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    3 Easy Ways to Make Coffee at Camp

    Coffee-camping-tips-ideas

    Image by Suzanne Downing

    If you’re the type of person who wakes up each morning and instantly makes a cup of coffee to drink, you’ll probably want to keep that same routine while you’re camping. But you may not want to port around your at-home coffee maker (even if your campsite has electricity) or make the coffee brewing process long and drawn out.

    One of the main things to remember (no matter what method you use) in making your coffee at camp is that using higher-quality coffee is key to a good-tasting brew. And the saying, “you get what you pay for,” is especially true when it comes to coffee you’re brewing yourself. Even high-quality coffee won’t cost you as much as a drive-thru coffee establishment.

    One way to elevate the taste of your coffee at camp is to use whole beans vs. already-ground beans. Since coffee’s flavor degrades when it’s exposed to air, whole beans will degrade at a slower rate than ground coffee. You can find a variety of small portable coffee grinders online that will easily pack down. It adds one step, but the taste is worth it. If you only use whole beans while camping, an airtight container will help preserve the beans after you open the original bag, so you’ll have little-to-no waste.

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    Image by Suzanne Downing

    A coated non-slip coffee mug with a handle, like the Hydroflask 12-ounce mug or YETI’s insulated Rambler 14-ounce mug makes your coffee easy to drink at camp and less prone to spilling. Note that the traditional metal camping mugs leave the outside of the mug so hot that it’s hard to hold and drink unless you’re wearing gloves.

    Another tip for making coffee at camp is to avoid using boiling water. According to The Coffee Chronicler, “When brewing coffee, the sweet-spot for water temperature is around 202-206 degrees Fahrenheit. You probably won’t be packing a thermometer, so a good rule of thumb is to simply avoid using boiling hot water since that’s excessively hot. Let the boiling water sit for a bit so your coffee won’t have a burnt taste.

    There are a lot of complex ways to make coffee at camp, like using a portable espresso maker, but sometimes it’s nice to make a quick cup of coffee you can enjoy in the morning before starting your adventures.

    Here are three easy ways to make coffee at camp:

    Pour-Over-Coffee

    Image by Suzanne Downing

    Pour-Over Coffee

    For some people, the pour-over coffee method could sound complicated. But the brewing process is quite simple. And once you get the hang of it and come up with measurements that work for your coffee taste buds, the end result is a delicious cup of coffee.

    What you’ll need:

    • Water
    • Pot (to boil water in)
    • Heat source (firepit, camping stove, etc.)
    • Coffee grounds
    • Pour over stand
    • Filter

    To make pour-over coffee, start by heating 10 to 12 ounces of water.

    Then, measure your coffee beans. I like strong coffee in the morning so for me, 3-4 Tablespoons of coffee beans per 10 ounces of coffee works well.

    While your water boils, set up your pour over stand and insert your filter. I use the BruTrek collapsible pour over system by Planetary Design that comes with reusable coffee filters.

    Grind your coffee beans (or use ground coffee) and put them in the filter.

    After your water starts to boil, turn off the heat and wait about 20 to 30 seconds, then slowly pour half of your hot water over the grounds. I use a zig zag motion.

    Wait about 30 seconds for the grounds to puff (or “bloom”). This allows the gases to release from the grounds, then slowly pour the remainder of your water, making sure to cover all of the coffee grounds.

    Then, you wait. The water will slowly drip down into your coffee cup. Once all the water is through the filter, you’re ready to prepare your coffee to drink.


    French-Press-Coffee-Camp

    Image by Suzanne Downing

    French-Press Coffee

    Once you have a portable French press designed for camping, this method is simple and delivers a delicious cup of coffee.

    What you’ll need:

    • Water
    • Pot (to boil water in)
    • Heat source (firepit, camping stove, etc.)
    • Coffee grounds
    • French press
    • The non-branded French press I used makes two cups of coffee, so you’ll want to use 20 ounces of water.

    Start by boiling your water in a pot. While your water boils, measure out your coffee grounds and grind them (or use your already-ground coffee). Similar to making pour-over coffee, typically 3-4 Tablespoons of coffee beans per 10 ounces of coffee works well. So for two cups of coffee, use about 8 Tablespoons of coffee beans.

    Remove the lid and dump your coffee beans inside your French press. Once your water comes to a boil, wait about a minute before pouring it over your coffee.

    Pour your water over your coffee beans and stir it. Then wait about 3 to 4 minutes. After the beans soak into the water, slowly plunge the plunger down.

    And that’s it! Your coffee is ready to enjoy.


    Instant-with-coffee-pot

    Image by Suzanne Downing

    Instant Coffee

    Using instant coffee is the easiest way to make coffee at camp. It’s not the best tasting, but it does the job. And if you buy a higher quality instant coffee pack, your coffee will taste better.

    What you’ll need:

    • Water
    • Pot (to boil water in)
    • Heat source (firepit, camping stove, etc.)
    • Instant coffee pack

    To start, boil 10 ounces of water. Wait about 30 seconds after boiling and pour into your coffee mug. Then, simply open your instant coffee pack, stir and prepare your coffee to enjoy. I like the Starbucks Via Instant Pike Place roast. It’s strong and helps me start my day at camp.

    Instant-coffee-camp-close-up

    Image by Suzanne Downing


    Suzanne Downing is an outdoor writer and photographer in Montana with an environmental science journalism background. Her work can be found in Outdoors Unlimited, Bugle Magazine, Missoulian, Byline Magazine, Communique, MTPR online, UM Native News, National Wildlife Federation campaigns and more.


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