If you’re like many of us, there’s few things that bring comfort to a morning like a hot cup of coffee. When you’re looking at camping coffee options, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and concerned that you might have to buy excessive gear to brew up a warm cup of joe while out on the trail or when car camping.
To help you out, we’ve created our guide on how to make coffee, camping edition. Check out our more complete list of what to bring camping here.
The basics of coffee are fairly simple. Combine ground coffee with hot water and voila, you have a warm cup of coffee goodness to get you going in the morning. For most people, the question then becomes, how do I heat water for coffee while camping?
For that you have a few options
Once you’ve heated the water, you then just need to know what type of coffee options are available. Part of the challenge with giving recommendations for how to make coffee while camping is that there are a number of options that produce a good cup of coffee. Choosing the right option for you is a matter of personal taste preference and budget. None of the camping coffee options are necessarily expensive, but it’s not fun to buy something and not use it.
Here are the standard camping coffee options.
Camping water boiling options
Camping cooking system such as a jetboil
There are a number of camping cooking systems on the market that are made to boil water quickly using minimal fuel. These systems are designed to be used with dehydrated food options. Combine boiled water with dehydrated food options and bingo bango you’ve got a meal in minutes. As a result, camping cooking systems are great options for boiling water to make a cup of coffee.
Camping cooking systems come with a heating element, a pot to heat the water and a can of starter fuel. If you’re looking for the one stop shop, a camping cooking system might be the best answer to how to make coffee while camping. We must note, many camping cooking systems are made to make meals for individuals or groups of 2-3 at most. If you’re looking to make coffee for larger groups, you may want to explore other options.
If you’ve ever been camping, you’re probably familiar with a Coleman style camping stove. Essentially a portable propane cook range, the Coleman style stove has been a standard camping cooking range for years. When it comes to making coffee, you can fire up the camping cooking range, set a pot or pan of water on it and you’ve got boiling water (or hot coffee) in short order.
Over the fire
If you’re relatively new to camping, you likely think of making coffee over the campfire. This can be a great option if you have a good campfire grate and a pot or pan with a lid. You’ll also want a good pair of heat resistant gloves.
- Start the fire
- Put the grate over warm embers
- Fill up your pot/pan with water making sure the lid is covering from floating ash
- Boil the water
This might sound ridiculous, but you technically could use any electric coffee maker if you’re camping at a site with electrical hookup or access to a generator. Many campgrounds have campsites with and without electrical hookup. If you’re on the fence about camping, you might consider camping at a site with an electrical hookup to brew your morning coffee.
Camping coffee options
There are a number of instant coffee options on the market that (maybe) surprisingly aren’t half bad. Starbucks has their version but there are countless others that are worthy of trying out before your next camping trip.
Steps to making instant camping coffee
- Boil water
- Pour serving size of hot water into a mug/cup
- Stir instant coffee
Instant coffee is great for portability. You can carry a weeks’ worth of coffee and take up minimal space and weight in your pack. Instant coffee will have a wrapper that you’ll need to carry out or burn so make sure to plan accordingly.
Aeropress is a favorite for regular campers. It’s small in size, lightweight, and produces a good single serving cup of coffee. Here’s the steps for how to use an Aeropress.
- Boil water
- Install the filter into the bottom of the Aeropress
- Pour and level coffee grounds into the Aeropress
- Add hot water & stir for 10 seconds
- Insert plunger and press gently, pausing when you feel resistance, until plunger reaches grounds.
Using an aeropress will have used coffee grounds that will need to be disposed of when you’re finished. If you’re backpack camping, a good best practice is to carry the grounds out with you. If you’re car camping, simply dispose of the spent grounds into a garbage bag and dispose with the rest of your garbage at the end of your camping trip.
Percolating coffee makers are a camping standard coffee. There are a number of options available that are inexpensive and available at any camping or outdoor store. You can use the percolating coffee maker over a campfire or camping stove and produce a good cup of coffee.
If you read reviews of camping coffee, you might see people say percolated coffee can be extra bitter. The key to using a percolating coffee maker is to monitor temperature closely. You want to get the water close to boiling without actually boiling it. Boiling coffee in a percolator is a sure way to get bitter coffee.
Steps to making camping coffee using a percolating coffee maker
Step 1: Add coffee grounds to the upper basket
Step 2: Heat. Place the percolator on the stovetop or over a campfire and heat it over medium heat
Step 3: Heat the coffee to Perk without reaching a full boil
Step 4: Let the coffee rest and serve
Cowboy coffee is a basic coffee that's made with nothing more than beans, water and a pot. While most would agree cowboy coffee isn’t the first choice for coffee, if done properly it can be a good coffee in a pinch.
Steps to making cowboy coffee
- Add water to your pot and bring it to a boil.
- Once the water’s boiling, remove the pot from your fire and let it sit for 30 seconds. This will lower the water temperature to 200°F — the perfect temperature for brewing coffee.
- Add 2 tablespoons of finely ground coffee for every 8 ounces of water. (You may want to measure how much water your pot holds and how much coffee a spoon you bring holds before going camping so you can measure accurately.)
- Stir the grounds into the water.
- Let the brew sit for 2 minutes and stir again.
- Let the coffee sit for 2 more minutes.
- After a total of 4 minutes of brewing, sprinkle a little cold water on the grounds. Yes, this actually does help them settle to the bottom.
- Slowly pour the coffee, so the grounds remain on the bottom of the pot
Reusable coffee filter
Single serving reusable coffee filters are a great option for camping coffee. The filters are small and light-weight and can be stored in any mug or cup. Since it’s reusable, you don’t have to carry paper filters and can be stored in any standard camping meal kit cup or mug.
Steps to using a reusable coffee filter
- Boil water - Remove from heat and let water cool slightly
- Fill the reusable camping coffee filter with coffee grounds
- Pour hot water through the coffee grounds in the filter
- Let the coffee steep for a few minutes
- Remove the filter and serve
Similar to a reusable coffee filter, a camping pour over coffee is a great option for camping coffee. Instead of using a reusable coffee filter to steep the coffee, the pour over filters the coffee just like your normal coffee filter.
Steps to using a camping pour over coffee maker
- Boil water - remove from heat and let water cool slightly
- Fill the pour over coffee filter with coffee grounds
- Set the pour over coffee filter on a cup/mug
- Pour hot water through the coffee grounds into the cup
If you have a campground with electrical hookup, your options for making coffee include your standard in home coffee maker. While you can get coffee makers made specifically for camping, don’t discount taking your coffee maker from home. When you’re car camping you can pretty much take whatever you can fit into your car so the coffee maker might be worth the space.