19 Ways to Make Coffee Outside & Camping
When you go outside, your coffee has got to go with you. Making coffee outside does not have to be a clunky task, you can bring the elegance and nuance of your home brewing setup to the outdoors, or you can heat up some water quickly and throw in some instant coffee, too, if that floats your boat. It’s all hot brown water after all. So whether your riding your bike to #coffeeoutside, or making coffee while you’re camping, there are tons of different brew methods that you can employ. We’ll walk through our favorite camping coffee methods and give you all the tips and tricks that you’ll need to make the best coffee that you can in the outdoors.
Camping and Outdoor Coffee Brewing Methods
- Instant Coffee
When time is tight and every once matters, there’s no better choice than instant coffee. For ultralight backpackers, campers, and bikepackers this brew method doesn’t require any brewing at all - simply drop the instant coffee in your hot water and you’re ready to rock. Instant coffee has a bad rep for flavor, but these days you have some gourmet choices available. While it might not be on the same flavor level as some other methods, it certainly does the job, and at a fraction of the weight. To brew your cup of instant coffee, follow the directions on the packaging. Generally, you’ll just simply add the instant coffee grounds to hot water in your mug. Stir the grounds in, and enjoy. THis is easily the most simple outdoor coffee brewing method. Pro tip: dump a pack in your water bottle mid-day for an on the go treat.
- No equipment needed
- Light weight
- Street cred
- Pour Over 3) V60 4) Kalita Wave
Who doesn’t love a good pour over? While it’s one of the most simple coffee brewing methods, it can also be one of the best. Making pour over coffee while camping is easy, and there are tons of different pourover coffee makers out there to choose from. From collapsible brewers that can come on your backpacking trip to tried and true ceramic or glass models for your car camping setup, there’s a pourover for every type of outdoorsperson. There are even all-metal pour overs that act as the filter themselves. This means there’s no getting out into the woods realizing you forgot your filters at home. We’ve grouped all these different pour over methods into one here as the basic method is the same - paper filter and pour over cone. While pour overs might lack flair, they make up for it in consistent quality and utility. Brewing pour over coffee outside is easy enough, a couple tips can put you over the top and make your friends poke fun at your high-end barista tendencies. Heat up your water, add your filter, drop in the grounds, and pour away.
Pour Over vs V60 vs Kalita Wave
We’re going to hop into the gritty details here - don’t forget, each of these coffee makers produce excellent results. The biggest difference between the various pour over coffee brewers is in the filters and the size of the opening. FIlter change in shape, to fit the brewer, and in thickness. The thicker the filter, the more that stays behind, resulting in a lighter-bodied, cleaner product, this is a big difference in the chemex, for example, vs the pour overs here. The V60 has a larger opening, meaning it brews coffee faster, this means that things like the speed in which you pour the water matters more. The flat bottom of the filter in the Kalita Wave, meanwhile, increases brew time, which leads to a more full-bodied cup of coffee. These filters, like a chemex, are special to the Wave, and can’t always be purchased everywhere. Your classic pour over brewer sits somewhere in the middle. Try them all, or pick according to your coffee preference.
- Tastes great
- Light weight
- One cup at a time
- Requires filter, which creates waste
5) French Press
Tried and true like our titanium designs, the french press gets the job done every time. Ideal for larger groups, french presses can make a few cups of coffee at a time, unlike many of the other outdoor and camping coffee brew methods. As for taste, the french press is up there with the best of them. Some folks swear by them, while others don’t prefer the longer brew time. Experiment and figure out what you like best. For campers and adventurers, there are a variety of great french press systems, so you don’t have to hike your fragile glass setup into the backcountry. French press coffee outside is kind of a “set it and forget it” brewing method. Get your water hot, add it to the french press, wait, and you have delicious coffee. Breaking into the nuance, we like to use about 8 grams of coffee for every 200ml of water, with a brew time of 4 minutes. One more step to up your brew is blooming your coffee grounds, we’ll cover that later.
- Can make multiple cups at once
- Makes tasty coffee
- No filters
- Fragile or bulky
When we’re ding dong dangling along, the Aeropress is one of our favorite methods of brewing camping coffee. Why? Well, to start it makes great coffee. Next, it’s a bit cerebral, you can nerd out by reading world-championship aeorpress recipes on the internet, or if you’re in a hurry you can just blast out some quick bean juice. The quick brew time makes for bright and punch coffee with low acidity. Similar to a french press, you add water and press your grounds. One big difference, apart from the one-cup nature of the Aeropress, is the fast brew time. So, rather than wait like a french press, you press the coffee right away. We like to use the inverted brew method, water slightly under boiling (about 195 degrees), and a slow but steady press for the best cup of coffee.
- Low acidity
- Only one cup at a time
- Awkward size/shape to pack
7) Coffee Bags
So, you’re used to making tea in bags, why not coffee? Small size and light weight make this a great backpacking coffee method for those ultralight danglers out there. Might we recommend or Ti Mug to match? Think of these like a tea bag with coffee, steep and enjoy. For DIY folks out there, you can even make your own coffee bags. We recommend a more coarse grind so that it doesn’t steep out into you mug.
- Light weight
- Small and packable
- Have to pack out waste
- Brew can be inconsistent and hard to nail down steep time
While you might not want to bring a chemex coffee brewer on a bikepacking trip, it is a great way to make coffee at basecamp. The large size can make several cups of coffee at a time, and it produces some of the best coffee you can make. A chemex coffee brewers is sort of like a pourover and a carafe all-in-one. The large opening and special filters are where the magic happens - chemex coffee is known for its clean and clear flavor. The chemex is one of our favorite camping coffee makers for groups, car camping, and basecamping.
- Great tasting coffee
- Can brew multiple cups at a time
9) Cowboy Coffee
If you’re looking to add some grit to your life, why not add it to your coffee, too? Brewing cowboy coffee is pretty darn simple, and removes the coffee maker all together. Simply add your grounds to a kettle over the fire or on the stove, wait a couple of minutes, pour and drink. Use a more coarse grind to help the grit settle out. We’re not sure if this is folklore or fact, but some cowfolks have been known to add eggshells to the kettle to help the grounds settle out and to reduce acidity. So whether you’re in a pinch without a coffee maker, or are cosplaying the American west, this is the brew method for you.
- No coffee maker needed
- You can say "YeeeeHaw"
Nope, we didn’t make this one up, you can brew your coffee with a device called a bripe. The device looks like almost more like a wizard stick for coffee than any other coffee brewer on the list, but it’s for sipping not toking, we can confirm. Bripe is short for brew pipe afterall. Anyways... the coffee. You use a torch to heat up the pipe, brewing your coffee. This is definitely one of the wackiest brewing methods out there, but it does make pretty good coffee, definitely on par with other methods on the list. So, if you want to try something new, you can try to rip a bripe.
- Tasty coffee
- Need to carry torch
- Small pieces that are easy to lose
While the only place you might hae seen a percolator is at your grandparents’ house, it is actually a great way to make coffee outside. Percolator coffee brewers have two chambers, one for the grounds and one for the water and coffee. Once the water starts boiling, it rises up through the straw and drips on the grounds, five to seven minutes later, and you’re sipping coffee. The brewed coffee drips back down into the water chamber, meaning it will keep rebrewing. This means you can brew to whatever strength you prefer, just don’t leave it too long or you might end up with jet fuel.
- “Set it and forget it”
- Brew to any strength
- Boiling can affect flavor
- Can be overly strong
12) Portable Espresso Maker
These camping espresso makers might look like something out of a Sharper Image catalog, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work well. At its core, espresso uses hot water and high pressure, so how do these brewers achieve this? Well, the pressure part is on you - you have to pump with your hands to build up the pressure, add boiling water and tamped down coffee grounds, then you can enjoy your backcountry shots. Add a battery-powered milk frother, and you can be making drinks that would make a barista proud,
- It makes espresso!
- More caffeine
- Can be finicky
- Only brews one shot at a time
13) Backpacking Stove French Press
Depending on what camping stove system you use, you might have the option to just add a french press plunger to your kit in order to make coffee on the go. Camp cooking systems like Jetboil have these nifty kits which mean you don’t need to pack a whole nother container just to make coffee.
- Use with your existing backpacking stove system
- Doesn’t add much weight or bulk overall
- Keep your pot clean or get mac & cheese in your coffee
14) Moka Pot
While it might look like a percolator, the moka pot is actually in a league of its own. Brewing near-espresso strength coffee, this is a great pick for campers and adventurers that want to make coffee drinks in the outdoors. It has multiple chambers like the percolator, but uses steam to brew, with the coffee rising into the upper chamber instead of dripping back down. THis means a more clear flavor and strong coffee. The heavier weight definitely means that this isn’t exactly a trail-friendly brewers, but other methods can fill that role.
- Strong coffee, almost like espresso
15) Camping Coffee Machine
Don’t worry, you can leave your Mr. Coffee machine behind with a full-on camping coffee machine. There are a couple of different models, like the rough and rugged Oxx CoffeeBoxX, or the Coleman camping coffee maker - either way, you’re looking at simplicity and capacity. These brewers look a whole lot more like your home machine, making them great for groups. The Oxx machine is pretty mucha camping Keurig, while the Coleman looks like a Mr. Coffee for your camp stove.
- Easy to brew
- Great for groups
16) Cold Brew
There are a million different kinds of coldbrew coffee makers that we could cover, pick your favorite and bring it camping! Perfect for hot summer days, cold brew coffee is the perfect camping coffee. Most cold brew coffee makers simply involve steeping the grounds for an extended period of time, like overnight, then enjoying your concentrated cold brew. This is a often overlooked method, with many folks preferring a cup of joe in the morning, but there’s nothing better than a cool cup of cold brew in the afternoon after a hot bike ride or hike.
- Great for hot weather
- Tasty brew
- Takes a long time
- Best served with ice
- Uses a lot of grounds
17) Vacuum Pot/Siphon
Okay this one will make you look like a mad scientist, but vacuum pots do make some great coffee, so we’ve got to include them. Plus, made science is what gets you great products sometimes, like Dangle Supply’s High Design implements and software. Using a small bunsen-like burner, this is definitely one of the more finicky brewers on the list, but it's flashy and fun, so here we are. Pretty much, the siphon brewer has two chambers, and uses #science to draw the water up, where it steeps with the coffee, then back down through the filter. This is a full immersion brewer (like a french press) with a cloth or paper filter so the resulting coffee is full bodied and clean.
- Flashy and fun
- Good coffee
From Vietnam, the phin is another fun way that you can brew coffee outside. We’ve heard of this one described as a combination of the v60, pourover, and french press. The brewing method is actually fairly simple, with an all-in-one setup and no paper filters required. In practice, it brews a lot like any of the pour over methods but slower, resulting in a rich cup of coffee. Combine with condensed milk for a Vietnamese-inspired morning.
- Rich and strong coffee
- No waste
This is a fun one, too, a totally unique brewing method, Turkish coffee requires a special pot called a sezve to brew and finely ground coffee. This grind is almost dusty in consistency, but results in a rich and delicious brew. While it might be possible to grind your coffee to the right consistency at home, it's easiest to just buy Turkish coffee at a middle eastern market. To make the coffee, you simply add the grounds to the pot and boil. The result is very concentrated and rich, traditionally served in small cups. The Turkish coffee pot isn’t exactly the most packable, so it’s not great for backpacking or anything light weight, but it’s no problem to pack in the van or for your basecamp.
- Strong, almost espresso-like
- Need to get specialty coffee
How to Make Better Coffee While Camping
A couple of tips can bring your outdoor brew to a higher level. We’re going to contradict ourselves in a bit, but keeping it simple can go a long way towards better coffee. Starting with good coffee will go the farthest, heck, you can even bring a portable coffee grinder and freshly grind those beans. Aside from starting with good inputs, you can pick up a couple of tricks from the pros. Blooming your grounds is one of those tricks that will have you looking legit. Start by adding a small amount of water, just enough to get all of the grounds wet, let the grounds soak it up for 30-60 seconds, then add the full volume of water. This will “wake up” the grounds, bringing a punchier and tastier brew. Another pre-brew tip that can help out is washing your filters. If you’re making coffee with a paper filter. Make sure to rinse out the filter with some hit water before you add the grounds. This makes sure that you don’t pick up any papery taste. It also weighs down the filter, helping keep it in place.
How to Make Fancy Camping Coffee Outside
At the end of the day, just getting your caffeine may be good enough, but what about when you really want to class things up? A couple of outdoor coffee hacks can have you drinking coffee that's just as good as your triple mochafrappalatte. Aside from fun creamers and additives, we like to bring along some powdered products, like chai tea powder or good ‘ol hot cocoa. Likewise, you can bring a battery-powered frother to bring your coffee drinks to the backcountry. Do whatever you like, do whatever makes you feel cool in front of your friends, but as long as you’re outside, it’s bound to be a pretty good cup.