Escaping everyday life and enjoying the great outdoors is the perfect way to recharge. Nothing beats the fresh air in your lungs, the incredible views of open lakes, dense forests, or crisp snow peaks and although camping may mean you have to forgo some at-home luxuries (ie a hot shower), delicious coffee doesn’t have to be one of them.
There are surprisingly a lot of great methods for making cups of coffee whilst you get back to nature and you don’t have to compromise your morning routine. Whether you’re on a campsite with running water and electricity or way out in the back of beyond with only a backpack and campfire to sustain you there’s a choice of coffee brewing methods to suit you.
For all you active coffee lovers and budding baristas out there, here are ten fantastic options that range from heating water over a campfire to brewing in a self-contained device and even making java with no heat at all!
To begin, grab your pan and set it over the open flame, here are some brilliant campfire options that will give you plenty of food for thought when it comes to an alternative cup of joe.
Over a campfire?
If you have a lovely crackling campfire going then pop a kettle or pan over it to boil water and you can enjoy any of these coffee brewing methods. A portable gas camp stove is another great option for heating water when you’re out in the wilderness.
If you like to keep things ultra-fresh with your coffee beans then why not get a manual coffee grinder? There are loads of compact options out there that won’t take up much space on your next backpacking adventure.
Now, here are some great ways to brew coffee in the wild.
1. French Press
The famous French press is a no-nonsense coffee brewing method that requires very little forethought. All you need to do is add the coffee, top up with hot water and then press the plunger down after 4 minutes. It’s great for camping as it doesn’t require filter papers so you can easily dispose of the coffee grounds after in the trash or even bury them if you’re well off the beaten track.
Glass options can be a bad idea as these are too delicate to carry with you but a stainless steel model solves this issue. You can even get a French press travel mug which has the added benefit of keeping your coffee warm as well as minimizing washing up.
The Aeropress is lightweight, durable, and compact and is a great option for espresso-like coffee whilst you explore the great outdoors. The filters are small so don’t require much space either and can be disposed of easily. A metal, reusable filter is also a good idea for using your AeroPress on the go as it produces less waste than paper filters.
3. Pour Over
A pour-over coffee maker is a little bigger but can be a great option if you’re on a campsite or in an RV. All you need is hot water, coffee, and filter papers and you can have delicious coffee in no time at all. It’s similar to drip coffee and does require coffee filters so is better for RV or car camping rather than carrying in a backpack.
The Chemex, although a very popular pour-over device, isn’t ideal as it’s very delicate and bulky. A plastic Hario V60 is a better idea for brewing coffee in the great outdoors as it won’t shatter if it’s accidentally dropped or knocked.
You will need to take a separate carafe if you’re making larger batches of pour-over or you can quickly switch it between mugs and add the remaining water after you do so.
4. Coffee Bags
If you’re looking to cut right back on equipment then coffee bags can be just the ticket. Similar to tea bags, they are light as a feather and pack away without any fuss. All you need to do is add hot water and a coffee bag to your mug and that’s it!
5. Cowboy Coffee
We can’t talk about wild coffee brewing without discussing cowboy coffee. This is a rough, tough, and easy way to brew coffee in the great outdoors and is perfect if you don’t have any equipment to hand. All you need to do is add coarsely ground coffee to water over your campfire and heat it up. Let it sit still until the ground coffee has settled to the bottom of the pot and then carefully pour the liquid coffee into your mug.
Some people swear by adding eggshells to the mix as it can help balance any bitter notes. If you choose to do this, make sure you strain the coffee well otherwise you’ll have a sharp, chewy surprise!
It’s so simple and obvious we can’t miss instant coffee off our camping coffee list. All you need is a cup of water and some instant powder and there you go!
Although you miss out on the rich depth of flavor that only comes from fresh coffee, instant can get you by in a pinch. It’s a great backup option if you’re really limited for space but if you do decide to go for this, make sure you choose a good brand of instant.
Self Contained Methods
If you like your coffee brewing to be self-contained then consider these options.
7. Percolator Coffee
A stovetop percolator can be used on a portable gas stove or even over a campfire. Once the water boils it will circulate through the coffee until the java is brewed. It’s a simple and effective way to brew coffee and you even get some percolators specifically designed for use over a campfire.
These are the ideal option for coffee outdoors and provide a lovely trip down memory lane for a lot of people.
8. Moka Pot
If rich, dark espresso is more your thing then a Moka pot (stovetop espresso maker) is an essential piece of equipment. The classic Bialetti is an Italian design and can take camp coffee to the next level.
As the water chamber is contained in the device you don’t need any more equipment to brew your cup of joe. The Moka pot works well over a gas flame or a hot campfire and is a quick and delicious way to get intense espresso-like coffee anywhere in the world.
9. Neapolitan Flip Coffee Maker
If you love very strong coffee then this is the brew method for your next camping trip. The Neapolitan Flip coffee maker is a french design that is simple and straightforward to use.
You simply fill the bottom chamber with water, add the coffee to the basket and screw the pieces together. Set the device on a heat source and wait until it’s almost at a boil. Once the water starts to seep out the tiny hole in the device you use the handles to flip the whole thing and this places the boiling water on top.
Similar to a pour-over, the water trickles through the coffee grounds and into the final chamber. Once it’s finished brewing you simply pour the coffee out the spout and there you have it!
This coffee pot works well over an open flame and can bring intense coffee flavor on any camping trip.
If you’re really out in the sticks and a heat source isn’t available then fear not. You can still have delicious coffee if you don’t mind waiting a while.
10. Cold Brew
Cold brew coffee is the method where coarsely ground fresh coffee is steeped in cold water for 12 hours or so. The cooler water temperature means that the coffee flavors take longer to infuse but also reduces the bitter and acidic notes that can plague other brew methods.
The water doesn’t have to be ice cold, room temperature (or great outdoors temperature) is fine. Simply let the coffee sit in a sealed container overnight and strain away the grounds the next day.
You can buy a cold brew coffee maker to simplify this process or use a cheesecloth or French press to strain away the grounds.
Cold brew coffee can be diluted to suit your taste preferences and you can add milk or sweeteners as with any other brew method. It is worth tasting it first however as you may find you don’t need any taste enhancers. Cold brew is typically sweeter and less acidic compared to hot brewed coffee.
The Most Compact Option?
If you’re really trying to cut back on camping gear or clean up then the lowest maintenance hot cup of coffee has to be the cowboy coffee or coffee bags. All you need is a camping stove, coffee mug, and some good coffee.
For a large group of coffee drinkers then a percolator is a fuss-free, coffee-making option.
No matter what your source of heat is or how much room you have in your backpack, brewing coffee whilst camping does not have to be a burden. I hope this article has helped give you some inspiration for your next camping trip.
The great thing about brewing coffee in the wild is that the grounds are fully biodegradable so you can bury them and not worry about taking any waste home with you.
To sum it up, coffee and the great outdoors go together extremely well and freshly brewed coffee will ensure everyone is a very happy camper.