There’s nothing like a warm cup of coffee in the morning. It doesn’t matter where you are; if you’re a coffee drinker, you have to have it.
That includes when you’re on a camping trip, of course.
Coffee may even be more essential in this setting, as sleeping on the ground isn’t too comfortable.
So in this post, I’m going to look at how to make coffee when camping. I’ll cover:
- how to boil water while camping,
- how to make coffee on a camp stove,
- how to make coffee without a campfire,
- cowboy coffee, and
- some products to help you make coffee while camping.
Even when roughing it in the wilderness, you don’t have to sacrifice flavor or even ease when it comes to your coffee.
There are many methods and tools to use to make a delicious cup of coffee, no matter where you’re waking up.
The most rugged, back-to-nature method of making camping coffee is cowboy coffee.
And I describe how to go about that process in this post (keep reading).
But I’ve have also included some more practical methods for the modern camper.
And recommend some tried-and-true camping tools for the perfect cup.
Who knows, you may even end up adopting your camping coffee practices at home.
Disclosure: Some of these links are affiliate links, and at no additional cost, I earn a commission if you buy which helps to maintain this website.
How To Boil Water While Camping
One essential element to coffee is hot water: there’s no way around it. Luckily, there are lots of ways to boil water while camping.
The most obvious method is the old-fashioned way. Light a good, classic campfire and boil your water over that.
It’s how humans have done it for millennia. So it’s great for connecting to your distant ancestors, if that’s something you’re seeking.
Also, it reduces the amount of stuff that you need to carry to your campsite.
Almost everything you need for a good campfire can be found along the trail.
What Do You Need?
The one item you need to make sure that you bring is some kind of receptacle for your water, some kind of pot or pan.
If you have to walk to your campsite, you can use the same pot or pan that you use to cook your food. This will cut your packing list.
Before you light your fire, make sure that you have something that your pot can rest upon. You can find a few larger rocks to create a stable base.
Make sure that you have also collected plenty of fuel and kindling to keep the fire going.
Also, review important fire safety advisories before lighting a fire at your campsite. Have a method to put the fire out quickly, should the need arise.
You can even gather your water from a lake or river. You’ll need to filter it through something to remove the large sediments.
And make sure that you bring it to a rolling boil for at least three minutes. Talk about getting back to nature!
There are other methods to boil water while out in nature that don’t involve a fire, as well.
I discuss those below in the section, “How To Make Coffee Without A Campfire,” so keep reading!
How To Make Coffee When Camping – On A Camp Stove
A camp stove is a great alternative to a fire. It might even be essential.
Sometimes, when it is very dry or windy in your region, park officials will ban campfires.
This is because of the risk that the fire will catch and become a forest fire.
Or, sometimes campers don’t want to go to the trouble of building a fire every time they need some heat.
Many regular campers swear by their camp stoves as an essential tool.
What Do You Need?
To make coffee on a camping stove, you’ll need some kind of kettle or other receptacle in which to boil your water.
Once the water is boiling, you add it to the grounds. You can use a French press to do this or try making cowboy coffee (described below).
You can also use a camping percolator, which is a specific tool for making coffee.
You could also use a percolator over an open flame, as long as it’s designed for it.
A bonus to using a percolator, you can still buy the classic blue with white speckles model that’s so iconic.
There are many propane-powered camping stoves and cooking systems available. And some of them are quite lightweight.
Check out product reviews and talk to fellow camping enthusiasts to find the right one for you.
How To Make Coffee Without A Campfire
Any experienced camper will tell you that a campfire is no simple undertaking.
- It takes careful management.
- It’s one of the most important things you’ll do to be a good steward of the environment where you’re camping.
- It also takes time to build the kind of heat needed to boil water or cook food.
Taking all that into consideration, you mightn’t want to light a fire first thing when you wake up.
Especially if you don’t need it to cook and are planning to be away from your site for most of the morning.
One other simple method for how to make coffee when camping is to use a kettle on a camping stove. This was touched on above.
If you’re not planning on using the stove for anything but coffee, you can also get a propane-powered kettle.
These are smaller and more compact, making it much easier to bring to your campsite.
The Ghillie Camping Kettle
Another popular option is the Ghillie Camping Kettle. This is especially great if you don’t want to carry propane with you.
All you need to do is:
- add some water to the kettle,
- add some kindling to the base of the kettle,
- light a fire inside the kettle itself, and
- use anything you can find (leaves, twigs, paper, and other similar items) to fuel the flame.
To see exactly how the Ghillie Camping Kettle works, watch this video (it’s also got some of the best commentary heard in a YouTube video ever):
Finally, if your car can go with you to your site, you can use your car’s power. Some kettles are designed to plug into your car’s outlet.
Some people might consider this cheating. But necessity is the mother of invention, after all.
If none of the options I’ve covered so far interest you, there’s always cowboy coffee.
What Is Cowboy Coffee?
Many aspects of the rugged cowboy have become the stuff of legend. This includes their morning drink of choice.
As all coffee is made by distilling coffee beans into a liquid, what makes cowboy coffee unique?
It boils down to the method of preparation.
Cowboy coffee is made over an open flame without:
- fancy equipment,
- electricity, or
- a filter.
You can also add either salt or eggshells, but these ingredients aren’t necessary.
Eggshells In Coffee?
Hang on a sec… eggshells?! Yes, you read right. Eggshells!
I can hear you asking right now “What on earth would adding eggshells to coffee achieve”?
Well according to cowboys, it helps neutralize the acid in coffee. This improves the taste and helps get rid of the bitterness.
Them cowboys are pretty smart fellas!
How To Make Cowboy Coffee
To make it, boil your water over your campfire. Once boiled, pour it over your coffee grounds and add either a little bit of salt or crushed eggshells.
For the best extraction, the grounds should be coarse.
You can use whatever (reasonable) water-to-grounds ratio you want. Of course, this depends on the desired strength of your coffee.
Let it sit for a couple minutes, then give it a stir. Then, let it sit for a couple more.
If the grounds aren’t settling to the bottom, pour a little cold water over them.
Then pour out the liquid slowly to cut the amount of grounds in your cup. Enjoy!
To see exactly how cowboy Kent Rollins makes cowboy coffee, watch this:
Some Helpful Tools And Products For Camping Coffee
Okay, it’s time to admit that very few of us are actual cowboys.
And as rugged as cowboy coffee may make you feel, there are also easier ways to go about getting your brew in the wild.
I discussed a couple of options above. But let’s take a look next at some of the other products available for camping coffee.
The Aeropress coffee maker is a great option for how to make coffee when camping.
It’s very highly rated and recommended by experienced campers and camping organizations.
It’s easy to use at all steps of the process, from preparation to clean-up.
It’s even easy to discard the coffee grounds, which can be a process while camping.
The Aeropress is very lightweight, so it’s very convenient if you have to walk to your campsite.
It’s also durable, something that all campers have to keep in mind. It’s also very affordable.
The Aeropress can make espresso-style coffee. But moka pots are designed for this purpose.
Moka pots are popular products in Europe, but have become more common in other parts of the world, too.
Their small, portable nature makes them great for camping.
The Hario V60 is the last model that I’ll talk about in this section.
The V60 is one of the least expensive options. But nonetheless users report that the coffee is high quality and tastes great.
It’s a coffee dripper. A filter is placed over a receptacle (often the cup itself) with grounds in it, and hot water is slowly poured over it.
As the water makes its way through the grounds, it’s flavored by the coffee bean grounds.
This results in a delicious cup of coffee. While delicious, the slow pour and setup need a bit more work than other options on this list.
In this post, I’ve covered various ways that show you how to make coffee when camping. I hope that you’ve learnt a thing or two.
Make sure you tell your friends about the eggshells.
If you have a different way you like to make coffee or something that I could improve with my suggested methods, let me know in the comments below.