Paring back to the basics of camping coffee
The pared-back nature of camping can take away the buzzing distractions and stresses of modern life. Wake up to the sounds of nature and sausage (or bacon) sizzling on the pan, and drink in the intoxicating smell of coffee brewing (if you are the lucky one who gets to sleep in!). Truly some of life’s simple and wonderful joys.
No matter how prehistoric or primeval you are going, camping coffee’s ingredients are very basic. All you need are water and the ability to heat it, as well as great quality coffee, and you’re all good.
If you are a camper who subscribes to the ‘travel light‘ philosophy and just want any coffee, then the obvious first choice is instant coffee. Pack some and off to the wilderness you go. But I guess if you are reading this article, you are probably looking for a litte bit of something beyond that.
1. Cowboy coffee
The first basic method, sans equipment, to make camping coffee is cowboy coffee. I just love the sound of ‘cowboy coffee’. Doesn’t it conjure up images of the Wild West, cowboys sitting around a fire, playing the harmonica, and sipping a cup of coffee just poured from a blackened pot or kettle?
Cowboy coffee is made by immersing coffee grounds directly into hot or boiling water, instead of passing the water through the grounds. Boil the water over the fire and then let it cool slightly. Pour the water over your coffee grounds in your pot or kettle, and let it steep for two minutes. Serve and drink up!
Be careful not to steep for too long, you can affect the flavour and end up with a bitter brew.
This method is basic, but not always easy to get it just right.
2. Cold brewed coffee
If you are organised enough before departing on your trip, make cold brew coffee in the fridge to take with you (keep it in the esky). If you are ultra organised, you can make it when you are camping as cold brewed coffee can also be done at ambient temperature. The taste may be different due to the different extraction temperature.
Cold brew coffee is really as simple as infusing coffee grounds with cold water and left to steep for 12 to 24 hours. After a night’s sleep, voila, you wake up to no-fuss coffee ready for drinking.
Strain the mixture, and you can drink it cold or warm it up again over the campfire.
If you are into your coffee gadgets…
You’ll probably be better off investing in some kind of coffee maker, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. The pay-off of a great cup of coffee, savouring it in nature, will be worth it.
1. French press
The French press is a great option to take to camping as it is very versatile. Use it to make coffee, and when you need a different hot beverage, switch to make tea from tea leaves.
Warm up your French press by first rinsing with hot water. Using fresh coffee grounds, add coffee, pour your hot water into the press till about half-way. Stir gently and fill water to the water.
Carefully re-insert the plunger till above the water line. Let it steep for a few minutes, plunge slowly and then serve to drink.
You will want to invest in a plunger that is reasonably sturdy to take camping, so metal ones are the best, like this one from Kabalo.
Similar to a French press, but snazzier, and quicker, the Aeropress is another good investment idea for coffee drinkers who regularly rough it. Again this one only makes one at a time, but it is a high-quality one.
The Aeropress can make French press style coffee or espresso style. It handles grinds very well and creates a lovely clean, fresh flavour of coffee.
3. Pour over
Invest in a specially designed pour over cup; this method is best for when you only need to make one coffee. Bring your cup, the pour over dripper and coffee filters, and you are good to go.
There is less technique involved in this method, it all relies on the cleverness of the cup design. There is a lovely variety in pour over cups on the market, including collapsible silicone ones.
4. Mini espresso devices
There are several great mini espresso machines on the market which are lovely and portable, compact and lightweight and easy to use. Just add the ground coffee and water, attach the plunger, and use both the push and pull handles to create pressure and pull the shot.
You could pair this with a stovetop milk steamer to get the perfect frothy milk for your morning latte or afternoon cappuccino; these ones work on the camper stove.
5. Drip coffee on a camp stove
You can go slightly less portable and up your machine game by getting a drip coffee maker designed for use on camping stoves, like this one from Coleman.
A little bulkier to pack, but easy to use, and wonderful for larger groups or people who like to have drip coffee on tap.
6. Moka pot
The stovepot Moka pot that you use at home can easily be used at on the gas stove when you are out camping.
Boil water and remove from heat. Then measure coffee to fill the filter basket of the moka pot.
Add the hot water to the lower chamber, attach and screw down chambers. Take care to keep the Moka pot upright and don’t over tighten.
Brew, serve and enjoy the espresso of your camping dreams!
Campfire chocolate fondue
Just for an extra special treat, while you are enjoying your café-quality camping coffee, why not make some campfire chocolate fondue to go with it?
Using a campfire saucepan, melt 300g good quality dark chocolate with 300ml cream, and add a splash of liqueur if you like.
Dip strawberries, chopped bananas, biscuit fingers or marshmallows in the fondue.
Let’s get back to nature!
The simple, worldly pleasures of camping coffee.
Sit back with your cup, connect with yourself and this moment in time. Embrace nature at her best – watch the sky change colour as the sun comes up or goes down, and while stars come out in their millions overhead.
Coffee was one of Mother Nature’s greatest creations after all, so this is the perfect environment to enjoy it in.
Wishing you a great day,
Suk-yi is a caffeine lover, blogger, entrepreneur, air quality consultant, environmentalist, world citizen, wife and mother. She explores various topics related to coffee, tea, chocolate and everything in between on her blog. Make sure to follow her on her Facebook Page, Instagram Page and Pinterest Page.