Going camping is fantastic, but it provokes mixed feelings. For one, you will enjoy a one-on-one encounter with nature. On the other hand, you will be missing out on the most delicate parts of technology, including your trusty coffee machine.

However, just because you are in the middle of the wilderness doesn't mean you have to miss out on a delicious cup of coffee. Because we understand how much your morning brew means to you, we have provided the five best methods of making coffee on your camping expenditures.

A Jeep with an overland at a campsite.

The Camp Coffee Problem

If you have seen many camp settings- both in movies and in real life- you have undoubtedly come across that one person who loves to drink coffee regardless of where they are. It doesn't matter if they are in the mountains, in the wilderness, or in a forest, just like you, they have one priority- their daily dose of coffee.

Not only is it delicious, coffee also has excellent health benefits that range from decreasing the risk of certain cancer types to protecting the heart. Nothing beats a healthy cup of caffeine to start your day.

For many campers, coffee is an essential part of their day. Although they do not have the electrical means to brew their usual perfect cup, this doesn't stop them from resorting to other means.

These individuals may choose to go the easy way. They will grab a handful of their favorite coffee beans, toss it in a pot of boiling water over the campfire, and wait 3-5 minutes to serve it in their cup.

This sounds delicious, right? Maybe.

While we are not judging anyone’s wilderness coffee brewing method, it is essential to note that a real coffee connoisseur would understand that the coffee brewing business shouldn't be handled so loosely.

Admittedly, you can brew coffee over a campfire, but will it be a good cup of coffee? Known as the cowboy coffee method, brewing your coffee over a campfire will yield a dark and thick cup of coffee. 

If this is your style, we will provide a detailed description of how to prepare a perfect cup of cowboy coffee easily. If you would like to experiment further on a quest to brew an exceptional cup of coffee by wilderness standard, we have just the methods for you.

Coffee-Making Essentials

Before you search for the perfect camp coffee-brewing method for you, it is essential to note there are essential items you need to prepare your steaming cup of coffee. It doesn't matter if you are a newbie or a seasoned camper, we recommend that you stock up on these essentials.

Obviously, you need coffee grounds and clean water to create your cup of coffee. Other than this, some other essential items include:

  • An air-tight coffee canister to keep your coffee fresh. This will ensure it doesn't go stale so you can enjoy a hot cup of deliciously refreshing coffee.
  • A portable grinder. In case you forget to bring your coffee grinder, you can use rock and cloth to piece the coffee beans. This sounds incredibly uncomfortable, but given the circumstances, you do not have a lot of choices.
  • A stainless mug or thermos cup.
  • A water filter should be an essential part of your camping or overland gear
  • A kettle to heat the water
  • Heat source
  • Mini coffee scale if you love to measure out your coffee
  • And, of course, your favorite coffee-brewing method

Sounds simple, right? 

However, to boil the perfect cup of coffee, it is essential to keep three vital tips in mind.

  • Always use high-quality coffee. There is nothing more rewarding than a delicious cup of coffee, but without high-quality coffee grounds, you can not brew a tasty cup of coffee. There are various coffee brands, and all you need to do is figure out the brand that works for you best.
  • Store your coffee correctly. Your coffee grounds or beans should be stored in an air-tight container. This is because coffee slowly loses its flavor when exposed to air. If you want to enjoy a fresh cup every day, store your coffee correctly. If possible, only keep coffee beans and grind them immediately before consumption. Ground coffee has a larger surface area than coffee beans and will degrade faster if exposed.
  • Don't boil your coffee for too long. The optimal coffee-brewing temperature is between 200 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit or 93.3 and 121.1 degrees Celsius. Boiling above these temperatures for a prolonged period will cause your coffee to acquire a chalk-like burnt taste.

5 Ways To Make Coffee While Camping

Coffee at camp or while overlanding is the cherry on top of a perfect moment. There is simply something so beautifully nostalgic about the smell of fresh coffee, a warm fire, and an exquisite view of nature under the open sky.

1. Instant Coffee Bags

If you don't mind having a cup of coffee that isn't made from freshly ground coffee beans, this coffee-making method is a great camping solution for you.

Instant coffee bags are the easiest, fastest, and admittedly, laziest way to enjoy a steaming hot cup of coffee. With this method, you do not need a lot of equipment or time. All you need is your favorite coffee bag brand and a kettle or pot of boiling water.

Instant coffee bags are easy to use and very similar to tea bags. They are quick, convenient, and easy to clean up.

Instant coffee bags are literally bags containing coffee grounds. There is nothing sophisticated about them. They do not require expertise to brew and are the perfect solution for the limited space and resources offered during camping.

Instant coffee bags are also easy to transport and store. They take up little space and are an excellent choice for backpackers who have limited space for storage.

Making coffee from coffee bags is as easy as making your favorite cup of tea with a teabag. All you need is to let it steep in hot water for some time.

To make instant coffee:

  • Boil water in a kettle or pan over a stove. 
  • Place your coffee bag in the boiling water.
  • Wait 3-5 minutes to let it steep.
  • Remove the coffee bag.
  • Serve yourself a hot cup of coffee!

To shake things up a bit, if you are biassed to a particular brand of fresh coffee grounds, you can make your coffee bag from scratch. 

To make your coffee bag, you will need a standard basket coffee filter. Afterward, the process is a breeze.

  • Lay the standard basket coffee filter flat on a surface.
  • Fill the filter with a scoop of your ground coffee.
  • Take some kitchen string or cooking twine and tie the filter slightly above the ground coffee.
  • Leave extra twine as a tail for you to pull the bag out of the water after it steeps.
  • Cut off the excess twine

It's as easy as it sounds!

Coffee bags are a life-saving easy route. It is, however, essential to note that store-bought coffee bags may taste stale sometimes. If this doesn't bother you, using coffee bags is a method you can enjoy.

2. The Beloved Cowboy Method

The cowboy method of making coffee is one step ahead of the coffee bag method. However, it is just as easy and requires minimal kitchen gear.

If you have seen enough western movies, you will attest to seeing more than one scene where cowboys sit around a fire and brew their black coffee. This iconic method is also known as the sink down method.

The cowboy method is the simplest way to brew your coffee with limited resources. All you need to brew your coffee with this method are your favorite coarsely ground coffee, a heat source, clean water, and a pot or kettle to boil water in.

To prepare coffee using the cowboy method:

  • Fill your pot or kettle with water and place it on your heat source.
  • Bring the water to a boil.
  • Remove the water from heat and let it cool enough, so it isn't boiling anymore. This will take less than a minute.
  • Stir two tablespoons of ground coffee into the water. Two tablespoons are enough for one serving. 
  • Let the coffee rest for two minutes.
  • Stir it and let it rest for two minutes once more.
  • When the coffee grounds settle, slowly pour the coffee into a mug.

Some campers also implement eggs into the brewing process. They claim it helps them consulate the coffee grounds and makes them sink to the bottom of the kettle quickly. However, if boiling an egg in your coffee freaks you out, you can brew your coffee without it.

You can also use cheesecloth in this method. To do this:

  • Bring water to a boil.
  • Place your ground coffee in cheesecloth.
  • Crack one egg slightly and place it on top of the coffee grounds.
  • Tie the cheesecloth containing coffee and egg and place it in boiling water.
  • Remove from the heat after a few minutes and let it steep for about 5-10 minutes.
  • Remove the cheesecloth and serve.

Coffee brewed with this method is usually very thick. Be careful not to brew your coffee for too long, as it will taste chalky.

3. Scoop Top Method

The scoop top method is almost an opposite comparison of the cowboy/sink down method. It is an excellent option for coffee drinkers who are turned off by the sight of coffee grounds floating around in their cups.

The scoop top method is equally simple but might take more time as you try to filter out the floating coffee grounds carefully. Other than this, you will be rewarded with a steaming hot cup of delicious coffee.

The scoop top brewing method is very similar to the cowboy method. It requires the same equipment and a similar time frame.

To use the scoop top method, you need clean water, a vessel for boiling the water, your favorite coffee grounds, and a heat source.

The scoop top method can be done in easy steps:

  • Pour water into a kettle and place it on your heat source.
  • Bring the water to a boil.
  • Bring the kettle down from the heat source and let the water cool for about 30 seconds or a minute.
  • Stir a few scoops of the coarse coffee grounds into the water.
  • Let the coffee mixture simmer over low heat for a few minutes.
  • Skim the grounds off the top of the coffee with a spoon.
  • Pour yourself a cup and enjoy.

4. Percolator Camping Coffee

A percolator is a coffee-making machine consisting of a pot for boiling water and a chamber that holds ground beans. It is a simple piece of equipment that looks like a mixture between a jug and a kettle. If you are going to be on the road for a while, a percolator should be an essential part of your Overlanding gear.

A percolator’s brewing mechanism is mindblowing. As the water hears, it is pushed through a tube and pours over your coffee grounds in the grounds basket. When the water trickles back down, it is brown. The cycle repeats until the water turns brown.

There are different types of percolators, but for this method, we need one that can be used over a heat source. For brewing ease, always opt for simple percolators that do not need extra accessories. 

Percolators have been on the camping scene for a long time, so you are guaranteed to get a delicious cup of coffee if you use one. While they are easy to use, you need to execute the brewing process flawlessly to get a perfect cup of coffee.

It is almost essential to know that percolators are small, so it is not an ideal method to make a large batch of coffee. To make a percolator camping coffee, you need your percolator, your favorite coffee, a coffee mug, and a campfire or hot coals.

To brew coffee using a percolator:

  • Remove the percolator apparatus and fill it with cold water.
  • You can wet a filter paper and insert it into the coffee grounds basket, but this is unnecessary.
  • Fill the ground basket with grounded coffee. For the best result, use one heaped tablespoon of coffee grounds per cup of water.
  • Install the grounds cover and reassemble the apparatus.
  • Close the lid and ensure the siphon stem aligns with the sight-glass.
  • Place the percolate on your heat source until you see from the sight-glass water erupt through the siphon.
  • Decrease the heat or remove the percolator from the fire and let it brew for about ten minutes.
  • When you are satisfied with the strength of the brew, open the lid and carefully remove the percolator apparatus.
  • Let the coffee sit for a few minutes so the leftover grounds can settle.
  • Pour your coffee and enjoy!

Making coffee process on the campfire.

5. Espresso Pot Camping Coffee

Feeling Fancy? Bring an espresso pot along with you on your camping trip.

While brewing coffee with an espresso is not as simple as the cowboy or instant coffee method, it is guaranteed to produce a delicious cup of coffee. Using an espresso pot might, however, require a little bit of practice.

There are different types and brands of espresso pots in the market, and you simply have to find the one that works for you. When you do find the espresso pot you like, you can brew your coffee in simple steps.

You will need

  • Your espresso pot
  • A cooking pot or kettle
  • Your favorite coffee grounds
  • Heat source

To make your coffee:

  • Boil water in a kettle or pot
  • When the water boils, let it cool for about 30 seconds and pour it into the bottom chamber of the espresso pot.
  • Pour your coffee grounds into the grounds chamber without compacting or compressing them. Level the chamber with your fingers.
  • Put the grounds chamber in the bottom chamber and reassemble the espresso pot.
  • Place the espresso pot on your heat source at low-medium heat.
  • Let it simmer for 6-10 minutes
  • Remove the espresso pot from heat when the coffee coming into the upper chamber turns a golden honey color.
  • Pour cool water over the utter part of the bottom chamber to stop the brewing.
  • Pour yourself a cup and enjoy!

Make Yourself An Exceptional Cup Of Coffee

The equipment available in your camp largely determines what coffee method you use. However, it is essential to note the brewing method you use determines the taste and quality of the coffee you drink

If you choose to prepare your own coffee bags, you will not get the same quality of coffee you will get from using a percolator. Regardless of this, all five coffee-brewing methods will produce a delicious cup of coffee if executed properly.

May 17, 2022 — Russ Hennings