Some things just make life better, and coffee is one of them. Few things are as pleasurable as a hot, steaming cup of coffee around a campfire, sitting by a lake, or watching the sun come up as it colors the sky. Coffee and camping go hand-in-hand. Knowing how to make coffee while camping may sound complicated, but rest assured, it is not. In fact, making coffee when camping is part of what makes combining the two so great.
How To Make Coffee While Camping 8 Easy Ways
- Percolator Coffee Pot
- French Press
- Cowboy Coffee
- Moka Pot
- Pour Over Coffee
- Portable Espresso Maker
- Instant Coffee Packets
- Camping Coffee Filter
That is not to say there aren’t other ways and brewing methods, but these eight are tried and true and work well for any camping situation. Explore these favorite ways, whether you are car camping, RV camping, backpacking, or some other combination!
How To Percolate Coffee While Camping
As a general rule, use 1 to 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds per 8 ounces of water. Place grounds in the coffee chamber. Add water to the bottom of the percolator. Place over a heat source such as a wood fire. As the water boils, it moves up the percolator tube and flows out over the coffee.
Coffee percolators brew coffee by continuously circulating boiling water until the desired level of the brew is reached. A camping coffee percolator is no different. Whether you are able to use a battery operated coffee maker for camping or choose to use one requiring no electricity, the basics are the same.
How to Use a Camping Coffee Percolator
A percolator has a small chamber at the bottom of the pot close to the heat source. A tube goes from this chamber to the top of the percolator, just below a perforated chamber. The desired amount of water is added to the pot, and the coarse-ground coffee is added to the top chamber. The water level should be below the bottom of the coffee chamber.
When camping, whether it’s a campfire or a propane stove, the heat source heats water in the bottom. As the water boils, the bubbles navigate towards the internal percolator tube, and the water pushes up through the percolator tube. It then flows out over the coffee chamber into the coffee grounds. The water seeps through the grounds, then to the bottom of the coffee chamber. The brewed coffee drops to the bottom chamber, mixing with that liquid, and the cycle continues.
As it circulates, the liquid reaches a boiling point, and the “perking” (the spurting sound) stops. Now the coffee is ready to drink. Manual percolators should be removed from the heat at this point so the coffee doesn’t develop a bitter taste due to prolonged high heat.
An electric coffee maker may have a heating element that automatically shuts off at the end of the brewing. Please do not use over other heating sources as it will ruin them.
How Much Coffee to Put in a Percolator
How much coffee to put in a percolator depends on the size. A good rule of thumb is to use an ounce of whole beans (before grinding) for every half-liter of water.
The downside to using a coffee percolator is it can have a more bitter taste. Monitor closely to avoid burning. However, some coffee connoisseurs appreciate these qualities. You may want to just try experimenting to see what suits your tastes. You will definitely get a more robust cup of coffee than you would from a regular coffee maker due to the recirculation. Finally, it can take up to half an hour for a pot to fully percolate, which may be a downside for some people.
Best Camping Percolator Coffee Pot
If you’re looking for a large camping coffee percolator, the GSI Outdoors 12 Cup Enamelware Percolator Coffee Pot is the way to go. GSI Outdoors is a household name for camping utensils, cook, and drinkware and offers a lifetime warranty to the original owner for manufacturing defects. If you have several coffee drinkers in your camping party, the large size ensures everyone gets their fill without brewing another pot. Construction is very durable, and it even looks rustic. Perfect for camp coffee.
GSI also makes other sizes, so you have other options with the same design. They offer different designs as well.
How to Use a French Press Coffee Pot
As a general rule, start with adding coffee grinds in the bottom of the French press. Then pour boiling water over the top of the grounds. Let steep for 2 minutes. Depress the French press plunger down forcing the coffee grounds to the bottom. Pour and enjoy your coffee.
Using a French Press is a simple and easy process. You grind your beans, put them in the bottom of the French Press, pour boiling water over the top, and let it steep for several minutes. The lid will have a plunger with a filter attached at the bottom. Depress the plunger to keep the coffee grounds at the bottom, then pour a rich, thick cup of delicious coffee.
There is no standard for how much coffee to put in your French Press. It all depends on how strong you like your coffee and can vary anywhere from a 1:10 coffee to water ratio up to 1:16. It’s all about personal preference.
This brings us to the next point: the downside of using French Presses for camping. While the coffee is delicious and makes it well worth the hassle, you will still have to deal with loose, wet coffee grounds. If you are in bear country, you definitely don’t want to dump these just anywhere as the smell can attract bears. Preferably, there will be a garbage can or place them in a garbage bag you will haul out with you. Alternatively, you can set them free in a river or stream, and nature will wash them away for you.
Best Camping French Press Coffee Pot
The GSI Outdoors 20 fl. oz. Personal JavaPress is an excellent French Press camping option. They also offer a 50 fl. oz. version of the JavaPress. It is insulated, lightweight, and shatterproof. This means it can take a beating and be used for backpacking if you don’t mind packing a little extra weight. Weighing in at less than a pound, it may be worth it! The blue insulation sleeve is removable, so you can wash this press in the dishwasher between trips.
To make French Press coffee, you’ll obviously need a way to boil water. You can simply boil water in a pot on a grate over a fire or use a propane camp stove.
Another great option is the Jetboil Flash Camping and Backpacking Stove Cooking System. Jetboil’s heat water in about 100 seconds using minimal fuel. They are popular with backpackers since they are lightweight and have many additional uses, such as heating water for freeze-dried food as well. They are also a good option for car camping as they are quick and efficient.
Additionally, many accessories can be purchased, including a Jetboil Silicone French Press. The only caveat to this route is dealing with coffee grounds can be pretty messy and hard to get out. You may not want to have them in the same container you’re using to boil water for other things. That’s where the ultra lightweight JavaPress may be the best option in combination with the Jetboil, but for ultralight backpacking, this combination may be your preferred choice.
How To Make Cowboy Coffee
Making cowboy coffee is a method of pouring hot water directly over coffee grounds. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of fine grounds per 8 ounces of hot boiled water. Pour water over the grounds and let steep for two minutes. Slowly drink or pour the coffee so the grounds stay at the bottom of the cup.
The cowboy method gets the job done and is one of the easiest ways to make coffee when camping. We strongly recommend boiling your water first to help remove any impurities in the cold water.
When making cowboy coffee, first, boil your water. Second, grab one of your coffee bags and scoop out or pour out coffee grounds into a pitcher, cup, or mug. Third, pour your hot water directly over the coffee grounds. Fourth, stir the water and coffee grounds. Fifth, let the coffee rest for a couple of minutes, and then carefully pour your coffee into different coffee cups or coffee mugs. The trick here is to try not to disturb the coffee grounds which have settled at the bottom of the kettle. You are trying to drink the coffee but not the coffee grounds.
Moka Pot Camping
What is a Moka Pot
A Moka Pot is very similar to a Percolator; however, there are slight differences between the two. A Moka Pot, using pressure, forces water through your coffee ground. This is why sometimes Moka Pots are referred to as a stovetop espresso maker. But you don’t necessarily need a stove top to use a Moka Pot. You can use a Moka Pot such as the Moka Express Iconic Stovetop Espresso Maker, Makes Real Italian Coffee over other heating sources. A Percolator is more casual as the water drips through your coffee ground.
Moka Pot vs Percolator
Moka Pots are intended to be used with finely ground coffee. The result of making coffee with a Moka Pot is that the coffee resembles somewhat of an espresso. It will be a strong brew coffee. Using a Percolator, the coffee result closely resembles the traditional method or coffee you would find with a drip coffee machine.
Moka Pots are great for making coffee for individuals or smaller groups. Percolators tend to be better for large groups when making coffee at the campfire or camping stove.
How To Make Moka Pot Camping Coffee
Pour in your cold or lukewarm water inside the bottom compartment of the Moka Pot. Add in your fine ground coffee to the middle compartment container. Place your Moka Pot over a heat source, and then let the Moka Pot go to work.
The finished coffee will be in the top compartment and it makes a great cup of coffee.
Pour Over Coffee When Camping
A pour over coffee is another favorite coffee brew method when camping due to its ease of use. It’s a great way to make a hassle free cup of hot coffee or even hot chocolate. Grab your Portable Pour Over Coffee Dripper Stainless Steel Slow Drip Coffee Filter, and place it directly over your coffee cup.
Hot Chocolate Pour-Over
Add in your coffee grounds or hot chocolate mix inside the Pour-Over dripper and then slowly start pouring water over the coffee grounds. You will want to pour the water slowly in a circular pattern keeping a consistent flow and consistent water level within the dripper.
Portable Espresso Maker
Take a portable espresso maker into the woods on your next camping trip. A portable espresso machine does not need batteries or electricity. It is a hand coffee maker manually operated by you. Just think, you will have your own espresso machine out in the middle of the woods.
Portable Espresso Machine Will Not Heat Water
Use a portable espresso maker such as the WACACO Minipresso GR, Portable Espresso Machine by adding your coffee grounds into the filter tank. Next, you will need to add boiling water into the water tank. Heads up, a portable espresso maker will not heat the water for you. Boiling water will need to be done prior to using the portable espresso machine.
Engage the camping espresso maker pump to pressurize the gadget, and the espresso machine will do the rest. Enjoy your espresso!
Instant Coffee Packets To Go
If you don’t want to learn how to use a camping coffee pot, bare bones coffee may be the best method for you. There are a few different methods.
Freeze Or Spray-Dried Coffee Beans
Instant coffee is made from freeze or spray-dried coffee beans that can later be rehydrated. What you get is a really fine powder or crystals, depending on the brand, that dissolves quickly in hot water. Each packet is exceptionally lightweight and low-volume in comparison to beans or ground coffee. It has a long shelf-life when kept dry, and some studies suggest it has a lower environmental footprint.
Many popular brands make instant coffee, from Folgers to Starbucks. If you love and appreciate a delicious cup of coffee, the Starbucks VIA Instant Coffee is absolutely the way to go. An 8-pack costs around $6-8 and comes in a few different roasts. Perfect for coffee lovers, and you can use these instant packets hot or cold.
If you want a more robust or bigger cup, you can add more than one packet. Each packet weighs next to nothing, making it ideal for backpacking. And this good cup of coffee couldn’t be any easier to make. Pour the Via into boiling water and stir. This coffee is so good you may just forgo other methods for all types of camping.
Camping Coffee Filter
Finally, there are various camping coffee filters that work in multiple ways. Most common are two variations.
Drape A Coffee Filter Over Your Coffee Cup
The first involves a coffee filter that affixes over the edges of your cup. You add coffee to it in the type and amount of your choosing, then pour water over it. The water seeps through the coffee grounds into the cup, resulting in a hot cup of coffee. The second is similar but comes with the coffee already in the filter. The concept is the same. Check out the Portable Coffee Filter Hanging Ear Drip Coffee Paper Bag
This is a lightweight, easy option and good for backpacking, although slightly messier than instant coffee since it leaves grounds and paper filters behind to deal with. But, it will be great for whatever type of camping you are doing and is still easier to clean up than the French Press or Percolator coffee options.
How To Make Tea When Camping
As a general rule, once you have boiling hot water, you can make tea while camping. Grab one of your favorite tea bags and place it in a mug of hot water. Let the tea bag steep for a few minutes, and then enjoy.
There is no need to squeeze your tea bag right before removing it entirely from your tea mug. Squeezing tea bags releases additional tannins into your coffee. All tea leaves have some level of tannins. This could lead to a bitter cup of tea. The idea of making tea camping is very similar to making coffee.
Coffee Grounds: The Basis for a Good Cup
Before we get into the mechanisms for making coffee, we must discuss the basics. Without good coffee grounds, you’ll never get an excellent cup of coffee. If you’re a coffee snob, Folders just won’t cut it, and it doesn’t have to. There are plenty of options, and knowing how to make coffee while camping will take your experience to a whole new level!
For the uninitiated, grind simply means the level of coarseness after you grind the bean for brewing, resulting in your “coffee grounds.” The coarseness of your coffee grind does matter as it affects the flavor and body of your coffee. It also affects the extraction rate, flow rate, and contact rate.
Types of Coffee Grinds
Knowing the types of coffee grinds is essential, including the difference between fine, medium, and coarse grinds and the reasons for using them. The grind you use will be determined by your method of brewing.
If you’re using a percolator or French Press, you’ll want a coarser grind than if you’re brewing with a regular drip coffee pot. A coarse grind will help you avoid a grainy cup of coffee, reducing unwanted sediments and floaters. A coarse grind for a percolator can also lessen a coffee bean’s exposure to water, reducing the bitter taste.
Obviously, you can pre-grind your coffee beans and take them with you. However, you’ll lose some freshness, especially if you’re out for an extended amount of time. If you are not backpacking, consider a portable coffee grinder since the weight will not be an issue.
Portable Coffee Grinder Camping
The best camping coffee grinder should be manually operated as you’ll likely have limited access to electricity if any at all.
The JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder is hand-cranked, so it doesn’t require batteries or electricity. It has 18 different ways or settings so you can control the coarseness of your grind. As we’ve said, this is really important depending on the method you will use to make your coffee.
The stainless steel design is perfect for camping as it is the ideal combination of stylishness and toughness. Throw this in with your essential backpacking gear or camp gear, and you’ll be one step closer to that perfect cup of java on a crisp mountain morning!
Final Thoughts – How To Make Coffee While Camping
Now that you know how to make coffee while camping, you’ll never have an excuse not to have your morning cup of joe again. Smell the wood smoke, hear the birds chirp, watch the sunrise, and rest assured you will be able to get your caffeine fix.
You now know how to use a camping coffee pot percolator, a French Press, instant coffee, and coffee filters while camping, giving you various ways to make coffee depending on your personal preferences and camping needs.
Making coffee has never been more accessible, from backpacking to car and RV camping. Between all these options, you’re sure to find a method that creates a cup to suit your tastes. Give all of them a try and see what works best for you and your camping style.
Regardless of the route you go, you’ll undoubtedly have some Instagrammable photos and video opportunities, watching the steam rise from your cup as you look out over the horizon or gaze at the distant mountains!