That first cup of camping coffee over the campfire on a freezing early morning has a magical, even transformational quality to it.
We’ve tried just about every way for preparing camping coffee over the years in an attempt to master the technique. We enjoy the process so much that we wanted to share seven of the best ways we’ve discovered to brew fantastic camping coffee. In case you are looking for best camping coffee pot for the best camping experience, we have some recommendation you can check.
The 3 Cardinal Rules to Brewing Camp Coffee
These three cardinal criteria apply nearly universally to creating better camping coffee:
High-quality coffee should be used. The old saying “you get what you pay for” is never more accurate than when it comes to coffee. The good news is that brewing your own will never be as expensive as drive-thru coffee. Ideally, use whole beans and ground them right before eating. It’s possible that carrying a grinder around isn’t everyone’s cup of…coffee? However, the flavor of coffee declines as it is exposed to air, and because ground coffee has a larger surface area exposed to the air, it degrades more quickly.
So, if you can afford it and have the space, we highly recommend a hand grinder like the Porlex Mini (more on that below).
Never boil your coffee when camping. Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please Temperatures between 200 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for brewing.
When coffee is boiled (212 degrees F depending on elevation) for an extended period of time, it develops a burnt flavor.
Cowboy Camping Coffee
Coffee has been a mainstay of Americana since the Boston Tea Party in 1773.
As the new world moved westward, frontiersmen and women who traversed the wilds of early America brought coffee with them (holding it in the same regard as tobacco and alcohol!). Coffee provided the boost they needed to start the next day’s expedition whenever they paused to make camp.
The de facto manner of brewing their camp coffee was simple, devoid of all the contemporary conveniences we’ve come to know (and appreciate).
Cowboys who ran cattle and slept each night under the stars continued to find solace in their daily cup of camp coffee as the west was settled and ranchers took root across the plains.
A simple 9 cup stainless percolator * (without the percolator gear) has been our camping coffee pot for years, and the MSR Titan Kettle * is wonderful for single servings.
Coarsely ground coffee is a popular choice. Coffee mug for camping If you want the authentic experience, use hot coals from a campfire, but any camping stove will suffice. How to Make Cowboy Coffee for Camping
Ensure that your heat source is stable. Fill your camping coffee pot with COLD water. 1 heaping spoonful coarse ground coffee for every 12 cup water Optional: It’s customary to throw in an egg shell or two from breakfast to give the soup some substance. This is even mentioned by John Steinbeck in his book “Travels with Charley.” Heat the water till it reaches the desired brewing temperature.
Because of the fluctuation of heat, the cook time may likely be longer if you’re using a fire. Because you won’t have a thermometer to tell when the water has reached the ideal temperature of 200-205 degrees, we recommend keeping an eye on it and removing it from the heat as soon as it begins to boil – DO NOT allow it to reach a rolling boil. Remove from heat, add a shot (1oz or so) of cold water, and let the grounds settle (usually takes about 5 minutes or so). Pour and enjoy! Just like the pioneers and cowboys who came before you!
Clean up: Dispose of any remaining grounds (which are biodegradable) in the bottom of the pot, then wash the camping coffee pot.
Espresso Pot Camping Coffee
Caffeine is sometimes required while camping.
Perhaps you ascended The Mount Whitney Trail the day before and are feeling the effects of the 6100 feet of elevation increase. Perhaps it’s 4 a.m. and you’d like to see the sunrise over Cadillac Mountain.
Or maybe you just want to spend an hour tinkering around your campground like a tweaker.
Espresso pot camping coffee is one of the greatest delivery ways in any of these settings. It does, however, take some time to master.
Bring the water to a boil in the secondary pot. Fill the bottom chamber of the espresso pot to the fill line with just-off-the-boil water. Fill the grounds basket with dirt and smooth it out with your finger (do not compress the grounds) Screw the upper chamber (or spout, in the case of the GSI MiniEspresso) on after placing the grounds basket in the bottom chamber.
Place the espresso pot on low-medium heat (focus on the low) and wait for the lovely coffee to start seeping into the upper chamber – this takes approximately 6-10 minutes in our experience ** Your heat is too high if it’s gushing like a volcano. It’s time to take the espresso pot off the heat when the seeping coffee in the upper chamber (or cup in the case of the GSI MiniEspresso) gets a golden honey hue. To halt the brewing, pour a little chilly water over the outside of the bottom chamber.
This step, together with step 1’s pre-boiling of the water, helps keep your camping coffee from tasting metallic. Pour and enjoy the thrill of a great camp coffee espresso, or make an Americano by combining 50 percent hot water with 50 percent espresso. Cleaning: Disassemble the upper and lower chambers, remove the grounds basket and dump it, rinse, wash with biodegradable soap, rinse again, and dry
Instant Camping Coffee (OR Steeped Camp Coffee)
There are times when the energy is just not there, when all the fuss and accoutrements that make incredible camping coffee seems WAY too difficult.
A bit too much whiskey the night before, a bit too frigid outside the sleeping bag, or maybe you’re just feeling lazy.
That’s OK, instant camping coffee is here to sooth you easily into your day. And the good news is, it’s a whole lot more delicious than it used to be!
Instant Coffee – For years, Starbucks Via Instant Columbia * has been our go-to, but if you want to splurge, Mount Hagen Organic Single Serve Instant * is a great option. Steeped Coffee – Using Steeped Coffee Bags is a great alternative to instant camp coffee, but it’s just as easy and delicious. A pot to boil water (we like the MSR Titan Kettle* for serving 1-2 people) Camping coffee mug Source of heat – Are you serious? This early in the morning, a fire requires far too much effort! You barbarian, turn on the stove.
Place your pot on the heatsource and bring to just barely a boil (again 200-205 degrees F is perfection) Rip the top off that instant coffee packet and pour your preferred amount into your camping mug. We like strong coffee, and find that one full packet to 2 cups of water is just right.
Stir in the water, put aside for a minute, then stir again, and you’re done!
If you’re brewing steeped coffee, we recommend steeping the steeping bags in hot water in your camping cup for 5-6 minutes to get a great strong brew. Enjoy!
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