How To Make Coffee While Camping, According To Explorer Chicks
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Alright, coffee lovers, let’s get something straight right away: you do not need to give up delicious coffee to go camping!
There are so many great ways to make coffee while camping, so we’ve chosen the best camp coffee makers and compiled them into one easy list. No coffee shops near your tent? No problem.
Expert Camp Coffee Tips From Explorer Chicks
We camp a lot. And we drink a lot of coffee around here. So we’ve collectively explored all the ways to make coffee, drink coffee, taste coffee, and share coffee.
Explorer Chick Leah quickly pointed out Alpine Start’s excellent flavor options—even for non-coffee-drinkers!
“Alpine Start is the best instant coffee I’ve had, and it mixes well cold as a pseudo-iced coffee for those early morning treks. Plus, they have Chai and other flavors too.”Explorer Chick Leah
Pro tip: Check out their dirty chai, dairy-free lattes, matcha and more all available in instant-versions.
Kirstie even shared her secret recipe for the best instant coffee on the trail:
Starbucks instant (from the tin), Laird creamer, and a liquid sweetener.Explorer Chick Kirstie
As far as car-camping goes, she seconded the recommendation for an aeropress or a moka pot—both great options for traveling solo or taking your BFF along for the ride.
Now let’s explore all the different ways to make coffee and what to pair with each method. ☕
Best Ways To Make Coffee While Camping
From instant coffee to aeropresses, moka pots to “cowboy coffee,” making camp coffee ranges from the super simple (and maybe not-so-delicious) methods to fancy coffee brewing methods for hot coffee and even cold brew! With most of these, you have the option of bringing pre ground coffee or using a manual coffee grinder to make freshly ground coffee on the spot.
We’ve sorted through all the methods to choose our six favorites, and sorted them from simplest to most complicated. Still not sure which is right for you? We ranked them for different use cases at the end of this article, so keep scrolling!
Method #1: Instant Coffee (Great for Backpacking)
Instant coffee is about as quick and easy as it gets—just boil water, stir in your favorite coffee mix, and sip.
And before you discount this method, know that instant coffee has gotten a lot of upgrades in the past few years!
We love Alpine Start, Canyon Instant Coffee, and Starbucks Instant for flavorful coffee and lightweight packaging.
Of course, if you’re a coffee connoisseur, you’ll probably be able to taste the difference, but in terms of weight and speed, you can’t beat it.
- Instant coffee grounds or coffee bags
- Coffee cup
- Method of boiling water (some instant coffees work with cold water as well!)
Method #2: Pour Over / Drip Coffee (Great for Backpacking/Car Camping)
Pour over coffee while you’re camping? Look, being out in the backcountry doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality on your morning cup o’ Joe!
For coffee lovers, pour over methods allow for much better flavor and creaminess, and several great collapsible pour over solutions are super lightweight for backpacking and easy to pack and clean.
The brewing process is pretty straightforward: place the grounds in a small filter perched over your mug, then gently pour hot water over the grounds, letting it brew as it drips through the filter and right into your cup.
Voila! Quick and easy brewing and cleanup means you can hit the trails ASAP.
Pro-tip: Remember to “bloom” your grounds (gently wet all the grounds first and then let the coffee grounds settle for 30 seconds before continuing to pour) and don’t go for an extra-fine grind with this method to avoid weak coffee.
- Ground coffee (or coffee beans and a portable hand-grinder, if you’re hardcore).
- Coffee mug
- Method of boiling water
- Collapsible pour over holder. Our favorites are the GSI Ultralight Java Drip (less than half an ounce!) and the Soto Helix Coffee Maker (1.5 oz).
- In some cases, coffee filters. The GSI Ultralight Java Drip doesn’t require one, but you can use one to make cleanup easier.
Method #3: Moka Pot Coffee (Great for Car Camping)
This classy Italian portable espresso maker is actually perfect for car camping! Weighing in at 1.5 lbs for the 6-cup version, it’s a bit too bulky for backpacking, but just the right size for a small camp stove. Plus, with a variety of sizes available, you can purchase only as large an espresso pot as you need to get you and your travel buddies up and running.
Not only does this act as a top-notch espresso machine, but it also requires very little setup and cleaning—no paper filters (or soap—moka pots are meant to be rinsed with hot water only!) needed. Simply add warm water to the brewing chamber, pour your coffee grounds into the base, screw the two pieces together, and heat until you hear it start to gurgle.
Be aware: The “cups” size on moka pots is standardized to 1 cup = 1 Italian espresso, so “1 cup” will only make about 1-2 ounces of coffee. Purchase and plan accordingly.
- Medium fine ground coffee
- Coffee mug
- Method of boiling water
- Moka Pot. For camping, we love this Moka Pot which comes in 1, 3, 6, 9, and even 12-cup options.
Method #4: French Press Camp Coffee (Great for Car Camping, ✨Backpacking Option✨)
Who says you need to leave the French press behind when camping? Certainly not us! With so many French presses for brewing camp coffee available, this is a great option for freshly brewed coffee. It’s also pretty easy, ideal for making coffee for multiple people at once—both of our favorite models can brew coffee for at least 2-3 campers—and even provides a built-in serving carafe.
The only major downside is that French presses are typically a bit more of a hassle to clean, and they’re not the most portable camping coffee maker.
Bonus option for backpackers: You can find some French press options that fit into a canister-style gas stove, for example, the Jetboil Flash System with the French Press add-on. These allow you to keep your pack light while still enjoying amazing coffee no matter how far you wander. Although these setups are a bit more expensive, regular backpackers may find it’s well worth the initial investment.
- Coarse ground coffee
- Coffee mug
- Method of boiling water
- Camp-style French press. We love the super durable and lightweight Snow Peak Titanium press or the GSI Java Press.
Method #5: Aeropress Coffee (Great for Car Camping)
The Aeropress Go makes aeropress even more accessible for camping trips. For quick, amazing coffee, it’s tough to beat this camping coffee method. While the original Aeropress coffee maker is already pretty portable, the Aeropress Go packs down completely into a small coffee thermos with a lid—perfect for taking your morning coffee on-the-go.
The downsides? It’s a bit of a learning curve if you’ve never used one before, it has a lot of pieces that you’ll need to keep track of (and clean), and—at 11.5 oz.—it’s a bit too bulky for most backpackers while still only offering capacity for brewing coffee one cup at a time. However, for solo travelers and car campers who want incredible camping coffee, this is perfect!
- Finely ground coffee beans
- Method of boiling water
- Aeropress Go
Method #6: Percolator Coffee (Great for Car Camping)
For larger groups who don’t mind spending a little more time in the morning and space in their cars for a coffee pot, the classic percolator makes decent coffee and—perhaps most importantly—allows you to brew camp coffee for your whole group in one go.
Keep in mind that many percolators don’t fit on smaller camp stoves or backpacking stoves, so check in advance that you’ll have access to a more standard-sized burner (such as the ones on these kinds of camp stoves) or a campfire.
- Coffee grounds
- Coffee mugs
- a larger cook stove or option to build a fire
- Percolator: we love this 12-cup option or this smaller 6-cup option
Choosing a Camp Coffee-Making Method
Can’t decide which is best for you? Consider these factors:
Group size. As we like to say, the bigger the crew, the bigger the brew! If you’re going on a camping trip with a group, bringing a camping coffee pot, like a Percolator, or a stovetop espresso maker that can whip up several cups at once can save on time (and make you some new friends). If you’re going solo, the pour over method or an Aeropress are both great choices.
Trip type / weight limitations. If you’re backpacking, you’re probably not bringing your Moka pot with you (probably). For backpackers, we recommend opting for instant coffee or collapsible pour-over methods that will save on space and weight in your pack.
Complexity. Are you basically (or literally) a barista, or have you not made yourself a cup of coffee since your local Starbucks opened? Will you have easy access to a large cookstove and a full gamut of cooking and cleaning supplies at your campsite, or are you packing light for backcountry?
If you’re looking for easy and lightweight, instant coffee is literally fool-proof. Otherwise, keep in mind that some of these options require more cleaning (looking at you, French press), prep time, or larger cooking spaces (cough, cough, Percolators).
Preference. Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you should drink coffee you don’t like! If you really want fresh coffee, then definitely splurge on a fancier setup, even if it takes up a bit more room in your pack or time in the morning. Your tastebuds will thank you!
Ready to Get Camping?
Ready to go camping with a group of your soon-to-be travel BFFs and show off your coffee making skills while admiring some stunning scenery? Join an upcoming Explorer Chick camping trip to Yosemite, Peru, Alaska and beyond!
About The Author | Rachel Bicha
Rachel is a hiker, traveler, writer and adventurer. Whether she’s home in New England or halfway across the world, she’s probably just looking for her next mountain to climb. If she’s not traveling or hiking, you can probably find her sketching, taking long walks around town, reading on the porch or perfecting a new recipe.
Favorite outdoor adventure: solo-hiking through the Dolomites in Italy!
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