If you’re into camping, you’ll agree with me when I say the best part of a camping trip is waking up and preparing your coffee over an open campfire. In the past forcing down brutal instant coffee was the norm, leaving you with a bitter and strange tasting “coffee” experience tainting your morning.

To hell with that. With limited space + resources and a total lack of respect for instant coffee, how do you make great coffee outdoors?

Today we’ll teach you how to make coffee while camping (coffee that don’t suck!) The luxury of a good coffee on a camping trip will add so much more comfort and convenience to your outdoor adventures.

#1 The Easy (and lazy) Way: Use a Coffee Bag

Similar to a tea bag, coffee bags are a quick and convenient camping coffee solution.

Either store bought or homemade, these bags are thrown into boiling water and steep to brew your coffee. Nothing more, nothing less.

They take up little space in your bag, are easy to clean up, and don’t require any expertise to brew. Perfect for those who can’t be ass'd with something more involved (however, the lack of freshly ground beans means a slightly better than average coffee)

PROS

  • Easy to use
  • Doesn’t Require Any Extra Equipment
  • Are Easy to Clean Up

CONS

  • Coffee can taste stale
  • Have to pack out old coffee grounds

WHAT YOU'LL NEED


Make your Own Coffee Bag:

  • Step 1: Take a standard basket coffee filter and lay it flat
  • Step 2: Fill the coffee filter with a large scoop of ground coffee
  • Step 3: Taking same butchers twine, tie the filter closed slightly above the ground coffee
  • Step 4: Leave a little extra twine on for a tail to hold
  • Step 5: Cut off excess filter and voila!

 Brew with a Coffee Bag:

  • Step 1: Boil water over a fire or stove until it is boiling
  • Step 2: Place coffee bag in boiling water and steep 1-3 minutes
  • Step 3: Remove coffee bag and enjoy

We don't recommend using this method unless you're the type of person who can't be bothered with putting in the effort to brew good coffee (if that's you, I'm not quite sure how the hell you ended up on this website).

If you're interested in taking the easy route, however, you can find your mediocre coffee bags here on Amazon


#2 Back to Basics: The Cowboy Method

Any Western movie can attest, there is nothing more iconic than a bunch of cowboys sitting around an open fire pouring the black brew from their piping hot coffee tin.

There is something comforting about a warm cup of coffee fresh straight off the fire. Cowboy coffee is known for its dark, thick texture.

Cowboy coffee is also interesting for its use of an egg to help the brewing process, which helps to coagulate the grounds and float them to the bottom of the pot for easy and filter free brewing. You don't have to do it this way if it freaks you out a little, but you're not a real cowboy/girl if you don't.

PROS

  • Great for making coffee for two or more people
  • Require no extra equipment
  • Does not require the use of paper filters

CONS

  • Coffee can be thick and have a viscous body
  • Coffee will taste over-extracted and chalky if brewed too long
  • Egg may be too weird for people to throw in their coffee

WHAT YOU'LL NEED


  • Metal (usually Tin) coffee pot (You can even use a general pot/pan)
  • 1 Whole Egg
  • Ground Coffee (1 large scoop per person)
  • Cold Water
  • Cheesecloth (Optional)
  • Cowboy hat (compulsory)

How to Brew

  • Step 1: Pour 1 gallon of water in coffee pot and place over open flame or burner and bring to full boil. At this point its a good idea to put your cowboy hat on, chew a piece of long grass and look like you don't give a f**k.

With a cheesecloth:

  • Step 2: Place ground coffee in cheesecloth
  • Step 3: Slightly crack, but not completely, one egg and place on top of grounds
  • Step 4: Tie cheesecloth and egg/coffee mixture together and place in boiling water
  • Step 5: Remove from heat and let coffee mixture steep for 5-10 minutes
  • Step 6: After steeping, remove cheesecloth and coffee mixture

Without a cheesecloth:

  • Step 2: After water is boiling place grounds directly into hot water
  • Step 3: Remove coffee tin from heat and steep for 5-10 minutes
  • Step 4: Crack egg and keep egg shell
  • Step 5: After steeping, throw the egg shell into the coffee tin. The egg shell will help settle the grounds to the bottom of the pot

Serve and enjoy. Oh, and give yourself a pat on the back – you just joined the cowboy coffee club!


3. A One Cup Filter/Dripper

A manual drip coffee maker, such as one of these, is perfect for a quick, easy and good quality coffee. When camping however, something cheap, light and easy to brew with always wins.

The Melitta one cup dripper is perfect for individuals looking for a single serve coffee that has a clean mouthfeel and bursting with flavors - without complicating things.

Simply designed, this pour-over method uses gravity to help brew your coffee much like your Kalita wave of Hario V60 does.

Many one cup drippers come in rugged plastic that make it perfect for throwing in a hiking or backpacking bag. However if drinking from plastic is not your thing you have the option of picking up a stainless steel, glass or ceramic dripper.

You don't have to choose the Melitta one cup dripper (most drippers made from Stainless steel will do the trick on a camping trip) but the Melitta dripper will cost you peanuts (almost). Here’s a list of our favorite manual drippers - most of them will do.

PROS

  • Very portable and durable
  • Creates a really clean coffee

CONS

  • Awkwardly shaped, doesn’t pack flat
  • Requires paper filters to use
  • Need proper pouring technique

WHAT YOU'LL NEED


  • Individual Coffee Dripper
  • Finely Ground Coffee
  • Paper filters
  • Coffee Mug or vessel to brew coffee into

How to Brew

  • ​Step 1: Bring at least 12-16oz of water to boiling
  • Step 2: Place paper filters into dripper
  • Step 3: Place dripper on top of mug
  • Step 4: Wet the paper filter and discard water
  • Step 5: Pour about a quarter of your total brew water over the grounds to start the bloom process and help cultivate some aromas and flavors
  • Step 6: After about 30 seconds, continue pouring water with a slow and consistent flow. If a spouted kettle or pot is available, try pouring your water in a circular motion starting from the middle and moving outwards.
  • Step 7: Continue pouring until water until you have reached desired height in coffee. Avoid overflow by keeping your pour slow.

If you have a spare few dollars, grab your Melitta dripper on Amazon right here - I keep one in my car as part of my emergency stash when I'm caught off guard.


#4 - The GSI Java Drip Portable Coffee System

The GSI ultralight Java Drip was designed for the backpacking coffee enthusiast who wanted to be able to brew great coffee outdoors without having to sacrifice weight or space in their bag.

Made out of flexible plastic and nylon, this half-ounce little brewer is great for those week long trips in the mountains.

Convenience is everything when camping, and the Java Drip checks all boxes in this department - it's super lightweight, BPA free and unbreakable, meaning it goes anywhere without adding to your load. 

GSI make more than one variation of this bad boy + a whole range of kick-ass camping gear, so be sure to check all their stuff out before heading into the wilderness.

PROS

  • Ultralightweight
  • Flexible plastic makes it easy to stuff in a bag
  • Brews a really clean cup of coffee
  • Leg clips designed to fit almost any coffee mug

CONS

  • Requires Paper filters so you will need to carry out waste
  • Non-Structured nylon makes brewing inconsistent

WHAT YOU'LL NEED


  • Standard #2 or #4 coffee filters
  • Coffee Mug or vessel to brew into
  • Medium fine ground coffee

How to Brew

  • ​Step 1: Bring at least 12-16oz of water up to boil.
  • Step 2: Attach Java Dripper to top of coffee cup
  • Step 3: Place one (or two filters for a cleaner extraction) into the nylon vessel.
  • Step 4: Wet filters and discard water from mug.
  • Step 5: Pour grounds into filters and move grounds around till they look fairly evenly distributed.
  • Step 6: Pour about a quarter of your total brew water over the grounds to start the bloom process and help cultivate some aromas and flavors
  • Step 7: After about 30 seconds, continue pouring water with a slow and consistent flow. If a spouted kettle or pot is available, try pouring your water in a circular motion starting from the middle and moving outwards.
  • Step 8: Continue pouring until water until you have reached desired height in coffee. Avoid overflow by keeping your pour slow.

For a complete video overview check out this video of the GSI Java Drip in Action:  

If the GSI Java Drip tickles your fancy you can pick it up on Amazon right here.


AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker with Bonus 350 Micro Filters

#5 - Jump on the Aeropress Bandwagon

The Aerobie Aeropress is one of the more clunky brewers on this list but is also one of the easiest to use. It also produces one of the cleanest cups of coffee you’ll ever try, so its no wonder its becoming a staple in every coffee fanatics repertoire.

The Aeropress comes in a rugged and durable plastic and includes extra brewing equipment including a measuring spoon, stirring paddle, and funnel to prevent spilling. It also has built-in measuring units to help you better control your coffee: water ratio without any extra equipment.

It's great for camping trips but also keeps us happy in any setting - the brew it delivers is just so damn good, you'd be silly not to add an Aeropress to your coffee collection. 

PROS

  • Durable plastic makes it difficult to scratch or break
  • Easy to use measuring units built into unit
  • Comes with extra tools required to make coffee
  • Forced extraction helps create a strong and clean coffee

CONS

  • Bulky-Takes up a large amount of space
  • 3 main components to brewer, you lose one and it won’t work

WHAT YOU'LL NEED


How to Brew

There are many different ways to make an Aeropress, some of which we cover right here. For the sake of keeping things simple while camping, we will be using a basic method which is easy to master.

This is ridiculously easy to do and you’ll be amazed at the resulting brew. Brace yourself.

  • ​Step 1: Bring water to rolling boil.
  • Step 2: Prepare your Aeropress by inserting a filter into the filter cap and securely locking the cap onto the brewing chamber. Place unit on top of mug with cap facing down.
  • Step 3: Run some hot water through the chamber to wet the filter to remove paper taste and drop flavor and warm the mug.
  • Step 4: Scoop a generous amount of coffee with your Aeropress measuring spoon into the Aeropress chamber. The spoon should be slightly overflowing.
  • Step 5: Pour water over your coffee grounds about the width of two fingers. This is called the “blooming” process and helps to develop flavors and aromas in the coffee.
  • Step 6: After 30 seconds, stir the grounds with the Aeropress paddle.
  • Step 7: Fill the water up to the #4. Place the plunger on top of the chamber to create a vacuum seal.
  • Step 8: After 45 seconds, remove the plunger and stir grounds. Pour water back up the #4. Replace plunger.
  • Step 9: With a consistent downward pressure, press the plunger down for roughly 20-30 seconds.
  • Step 10: Enjoy your coffee.​

Don't have an Aeropress yet? How embarrassing. Pick one up here on Amazon.


#6 - The GSI Outdoor French Press (JavaPress)

The french press method is well known to brew a much richer and full bodied flavor - and the good news is that you don't have to bring your fragile french press along on your camping trips anymore.

Introducing the Javapress - the French Press for campers. Much like the French Press, it's easy to use and does not use any paper filters making cleanup a breeze and reduces waste on your trip. (Filters can easily be overlooked on your packing list)

This bad boy looks more like a travel coffee mug but the plunger is built-in to its design - pure genius if you ask us. Simply use it like you would with your FP, and pour into your coffee mug. Easy.

If having something fragile does not concern you, your standard French press will be fine – just make sure you choose one that can accommodate your campsite with ease (single server vs 8 cup brewers)​

PROS

  • Reduces waste, able to just pour out grounds
  • Durable, especially those made of titanium or other metals.
  • Easy to use

CONS

  • Coffee, if left too long in press, will become chalky in flavor
  • Bulky and takes up awkward amount of space in bag
  • Mesh filters are difficult to fully clean

WHAT YOU'LL NEED


  • Coarse Ground Coffee
  • Coffee Mug

How to Brew

**If you need something that can be used on a direct flame (you’ll have no electric kettle) Consider the Snow Peak Titanium French press, which is durable enough for a direct flame campfire or gas stove**

  • Step 1: (For Snow Peak Only) place French Press carafe over open flame or burner and allow water to come to a boil
  • Step 2: Once water has come to a boil, drop in a healthy scoop of coarse ground coffee into the water.
  • Step 3: Remove from heat and take the French Press plunger and place on top of carafe but DO NOT PRESS DOWN
  • Step 4: After about 30 seconds, remove lid and stir grounds 1-2 full rotations, replace lid
  • Step 5: After 3-4 minutes, press down plunger with a consistent pressure to the bottom. This will separate the grounds from the water and complete the brewing process. However, it is important to note that the longer the coffee sits with the grounds, the more “chalky” the coffee will taste.

Pick up you GSI Javapress on Amazon for a very very reasonable price right now!


#8 - A Stovetop Espresso Maker

Stove top espresso makers or “Moka pots” are a European tradition and produce a strong and rich brewed coffee.

Here’s the jist of it: you’ll place water in the bottom compartment, finely ground coffee in the middle compartment, and an empty top serving carafe. As the water boils, it will bubble up and “percolate,” forcibly extracting a strong coffee brew into the top serving container.

The resulting coffee is similar to espresso – strong and full of buzz. Most Moka Pots are made of aluminum and therefore can be used on a campfire stove, however the plastic handle wont last long if you decide to use it over a campfire. You’ve been warned.

PROS

  • Concentrated brew with strong flavors
  • Single Serve-Perfect for solo traveling
  • Metal construction makes it durable for outdoors

CONS

  • Pot comes with a plastic handle that could melt over an open flame
  • Coffee yields are very small compared to other methods
  • Coffee can taste scorched or chalky if not controlled

WHAT YOU'LL NEED


  • Finely Ground
  • CoffeeMeasuring Spoon
  • Coffee Mug to serve

How to Brew

  • Step 1: Unscrew top portion and coffee filter
  • Step 2: Pour water into bottom vessel till bottom of lip
  • Step 3: Scoop finely ground coffee till a little above the halfway mark in the filter
  • Step 4: Reattach coffee filter to bottom portion and screw top portion onto brewer
  • Step 5: Place brewer on campfire burner and turn heat to medium high. It will be important that when using a gas powered camping stove to ensure you watch the heat to ensure it maintains consistent heat.
  • Step 6: At boiling, brewer will start to make a “popping” sound. Make sure you listen because once the popping sound is over, all of the water will have gone to the top serving vessel.
  • Step 7: Remove from heat.
  • Step 8: Serve immediately and enjoy.

We love a good Moka pot but hate a bad one. Make sure you don't pick up an imitation, or it will not do your taste bud any favours. We reviewed the best Moka pots right here - check it out.


#8 - Hand Press Gadgets

Portable Espresso makers have just recently started to enter to the home barista market at full speed, and you should be excited if you love an espresso.

Either using C02 capsules or hand pumps to build the necessary pressure, these handheld devices are trying to replicate concentrated coffee extraction. To make lattes on the go you will be required to also purchase extra equipment like a battery powered milk frother as these handheld devices can only make espresso.

For the sake of camping convenience, we will be focusing on the Handpresso portable espresso maker which builds pressure via manual pump and tastes like the real deal.​

PROS

  • You can enjoy delicious espresso outdoors
  • It is a singular unit so no extra pieces to pack
  • Can be used with either fresh ground or prepackaged coffee
  • Manual, does not require costly batteries or Co2 pods

CONS

  • Does not retain water temp and cools quickly
  • Difficult to pump up to the necessary 16 bars of pressure
  • Does not have a component to steam milk

WHAT YOU'LL NEED


  • Finely ground coffee the texture of sand or pre-packaged coffee pods
  • Boiling Water
  • Preferably someone with strong forearms
  • Mug or 2oz Espresso cup

How to Brew

This is a fairly simple method to use based on the instructions, but watch this video as the handpresso has multiple components that have to be properly replaced in the unit.

  • Step 1: Lay the Handpresso down with the espresso pod pointing up.
  • Step 2: Unscrew the espresso pod filter and fill it with finely ground coffee or coffee pod. Make sure the grounds lay flat and in line with the top of the pod.
  • Step 3: Fill the water cavity, located above the espresso pod attachment, to the top with boiling water.
  • Step 4: Reattach the espresso pod on top of the water cavity. Lock the espresso pod in place.
  • Step 5: Hold Handpresso, espresso pod pointing down.
  • Step 6: Release the extraction button by pressing up on the bottom button right beside the espresso pod.
  • Step 7: While firmly holding the upper portion of the handpresso, you will pump the bottom pump up to 16psi.
  • Step 8: At 16psi, press the extraction button and hold till complete.

We dig the Handpresso, and you will too. Pick it up on Amazon right here.


#9 - The Jetboil Flash Java Kit

The Flash Java Kit is Jetboil’s own version of a French Press, so it's similar to the GSI Javapress which was covered above.

Instead of having to carry extra camping equipment, the Java Kit is actually an attachable French press filter and stem that is designed to fit into the standard Jet Boil pot lid.

It's easy to use, easy to clean and fits neatly into the pot when not in use to minimize bulk and wasted space in your pack.

But that's not why we love it. We love it because its SUPER fast (its not called 'jet boil' for nothing) - taking approximately 2.5 minutes to boil. Spend less time brewing coffee and more time sipping it while taking in the view.

PROS

  • Super-efficient heating element boils water faster
  • All in one unit helps to minimize space taken up in pack
  • Designed to work even in harsh rain and snow weather conditions

CONS

  • Expensive, you will have to purchase a whole new camping stove system starting at $100.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED


  • Jetboil pour lid
  • Jetboil French press attachment
  • Coarsely ground coffee

How to Brew

  • ​Step 1: Place your Jetboil pot onto the heating element to start boiling water
  • Step 2: Remove the pour lid and attach the French press plunger attachment by inserting the post through the hole in the lid and screwing on the mesh filter.
  • Step 3: When water comes up to a boil, dump your coarsely ground coffee into the boiling water, turn off heat.
  • Step 4: Place lid over coffee but DO NOT PRESS and let sit for 3-4 minutes.
  • Step 5: After 3-4 minutes, slowly press down the coffee plunger.
  • Step 6: Pour your freshly brewed coffee into your camping mug and enjoy.

Want your own jet boil? we thought so. You can pick them up online right here.


#10 - Ye Old Campfire Percolator

The Percolator coffee brewer is the perfect coffee brewer for large groups of campers (who aren’t fussy about their coffee)

Percolators usually come in larger 8-12 cup sizes which means they are great for stationary camping trips in the mountains – it's not something you’ll want to lug around on a hike with you, however.

The percolator is usually made out of enamelware and is recognizable by its glass button top and aluminum filter. The coffee brewed through a percolator can come out unyielding, very thick – and very bitter if you’re not careful.

PROS

  • Good for large groups
  • Larger brewer makes it easier to retain heat
  • Easy to use and easy to clean up, requires no special technique

CONS

  • Design makes it easy to over extract coffee and have a “chalky” flavor
  • Glass top and aluminum filter can break easily
  • Bulky, making it difficult to hike or travel

WHAT YOU'LL NEED


  • Coarsely ground coffee
  • Large Heating Element or Campfire
  • Enamel steel cup as the choice for a classic mug

How to Brew

  • Step 1: Disassemble the coffee percolator. Fill percolator pot with cold water a little above the halfway mark.
  • Step 2: Fill the aluminum coffee filter with grounds a little above halfway. Place lid on top of filter.
  • Step 3: Place the filter on top of the aluminum stand and then place the whole unit into the pot of with water.
  • Step 4: Place lid on top of kettle.
  • Step 5: Place kettle onto heating element or over open fire.
  • Step 6: Let kettle come to a boil. As it boils, the water will bubble up through the stem and onto the grounds. You will hear a “popping” and “gurgling” sound as the coffee brews.
  • Step 7: Let the kettle boil for 4-6 minutes.
  • Step 8: Remove kettle from heat and enjoy.

This campfire percolator seems to be the favourite at the moment so check it out.


Nice-to-Have-Accessories

Even the lightest of packers can agree that small luxuries and additions can make the camping trip that much more enjoyable. To create a great coffee experience while camping here a few suggestions of different accessories or items that you can purchase to throw in your bag for added comfort and quality.

A Manual Burr Grinder

Of course, you won't be packing your electric burr grinder, but if you want to enjoy that freshly ground taste and aroma, consider a manual/hand grinder like one of these.

They come in all shapes and sizes seem like they were invented for camping: lightweight and made from metal or plastic for durability with built in measuring tools to make grinding on the go easier.

Miniature Scales

Miniature scales are a great addition to any coffee enthusiast’s outdoor bag. Not only do they provide you with accurate water to coffee ratio for better extraction, they will also help you make sure that you minimize waste and have the perfect amount of coffee for everyday of your trip.

We cover a few great coffee scales here.​

If you’re really looking to go minimalistic, consider measuring out portions before you leave.

An Outdoor Coffee Kit?

Source

Talk about convenience; you now can pick up an outdoor camping kit that everything you need to make coffee outdoor, all in one handy package.

Stumptown has an Aeropress camping kit that includes enamel mugs, Aeropress, and miniature burr grinder in a beautiful waxed canvas bag. Other companies like Blue Mug create beautiful all in one camping kits.

If your the type of person who likes it done for you, check out our favourite coffee travel kits right here. ​


Now that you know how to make coffee while camping (in 9 different styles) you’ll never have to drink instant coffee around the campfire every again. Hooray!

What other ways do you like to make coffee while camping? Let us know in the comments below. If you liked this tutorial, go out camping, brew some coffee, and don’t forget to share this article with your friends.​

How to make coffee while camping
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