If you can’t start the day without your morning cuppa, regardless of where you are and what you’re doing, you’ve got 150 million Americans for company.
But what about when you’re in the wilderness? Do you need to forgo the java on your camping trip and simply take the grogginess in your stride?
The great news is that you don’t, and neither do you have to settle for an insipid combination of water and coffee beans. Making a great cup of brew in Mother Nature’s lap isn’t complicated or inaccessible—you just need the right method and the right equipment.
It may surprise you, but there are quite a few ‘right’ methods to choose from when it comes to brewing camping coffee. Here’s a breakdown of our favorite methods that’ll surely answer any questions about how to make coffee when camping!
Here’s a list of things that we recommend you carry with you on your camping trip to make good coffee:
- A coffee flask/thermos or a stainless steel mug (easy to wash and durable)
- A portable/travel kettle
- High-quality coffee beans
- A portable coffee grinder, if you’re particular about flavor
- A portable/travel stove or any other heat source
- An airtight container or coffee canister to prevent your coffee beans from going stale or losing flavor
- A scale to weigh out your coffee, if necessary
If all this feels like a lot to carry, you can opt for ready-made coffee kits put together, especially for campers who can’t live without their brew!
Here are our top six favorite methods of making coffee while camping.
First on the list is one of the most popular methods of making coffee on a camping trip—Cowboy Coffee, also known as the Sink Down Method.
This method is a classic, extremely simple and uncomplicated, and a regular feature in old Westerns! For this method, you only require a fire, a vessel to brew your coffee in over the fire, water, and the coffee itself.
Set water to boil in your kettle; once it reaches the boiling point, take it off the heat and let it cool for about 30 seconds or till the water stops boiling.
Stir in the ground coffee (you should hear a nice sizzle as the coffee hits the water, accompanied by a little foaming as well, possibly), allow a couple of minutes worth of rest, stir it once more, and let it rest once more for another couple of minutes.
When pouring the dark, thick brew out, pour slowly to minimize the quantity of grit that gets into your mug. Some folks swear by using eggs while brewing to congeal the grounds and cheesecloth to filter out the coffee, making it easier to keep the grits out of your mug.
However you do it, though, all it takes is about four minutes to get yourself a cup of coffee with this method, even if it’s not necessarily the most delicious cup of coffee!
Another superb and simple method for those who aren’t too fussy about their coffee is the trusty percolator. Like the cowboy method, using a percolator isn’t resource-heavy—if you’ve got ground coffee, water, fire, and the percolator itself, you’re assured of a cup of coffee.
Percolators work by pushing heating water through their internal tube with the aim of showering it over your ground coffee and then going back down into the kettle. This keeps happening till you have black coffee.
Though this sounds a little complicated, all you have to worry about is opening the percolator, removing the tube and basket, filling the percolator with water and the basket with coffee grounds, and letting the percolator do its work over the fire.
If you’re worried about grit, use a round paper filter in the basket to keep out the grounds. After about 8 or 10 minutes, your coffee is ready—a mixture somewhere in between drip coffee and espresso—though you should let it settle before you pour it out.
This is an especially great method to use if you’ve got a large group of coffee-starved campers, but lugging around a percolator can be cumbersome.
If you’re someone who loves fast results without any unnecessary effort, instant coffee is your best bet. All you need is hot water, a mug, and instant coffee powder or granules to mix into the water. This works equally well with cold water, too, for all the iced-coffee lovers out there.
Some brands even sell instant coffee in tea (or coffee!) bags, making the job of brewing coffee (and cleaning up!) even easier.
Additionally, you don’t have to worry about lugging around too much extra weight, messing up your coffee (it’s impossible to mess up with this method, even if you tried your hardest), and the coffee itself is pretty decent especially with a quality brand.
This method is a little more resource-intensive, requiring a filter cone and coffee dripper in addition to the kettle, water, coffee grounds, and fire for brewing, but is as simple as the instant coffee method.
In this method, it’s as simple as opening the cone, setting the ring on your mug, using a coffee filter inside the cone, and adding the coffee grounds. Pour boiled water over the cone so that the coffee is saturated, and after a minute or so of resting it, take off the cone and enjoy your cuppa.
It’s unsurprising that the AeroPress is the go-to for many campers—it combines the best of the French press, the pour-over, and the pneumatic press, resulting in smooth, rich coffee in an incredibly short brewing period.
You can brew your coffee in an AeroPress either using the inverted method (similar to using the French press) or the top-down brew method, as suggested by the makers.
In addition to the quick brewing time, you can also enjoy the ability to customize your coffee with an AeroPress—whether you want a deep, dark espresso or a milder wake-me-up mix, you can get the coffee you want instead of settling for whatever your equipment gives you.
If you love your french press, there’s no need to leave it behind when you head out on your camping trip—you can make French press coffee in the heart of nature, too!
You can use it to make your coffee as you would at home and enjoy your brew; invest in a model that’s engineered for camping, and you can enjoy additional features such as boiling water.
However, a French press will add significantly to your luggage, so think about how far you’ll go (or how much you’ll carry) for your morning cuppa.
While camping is all about connecting with and being in the midst of natural beauty, it doesn’t necessarily have to be as rugged and as primitive as it once used to be, so no, you don’t have to resign yourself to basic brew—unless you want to, that is.
With these methods, even in the most remote hinterlands, everything from basic coffee to rich espresso is possible, so pick your favorite method (or create your own, because this is by no means an exhaustive list) and enjoy that morning cup with the best of Mother Nature’s work surrounding you.