Don’t Skip Your Daily Cup of Joe — How to Make Coffee When Camping

man at the top of mountain holding a mug

Learning how to make coffee when camping is a rite of passage. You get your morning started with a cup of joe before heading off to work. Why deny yourself the pleasure when you’re out reconnecting with nature?

You can set up the tent in a matter of minutes. You’ve mastered the art of arranging all of your belongings into your pack like a game of Tetris, optimizing space and minimizing weight. And you aren’t fazed by starting a fire in any element

Whether you wake up next to a crystal clear lake or under a canopy of trees, once you know how to make coffee when camping you’ll up your game from camping enthusiast to camping expert.

How to Make Coffee When Camping

Coffee is an indulgence of personal preference. Every coffee lover has their own way of brewing and preparing a cup of coffee. Some prefer different coffee roasts, while others are particular about the grind of the bean.

No matter how you take your morning cup, it doesn’t take much to know how to make coffee when camping. From a few simple tools to the fanciest of new technology, there are plenty of options to help you get moving after a night of sleeping in your mummy sack. Gone are the days of instant coffee.

Each year, tens of millions of Americans go camping. Since coffee consumption is on the rise, chances are, you’re going to want a cup of joe somewhere out in the wilderness. So whether you’re into car camping, boondocking, or hiking the Appalachian Trail, any of these tricks will help you start your morning on the right foot.

Feel cool going cowboy style

black ceramic mug near fire

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This first trick is perhaps the easiest. If you know how to boil water, then you already know how to make coffee like they did in the Wild West.

Cowboy coffee is renowned for its simplicity, especially if you have limited resources. Chances are if you’re camping for an extended period or backpacking across open country, you’ve taken a pan along with you. That, plus some water and coffee grounds, is all you need.

Start by heating your water over the fire. You’re camping stove works well, too. Once the water is boiling, remove it from heat for a minute or two. That will allow the water to cool enough not to burn your coffee.

After your water has had a moment to rest, add a spoonful or two of grinds to the water. Let it steep for three to five minutes.

Carefully pour your coffee into a mug or cup. Moving it around too vigorously will stir the grounds up from the bottom. Even with careful stirring, you’re bound to get a few gritty mouthfuls.

This method sacrifices taste for convenience. If you’re not too particular about your brew, go for the cowboy method. Otherwise, you may want to learn how to make coffee when camping using other means.

Go MacGyver

Perhaps you’re not a fan of grounds in your coffee. You can always tap into your inner MacGyver.

If you have a cheesecloth or a coffee filter, you can secure it to the top of your cup with an elastic band. Say you’ve forgotten to pack one of those, find your cleanest bandana or t-shirt.

Place your cloth or filter over the rim of your cup, then hold in place with one hand. With your other hand, gently press the middle of the fabric into your cup a couple of inches, so you’ve made an indent. Secure the cloth by wrapping your elastic band around the outside.

Slowly pour the coffee through the filter into your cup. After the liquid has all seeped through, remove the filter and drink up.

Get percolating with a Moka pot

gray stainless steel mokapot on burner between two white mugs on green grass

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The Moka pot is perhaps the most iconic coffee maker in the world. It was introduced into Italian households in the 1950s and has been a staple ever since.

This little percolator is so popular in Italy that it soon spread around the Mediterranean as a preferred way for brewing coffee. Although there have been new designs over the years, it’s still the original that’s in high demand.

A Moka pot has three parts: the bottom compartment, a metal sieve with a metal tube on the bottom, and the top kettle part. Fill the base with water. Put a spoonful of coffee or two into the metal sieve and place it on the bottom half, with the tube in the water.

Tightly screw the kettle onto the bottom half. Place the Moka pot on your heat source for seven or eight minutes. Once it comes to a boil, the water will draw up through the metal tube, through the coffee, and into the upper kettle.

Having a Moka pot is like having your own stovetop espresso maker. It will produce coffee that is rich and robust.

Try your hand at a French press

There is another primitive method for brewing your morning joe, but it has a smoother taste than the Moka pot or cowboy coffee. The French post is arguably the other most iconic coffee maker around the globe, though its origins are debatable.

Many people first learn how to make coffee when camping in a French press. Unfortunately, the traditional glass carafe is not a good design for the rough and tumble nature of camping. These days, however, there are more durable models on the market.

Scoop some of your favorite coffee grounds into the bottom of the carafe. This method works well with coarsely ground beans. Pour in hot water and gently stir.

Place the top onto the bottom, but don’t press the plunger. Wait four to five minutes to let the coffee steep. Then slowly press the plunger into the carafe, pressing the grounds to the bottom.

Pour into your mug and enjoy!

Brew up some pour-over coffee

person holding white mug on front of bonfire

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Brewing some pour-over coffee around the campfire is another portable option. This method works exactly how it sounds. The results are relatively similar to the drip-machine you’re familiar with using.

Place a filter over your coffee mug. There are so many cool options available these days that are camping-friendly. You can find plastic rings with mesh wiring that clip onto the rim of your mug. There are silicone filters that fold flat to be easily packed away.

Place some grounds into the base of the filter. Slowly pour hot water over the grounds and let the water drip through the filter into your cup below.

Once the coffee is done dripping, remove the grounds from the top. Add your cream and sugar into the cup, and your set to go.

If you’re looking for something even simpler, check out pour-over travel mugs. The filter fits under the lid, allowing you to brew your coffee even while on the go. Plus, your coffee stays hot longer.

Use a hand-powered espresso maker

Hand-powered espresso makers are the current popular trend. These nifty little gadgets combine your love for the outdoors and the latest technology into a piping hot cup of joe.

Start by pouring the boiling water in the espresso maker and letting it sit for 30 seconds. Next, add the grounded coffee. Don’t worry about tamping the coffee; the lid will do this for you. Wait a moment for the coffee to settle. Then start pumping. When you see a foamy, brown layer on the top, your coffee is ready.

These hand-held espresso makers are excellent because they are portable. Keep in mind, however, that they need to be charged. So they wouldn’t be well-suited for longer treks or camping trips.

How to Keep Your Coffee Hot

Now that you’ve mastered how to make coffee when camping, it’s time to think about keeping it warm.

If you brew a large pot of coffee, nothing is more disappointing than the pot going cold before you’ve had a chance to make your way through it.

There are numerous ways and gadgets to help keep your coffee warm. We’ve selected a few of our favorites.

Warm your mug

man bending his knees pouring thermal carafe in cup

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Pouring your coffee into a cold cup makes it start to cool off from the get-go.

Before you pour your coffee, fill your mug with hot water. Let it sit for a few minutes to warm it up.

Snuggle up with a mug cozy

Just like a beer cozy will keep your beer cold, a mug cozy will keep your coffee warm. Bring along a mug cozy or two to wrap around the outside of your mug.

A knit mug cozy will mold to most shapes and sizes of cups. Plus, you get a little insulation between you and the mug to protect your hands.

Try a trusty thermos

person holding vacuum flask putting brown liquid on cup

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For a traditional way to keep your coffee warm throughout the morning, invest in a good thermos. Newer models are designed to keep your coffee warm up to 24 hours!

On most thermoses, the lid doubles as a cup, saving you precious packing space for your longer trips. Thermoses are perfect for those days when you just want to sit around the campfire and slowly sip your coffee as the morning mist burns into daylight.

Invest in an ember mug

Even when it comes to coffee, there’s an app for that. An ember mug lets you set the temperature you prefer for your coffee through an app on your phone.

Not only does this mug keep your coffee hot while you work, it automatically turns on when it’s full and off when it’s empty. Now that’s a smart mug!


person putting some coffee on his mug

via Giphy

Now that you know how to make coffee when camping, you’re ready to pack your bags and head out on your next adventure.

Whether you chose the Moka pot or a pour-over cup, rest assured that one of these little gadgets will easily tuck away into your stuff sack. Now you can wake up with the smell of fresh coffee out in the wilderness.

Do you prefer one of these methods over the rest? Do you have any other tips on how to make coffee when camping? How do you make coffee when camping? Let us know in the comments below.

Featured Image: Pexels


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