How to Make Tasty Coffee While Camping

Mmmmm… Coffee in the cool mountain air. It’s the stuff that American mythology and John Steinbeck novels are made of. For serious campers and backpackers, it’s also one of the staples of city life that they don’t mind bringing along with them when they’re roughing it.

However, unlike the coffee that’s made at home, camp coffee presents the camper with some challenges. For one thing, unless you’re camping in an RV or at a spot that offers an electrical outlet, heated water can be an issue.

The other challenge you may face is one of machinery. That is to say if you like espressos or Americanos – basically, any coffee drink that requires pressurized espresso – you may have to MacGyver your morning coffee routine a bit.

Fortunately, there are now a number of coffee-making options that make making coffee sans coffeemaker a lot easier.


Camp coffee is much easier to make if you do some prep ahead of time. Additionally, if you create a tote that holds all of your coffee supplies, you’ll have an easier time once you’re at your camp site.

Here’s a list of the supplies you’ll need:

  • Coffee: You can bring beans or pre-ground coffee grounds, depending on your preference and your camping circumstances.
  • Hand-crank coffee grinder: This is the unplugged version of your favorite kitchen grinder. If you’re RV or car camping, then you’ll have the option to use an electric grinder, too. However, carrying a hand-cranked grinder with you gives you coffee-grinding options no matter where you are.
  • Creamer: Half-and-Half, non-dairy cream, or milk of choice, plus your favorite sweetener.
  • A camp stove or fire wood
  • Your travel coffee maker of choice: There’s a list of different types of coffee makers that are suitable for camping below.

Finally, if you plan to backpack, then space and weight will be an issue. That being the case, we advise you to pre-grind your coffee if you can. That opens up room in your pack for other items.

  1. French Press

A French press counts as one of the simplest ways to make coffee, whether you’re at home or on the road. The French press comes with a glass carafe and a fitted plunger. The plunger creates the pressure necessary to make a more espresso-like coffee drink.

To make coffee with the French press , heat your water first. While you wait for the water to heat up, fill the bottom of the carafe with your ground espresso-grade coffee. You won’t need a filter. The plunger acts as a filter of sorts. However, don’t add the plunger yet.

Once the water boils, pour it into the carafe over the grounds. Next, add in the plunger and press it all the way down until you can’t press down any more. The grounds should be securely under the plunger. Let it “brew” for a minute and serve.

  1. Aero press Coffee

If you haven’t tried the Aeropress coffee maker , you’ll be tempted to plan a camping trip just so that you can try out this cool gadget.

Like the French press, you need to boil some water and add some java to the unit. The Aeropress also has a plunger, like the French press. However, it comes more as a single unit instead of having a two-piece design, like the French press does.

Just add the grounds into the filtered area and pour in the heated water. Add the cap and turn the apparatus over your cup. Plunge the coffee into the cup. Allow to sit for 30 seconds or so.

  1. Pour Over

A pour-over pot is just like it sounds. In set up, it’s similar to the French press, except it has no press. Instead, it has a filter basket and a carafe. The filter basket sits on top of the carafe.

To make coffee this way, drop the grounds into the filter. Once the water heats up, pour the water over the grounds, making sure that you pour steadily. Otherwise, the water could overwhelm the grounds and spill out over the top. The coffee will drip down into the carafe just as it would in a drip coffee maker.

  1. Cowboy-Style Coffee

The camp coffee-brewing method you’re probably most familiar with is the perk pot. The perk pot or percolator is a metal pot with a separate post, which stands in the middle of the pot. It also comes with a metal basket with a hole in the middle to allow the filter to fit onto the post.

To make percolated coffee, add water to the pot. Next, fill the metal basket with your coffee grounds. Attach the metal post to the basket and stand the basket up in the middle of the pot.

Heat the coffee pot on an open flame – camp stove or camp fire – until the coffee percolates.

5. DIY-Style Coffee

And in true MacGyver fashion, no camp coffee is camp coffee until you’ve had to make it using a cheese cloth, a clean shirt, a handkerchief, or an odd sock.

To make coffee this way, put some water on to boil. For this set up, it’s best to boil the water in a pan instead of a pot, though a pot will work. Next, add a couple of scoops of coffee to your cloth or sock.

Unless you’re using a sock, you need to figure out a way to enclose the coffee grounds in the material. Just tie a hobo knot in the material to close in the coffee. You want to make a coffee bag of sorts. (You may want to lightly knot the sock at the top, too, but that’s so that it’s easier to hang on to not necessarily to keep the coffee grounds in the sock.)

Once the water boils, dip the coffee bag into the water. If you have a pair of tongs (or a long barbecue fork), use that to hold the coffee bag in the water: This prevents you from burning yourself. Steep the coffee grounds for a couple of minutes until the coffee is done to your liking.

  1. Espresso Without an Espresso Maker

It’s possible for you RVers to make an espresso without a coffee machine  simply by using your drip coffee maker. This is a good option if you haven’t invested in any of the options above. Better yet, it’s way easy to do.

First, you need some coffee ground espresso fine. Boil some water or dump some water into your coffee maker but don’t add the grounds. You just need some very hot water. If you heat the water in the coffee maker, you’ll want to have a glass pitcher standing by so that you can pour the hot water somewhere once it’s done brewing.

Next, add a filter to your drip coffee maker’s drip basket and dump in your coffee grounds. Once the water boils, add enough of it to the grounds to wet them down. Let this mixture sit for at least 30 seconds. The water makes the coffee grounds bloom a bit.

Finally, pour in one or two ounces more, allow the coffee to drip into the carafe, and serve. You can change the strength of your drink by putting in more grounds and less water.

Final Thoughts on Camp Coffee

Camp coffee counts as one of the true from-the-city treats that you bring with you when you’re camping or backpacking. As this post demonstrates, there are a number of ways to make coffee while you’re on the road. From the traditional percolator to the drip coffee maker  turned-espresso-maker, there’s likely a java-making method that will work for you.