How to Make Coffee While Camping: 6 Ways to Brew Coffee at Camp

There's nothing quite like enjoying a cup of coffee in the great outdoors. Whether you just enjoy the warmth and aroma or need the caffeine as a means of survival, drinking coffee at camp turns up the happiness factor. But making coffee at camp? That's a different story.

Without the luxuries of your go-to coffee maker or favorite barista, coffee gets complicated. We list six ideas on how to make coffee while camping, starting with the most minimalist methods and ending with those that require more equipment.

How to Make Coffee at Camp

1. Instant Coffee Packets

Backpackers can't be choosers. If you're traveling deep into the backcountry, it's hard to justify any extra weight, even if it involves coffee. A few instant coffee packets will have to do. Simply mix into hot water for your fix of java.

2. Cowboy Coffee

What is cowboy coffee, you ask? Cowboy coffee is like instant coffee, only the grounds don't dissolve. Deciding which is worse depends on your preference for strong coffee. Follow these simple instructions to make your very own cowboy coffee:
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, either over hot coals or using your camp stove.
  2. Remove the pot from heat and let it sit for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add coffee grounds to your liking (about 2 tablespoons for every 8 ounces of water) and stir.
  4. Let the brew sit for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add a little cold water to the mixture to help the grounds settle (optional).
  6. Pour coffee, being careful not to let the grounds sneak into your camp mug.

how to make coffee at camp

3. Coldbrew Coffee

If you have space for a thermos, brew your favorite coffee at home and then simply heat it at camp. Make a strong coldbrew and add boiling water to heat it for the perfect camp coffee. Follow these steps to make cold-brew coffee:
  1. At home: Combine coarsely ground coffee grounds with water. Try 3/4 cup grounds for every 4 cups of water.
  2. At home: Let grounds steep in coffee overnight, or for about 12 hours.
  3. At home: Strain coffee. Pour into thermos.
  4. At camp: Boil about 1 cup of water and add to cold brew. Mix and serve. Brewing your preferred strength might take some trial and error.

how to make coffee at camp

4. Pourover Coffee

Pourover coffee is a simple way to get your morning caffeine boost. While a traditional pourover coffee dripper is simple to pack for car camping, you can try a collapsible silicone dripper for more convenient packing. Coffee enthusiasts have a number of methods to create the perfect pourover, but we offer a simple overview of how to make pourover coffee at camp:
  1. Boil water over hot coals or your camp stove.
  2. Place a filter inside your pourover coffee dripper and add coffee grounds (medium-to-course grounds work best) until the dripper is about 1/2 or 2/3 full.
  3. Remove boiling water from heat and let stand for 30 seconds.
  4. Place the dripper over your camp mug and slowly pour hot water over the coffee grounds, wetting the grounds evenly as you pour.

5. French Press Coffee

Often, car camping allows you to pack a few simple luxuries. If a good cup of joe is your thing, add a French press to your packing list. Coffee made with a French press retains more of its natural oils than filtered coffee, giving it a more robust flavor. Plus, it's simple to use a French press at camp. Here's how:
  1. Boil water over hot coals or your camp stove.
  2. Remove lid and plunger from French press and add coffee grounds (course grounds give the best flavor). Try adding 1 1/2-2 tablespoons for every cup.
  3. Add half of the hot water to the French press and let sit for 30 seconds before stirring.
  4. Pour in the rest of the hot water and add the lid with the plunger pulled all the way up.
  5. Let coffee steep for 3-4 minutes.
  6. Slowly press the plunger all the way down and pour into your favorite camp mug or thermos.

how to make coffee at camp

6. Percolator Coffee

A percolator is another piece of coffee gear that can easily be packed for a car-camping trip. Percolators can be used over burner camping stoves or can often be placed directly over a bed of hot coals. How you make percolator coffee depends on the type of percolator you have. We describe how to make coffee at camp using a percolator with an internal filter system:
  1. Remove internal filter chamber from percolator and add water.
  2. Place the filter system back into the percolator and add coffee grounds to the basket (course grounds work best to prevent slipping through filter). Percolators tend to make strong coffee, so start with about 1 tablespoon for every cup of water.
  3. Place the percolator on your camping stove or over hot coals and bring to a boil over medium-high to high heat.
  4. Allow coffee to percolate for 5-8 minutes before serving.

how to make coffee at camp

What is your favorite coffee-making method at camp?
posted by
Lauren Seidl
Blogger at Sierra Trading Post
Lauren enjoys hiking, camping, climbing and exploring the outdoors. She's always up for trying something new, especially if it involves getting outside. When Lauren isn't out finding adventures in her home state of Colorado, she can be found writing as Sierra Trading Post's blogger.
Comments (1)
7/20/2018 at 7:58 AM
Strong cold brew from home added to hot water in the field.
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