How To Make Coffee While Camping
A warm cup of coffee in the morning, yes, that’s something you can get when you’re camping but it’s not as easy as it seems.
You don’t have access to electricity or a readily available store of hot water while camping, but there are some alternatives you can use and that’s what this post covers.
Let’s start with the basics, what will your camping backpack look like?
Prepare Before Leaving
There are things you need to get sorted out before heading to camp, here are some of them:
1. Evaluate Your Needs
A coffee maker, a stove to heat water and accessories like milk frothers are just some of the things you’ll need to make coffee in camp.
All these needs will be affected by the number of people you’ll be serving coffee.
A coffee maker that works for one or two people will not be useful serving a camp of ten people and you’ll ditch a stove for a campfire if you need hot water for a large group of coffee drinkers.
2. Buy Your Supplies
There are no shops in the wild so you need to make sure you buy everything you’ll need to make coffee for the number of days you’re camping and the number of people in the camp.
You’ll need to get coffee, water (you could use a flask to store hot water if it’s a short trip), charcoal heater, sugar, and milk if you don’t like black coffee, don’t forget the cups for drinking.
3. Grind The Coffee
Taking a grinder on the trip will just be unnecessary load for your backpack so you should go with coffee grounds instead.
You don’t even need to have a grinder, your coffee store might have one you can use.
The coffee maker you use will determine the size of your coffee grounds but when in doubt, stick with fine grounds. You’ll need a filter if you’re using a machine that only works with medium grounds.
4. Choose What Method You’ll Use
Your brew method depends largely on the device you use in making coffee. You can’t use an electric machine in the camp so a battery-powered tool is your best bet if you want an automated brew.
There are a lot of ways you can use to brew coffee while camping, let’s look at them:
Camp Coffee Brewing Techniques
1. Instant Coffee
Most coffee lovers will be very particular about taste so they brew with a device that grants them as much control over the final drink, if you’re not one of those, you can get coffee with coffee powder and hot water, and that’s how instant coffee works.
There’s growing competition in this industry though, so a lot of manufacturers are now using only high-quality beans for their coffee granules.
These ones from Nescafé and Jiva are top instant coffee picks.
You don’t need any equipment with instant coffee except fire for your water. They come in little sachets too so it’s a great choice for your backpack.
Instant coffee also includes brewing with a coffee bag, so you don’t turn the coffee grounds into your cup but you’ll place the bag in a cup of hot water for about two minutes.
Brewing with instant coffee is the fastest method you will find, if you have your coffee powder and a stirrer already in the cup, it takes 30 seconds.
2. Cowboy Coffee
The cowboy method of making coffee is very similar to the percolator style but this time without a basket.
You’ll pour the coffee grounds and water at normal temperature into the same pot, place this pot on fire so both can boil together so get a stove, pot, coffee grounds, and water and you can make cowboy coffee.
Coffee is ready when the grounds settle at the bottom of the pot.
There are a few downsides with this method though, you can’t tweak the taste of your coffee so you get something that’s thick and bitter.
Cleanup time is more with this technique as the sticky residue left at the bottom of your pot takes some time to come off.
3. One Cup Filter
The one cup filter method is something you should look at if you’re going solo camping. It’s cheap, made of one cup and has a very simple brewing process.
You’ll have to place the filter over the cup, pour the coffee grounds on the filter and pour boiling water over the filter so coffee can seep through the filter into the cup.
Try to pour the hot water in slowly so you get a tasty drink. Pouring at faster speeds guarantees you a bitter coffee.
One cup filter makers are very portable and easy to clean but they require paper filters so if you’ll be making a lot of coffee, you need to get a pack of filters.
These devices are also called pour over coffee makers and they actually produce drip coffee so you need fine grounds to brew with this.
These ones from Melitta and GSI are good examples.
The cafetiere is one of the best manual coffee makers out there. There are heavy and light variants of this device so you should go light to keep the weight of your pack low.
To brew with the cafetiere, heat the water past boiling point and leave to cool for 30 seconds so it’s just about boiling point.
Pour the hot water over your grounds that should already be in the cafetiere. Leave it for three minutes for the grounds to get properly saturated.
Every cafetiere has a plunger on top, so you’ll push that to get your brewed coffee.
The cafetiere is durable and affordable but can be difficult to clean, coarse grounds are what you need with this device so you should take note of that while grinding.
A coffee percolator works a bit like a pour over device but here the water seeps through the coffee grounds while boiling.
A percolator can serve a large group of people because of the huge size of its pot. There’s a small basket inside the percolator, that’s where you place the coffee grounds while the water goes into the rest of the equipment.
Then place the percolator on fire, boiling water will escape from a pipe inside the percolator to wet the basket of coffee grounds and after about three minutes you can pour out your drink.
Percolators are quite heavy so that can be an issue while packing and brew time is about six minutes so it’s quite slow.
The GSI 12 cup percolator is a good one.
The Aeropress device is one of the most versatile manual coffee makers because it works with fine grounds in the traditional setting and coarse or medium grounds in the inverted setting.
It’s a light manual coffee maker, one that should interest you if you don’t want a heavy bag.
When brewing with the Aeropress, your coffee grounds and hot water should be in the larger beaker, the plunger is the smaller one.
Stir the coffee and cover with a lid, then invert and use the plunger to force the coffee through a filter into your cup.
You need the Aeropress to brew good espresso if you prefer a manual device, it has the easiest cleanup and can serve up to three people at once. The lower beaker is placed over a mug while plunging so you should ensure you get a sturdy mug.
Additional Coffee Camping Tips
1. Choose a coffee brewing technique that works with your trip, if you’re car camping, you shouldn’t be using methods that use an open fire.
2. Double check that you have all your supplies before you leave.
3. You’ll need boiling water for your coffee no matter the brewing method you choose, so you should add a stove or a battery powered kettle to your supplies.