7 Great Ways To Make Camping Coffee

As an avid camper, there are many things I’ve learned to forgo in the outdoors: air-conditioning, regular showers, laundry. But there’s one thing I’d rather not do without—my morning camping coffee. On a camping trip, this ordinary morning ritual somehow feels like an indulgence. Maybe it’s the fresh air or lack of other luxuries, but sitting beside a campfire in the morning chill with a warm mug feels like heaven. A subpar night of sleep and fresh air can make even the weakest instant coffee taste good.

Not that instant coffee is the only option in the outdoors. There are many ways to make camp coffee, from freeze-dried Folgers to the hipster-approved Aeropress. The method you choose depends on your camping style (backpacking, tenting, RVing, glamping) and it depends on how seriously you take your coffee. Read on to learn seven ways to make your own morning brew.

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee will do in a pinch if you’re short on space and prefer a no-fuss cup of joe. Though it doesn’t have the best flavor reputation, I’ve learned from experience that instant coffee is better than no coffee at all. The Columbian roast from the  line is my top pick.


  1. Boil water on a camp stove or over a fire.
  2. Pour one instant coffee packet (or two, for a stronger brew) into an insulated cup.
  3. Pour the hot water into the coffee and stir to dissolve.

Pros: Inexpensive and easy to make, no electricity needed
Cons: Taste (depending on the brand)


This hardly qualifies as a method for making “camping coffee” but it’s worth mentioning. If you’re camping with a large group and have access to electricity, sometimes it’s worth simply bringing your automatic drip-brew machine from home. One of my relatives thought to do this on a family camping trip and it was hard to find fault with a method that quickly provides you with 12-cups of hot coffee (that stays hot on the burner). If you go this route, it might be worth bringing a cheaper machine than the one sitting on your kitchen counter.  The could be a good option.


  1. If you’re tent camping, simply set the coffee maker on a level surface and plug it into the electricity post at your campsite. (You may need any extension cord.) If you have a camper or RV, this method is already a no-brainer.
  2. Make the coffee like you would at home. (Just be sure to pack grounds not whole beans if you don’t have a coffee grinder.)

Pros: An easy way to make hot coffee (that stays hot) for a group
Cons: Needs electricity and isn’t the easiest equipment to pack

French Press

After some trial-and-error, this method has become our family’s favorite way to make coffee when camping. We grind the beans at home and pack them in a waterproof container. While at camp, we boil the water on our camp stove and use a sturdy French press that’s made from BPA-free plastic. You can find a similar model here with the 


  1. Boil water using a camp stove or teakettle over a fire.
  2. Measure coffee grounds into the bottom of the French press carafe. I like strong coffee so I use 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for every 8 oz. of water.
  3. Pour the boiling water over the coffee grounds, filling the carafe. Place the cover on the French press but don’t press down on the plunger yet. Set a timer for 4 minutes.
  4. After 4 minutes, slowly press the plunger all the way down. Then drink up!

Pros: Fresh taste, easy to pack
Cons: Requires specialty equipment (the press)


Cowboy Coffee

Before percolators and presses became standard camping equipment, coffee was often made using this no-nonsense method. The basic process for making “cowboy coffee” involves brewing coffee grounds in hot—nearly boiling—water and then using assorted tricks (eggshells, a stick) to make the grounds sink to the bottom of the kettle. Basically, it’s the French-press method without the strainer. If you like coffee that’s as gritty as the outdoors, this style is for you.


If you want to see a real cowboy show you how it’s done, check out Cowboy Kent below:

Pros: No special equipment needed
Cons: High potential for coffee grounds in your teeth


Before automatic drip-brew coffee makers became standard (about 40 years ago), the percolator was the most popular way to brew coffee at home. Today you can buy new camp-style percolators that serve the same purpose. (Checkout this very popular ) A percolator is a lidded pot with two chambers, one for water and one for coffee grounds. As the water is boiled on a stove or fire, it’s drawn up through a thin tube and repeatedly filters through the grounds.


  1. Pour water into a percolator to its fill line.
  2. If your percolator requires it (check the instructions), place a filter in the filter basket. Then add the coffee grounds, about 1-2 tablespoons per 8 oz. of water.
  3. Place the basket assembly back inside the percolator pot and replace lid. Place it on a camp stove or fire and watch it boil. (Many camp-style percolators have a clear cap on top where you can see the water bubbling when it starts to boil.)
  4. Once the water is boiling, you’ll notice that it darkens as the coffee starts to brew. At this point, remove the percolator from the heat source and let it continue to simmer for about 5 minutes. After that, it’s ready to go.

Pros: Fresh taste
Cons: The learning curve

How To Make Camping Coffee While Camping Over The Campfire

Pour-Over Coffee

If prefer to make camping coffee one cup at a time, the pour-over method may be the way how to make coffee while camping for you. To make it, you’ll need a pour-over dripper and cone-shaped filters. (You can also buy large pour-over drippers that brew more than one cup at a time.)


  1. Boil water on a camp stove or fire. (Boil twice as much water as you’ll need. If you’re making a single cup of coffee, boil 3 cups of water.)
  2. While the water is boiling, place a filter in the pour-over dripper and set it on top of a mug or carafe. If you’re making a single cup of coffee, pour 2-3 tablespoons of coffee grounds into the pour-over dripper. It should be the consistency of coarse sugar.
  3. Once your water is boiling, remove it from the heat source and let it sit for about 30-60 seconds. Set a timer for 2 minutes and hit start. Pour a little hot water over the coffee grounds until they’re completely soaked.
  4. Wait 30 seconds. Then continue to pour hot water over the grounds, keeping an eye on your timer. You should be able to keep pouring until about the 2-minute mark. At that point, stop pouring and let the coffee drip for another 30 seconds before drinking.

Pros: Taste
Cons: It takes practice and patience

Click the image below for more info about the GSI Outdoors – Collapsible JavaDrip Slim Drip Coffee Maker

GSI Outdoors Blue JavePress Coffee Filter


The last option on our list is for people who like their coffee one potent shot at a time. Espresso typically uses steam pressure which is why it requires a special (and often large) machine. Amazingly, there are now handheld espresso makers on the market like the portable espresso machine.

Method: For this method, it’s best to follow the instructions for your specific machine.

Pros: Coffeehouse style espresso
Cons: Cost