How to Brew Coffee While Camping

How to Brew Coffee While Camping

There's just something about waking up on a crisp fall morning, climbing out of your tent, and breathing in the fresh air. The only thing that could possibly make the moment better would be if you had your favorite cup of coffee in your hand. Unfortunately, if you're out in the woods or at a campsite, you don't have the luxury of your at-home coffee maker. Don't fret though! There's a way to still enjoy that much-needed cup of coffee while on limited resources. 

First off, let's break down some ground rules when brewing coffee while camping. 

Gettings Started:

1. Never Boil Your Water

If you are using a fire or battery powered kettle, make sure that you aren't boiling your water. If your water is boiling, you run the risk of burning your coffee grounds. Instead, you want to shoot for an ideal temperature of 200-205 degrees F. I know, that is a very specific number, so if you don't have a thermometer, take the water off of your heat source at the first sign of bubbling and let it cool for a few seconds. 

2. Freshly Grind Your Beans

Now, I realize this may be a luxury depending on your situation. If you are backpacking for multiple days, you may not want to take up precious space in your pack for a hand-grinder, but if you can, fresh ground coffee always tastes better! But like I said, you may not have access to a hand-grinder, so it is perfectly okay to bring pre-ground beans or to grind your beans just before your trip. If you are using Vanilla Moose Coffee pre-ground beans, we roast and grind them the day you order, so the quality is top notch. 

3. Consider Your Needs

Be careful not to overpack. The last thing you need is to haul around a bunch of unnecessary coffee equipment. Luckily, there are many ways to brew coffee in the great outdoors, so analyze your needs and pack accordingly. For example, if you are camping at a drive-up spot or are using an RV, you can splurge with a little extra equipment. However, if you are backpacking long distances or have very little room, pack light and use what you can.

Also, as far as beans go, always remember to use quality beans. The higher quality beans, the better tasting the coffee will be - no matter how it's brewed. (Hint: Vanilla Moose is a very high-quality bean ;))

Ways to Brew

Now that we have the basics covered, let's talk about some of the various ways to brew coffee when out and about. Keep in mind the pros and cons for each method and decide which is the best for you!

Heating Up Your Water

Regardless of which brewing method you choose, you are going to need hot water. When camping, the best way to heat up water is either by using a battery-powered kettle or a fire. If using a fire, you will need a heat resistant container, and a grate the set it above the fire. Be careful when handling the container and water; it may be hot.  


Method 1: Instant Coffee

Benefits: Compact, quick, and easy

Cons: Low-Quality Taste

If you are pressed for packing space or need coffee in a short amount of time, instant coffee is probably the best solutions for you. With instant coffee, all you need is a way to heat up your water and a mug to drink it with. 

While we do not sell any instant coffee here at Vanilla Moose, you can find some pretty cheap instant coffee packs at your local grocery store.

Similar to instant coffee, you can also get coffee "tea bags" that steep similar to how tea does in hot water. Either of these methods are great for when in a pinch. 

How to Brew: 

  • Heat up your water
  • Pour your instant coffee into the hot water and stir
  • Enjoy!


Method 2: Single-Serve Pour Over

Benefits: Compact, High-Quality Taste, Easy

Cons: Takes a Little Ratio Knowledge

Water to Coffee Ratio: 15:1 (15 parts water, 1-2 parts water)

One of my favorite ways to brew coffee, not just when camping is the pour over method. There are many different tools that you can use to create single-serve pour over coffee. One of the most recognizable is the Chemex. However, if you are concerned about packing glass or don't have the room for a Chemex, you can opt for a Hario V60, which comes in plastic and is very portable. 

If you are unfamiliar with pour over coffee, all you need is a device (Chemex, V60, etc.), some coffee filters, and hot water. The pour over device serves as a funnel which directs water through your coffee grounds and out a hole in the bottom. This method works similar to a standard coffee maker, but you are able to be more precise with your water to ground ratio and we love how you can see the magic happen right in front of you!

Bonus Tip: They also make collapsable pour over devices specifically for camping. Here is one you can check out!

How to Brew: 

  • Heat up your water
  • Dampen a coffee filter and add it to your pour over device
  • Fill the coffee filter about halfway with coffee grounds (standard ground)
  • Put your pour over device on top of your coffee mug and pour just enough water over your coffee grounds to get them wet. (This will help de-gas the grounds and promote a richer flavor).
  • Pour the rest of the water through the coffee filter and wait for it to fully brew and enter your coffee cup
  • Enjoy!


Method 3: French Press

Benefits: Great Taste, Good for Groups (Multiple Cups), Low Effort

Cons: Possible Not Very Compact

Water to Coffee Ratio: 12:1 (12 parts water, 1 parts water)

Typically, a home french press is made of glass which is not very ideal for the camping scene. So, if you are opting for the french press, you may want to purchase an outdoors variant which are usually made of metal or plastic. You can even find a collapsable one if you're lucky!

French Press coffee is great if you are in a group or plan to drink more than one cup. They are very low effort because all you need to do is let the beans steep in the water for a few minutes and then press out the delicious coffee. 

Keep in mind, if you plan on using the French Press, make sure that your coffee beans are coarse so that they don't slip through the screen and get into your cup. 

How to Brew: 

  • Fill your french press with course coffee grounds
  • Heat up your water
  • Pour just enough hot water into your french press that your beans are full submerge (not all the water just yet). This will help "de-gas" your beans and promote a richer flavor. 
  • After your grounds have soaked for 1 minute, pour the rest of your water into your french press, stir, and cover the lid. (Do not plunge yet)
  • After 6-8 minutes of steeping, slowly press down on your French Press's plunger to separate the grounds from the water.
  • Pour and enjoy!

Bonus Tip: Similar to French Press coffee, you can also use an Aero Press while camping!


Method 4: Percolator

Benefits: Strong Coffee, Perfect for Groups

Cons: Percolators can be bulky

Water to Coffee Ratio: 1 cup of water to 1 TBSP of grounds

The stove-top percolator method is a tried and true way to brew coffee while camping. The percolator is an all-in-one pot which makes it convenient and simple to brew coffee when all you have is a fire or grill. This method creates strong coffee and is again, a great way to brew if you intend on serving more than one cup. 

How to Brew: 

  • Fill your kettle (or percolator) with water
  • Put filter in basket and add grounds
  • Heat up the water to just under boiling
  • Check the color of the coffee to know when it is ready (it should be a dark brown // black color)
  • Pour and enjoy!


Honorable Mentions

  • Moka Pot

  • Portable espresso maker

  • If you have a camper, you can bring your coffee maker from home

  • The cowboy Method (boil water and ground together and try to keep as many grounds out of your cup as possible)

Camping with Coffee

So, there are plenty of methods to brew coffee while camping. All you need is a little prep work to get your gear in order and you're good to go! And if you are needing some coffee beans to take with you on your next camping trip, might we recommend our most popular "Juneau" Medium Roast. Our bags features a "stay fresh" resealable zip to keep your coffee fresh and ready to go. 

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.