What’s a better way to greet the morning in the wilderness than to drink a hot cup of camp coffee?
Craving for the drink is one thing though; preparing for it is another.
Good coffee while camping requires some prep work, and you might need to bring a few tools with you.
Depending on how much time you’re willing to spend on brewing the coffee and how much load you’re willing to add to your backpack, there are about 10 different ways you can make your daily brew.
How to Make Coffee While Camping
1. Make Specialty Instant Coffee or Steeped Coffee
- Time Needed: 30 Seconds to 4 Minutes
- Things Needed: Instant Coffee, Kettle, Water
Instant coffee, despite its bad reputation, is actually a great option for camping. Instant coffee granules, also known as coffee powder or coffee crystals, are derived from the beans of brewed coffee.
Some outdoor adventurers prefer instant coffee because it’s lightweight, thus ideal if you’re backpacking, and you want to reduce weight and save space.
It’s also easy to prepare instant coffee.
You simply have to put the granules into a cup of boiling water. Wait for a couple of seconds, then stir and drink.
There are a few we suggest:
We also love the Steeped Coffee style of brewing.
These single-use coffee makers are essentially a coffee tea bag – except they actually work much better than you’re probably thinking.
We suggest trying these from Joe Coffee.
You can’t really go wrong with any of those!
Note: From Here On, You’ll Need A Portable Coffee Grinder
Instant coffee is nice because you don’t need to bring a brewer, grinder, or beans. But sometimes that feels lame — you want the full experience!
And I don’t blame you.
Luckily, there’s a manual burr grinder that works wonders: the JavaPresse Coffee Grinder.
- It’s super lightweight
- It’s slim and easy to grip & grind
- And it’s virtually indestructible
(That’s why I used it while I traveled the world full-time in 2017 and 2018!)
Seriously, it’s a winner. Read more about it here
2. Use The Cowboy Coffee Method
- Time Needed: ~4 Minutes
- Things Needed: Coffee grounds, Kettle, Water
Making camping coffee using the cowboy method is also ideal for the light packers.
It’s a simple way to brew coffee using limited resources. All you need is a vessel of some sort (a coffee pot or kettle, usually), which you can place over a campfire or camping stove.
To make coffee with the cowboy brewing method, you need to boil water on the kettle first. Then, let the water cool for around 360 seconds.
Next, add the coffee grounds and stir. You’ll hear a sizzling sound when the coffee grounds make contact the water and may even notice some foam.
Let the coffee sit for a minute or two. Stir again, and let it rest for another minute.
Once the coffee grounds settle at the bottom of your kettle, pour the coffee slowly into your coffee mug and enjoy.
The cowboy coffee brewing method is extremely simple but honestly feels like unnecessary work for the amount of grounds (and grit) that will end up in your final cup.
My honest recommendation? Go with the instant coffee.
3. Use A Coffee Steeping Bag
- Time Needed: ~4 Minutes
- Things Needed: Coffee bag (basket coffee filter, coffee grounds, butchers twine), Kettle, Water
Coffee bags are also a convenient and quick way to get your camping coffee caffeine fix.
You can either buy it from a store or make it at home yourself (try Steeped Coffee if you’re in the US). You just throw these bags into boiling water and let them steep for a few minutes to brew.
They are space-savers and require less effort to clean up.
If you’re planning to use this method for brewing coffee, you can make your own coffee bag by taking a regular basket coffee filter, laying it flat. Fill the filter with a big scoop of ground coffee. Tie the filter tightly using a butchers twine. Leave a little twine so you can have a tail to hold, then cut the excess filter off.
To brew with your coffee bag, boil water over a stove or fire. Place the coffee bag in the hot water and let it steep for one to three minutes. Remove the coffee bag and drink your fresh camping coffee.
4. Brew Up Pour Over Coffee
- Time Needed: ~6 Minutes
- Things Needed: Filter cone, Coffee Dripper, Kettle, Water, Coffee grounds
Another portable option in making your coffee is using pour-overs. This filter cone makes use of the pour over method to brew your coffee quickly. When you’re done using it, you can simply rinse, wipe, flatten and then pack it up.
I suggest checking out the Wacaco Cuppamoka, which is an all-in-one brewer.
To brew your coffee using this method, pop open the cone, setting the bottom ring on the top of your mug. Place a coffee filter inside the cone, and then put the coffee. Boil water, and then let it cool for a while.
Pour enough water to saturate your coffee. Let it bloom for a minute before pouring the remaining water. Remove the cone and enjoy.
5. The AeroPress Is A Great Camping Coffee Maker
- Time Needed: ~3 Minutes
- Things Needed: AeroPress Go, Kettle, Water, Coffee grounds
The AeroPress Go is a combination of a pour over and a French press. You can achieve an American style coffee and even an espresso shot using this brewing method!
Simply add two scoops of coffee to the larger tube of your AeroPress container. Soak the coffee grounds, and let it bloom for half a minute. Add hot water until the chamber is full. Stir the coffee grounds using the paddle. Place the plunger into the chamber, then slowly press down. You can add water to taste.
Use a sturdy mug if you plan to use the AeroPress to prevent it from tipping over when you start pressing down.
Also Read: Our It’s American Press Review (a worthy alternative to the AeroPress).
6. Make Extra-Strong Moka Pot Coffee
- Time Needed: ~8 Minutes
- Things Needed: Stovetop espresso maker, coffee grounds, water
Stovetop espresso makers, otherwise known as “Moka pots,” produce a rich and strong brewed coffee. This method is a popular European tradition, too.
We suggest checking out Bialetti models, which don’t seem to have a clear rival when it comes to build quality and coffee flavor.
To brew coffee using the Moka pot method, you only need to fill the bottom compartment with water and the middle compartment with coffee. Then, place the serving carafe at the top.
When the water boils, you will notice the coffee extract go up the serving container. Your coffee will be similar to an espresso, which is full of buzz and strong. You can use a Moka pot on a campfire stove since most of them are made of aluminium.
Be extra careful with its plastic handle, though.
7. Make a French Press Coffee
- Time Needed: ~4 Minutes
- Things Needed: French press coffee maker, Kettle, Coffee grounds, water
French coffee makers come in durable materials. They can either be double-walled plastic or stainless steel, which are ideal for the camp.
The KitchenAid french press is particularly nice for travel brewing because it has a built-in gram scale and timer, so you don’t need extra tools to measure coffee or track steep time.
In making the coffee, you need to brew one cup of water per one scoop of ground coffee. Let the boiling water cool for half a minute.
Pour half of the water into the press while you wait for your coffee bloom. After one minute, pour the remaining water. Allow it steep for a couple of minutes.
If you want your coffee stronger, let it steep for more than 3 minutes. Then, press the French Press plunger gently. Then, pour your coffee and enjoy.
Also Read: Our KohiPress (Travel French Press) Review
8. Use An Old-School Coffee Percolator
- Time Needed: ~6 Minutes
- Things Needed: Coffee percolator, Coffee grounds, water
Coffee percolators are very easy to use. They work by cycling water continuously through the coffee grounds until the preferred strength is achieved.
To make coffee using a percolator, simply fill the bottom of the chamber with water.
Add about a teaspoon of ground coffee at the top chamber. Heat the percolator by placing it over whatever heat source you prefer.
Let your coffee percolate, and drink when done brewing.
This Coleman camping coffee maker is a great alternative to the Open Country percolator mentioned in the video – which is currently unavailable.
9. Try The Wacky Bripe Brewer
- Time Needed: ~3 Minutes
- Things Needed: Bripe, Butane lighter, Coffee grounds, water
The Bripe coffee procedure makes brewing pocket-size. It only takes a few minutes and a jet flame lighter.
To make a Bripe coffee, simply put pre ground coffee and water into the Bripe then stir. Heat the bottom of the Bripe using a blue flame butane lighter. Let it cool for a while, then sip the coffee through the stem.
10. Use A Hand-Powered, Portable Espresso Maker
- Time Needed: ~1 Minutes
- Things Needed: Hand-Powered Espresso Maker, Metal filter, Water, Coffee grounds
Manual espresso makers can be taken anywhere as they are portable. Depending on your skills, you can get very good to excellent espresso.
First, leave the boiling water in the espresso maker for 30 seconds. Then, pour the ground coffee into it. There’s no need to tamp the coffee as the lid will do the job. Wait for the coffee to settle before you start pumping. When you see a rich, browny layer on the top, you can start pouring it into a cup.
Popular travel espresso makers are the Nanopresso and the Handpresso.
We’ve actually used these many times, and they’re excellent. While the espresso’s not exactly what you’d get from a big-time espresso machine, it’s close enough to satisfy!
NEW Camping Trip Favorite: The American Press
We’re also big fans of the American Press, a brewer we used to travel the world full-time for 15 months. It’s just big enough for two cups of coffee, which makes it a great pick for duo trips. And it’s super durable — like, you could literally run over it and it’d be fine!
Learn more about the American Press here.
Bottom Line on Brewing Camping Coffee
There are different ways you can make camping coffee.
If you don’t want to buy equipment for it, you can stick to the simpler methods like using instant coffee or the cowboy coffee method.
However, if it’s high-quality, delicious camp coffee that you’re looking for, you might want to make sacrifices and bring an espresso maker, french press, or percolator with you.