You wake from a sweet slumber at camp, and through the tent flap, the early dawn brightens into a new day. Your mind quickly wanders to its need for caffeine. This is the natural evolution of a morning at camp. It's one of the many reasons why it's our favorite place to wake up. We emerge from our sleeping bags, throw on something warm, and then move to the fire, listening as the world wakes up around us—all better enjoyed with a steaming cup of coffee.
So how do you make a cup worthy of such a morning? We’ve tried many different ways to make a great cup of coffee at camp, and in this blog, we will tell you our top 3. So, rise and grind *beans* with us below!
Pro tip: Having fresh coffee is key to a great cup. If grinding your beans at camp is impossible, grind them at home and store them in an airtight container like the Coffee Canister from MiiR.
Patented by Hanson Goodrich in 1889 and described as a contraption that will create "a liquid free of all grounds and impurities." the percolator is perhaps the most iconic method of making camp coffee. Often seen in old westerns, surrounded by a group of rugged cowboys, eating a hearty breakfast before heading out to a hard day's work.
But you don't have to be a cowboy to enjoy the delicious strength of coffee made using a percolator. Your first time using one can be a bit confusing as there are few moving parts, but once you get familiar with this camp classic, you'll never want to leave the percolator home ever again.
Fill a camp mug with water, pour it in the percolator, and repeat it as many times as needed (not over the fill line).
If you are using regular ground coffee, you'll need to buy filters that fit your basket. However, if you use fresh, coarsely ground coffee, you may not need a filter.
Once you've figured out the basket needs, add about one tablespoon per two cups of coffee and then add an extra tablespoon for the pot.
Put the basket lid on and place the whole tube and basket assembly into the pot.
Place the pot on a stove or grate over a fire and watch it boil. It may take some time, but it is essential to monitor the process.
When it starts to boil, the water will percolate to the top, and you'll see it through the "bubble spot.”
Adjust the flame down on the stove or move it off the center of the fire.
Let it percolate for 10–15 minutes. As it does this, the color of the water in the "bubble spot" will continue to darken.
Pour yourself a cup and enjoy.
It's not often that you find someone who doesn't enjoy a pour-over. The very definition of a crowd-pleasing coffee, this delicious brew is a fantastic drink to whip out on a beautiful morning, be it at home or camp.
There are lots of different drippers that are designed to be used for backpacking and camping. Like the MiiR Pourigami™
And while there is a surplus of pour-over methods, we think this one is the easiest to master. Along with some fresh beans, it's an absolute winner.
Assemble pour-over dripper onto your camp cup.
Start heating your water to a perfect close-to-boil temperature.
As the water is heating, take a filter, wet it, and place it into the pour-over.
Depending on the strength of coffee you're after, place 1-2 tablespoons of grounds per cup of water and tap the dripper gently to level the grounds out.
Remove your water from heat and, beginning at the outside edge of the grounds, pour slowly over the grounds in a spiral towards the center.
Now begin slowly pouring the remainder of the water, starting at the center, spiraling outward to the edge and back again toward the center - rotating the grounds.
Pause to allow the waterline to drop to just above the level of the grounds and repeat this process two more times - pouring approximately ⅓ of your water each time.
Remove the dripper and enjoy!
- French Press
Finally, we give you what may be our favorite method for the perfect camp cup, the French Press. Perfect for sharing with others and spending a few relaxing hours near the fire before heading out for the day.
By immersing ground coffee in hot water and then separating the grounds from the coffee by pressing down the filter, the French Press makes a perfectly balanced cup of coffee for a few thirsty campers or just one—desperately in need of caffeine (we won't judge).
French Press not only tastes fantastic but is relatively easy to accomplish. Packed with flavor, this method will not only tempt you and your fellow campers to make a second brew (and maybe another) but will make your camp smell delicious too.
Heat water to desired near-boil temp.
Remove the plunger from the French Press.
Add medium ground coffee in a ratio of 1.5 tablespoons per cup of water to the brew chamber of the French Press.
Add water to the desired amount and stir gently for approximately 10-15 seconds.
Reinsert the press plunger and allow it to rest just above the water/grounds.
Allow to sit and brew: we've found that a brewing time of about 4 minutes is good for us, but adjust this to your liking.
Put slow downward pressure on the plunger to "press" the grounds from the coffee.
Once pressed to the bottom, you're ready to pour a delicious cup of french press into your cup or wide mouth to-go bottle!
There are also a few other great methods of making coffee at camp that didn’t make the list this time around:
Cowboy Coffee: Yes, above, we did say that the percolator was a rugged cowboy favorite, but there's a reason this method is called "cowboy coffee"—as it's the original method for brewing that sweet bean juice on a cattle drive. The method of brewing their camp coffee was simple—all you need is a pot, some beans, a heating source, and a little patience while you wait for the grounds to settle before pouring into your camp mug. Now that's what we call a strong cup!
Espresso Pot: Maybe you're a specialty coffee drinker? Maybe you need to get caffeine into your body as fast as possible because you have to get to that coveted sunrise spot before the hordes of tourists swarm the area? Either way, an Espresso Pot is a great way to meet your caffeine needs.
Instant Coffee: If you're on an ultralight mission or just feeling lazy ( been there), instant coffee is the easiest way to go from sleepy to stoked in a matter of minutes—just add hot water.
Aeropress: It's light, it's compact, and it makes a dang good cup of coffee. The Aeropress is very adjustable to your coffee needs but has a few moving parts, so it's a good one to practice at home before you take it on its maiden voyage to camp.
There you have it, three ways to make the perfect cup of coffee at camp (and a few bonus brews for thought). Let us know your favorite way to brew camp coffee in the comments below. And stay caffeinated campers!
For More Camp Recipes Read: From Bush To Table: Hand-Picked Berry Recipes You’ll Want To Make