You can have the best camping breakfast ideas on the planet but they just don’t seem totally perfect if they are not served with a steaming cup of coffee too. One of the best things about waking up at camp is sipping a cup of great coffee and quietly watching the sun rise with friends.
Whether you like a shot of espresso, a cup of strong black coffee or one loaded with lots of cream and sugar, you need to know how to make coffee when camping that measures up to your personal preferences.
There are so many different methods for making joe on camping trips so before you decide how you want to make it, you should think about:
- the amount you will be making,
- your space limitations for special equipment,
- the power required to operate different brewing process types and
- the various ways you can clean up and store the equipment during and after your trip.
Brewing For Large Groups Of Campers
There is really only one method to brew big batches of joe, here’s how to do it.
How To Make Coffee On Campfires
Cowboys don’t necessarily travel in big crowds but they do drink A LOT of java and they often make big batches of it.
The traditional method of making it starts with dumping ground coffee into a big pot of water. Then you heat it so you actually boil water with the grounds in it, then add a bit of cold water to have the coffee grounds settle to the bottom of the pot before you pour it into mugs.
The result is horrible because boiling grounds makes them bitter. But, that doesn’t mean you should abandon the entire process. Our new and improved method produces a lovely batch of java that is perfect for serving to big camp groups. Check out What Is Cowboy Coffee And How To Make It (better than the cowboys do!)
Multi-Cup Brewing Gadgets
If you are brewing for more than one person, you will want to use a higher capacity brewing method. Here are a few options.
Percolator Camping Coffee Pot
The most traditional gadget for making an entire pot of joe at the campsite is to use a classic speckled enamel finish percolator coffee pot. They come in 8 and 12 cup sizes as well as different colors.
To use this style, you load the pot with water then insert the water tube. Fill the strainer basket with your favorite good coffee beans that have been coarsely ground and then place it over the tube and close the lid. (NOTE: fine grounds will make the pot overflow because the water takes much longer to drip through causing it to backup and overflow outside the pot.)
Now just put the pot over a heat source, like a propane camp stove or on a campfire grate that is sitting over hot campfire coals, and bring the water to a boil so it travels up the tube.
It will spurt out from the top of the tube and hit the lid. Then it will drop back down through the grounds in the strainer basket.
If the water is boiling and coming up through the tube faster than it can drip through the beans, the coffee percolator will overflow. To avoid that problem, as soon as the pot begins to perk, reduce the burner to maintain a low simmer so it gently perks every couple of seconds or so.
You’ll be able to see how fast it is perking by looking at the clear knob on the lid … as you see the color getting darker, it is getting stronger so just keep perking until it reaches your desired color.
We usually let our pot perk between 10-15 minutes. Then, we take it off the heat, let the strainer drip out a bit longer and then remove the tube and strainer basket before we pour the first cup of coffee from the pot.
There may be some grounds in the bottom of the pot so the last few drops will need to be discarded.
French Press Coffee Maker
Another option for doing a whole pot is using double wall stainless steel French presses. When you are using this type of maker you want a medium grind of your beans.
The first thing you’ll do is place your grounds into the bottom of the French press. Pour water into a separate pot and place it over a heat source with high heat. Once the water boils, you will remove the pot from the heat and let it cool just a bit before pouring it into the press.
Now, you’ll stir vigorously to combine the hot water and the grounds in the press, then set it aside to let it steep for about five minutes. It is almost done … slowly press the plunger all the way to the bottom of the press and pour yourself a fresh cup of java!
The plunger mechanism has a screen that brushes the wall evenly and tightly to capture the grounds as you press the handle to the bottom of the pot. If you are not going to drink all of the java immediately, pour it into a thermos to keep it from turning bitter.
Aeropress Coffee Maker
The Aeropress works similar to a French press but does have a slightly different method … it uses a full immersion brewing process that reduces the brew time to only 1-2 minutes.
To use it you’ll start by using any equipment you have to heat up as much water as you need … the Aeropress can brew 1-3 servings of American style or espresso style coffee per press. While you are waiting for the water to heat up, place a filter in the cap then twist the cap on the chamber.
Now, place the chamber over the top of a mug and place your fine drip grind in next. When the water temperature reaches about 175 F degrees, pour it into the chamber and stir for about 10 seconds. Next, insert the plunger and gently press all the way down the tube to force all of the hot water through the grounds.
You can add any remaining water to the finished cup to reduce the strength of the brew as desired. This is one of the simplest methods to make a good cup of coffee when car camping or backpacking with minimal gear.
Coleman 10-Cup Instastart Portable Propane Coffeemaker
If you are brewing for the entire family, having a pot that brews 10 cups of coffee in a single brew is a good option. It only takes about 18 minutes to brew a batch in this maker that is powered by a 16.4-oz. propane cylinder (which you have to buy separately).
To use this pot, just place your grounds into the removable coffee filter basket, add water and push the ignitor button (no matches are required) and you’re brewing coffee!
A single 1 pound propane bottle will last over 4 hours and the internal regulator keeps a constant heat regardless of the outside weather conditions.
Moka Pot Italian Espresso Maker
Coffee connoisseurs would agree that the classically designed Moka pot is a simple way to brew a great cup of espresso. These pots come in different sizes and can brew 1, 6, 9 or 12 (2 ounce) cups at a time.
To use it, add water to the boiler making sure not to exceed the level of the safety valve. Add espresso powder to the filter and close the pot. Now, screw the collector on to the boiler and place it over the flame on a stove.
Be careful to keep the flame low enough to remain inside the bottom of the pot. When the pot begins to gurgle, turn the burner off … your java is ready. A shot of espresso is really nice served after dinner with some yummy camping desserts.
Coleman Camping Stove Coffee Maker
When you look at this pot you may think somebody brought it from home because of the size, shape and the 10-cup glass carafe … but … there is no electrical cord. That’s because this Coleman pot has a steel base that is designed to fit on the grates of traditional 2- and 3-burner propane camp stoves.
To use it, just add water to the reservoir, place an 8- to 12-cup paper filter in the removable swing-out filter basket, add your grounds, close the basket and turn on the stove. When the water starts to boil it is forced through the filter, brews the coffee and drips it into the decanter.
This pot has the ability to pause the brewing process so you can pour a cup before the whole thing is fully brewed.
CoffeeSock ColdBrew Filter (HIKERS 32 OUNCE)
Cold brew coffee tastes so refreshing on summer camp trips. You won’t miss your neighborhood coffee shop’s special hot weather treat when you use the simple method of steeping with coffee socks. You can find a wide range of coffee bags and we especially like the size that fits in a standard hiker’s 32 ounce water bottle.
To use this method, you’ll fit the ColdBrew filter over the lip of the container you are brewing in … then … add as much coarsely ground coffee as you’d like (usually 1 cup dry measure/32 oz. serving). Use a clean water source and pour a little water over the grounds, giving it time to penetrate from the center, wait about 30 seconds.
Next, slowly add more water in batches until all of the water is added. Now, gather the fabric at the top of the filter and wrap the strap to seal the filter. It is time to wait for the steeping magic to happen.
The good news is that no boiling water is required … the bad news is that cold brewing takes a lot of time. For a 32 ounce brew you can expect the brewing time to be 4-6 hours in the sun, 5-8 hours in the shade and 6-10 hours for a coldbrew. Warmer ambient temperatures and shorter brewing times produce brighter, less extracted brews. Longer and colder soaks result in richer and smoother brews.
Single Serving Best Coffee Camping Gadgets
If you are camping solo or only need to brew a cup at a time, these makers are great options.
When limited space is an issue, the best way to overcome the challenge is to use collapsible gear. Drippers are a great way to go! These things provide a really portable method to make a nice and fresh hot coffee.
To use this method place a reusable cloth filter or #2 or #4 sized paper filter in the expanded dripper. Spoon your grounds into the filter and heat a little hot water using your preferred method. Then place the dripper over your coffee cup and pour the water over the grounds, letting it brew directly into your cup.
When you are done, clean the dripper, collapse it for travel, pack it up and head out.
JavaDrip Portable Drip Coffee System
The GSI JavaDrip works like other drip systems to make your morning coffee. The thing that makes the JavaDrip unique is the silicone drip cone … it locks to the lid while brewing and sits upright when removed making this design the best option for preventing spills.
The cone also collapses so it can be stored within the carafe. The system also comes with a reusable cloth filter that is easy to clean.
All of the pieces fit inside the carafe for storage which is the easiest way to keep all of the components together so they don’t get lost … and … take up minimal space.
Pour Over Coffee Travel Mug
An easy way to have your morning cup of joe is to brew right into the coffee mug you’ll be drinking from. You can use any method to heat your cup of water to pour into this device.
To brew, just place the filter inside the vacuum insulated stainless steel mug, add the grounds to the filter, pour hot water over the coffee and wait for it to drip … remove the filter and twist on the lid to enjoy joe on the go.
Manually Operated Portable Espresso Maker
There are several different ways espresso coffee drinkers can enjoy a shot in the wilderness. This portable espresso maker is manually operated … meaning it needs no battery or electricity which is great when you are camping off-the-grid. You need to boil some water using whatever method you choose.
To use this device you just need to add a scoop of ground coffee to the filter basket, tamp it down to compact it a bit then add your hot water to the tank. Now you pressurize the system by manually pumping it a few times and extract the espresso.
Latte & Cappuccino Milk Frother
When a shot of espresso just isn’t enough and you are craving a latte or cappuccino, you can easily have that at the campsite by whipping up some froth using a handheld battery powered foam maker.
After you heat up some milk, you just immerse the frother wand into the cup, turn it on and the whisking action creates creamy froth in about 15-20 seconds.
Alpine Start Premium Instant Coffee Packets
If you don’t want to wait a long time to enjoy your hot cup of coffee, instant packets are a great way to go. I know there are a lot of coffee snobs who turn up their noses to instant … but this one is different because it uses only high elevation arabica beans grown in Colombia … and that makes a world of difference when it comes to great flavored coffee brewed using hot or cold water.
Food Pairings When Serving Java At Camp
Breakfast is the most common meal of the day to enjoy with a nice cup of java but don’t forget about an afternoon or evening treat with some yummy Dutch oven baked goods!