Last Updated on April 4, 2022 by John Moretti
Coffee is just that much better when you are camping. Clutching that mug in the excellent early hours while the world is blanketed in a tranquil hush. It’s just you and the birds.
However, as wonderful as it is to have coffee while camping, sometimes it is burnt, weak, or so strong you now have x-ray vision. Thus, we’re looking into the best ways to make camp brew, and there are indeed many excellent ways.
The best way to make coffee while camping depends on your camping style, as not all methods suit backpackers. Top ways to brew are Aeropress, Coffee In A Bag, Cowboy Coffee (Turkish Style), French Press, Moka Pot, Percolator, and Pour-Over Drip.
Yes, you can just use instant coffee, and I’m not going to judge if that’s your preference. But for the rest of us, we want our coffee brewed. My favorite two methods are the Aeropress and the French press. But I’m not going to lie; seeing that percolator over a fire brings back fond childhood camping memories.
7 Excellent Ways To Make Camping Coffee
There are almost as many ways to camp as there are to make coffee. So, I know that the best way to make coffee is what suits your particular situation. Thus, I have seven suggestions so you can use the one that works best for you.
When the Aeropress was released, I did a happy dance. Because while some people can camp with the good china (and well done to them), I’m not one of them. So while I love the idea of using a French press while camping, I also know we’re klutzes. Also, it is portable, even when backpacking.
The Aeropress combines the French press, pneumatic press, and a pour-over. The only real con with this is that it only brews one cup at a time. However, it has a quicker brew time than some other camping methods, or you could just pack two.
2. Coffee In A Bag
Coffee in a bag isn’t something I’d have suggested until recently. That’s because only one brand was doing it, and I’m not naming names, but I was not a fan. But now the market has widened, and there are some excellent options. All you need is some hot water in a mug and dunk until it is at your preferred strength. Easy.
3. Cowboy Coffee (Turkish Style)
- Place your camping coffee pot on your heat source
- Toss in 1 tablespoon for ground coffee for every 1 ½ cups of water
- Toss in 1 to 2 eggshells for extra body (so says cowboys and Steinbeck)
- Wait until the water is hot, but do not let it reach a rolling boil
- Remove from heat
- Toss in a dash of cold water about the size of a shot glass.
- Wait 5 minutes or so for grounds and shells to settle
However, if you genuinely want the Steinbeck experience, you put in the whole egg. Admittedly, this is very messy. So I suggest sticking to only the shells.
4. French Press
Okay, I admit it, I was a tad unfair to the poor French Press. There are actually camping versions out there for people who also want to avoid glass.
My favorite is the GSI Outdoors French Press. It comes in two versions: 30 oz and 20 oz.
The GSI is easy to use, easy to clean, double insulated, has a foldable handle, and even the bigger style could work for backpacking. Also, the GSI is very, very cute. It is a fantastic product, perfect for people who do not want to deal with filters, such as in the Aeropress.
5. Moka Pot
Moka Pot is perfect for people that want a fast and robust brew. It works well for anyone with access to a camp stove or an open fire.
My favorite is the Bialetti, which comes in a variety of sizes. However, as easy as it is to make excellent coffee with a Moka pot, it is equally easy to scorch it. This is one method that requires paying close attention.
Percolators are a camping tradition steeped in nostalgia. It’s also an excellent option for pleasing a large crowd that needs their morning fix. However, there is a knack for it, so not everyone gets it right. But if you do, you’ll be well rewarded.
If you are doing it on a camping stove, the Stanley Camp Percolator is great, as it has a cool silicone grip.
However, this is not ideal if using it on fire (silicone can melt). Coletti’s Bozeman is excellent but does have a glass top. However, they do sell replacements.
7. Pour-Over Drip
The whole contraption weighs less than half an ounce, and everything is reusable, even its clever nylon filter. An excellent option for backpackers going the long haul.
2 Universal Truths To Making Coffee While Camping
Two tips will always apply no matter how you make your coffee while camping. Ignore these, and your coffee isn’t going to taste great, no matter how you make it.
Tip 1: Your Brew Is Only As Good As The Bean
It doesn’t matter which of our seven methods you pick; your coffee will still taste like rubbish if you use poor-quality coffee. I don’t mean you have to grind it while camping (although some people do this, and it’s fantastic).
But if you substitute your favorite coffee for something “cheap and cheerful” while camping, then that’s precisely how it will taste.
Tip 2: You Boil It, You Burn It
Yes, hot crackling fires and burnt meat with rare insides is the American way. But your coffee will not acquire a special smoked hickory flavor if you brew it at a rolling boil. Instead, it will just be bitter and burnt.
Top 5 Coffee Grinders For Camping
I tip our hats to you for those who love their beans freshly ground no matter what. Here are my top 5 camping coffee grinders:
- GSI Outdoors Javamill Coffee Grinder
- Hario “Skerton Pro” Ceramic Manual Coffee Grinder
- JavaPresse Manual Coffee Bean Grinder
- Soulhand USB Electric 5 in 1 Travel Coffee Grinder
- VSSL Java Manual Hand Coffee Grinder
Top 5 No-Fire Camping Coffee Flasks
In the days of forest fires and other considerations, there are times when you are backpacking and you can’t lite a fire, and even a tiny camp stove is a no-go.
In these cases, you need to plan ahead and bring insulated travel thermos filled with your favorite brew. It needs to stay hot and not leak. My top 5 picks:
- CamelBak Hot Cap Vacuum 20oz
- GSI Outdoors Microlite 350 Flip
- Primus TrailBreak Vacuum 1L Flask
- Stanley Classic Vacuum Insulated Wide Mouth
- Thermos Ultimate MKII Series Flask 500 ml
No matter your camping style, there is still a way to enjoy your perfect cup of coffee. Happy camping.