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Going Camping? Here’s What You Should Know About Camp Coffee (Expert Tips)

Don’t panic, but you’re planning a camping trip and that likely means no electricity.

How will you get the precious liquid elixir into your system each morning?

Not to worry!

We did the research and got some expert opinions and tips on this very topic.

Keep reading to learn more about camping and making coffee.

Invest in a small hand grinder- when camping or hiking, space and weight are always an issue. For this reason many people succumb to the temptation to use pre-ground coffee while in the great outdoors.

While this is okay, it simply does produce coffee that is inferior to freshly ground. It is better to invest in a small burr grinder such as the Aergrind or the Porlex Mini which will significantly add to the flavour of the coffee brewed. — James Hyslop, The Coffee Folk

Try to keep the coffee near boiling but not quite. Boiling water burns the coffee and tends to spill over.

Try making a small enough fire that you can move it off the direct flame to adjust your temperature. After a few minutes, sprinkle a little cold water over the top of the grounds.

If using a kettle or percolator, pour a little cold water down the spout as well and along the sides. This is where the grounds tend to gather. The cold water causes the coffee grounds to settle, leaving you with clean coffee on top.

That said, you can add some crushed eggshells or salt to help the pull the grounds out of suspension. Simply pour off until you get near the bottom and compost the grounds like normal.

After the pot cools, a 2” spatula is enough to get the majority of the grounds out. Rinse the pot or kettle and you’re ready for the next brew. — Garth Adams, I Know The Pilot

One of the best parts about a camping trip is waking up and preparing your coffee over an open fire. Luckily in this day and age, making coffee on a camping trip has become much easier.

The market is flooded with portable coffee makers, that do not take up too much space when it comes to packing. My favorite portable coffee maker is the Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker.

This coffee maker is both lightweight and durable and is compact enough to fit in a backpack. When I first bought the Aeropress, I was concerned about how many cups it makes, and it surprisingly makes 3 cups in a matter of minutes. — Bertie Cowan, Effortless Outdoors

There are many methods to making camp coffee such as using instant coffee, aeropress, and pour-over stand. I have used all of these methods to brewing coffee and personally feel that the pour-over stand is by far the best.

The problem with instant coffee is that it really doesn’t taste that great. Aeropress is not a bad method but the only issue is that it requires you to have a stable ground to press down the plunger. The pour-over stand method is definitely the best method for serious coffee drinkers.

Although it can be costly when buying the equipment and quality coffee grounds, it’s simple to use and is great for brewing coffee for groups of 2-4. I love the fact that you can also brew quality coffee pretty much anywhere.

I don’t recommend buying the most expensive pour-over but rather the most portable and compact design. Make sure to learn the proper technique with this method to enjoy the most out of your camp coffee! — Jarrod Livingston, The Brew Makers

If you’re going camping or backpacking, then I think you’ll find Starbucks VIA to be the best choice for camp coffee. It’s lightweight, easy to prepare and doesn’t taste like instant.

Plus it’s full of caffeine and doesn’t create coffee grounds to dispose of. So, it’s a win-win — Shawna Newman, Active Weekender

Espresso is great when camping because there are several ways to make it depending on how you are camping. For backpacking, I have a handheld espresso maker that requires espresso-ground coffee (I use Cafe Bustelo) and hot water, which I make with my Jet Boil.

For car camping I take a Cuban coffee maker and Cafe Bustelo and make it on the camp stove.

Both of these methods are great because the coffee makers separate the coffee grounds without having to bring along extra filters and creating extra trash, which is important because I practice pack in, pack out.

If I have a cooler I will put a little bit of Oat Yeah! Froths Like A Boss coffee creamer in a small container and shake it to create the foam. — Maggie Kimberl, Bourbon Women Association

We’re fairly regular campers up here in Canada and we also love our coffee. What we used to do was just bring instant coffee, boil the water on a stove, and then mix it in.

This is the easiest way, but of course, not the tastiest of options. At home, we recently bought a Chemex pour-over, which has produced delicious coffee and is very simple to use.

Not wanting to break that when camping, however, we were recently turned on to the Wacaco Cppamoka, which is a portable pour-over coffee maker and stainless steel insulated mug.

With this, we can now simply boil our water, pour it over our coffee grinds, and then drink it out of the same mug where it stays hot for hours (though mine is gone within a few minutes). — Matthew G. Bailey, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Must Do Canada

Don’t forget that at higher elevations water boils at lower temperatures! If you’re high in the Rocky’s (say 10K feet), your water will boil closer to 190 degrees F.

The temperature of your water is a key variable, but you can adjust other factors to still arrive at a tasty, full-bodied cup. One easy hack is to simply extend your brew time.

We recommend a four-minute brew time at sea level, but you can extend this to 6 or even 8 minutes at higher elevations. — David Yake, Tony’s Coffee

Our biggest advice for camping coffee is to figure out what works best for YOU. There is no single best brewing method or device, they all have their pros and cons.

As long as you’re outside, it’s bound to be a good cup of joe. If you’re making coffee for 1-2 people, we like a simple pour over.

For larger groups, an old-school percolator can crank up the volume. At the end of the day, the same things that make a good cup of coffee indoors make a good cup of coffee outdoors – high-quality coffee and a fresh grind.

A bonus tip is to bring along some extras to spice things up, you’re probably not going to be able to recreate your favorite drink from the coffee shop, but adding some hot chocolate powder, chai tea powder, and epic outdoors scenery and it will probably be even better. — Matthew Sklar, evo

When you’re camping, packing light is of utmost important (unless you’re car camping). With that in mind, camp coffee is all about keeping that morning coffee routine with as little extra equipment as possible.

For me, that looks like a moka pot, a small bag of ground coffee, and some powdered creamer. As a bonafide coffee addict, I’ve worked over the years to perfect my camp coffee kit.

I’ve tried a French press, one of those all-in-one tumblers that brews coffee like a French Press, and yes, even an Aeropress. But this moka pet setup is the one that works the best for me.

Plus, a moka pot makes a damn good cup of coffee by the campfire. — Brian Wills, Nuts About Coffee

I travel a lot and one thing that I always make sure is that I can get my cup of coffee in the mornings. At home, I use a French Press for my morning cup of joe, and I have a smaller version of the one I use at home that I take with me on camping trips.

The only bad thing about using a French press on camping trips is that it’s rather fragile since the carafe is made of glass. So, I do have to be very careful in terms of how I pack it and such.

But, it’s totally worth it when I can easily make my normal cup of coffee after waking up in the tent. — Sharon Gourlay, Tasmania Explorer

The biggest thing to consider when deciding on a camp coffee method is how important coffee is to you at home. If you’re the kind of person who is alright with black, Folgers, gas station coffee, then you’ll probably be just fine with instant coffee.

It’s the easiest method and for those who are all about convenience, there are still some really solid instant coffee options (Starbucks Via being the best).

If you’re still no-frills when it comes to coffee but like some cream and sugar, then you could opt for a Starbucks Via Latte mix or Laird Instafuel Latte. Both add some flavor and make the instant coffee experience a lot better.

If you’re the type of person who takes the time to grind their beans or use a french press at home, then you’ll want to avoid instant when camping. The best option, hands down, for making good coffee in the woods is an Aeropress.

It’s similar to a french press and makes incredible coffee. You’ll need to bring espresso grounds and Aeropress filters (you can buy reusable metal ones to cut down on waste), and the process does leave a coffee-ground puck, so keep in mind that you’ll need to pack it out.

It’s also much heavier than instant coffee packets (though still fairly light at about 12 oz), but if quality coffee is a priority, then an Aeropress is the way to go. — Brady Fraser, Two Trailbirds

Normally when I leave the house early in the morning for a fishing trip, I just make a pot of coffee and put it in my trusty Stanley thermos to enjoy out on the boat.

But when I’m on a camping trip, I have to switch things up a bit. I don’t drink instant coffee in my day to day life, but when I’m out with the boys on a camping trip it’s gotta be instant coffee for me.

The way I look at it is that instant coffee is better than no coffee, right? Even though it’s not as good a freshly ground beans, a cup of instant coffee is easy to make since all you need is hot water.

Plus, it hardly takes up any space in my pack, which means more room for other gear. — Pete Danylewycz, US Angler

Relaxing with a cup of coffee in the mornings is one of my favorite things about camping. Just sitting there in my hammock and listening to the birds is a great way to start the day.

My favorite way to make coffee when I’m camping is with an Aeropress, which is also how I make coffee at home. Before I leave for my camping trips, I measure out and grind up my beans and put the ground coffee in a little baggie.

And since I take my coffee black, I don’t have to worry about milk or sugar. All I need is some hot water and I’m good to go. — Kieren Windsor, Hammock Life

During my travels, I’ve had to experience a lot of mornings without easy access to coffee. Once on a trip to Europe I discovered those little Nespresso packets of powdered coffee where all you need is hot water.

I suppose this is really just instant coffee, though not the type of instant coffee I grew up remembering. After discovering those packets of Nespresso powdered coffee, I makes sure that I always have some with me no matter where I’m at – including camping.

What I love about using these coffee packets for camping is that they are tiny and take up hardly any space in my pack. It’s truly the perfect camp coffee. — Tim White, Mile Pro

When I’m out camping, I don’t like to have too much gear with me. As a result, I drink instant coffee at the campsite.

Instant coffee isn’t something that I normally drink at home, but when I’m camping it’s the only coffee that I drink. The reason that I prefer instant coffee when I’m camping is because it doesn’t require any extra gear.

I just heat up some water on the camp stove and then I’m ready to make coffee in my camp mug. I recommend it to any new campers who are worried about how to get their caffeine fix in the mornings. — Jonathan Smith, Camper Guide

My coffee making method can be a tad messy, but it works for me. I think most people call it cowboy coffee.

What I do is heat up some water on the camp stove and then scoop in my coffee grounds once it’s boiling. I let it sit for a few minutes to brew the coffee.

The grounds sink to the bottom, which means when you pour the coffee into your cup there’s a low risk of grounds getting in there. Just make sure you’re pouring slow. It doesn’t get any easier than this to make coffee at the campsite. — Mark Wilcox, Camping Forge

When you go camping, you don’t want to have to lug around a bunch of extra gear or equipment. I’ve seen people making coffee at campgrounds with an Aeropress, which is a fairly large item to have to carry in your pack.

That’s why I prefer to make my camp coffee with instant coffee. I just pack some of that and a few packets of sugar and I’m all set with my morning coffee. It’s also really quick to make since you just need hot water. — Matt Price, ATVA Online

I’m on the road a lot, so I’ve fine tuned my morning coffee routine. Since I’m a big fan of pour over coffee, that’s my go-to choice no matter where I’m at.

My favorite way to make pour over coffee when I’m camping is with the GSI Collapsible Java Drip. I picked one of these up at an REI a few years ago and I carry it with me when I’m on the road and when I’m camping.

It’s really easy to use, it’s compact, and it makes a good cup of coffee. — Michael Barnett, Performer Life

A french press has proven to be the easiest way to get a GOOD cup of coffee while camping for me. It’s easy to make, allows you to have quality coffee (I can’t do instant), and can be done for many days in a row without needing to have a dishwasher or running out of supplies.

There are specific french presses designed for camping (see Coffee Gator) that give you an amazon cup of coffee, can be easily stored, and are very durable. — Gerallt Hywel, Wild Bird World

If you’re camping solo or in a large group it’s a perfect time to try making coffee in a different way than at home. For one or two people that will be enjoying coffee try a French press.

French press offers a great way of making simple, strong coffee. They are usually made out of glass but they make more robust ones for camping and hiking.

For a larger group, try Cowboy coffee. This is made in a large pot with the grounds directly in the water, no filters needed.

A trick to make sure that no coffee grounds get into your cup when brewing is finished, it to add a small amount of cold water to the pot just before you grab your first cup. — Alex Williams, Drink Scouts