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Imagine waking up to the serene beauty of the wilderness. The air is also crisp and fresh, with the gentle light of dawn peeking through the trees.

In this tranquil moment, the aroma of coffee brewing can elevate the camping experience from ordinary to extraordinary. There’s something uniquely satisfying about sipping a hot cup of coffee surrounded by nature’s splendor.

Making a good cup of coffee in the wild, away from the convenience of your kitchen, poses its own challenges. From the absence of your favorite coffee maker to the limitations of campfire heat, brewing that perfect cup requires a bit of ingenuity and know-how.

This guide will explore the best methods to enjoy your favorite brew under the stars.

We’ll ensure that your outdoor adventures are accompanied by the comforting embrace of a delicious coffee, just the way you like it.

The Basics of Camping Coffee

Even in the wild, the importance of good coffee can’t be overstated. It’s not just a drink; it’s a moment of comfort, a taste of home amidst the wilderness.

For many campers, the day doesn’t start until they’ve had their first cup of coffee. But how do you make coffee when camping? It’s a question that plagues many outdoor enthusiasts. The key here is simplicity and adaptability.

Whether in the woods or near a mountain stream, making coffee needs a method that suits your taste and your camping setup.

It could be as simple as a cowboy coffee brewed over a campfire or a portable coffee maker that fits snugly in your backpack. Each method has its unique appeal and flavor.

Remember the following factors before you choose your coffee brewing method:

  1. How much weight you can carry?
  2. How much available space do you have?
  3. How many people are going camping?
  4. How far is your campsite?
  5. Cleanup method.

Instant Coffee: The Quick and Easy Method

Instant coffee offers unparalleled convenience for campers. It’s the go-to choice when you want to enjoy a quick and hassle-free cup of coffee.

The beauty of instant coffee lies in its simplicity and speed. You don’t need any special equipment, just hot water, and your favorite instant coffee brand.

When choosing an instant coffee brand for camping, look for options with rich flavor and aroma. Many brands now offer single-origin or specialty blends in instant form. This elevates the traditional instant coffee experience. Read reviews online or try a few brands at home to find your preferred taste.

Instant coffee in a cup.

Steps to Make Instant Coffee

Making instant coffee while camping is straightforward:

  1. Heat water using your camping stove or over a campfire. The key is to bring the water just to a boil.
  2. In your mug, add the desired amount of instant coffee powder.
  3. Pour the hot water over the coffee.
  4. Stir well and allow it to dissolve completely.
  5. Adjust the amount of coffee and water to suit your taste preference.

Instant coffee is perfect for those early mornings or chilly evenings under the stars.

Cowboy Coffee: The Traditional Approach

Cowboy coffee is a storied and traditional method of brewing. It’s found in the history of the American West.

It’s a straightforward, rugged way to make a robust cup of coffee over an open flame. As a result, this method is suitable for campers worldwide.

Steps to Make Cowboy Coffee

  1. Start by filling a pot with water and bringing it to a boil.
  2. Remove from flame and add a heaping tablespoon of coarse coffee grounds (for every cup of water).
  3. Return the pot to low heat and let it sit for a few minutes. This allows the coffee grounds to settle at the bottom.
  4. To settle the grounds, gently tap the pot’s side or splash some cold water. This helps the coffee grounds sink to the bottom.
  5. Carefully pour the coffee into your mug, avoiding the settled grounds.

Alternative Methods to Make Cowboy Coffee:

Cowboy coffee is ideal for those wondering how to make coffee without specialized equipment.

Camping Coffee Percolator: Every Camper’s Favorite

A camping coffee percolator is a classic and efficient way to brew coffee outdoors. It’s particularly well-suited for use over a campfire and is preferred mostly by RV and car campers.

Benefits of Using a Coffee Percolator Over a Campfire:

Steps to Make Coffee Using a Percolator

  1. Fill the percolator with water to the designated line or just below the basket level.
  2. Place coarsely ground coffee in the percolator basket. A general rule is to use one tablespoon of grounds per cup of water. If you want a weak brew, use one teaspoon instead.
  3. Assemble the percolator and place it over your campfire or camping stove. The heat should be enough to bring the water to a gentle boil.
  4. As the water heats, it will rise through the tube and percolate over the coffee grounds. This process should continue for about 8-10 minutes. You can adjust the time based on the strength of the coffee you like.
  5. Once the brewing is complete, carefully remove the percolator from the heat source.
  6. Let it sit for a moment to allow the grounds to settle, then pour and enjoy.

Using a percolator lets you experience the ritual of brewing and the rich, aromatic cup it produces. It’s a method that connects you to the traditional ways of making coffee in the great outdoors.

Single-Serve Pour-Overs: For the Solo Campers

Single-serve pour-overs are a boon for solo campers who cherish a good cup of coffee. This method combines convenience with the ability to brew a fresh, high-quality cup of coffee, one serving at a time.

Pour-overs contain pre-ground coffee in a paper pouch, along with a paper frame. You’ll have to expand the frame and place it on the top of your cup.

The Benefits of Single-Serve Pour-Overs:

Pour-over coffee in a cup.

How to Brew Using Single-Serve Pour-Overs

  1. Heat some water. You can do this over a camp stove or campfire. The water should be just off the boil, around 1950F-2050F.
  2. Expand & place the frame on top of your mug. If required, insert a filter and add the pour-over pouch with the ground coffee.
  3. Pour a small amount of hot water over the grounds to wet them. This step, known as ‘blooming’, allows the coffee to de-gas and enhances the flavor. Let it sit for about 30 seconds.
  4. Slowly pour the rest of the hot water over the coffee grounds in a circular motion. This should be done steadily and evenly, taking 2-3 minutes.
  5. Once the water has filtered through the coffee into your mug, remove the pour-over device, and your coffee is ready to enjoy.

French Press: For a Richer Brew

The French press is a favorite among coffee enthusiasts, especially for camping.

This small device simplified how we made coffee while camping around the Grand Canyon Village last summer.

The French Press consists of a cylindrical beaker, usually made of glass or stainless steel, equipped with a lid and a plunger that fits tightly into the cylinder.

Attached to the plunger is a metal or nylon mesh filter that separates the coffee grounds from the brewed coffee.

The French Press coffee is rich, robust, and full-bodied. Since this method doesn’t use a paper filter, the coffee retains more of its natural oils. This contributes to a more enhanced flavor.

The Advantage of Using a French Press Outdoors:

French press coffee

Steps to Use a French Press While Camping

  1. Pour some hot water into the French press to warm it up. This helps maintain the temperature during the brewing process.
  2. Empty the warm water and add coarse ground coffee to the press. The standard ratio is one tablespoon of coffee per 4 ounces of water.
  3. Pour hot water — just off the boil — over the grounds. Ensure the water saturates all the grounds evenly.
  4. Gently stir the mixture with a non-metallic object, then place the lid on the press with the plunger pulled all the way up. Let the coffee steep for about 4 minutes.
  5. After steeping, slowly press the plunger down. This separates the grounds from the brewed coffee.
  6. Pour the coffee into your cup as soon as you finish plunging to prevent over-extraction.

Using a French press outdoors is a great way to enjoy a luxurious coffee experience in the heart of nature. It’s a method that respects the art of brewing and brings a touch of home comfort to your camping adventures.

Stovetop Espresso: For a Strong Cup

The stovetop espresso maker, or a Moka pot, is an excellent choice for campers who crave a strong, espresso-style coffee while enjoying the great outdoors.

This method is ideal for those figuring out how to brew coffee while camping, especially if they prefer coffee with a bit more kick.

Coffee grounds inside Moka Pot

How to Make Espresso-Style Coffee on a Camp Stove:

  1. Fill the bottom chamber of your stovetop espresso maker with cold water up to the safety valve.
  2. Place the finely ground coffee into the filter basket. Level the grounds, but don’t tamp them down.
  3. Screw the top and bottom together tightly. Place the espresso maker on the camp stove over a low to medium flame. Ensure the handle is away from direct heat to prevent it from melting or getting too hot.
  4. As the water heats, it will create pressure that forces the water through the coffee grounds and into the top chamber. You’ll hear a hissing, bubbling sound when it starts to brew.
  5. Remove the espresso maker from the stove once the top chamber is filled with coffee. Be careful, as the metal will be hot.

Here are a few tips for making a perfect Moka Pot coffee:

Stovetop espresso makers are efficient and add an element of traditional coffee-making to your camping experience.

They are compact, easy to use, and perfect for those who love a robust cup of coffee in the morning. 

Aeropress: The Versatile Choice

The Aeropress has become popular among camping enthusiasts for its versatility and ability to produce a smooth, rich cup of coffee. It’s particularly well-suited for outdoor adventures, offering a unique combination of convenience and quality.

Aeropress coffee machine.

Benefits of Using an Aeropress for Camping:

Step-by-Step Guide to Brewing with an Aeropress

  1. Bring water to a boil using a camp stove or fire. Allow it to cool slightly off the boil (the ideal temperature is about 175°F to 185°F).
  2. Insert a filter into the Aeropress cap and twist it onto the chamber. Place it directly over your mug or cup.
  3. Add finely ground coffee to the chamber. A standard scoop (about 17 grams) is recommended for a strong cup.
  4. Pour the hot water into the Aeropress chamber, saturating all the grounds. Fill to the desired level based on your preferred coffee strength.
  5. Use the stirrer to mix the grounds and water for about 10 seconds. Then, insert the plunger and let the coffee steep for another 20-30 seconds.
  6. Press down on the plunger gently, exerting steady pressure to push the brewed coffee through the filter into your cup.
  7. Once the plunger reaches the bottom, remove the Aeropress and enjoy your freshly brewed coffee.

The Aeropress is a fantastic option when considering how to have coffee while camping. It’s an efficient & enjoyable way to make your favorite coffee in the great outdoors.


The world of camping coffee is rich with options, each offering a unique blend of flavor and adventure.

From the quick convenience of instant coffee to the robust intensity of a stovetop espresso and the versatile Aeropress to the traditional cowboy method, there’s a brewing style to suit every camper’s taste and experience.

The joy of brewing coffee in the great outdoors is about more than just quenching your thirst for caffeine. It’s about the ritual, the aroma mingling with the fresh air, the warmth of the cup in your hands on a brisk morning, and the taste that seems just a bit richer amidst the beauty of nature.

So, on your next camping adventure, why not experiment with these methods? Find the one that resonates with you and adds a special touch to your mornings in the wild.

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