Knowing how to make coffee while camping is essential camper knowledge. There’s not much better than waking up in nature and getting the day started with a fresh cup of coffee.
I’ll be covering what I consider to be the easiest way to make it!
The first thing you’ll need to do is get all of your resources together:
- Ground coffee (Unless you want to bring a grinder)
- Coffee maker (French press or stovetop style)
- Coffee filters
- Fire making resources (Wood, Lighter, starting material)
- Burner stand (Optional, if you’re using a stove top coffee maker only)
- Burner (Optional, if not using a campfire)
The reasoning behind the above supplies
For me, I’m the type of coffee drinker that doesn’t want to grind beans when I’m in the house – let alone when I’m outside! Ground coffee is so light that you can bring plenty for a multiple day trip without feeling like it’s too much to pack.
The coffee maker is the next most important thing to bring, obviously. I like simple when I’m out in the woods, so using a percolator is a good fit for me if I’m camping with other people. Otherwise, I’d probably use a french press to make less overall. You’ll want to make sure you bring any filters necessary for the coffee maker you bring, otherwise that’s a world of disappointment.
Check out my article on the best coffee makers for camping if you’re curious about what’s out there.
Water is readily available at most campsites, but if you’re like me, you’ll want to bring your own. Good water = good coffee!
You’ll need fire making materials to heat up the water, so make sure to follow any rules in place at your campsite before getting one going. Often in southern states there may be a burn ban or restrictions in how you can burn (must be off the ground in a pit, etc.)
Lastly, a burner stand is helpful if you’re bringing a percolator. You can stick those directly on the edge of a fire, but I prefer my handles not melted.
Getting everything going
The first order of business, is to get the fire started. Or if you brought a burner, even better! Either way is straightforward .
Next, you’ll want to measure out the appropriate amount of water you need for your coffee maker. Most have fill lines to guide you, but if they don’t, a rough guide is 6 ounces of water to 2 ounces of grounds according to Foodal. I’m not saying you have to measure this out, just to give you a ballpark estimate.
If you’re using a percolator, you’ll want to have your coffee in the filter and water inside it, ready to be boiled. At this point, you’ll need to let it boil for 10-15 minutes while watching it to make sure there’s no overflow.
If you opted for a french press, you’ll want to add your grounds and hot water while letting it steep (sit in there) for about 4 minutes. Then you can slowly press and pour!
Feeling confident about making some coffee?
As you can tell, most of the battle is the preparation. Once you have all your supplies ready to go it’s just a matter of 10-15 minutes in the morning before you have a fresh brew!
Here’s some tips I’ve learned over the years to help you start making better coffee:
Practice before making it for the first time
It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to buy things for camping that we’ve never used before and just expecting things to work. A bad cup of coffee can be undrinkable at worst, and unenjoyable at best.
Every coffee maker has its quirks – how much water to use, how much grounds, etc. Trust me, you won’t regret a practice run in the comfort of your home.
Think about the water to grounds ratio
Once you’ve mastered the basic cup, this is the next step. When you start to figure out what ratio works best, you can make stronger or weaker coffee depending on if you’re accommodating other people.
I know it’s not the most cool thing to nerd out over, but it really does make a big difference in the taste.
Use the right size coffee maker
There are a lot of camping coffee makers that make absolutely huge amounts of coffee. That’s great if you’re camping with multiple people that are coffee drinkers, but if you’re like me, you may only need something that makes 2-3 cups of coffee.
Most of my trips are not with large groups, so making more than that would be a huge waste. Just something to consider.
You’re ready to start cooking!
There’s something about making coffee that’s kind of a zen process. When you’re out in nature, it’s even better.
Now you know everything you need to bring to make a nice cup and some of the gotchas you might run into!