There’s nothing quite like waking up in the wilderness. The familiar smell of fresh air, the sound of chirping birds and the cool breeze. However, crawling out of the warm cocoon of your sleeping bag is a tough task. Do you know what you need to truly wake up and warm up? A steaming cup of coffee is the answer. But, do you know how to make coffee while camping? As you might imagine, there’s some prep work and few tools you’ll need to bring along.
One of our big goals here at The Adventure Junkies is to make your experience outdoors the best it can be. We all know that tasty food and drinks are crucial to fueling a great adventure. In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about how to make a killer cup of joe right at your campsite.
HOW TO MAKE COFFEE WHILE CAMPING
1. PREPARE BEFORE YOU LEAVE
BUY YOUR SUPPLIES
The most important step to brewing coffee in the outdoors is making sure you have everything you need before you hit the road. This includes coffee, any water you might be bringing with you (if there’s no water source near your campground), and any cups you’ll be drinking your coffee out of. If don’t like black coffee and need extras like sugar and creamer, be sure to add those to your hiking packing list too.
You’ll need to think about what kind of coffee you’ll want. Do you want a strong hit of expresso or will instant do the trick? Think about how much time and effort you’re going to be willing to put into brewing your coffee when you make this decision.
GRIND THE COFFEE
If you’re buying whole beans, they’re not going to be very useful in making coffee if you don’t grind them up first. Grocery stores often times have a grinder you can use in the coffee section if you don’t have your own. Make sure the coffee is ground finely for the water to be able to absorb it fully and get the most taste out of the coffee.
CHOOSE WHAT METHOD YOU’LL USE
Are you going to be bringing a French press, or just a regular pot to make your coffee in? Decide what works best based on how many people are in your group and how much extra room you have in your hiking backpack for additional equipment. If you’re hiking to the campsite, you might not have as much room as if you’re car camping.
PACK YOUR SUPPLIES
Place everything you need for your coffee in one container, including the coffee itself, all the parts for the coffee making device you chose, and any water if applicable. That way you’ll know where to head first thing in the morning instead of searching through all your bags frantically. The more complicated ways of making coffee can have multiple accessories, so you don’t want to risk losing those and not having coffee during your trip.
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2. LIGHT YOUR FIRE
No matter which coffee making method or coffee type you choose there’s one element that is universal – hot water. When you’re camping you have two ways to heat up water – a camp stove or a fire. If you’re going on a multi-day hike, weight will be a major concern. Look at getting a backpacking stove and a lightweight cookware set to help lighten your load.
If you got your water from a river, stream or lake, make sure you boil it for at least 1 minute to kill of any harmful bacteria that could be in the water. If you’re in high altitude (over 6500 ft/ 2000 m), boil the water for at least 3 minutes.
3. SIMPLE WAYS OF MAKING COFFEE
There are many different ways to make coffee while camping. From simply boiling water and coffee grounds in a pot to making espresso, it’s safe to say you have plenty of options for making your morning cup. Let’s find out which way works best for you.
If you’re not particular about how your cup of joe tastes, this is the easiest way to make coffee. Simply boil some water and pour it over a few spoonfuls of the instant mix. It’s the fastest way to get your coffee in if you don’t have much down time in the morning. In The Huffington Post’s best instant coffee taste test, Starbucks VIA Colombia comes in first place. Jacobs Kronung and Starbucks VIA Italian Roast were also top picks.
Don’t have room for any extra gear? You’ll prefer making your coffee the way cowboys have been for years. You can use the same pot you brought for making meals to save space. Dump water and coffee grounds in the pot, boil it, and remove it until it cools off and the grounds settle to the bottom.
ONE CUP FILTER
If you’re only concerned about making a cup of coffee for yourself, this one cup filter might be the most convenient option. The filter will cost you less than $10 and is small so you can easily pack it with your gear. You simply put the filter over your cup of coffee, pour the coffee on top, and let the boiling water brew into your cup below.
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4. ADVANCED TECHNIQUES FOR MAKING COFFEE
Many people prefer using a French press because it’s an easy way to get their cup to taste like it’s from home. According to The Wirecutter, this is the best way to make coffee while camping. Boil water over your campfire, put a few tablespoons of ground coffee in the press, and pour the hot water over it. The GSI Java Press is a great lightweight options for having the rich taste of coffee without having carry a heavy glass French press.
The percolator is another old-school method of making coffee, but takes some time to make. You put water in it, place a filter on top with the coffee grounds on top of that, and put it over the campfire to boil. The water needs to continue to boil in order for it to be completely ready to pour, so it’s not as quick as instant coffee.
5. EXPERT WAYS TO MAKE COFFEE
National Geographic writer Brendan Leonard says one of his tips to camp better is don’t sacrifice having good coffee. That’s where the Aeropress comes in – if you’re not a drip coffee fan, you’ll love being able to make espresso instead. Boil water, add the proper amount of coffee, stir it all together, and then press for about 30 seconds to make a very strong shot of espresso.
While this isn’t recommended for those who are hiking long distances with minimal gear, some people just can’t live without an actual coffee machine. This option is only suitable for car campers who have access to electricity at camp. The traditional coffee maker is a great option for big groups.