5 Easy Ways to Make Camp Coffee
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5 Easy Ways to Make Camp Coffee

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Approximately 83 percent of Americans drink coffee. Those numbers prove coffee, whether enjoyed steaming hot or iced cold, is an important morning ritual for most of us. It’s easy to brew a cup at home or make a quick stop at a popular coffee shop on your way to work. However, getting a decent cup of coffee when you’re camping is a whole other story. 

We give up a lot of daily pleasures when we head into the great outdoors. While most campers are willing to sacrifice hot showers, air conditioning, and a decent Wi-Fi signal, some of us are a lot less willing to forgo our morning cup of coffee. Thankfully, there are plenty of methods for brewing coffee, whether you’re hiking the Colorado backcountry or glamping just outside of town. 

Not all brewing methods are created equal. Here are some of the best outdoor coffee-making methods available to outdoor adventurers. Try one (or several) on your next camping adventure.

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee often gets a bad rap among serious coffee drinkers. However, it is hard to beat its lightweight convenience, especially if you’re backpacking through rough country. 

Super convenient to pack and easy to prepare, some campers think instant coffee is cheating. All you need is hot water and a cup. 

Some brands even dissolve well in cold water, giving you the option of a spontaneous “cold brew.” Clean-up is also a breeze since there are no grounds to pack out or pots to clean.

Cowboy Coffee

Cowboy coffee is the brewing method for you if you want to go super simple and highly rugged. To make cowboy coffee, you simply dump ground coffee into boiling water. 

Although this method is great for backcountry campers who abhor the thought of instant coffee, it doesn’t exactly produce the tastiest results. Cowboy coffee is bitter and can leave a thick sludge in the bottom of the pot. However, it is an extremely efficient way to get caffeine into your system. 

Coffee in a Bag

Another lightweight brewing method is coffee in a bag. It uses a coffee bag to brew coffee, just like you use a tea bag to make tea. 

There are several pre-made, self-contained coffee bags on the market. However, you can make your own with a paper filter and some dental floss. If you want to go completely green, you can use a clean handkerchief or sock stuffed with ground coffee (just make sure your sock is clean).

To make your coffee, just boil water. You can drop the bag right into your pot or pour hot water over the bag and into your cup. Let it steep, remove the bag, and enjoy freshly brewed coffee.

Pour Over Coffee

You don't need a coffee pot with this method. Just add some ground coffee to a paper filter, pour hot water over the grounds, and you’re good to go. While the concept itself is relatively easy, coffee aficionados claim you need to master the pouring technique to achieve the best results. 

There are several products designed for pour-over brewing, and most work well for backcountry campers. 

Pocket pour-overs are lightweight, disposable, foldable filters pre-packed with premium ground coffee. Although super convenient, you’ll still need to deal with leftover waste, which can be a major drawback for hikers who need to tote all their gear while covering significant ground.

If single-use doesn’t seem appealing, you can opt for a reusable pour-over stand. Several manufacturers produce collapsible silicone filters that take up hardly any pack space. You can just quickly pop them up to brew a single cup of grit-free coffee.

There are also options that feature a reusable mesh filter. These brew a great-tasting cup of coffee, but clean-up can be a little trickier than with silicone filters.

Coffee Pots and Percolators

Renting a drive-up tent site doesn’t have the same space and weight limitations as backpacking. While you can certainly use any of the previous methods for RV or car camping, you can also use a slightly more conventional method to brew your morning coffee.

The good old-fashioned percolator was good enough for our grandparents, and it’s also a great way to make camp coffee.  While serious coffee snobs may turn their noses up at the idea of percolated coffee, many campers enjoy the easy convenience of this traditional camping coffee pot. 

The camping percolator requires a reliable heat source, but most work well over standard camp stoves. If you’re camping with a large group, a percolator is perfect for brewing multiple cups of coffee at a time.

Coffee made in a percolator has a much stronger flavor than a traditional drip brewer. If you don’t want to give up the home-brewed taste you’re used to, and a camping coffee maker may be the perfect solution. 

These specialized camping coffee pots work just like your home coffee maker, only they don’t have a plug. Instead of using electricity to heat water, most of these specialized coffee makers fit right over your camp stove. 

If you need your camp stove to scramble eggs and fry bacon, Coleman makes a QuikPot Propane Coffeemaker that won’t tie up your camp stove burners. Instead, the convenient coffee maker hooks directly to a standard Coleman tank. 

This highly popular camping coffee pot might just be the perfect coffee maker for camping. It also works well for tailgating and during extended power outages.

Final Thoughts

With so many options for making excellent camp coffee, there’s no reason to skip the caffeine on your next outdoor adventure. Now that you’re familiar with these basic brewing methods, you just have to decide which best suits your needs. 

With options ranging from rugged cowboy brew to a refined pour-over, you can choose whichever method satisfies your inner coffee snob. For me, a sturdy percolator gets me going fresh out of the tent. However, if I’m venturing further off the trail, nothing beats the lightweight convenience of a basic instant brew. 

Whatever you choose, it's nice to know that as you crawl stiff-limbed from your tent-bound slumber, your hot steamy morning coffee and its accompanying caffeine fix are just a few minutes away. No matter which option you choose, there’s nothing like a hot cup of coffee to lure you from the comfort of a warm sleeping bag and prepare you to face the day.

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