JUL 4 2023    
Brewing in the Wild: Coffee Making Techniques for Camping Adventures
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Brewing in the Wild: Coffee Making Techniques for Camping Adventures

Disclosure: Opinions, camping practices, and experiences expressed with articles posted here or otherwise via user-generated content posted elsewhere on this site are solely the authors’ and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs, camping practices, or experiences of this website or Camping Tools, Inc.

Who doesn’t love a hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning when camping out in the woods? As a regular camper and a faithful coffee drinker, it’s essential for me to find ways to brew a good cup of coffee while camping. 

Here are the common ways of brewing coffee during your outdoor adventures for you to try, and, of course, I will tell you what my favourite method is. 

Campfire Brewing

This traditional method involves boiling water over a campfire and adding coffee grounds directly to the pot. Allow the coffee to simmer for a few minutes before removing it from the heat. Let the grounds settle before pouring the brewed coffee into cups or mugs.

I love this method, but typically I’m not making a fire first thing in the morning because I don’t want to put in the effort or waste firewood that could be used in the evening. 

Cowboy Coffee

Cowboy coffee involves boiling water in a pot or kettle over a campfire, like campfire brewing. Once boiling, remove the pot from the heat and add coarsely ground coffee directly into the water. Let the coffee steep for a few minutes, then slowly pour a little cold water into the pot to help the grounds settle. Carefully pour the coffee into cups, taking care not to disturb the settled grounds.

Who doesn’t love this method? I definitely do, but it won’t make the best cup of coffee; let’s be honest. 

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee is a convenient and quick option for camping. Heat water, pour it into a cup, and add instant coffee granules. Stir until dissolved, and your coffee is ready to enjoy. This is my favourite method because it’s simple, convenient and doesn’t require additional equipment (I have a jet boil perfect for heating water and making food). 

Instant coffee is super easy, but like me, you’ve probably had difficulty finding instant coffee you enjoy. Honestly, you don’t want to trade the taste for convenience. But, this year, a new company was launched in Vancouver, BC, called Little Goat Coffee Co., and it’s incredible. I don’t know how they do it, but it’s an instant coffee that tastes great (on my last camping trip, I was able to drink it black with no issue, and I don’t typically ever drink my coffee black). A bonus, Little Goat is a queer-owned and run business. 

Pour Over

Consider using a pour-over method for a lighter, cleaner cup of coffee. Pack a portable pour-over coffee maker, such as a collapsible dripper or a single-serve cone, and paper filters. Place the dripper over your cup or mug, insert a filter, add coffee grounds, and pour hot water slowly over the grounds in a circular motion. Allow the coffee to drip into the cup below.

Coffee Devices to Bring

Bring a French press camping to enjoy a more refined coffee experience. Boil water separately, then add coarsely ground coffee into the French press. Pour hot water over the grounds, ensuring they are fully saturated. Let the coffee steep for a few minutes, then slowly press down the plunger to separate the brewed coffee from the ground.

The Aeropress is a compact and versatile coffee brewing device ideal for camping. Boil water separately, place a filter in the Aeropress, add coffee grounds, and pour hot water into the chamber. Stir the mixture for a few seconds, attach the plunger, and gently press the coffee into your cup.

Of course, we can’t forget the percolator. Your parents or grandparents likely used this method if you grew up camping, and it can be great for larger groups. But, it’s more likely to make a bitter coffee. To use a percolator while camping, fill the base with water, insert the stem and basket, and add coarsely ground coffee to the basket. Heat the percolator on a camp stove or fire until the water boils and percolates through the tube into the chamber. Let it brew for 6 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat, carefully remove the top section, and pour the brewed coffee into cups.

I don’t love bringing extra equipment like this with me camping. Still, they can be great ways to make your favourite coffee on your camping adventure. 

How to Decide Which Camping Coffee Method is Best for You

So, how do you decide which method is the best for making coffee while camping? It’s a bit of a personal preference, but here are a few things to consider:

  • Convenience: If you prioritize simplicity and convenience, instant coffee or a compact single-serve brewing method like an Aeropress or pour-over cone may be your best option.
  • Equipment and Resources: Consider the equipment you have available and the resources you can bring while camping. Some methods require a camp stove, while others can be done over a campfire. Also, consider the weight, especially for hike-in camping. Fresh coffee will be min 20g plus any extra equipment, while instant coffee is only 5g.
  • Brew Quantity: If you're camping alone or in a small group, individual brewing methods like Aeropress, pour-over, or French press may be ideal. Percolators or larger-capacity French presses can handle brewing coffee for larger groups.
  • Environmental Impact: Think about the waste generated by your chosen method. Instant coffee produces less waste, while methods like percolators and French presses require cleaning and proper disposal of coffee grounds.
  • Experience and Preference: Consider your brewing skills and personal taste preferences. If you enjoy experimenting with different brewing techniques, a method like pour-over or French press allows for more customization and control.

Ultimately, the best camping coffee method is the one that suits your preferences, resources, and overall camping experience. Feel free to try different methods on different trips to find the one that brings you the most joy and satisfaction in your outdoor coffee ritual.

Final Thoughts on Camping Coffee - My Pick

I usually go for the lazy method as long as I can still get a great cup of coffee, which is why I am so excited about Little Goat Coffee - my new favourite instant coffee. (In the summer, I sometimes go extra lazy and bring store-bought cold brew).  

Remember to consider the waste generated by your chosen method and pack out any used coffee grounds or filters to minimize your environmental impact. With instant coffee, the only thing you have to worry about is the small pouch the coffee comes in, no coffee grounds.

Enjoy your camping adventures and your delicious cup of coffee!

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