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The Ultimate Guide to Camp Coffee: Our Favorite Ways to Brew Coffee While Camping

Camp Coffee
Camp Coffee photo by Shelby Cohron

Having camp coffee is a very satisfying way to experience life. This guide will show you how to enjoy coffee at the camp, from instant to stovetop espresso. The lifeblood of outdoor enthusiasts, coffee perks everyone before heading out on a thrilling adventure in the woods. Although most people would instead have beer outdoors, coffee offers a different way of life. This article highlights easy ways to make coffee at campgrounds, including brewing techniques.

Critical Considerations for Buying a Camping Coffee Maker

Let’s start by looking at a few considerations when buying a camping coffee maker. Although these factors aren’t absolute, it will be wise to appreciate them before going on a shopping spree or prepping for your next camping trip.

  • Brew Quality
    Brewing methods vary in brew quality. For example, the pour-over or drip coffee technique produces a smoother coffee drink with a more pleasant flavor than a French press. On the other hand, you might favor the French press if you desire a beverage with a rich and bold taste. We recommend checking the coffee machine in your home and picking its camping version to mimic the coffee’s flavor and aroma profile. For example, a camping pour-over coffee-making setup would be ideal if you have a drip coffee machine at home.
  • Portability
    Although camping is a life-enriching experience, carrying a lot of gear on the back can dissuade some people. And the last thing you’ll want is a bulky and hefty coffee machine that adds to your load. A camping coffee maker must be as lightweight and compact as possible. Seasoned campers enjoy their coffee through improvisation, turning a clean sock into a coffee bag. Some don’t need a Moka pot or a percolator if they already have a small, heat-resistant kettle.
  • Coffee-making and Cleaning Convenience
    Enjoying coffee outdoors is all about doing things the easy way. So do cleanups. After all, you will not want to leave used coffee grounds at the campsite because it will only add to land pollution. Besides, it is a matter of respecting Mother Nature and other campers. The ideal camping coffee maker enables you to make fuss-free coffee instantly. Moreover, cleanups are effortless.
  • Durability
    Camping involves walking from the parking area to the campsite. You’ll traverse hazardous terrain or wade across a stream. It’s common for items to fall from your backpack or bang against a rock face. Your camping coffee maker must be sturdy enough to withstand accidental falls, shocks, and vibrations. 
Editor Pick

6 Ways to Brew Camp Coffee When Camping

Experienced campers, backpackers, and other outdoor enthusiasts observe varying methods for making a delicious cup of Joe in the woods, by the riverside, or anywhere they set camp. The following are six of the most ingenious and hassle-free ways to brew coffee when camping.

  1. Pour-over
    Unsurprisingly, the pour-over coffee-making technique is a favorite of many campers. This method delivers a smooth-tasting caffeinated drink with an almost-heavenly, pleasant flavor. It’s the perfect camping trick for people who don’t like bold coffee flavors with a bitter aftertaste and an overpowering aroma. 
    Making pour-over coffee is straightforward, requiring only four elements – hot water, a coffee mug, a paper filter (or some other material), and coffee grounds. Place the coffee mug on an even surface and form the paper filter into a cone. Insert the paper cone’s pointed edge inside the tall cup to create a funnel. Fill the cone-shaped paper filter with coffee grounds and slowly pour hot water over the coffee granules in a circular, slow, and deliberate fashion.
    The coffee granules slowly absorb the hot water as you carefully pour the hot water. Ensure full coffee ground coverage to promote maximum coffee flavor and aroma extraction. This technique saturates every coffee ground, releasing their essences into the hot water and moving toward the cone-shaped paper filter’s tip. Coffee then drips into the mug.
    You should have a delicious pour-over coffee within ten minutes, depending on how much water you use. 
    Although this camping coffee-making method is easy and practical, it requires boiling water in a separate vessel. You might also want to try a collapsible coffee mug made of silicone to save space in your backpack and shave off excess weight. 
    This method also makes cleanups a breeze because you can secure the used coffee grounds by folding the paper filter over them. You can then dispose of it in a garbage bag.
  2. Coffee-in-a-Bag
    Here’s an even more straightforward trick to make coffee when camping. Like steeping tea bags in hot water, this technique requires you to purchase single-serve coffee bags. Alternatively, you can improvise and make DIY coffee bags.
    Get a coffee paper filter and fill the center with fresh coffee grounds. Next, collect the filter’s edges and clump them up and center like you would when making a dumpling. Secure the filter by tying a butcher’s twine, leaving a tail for holding the DIY coffee bag when making coffee. Trim any excess paper filter.
    Pour hot water into your collapsible coffee mug or an ordinary cup and soak the coffee bag for one to three minutes. The longer you steep the coffee, the more intense the coffee flavor and aroma. Remove the coffee bag and dispose of it in your garbage container.
  3. Coffee Sock
    This camping coffee-making trick is similar to the coffee bag or pour-over method, depending on which coffee flavor profile you prefer. You’ll need a clean, unused sock for this technique. It’s perfect for enjoying a coffee when you’ve run out of paper filters or coffee bags.
    If you want pour-over coffee, place the sock’s closed end in the coffee mug and fill it with coffee grounds. Next, pour hot water over the coffee granules, ensuring complete coverage. The taste might be different from an authentic pour-over, but it should suffice to satisfy your caffeine addiction. 
    If you prefer the coffee-steeping method, fill the sock with coffee grounds and tie the ends. Fill the cup with hot water and immerse the coffee-filled sock for two to five minutes. The taste and aroma should be nearly identical to the coffee bag technique.
    Although this method is MacGyver style, we don’t recommend it because sock fabric chemicals might leach into the coffee. You can observe this trick as a last resort. 
  4. Cowboy Method
    Nothing is more iconic when camping than enjoying everything by the campfire. And there’s no better way to make coffee than with the Cowboy method. This trick is perfect for campers who want their drinks with a thick texture and dark color.
    Fill a coffee pot with a gallon of water and bring it to a boil over the campfire. A portable butane stove top burner would be fine. The succeeding steps vary, depending on whether or not you have a cheesecloth.
    Put ground coffee and a slightly cracked egg in the center of the cheesecloth. The egg will help clump the coffee granules, allowing them to sink to the pot’s bottom. Tie the cheesecloth and immerse in the boiling water. Next, remove the coffee pot from the fire and leave it for five to ten minutes to let the coffee steep. Remove the cheesecloth and empty the contents into a trash bag.
    If you don’t have a cheesecloth, you can add the coffee grounds directly into the boiling water. Remove the coffee pot from the heat and allow the coffee granules to steep for five to ten minutes. Crack an egg and set aside the egg white and yolk. Toss the eggshell into the steeped coffee to help the coffee grounds sink to the bottom.
    You can skip the “egg” hack because most people find it odd. However, this step makes the Cowboy method unique among other camping coffee-making tricks.
  5. Instant Coffee
    Some campers and backpackers like to drink coffee with different flavors. And there’s nothing more effortless than opening a sachet of flavored coffee, dumping it into a hot water-filled mug, and stirring it.
    Others might use instant coffee instead. They fill a coffee mug with hot water, add a teaspoon of instant coffee, sprinkle sugar or cream, and stir.
  6. Portable Coffee Makers
    The camping coffee-making methods we’ve discussed don’t use fancy technologies or purposely built gadgets. So, if you want to take a different route, you can consider bringing a Moka pot, a French press, or an AeroPress when camping.
    A Moka pot is like a tall kettle with three chambers. The lower compartment boils water to create steam increasing pressure and raising the water to the middle section filled with coffee grounds. The high temperature and pressure extract the coffee goodness and push them to the upper chamber where coffee collects. Moka pots are the best tools for making espressos when camping. 
    On the other hand, a French press requires steeping the coffee grounds in a cylinder. You’ll then push a metal mesh filter down the tube to separate the coffee granules from the liquid coffee. It’s like pour-over coffee, but the coffee grounds are at the bottom of the container.
    The AeroPress combines a pour-over and French press technique. You place the device over a coffee mug, fill it with coffee grounds and water, and insert the plunger to press the coffee mixture. 
    These gadgets are lightweight and compact, making them ideal for camping and other outdoor activities. 

FAQs

How do you drink coffee while camping?

There are several ways to make and drink coffee when camping. Everything depends on available supplies and your creativity. For example, you can fill a clean sock with coffee grounds and immerse it in a cup of hot water. Let it steep for several minutes, depending on your preferred strength. It’s like steeping tea bags, but you’re using a sock to filter the undissolved coffee granules.

You could also use a Moka pot, a percolator, a French press, or an AeroPress to make delicious coffee while camping. Enjoying pour-over coffee is also easy outdoors. Or, you could go the Cowboy way by cooking coffee in kettles over a campfire.

How do you heat up coffee for camping?

You can heat your leftover coffee for camping by pouring it into a kettle or pot and placing it over the campfire. Alternatively, you can use a portable butane stove to heat the coffee.

How do you make campsite coffee?

The most straightforward way to make campsite coffee involves boiling about six cups of water in a pot or kettle over a campfire or a portable butane stove. Allow the water to boil for a few minutes before removing it from the heat. 

Next, dump about half a cup of coffee grounds into the scalding water and stir. Cover the pot or kettle and steep the coffee for three minutes before adding a few drops of cold water to push the undissolved coffee grounds to the bottom.

Alternatively, you can use the boiled water to make coffee with a clean sock, AeroPress, pour-over, French press, or coffee-in-a-bag.  

How do you store coffee for backpacking?

It’s vital to store coffee in an airtight and moisture-free container. Exposing the coffee granules to air kick starts the oxidation process, releasing the unique coffee aromas and flavors into the surroundings. Unfortunately, oxidized coffee grounds don’t make rich and full-bodied drinks, leaving your coffee-drinking experience less than spectacular.

Seasoned coffee-loving campers and backpackers always prepare their coffee grounds before the adventure. You can measure a dose of coffee granules enough to make a cup and put it in a Ziploc bag. You might want to prepare ten single-serve coffee grounds if you expect to drink ten cups of coffee during the whole camping duration.  

Alternatively, you can fill a small container with an airtight lid with enough coffee granules to last the outdoor adventure. However, be quick in getting spoonfuls of coffee from the container to minimize oxidation.

Final Thoughts

Sipping coffee in the early morning, basking in the sun, smelling freshly dewed grass and flowers, and listening to critters and birds greet you are some of the best ways to enjoy life. Although we live in an ultra-modern world, there’s nothing wrong with keeping things simple. And there’s no better way to experience nature and enjoy a different coffee-drinking experience than preparing your favorite caffeinated beverage when camping. The pour-over method is a favorite, although the Cowboy technique, coffee bag, and sock tricks are worth considering. How about you? Which camping coffee-making method interests you the most?


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