Coffee for Camping

Camping Coffee2

If you're at all the camping sort and have done any amounts of camping in your lifetime, we'd be willing to bet that at some point, you've been more or less forced to choke down some horrid brown beverage the camp cook saw fit to deem "coffee."  Let's be clear, there should really be no difference between "coffee" and "coffee for camping" because good coffee should be ready and available no matter where you are.  But, since we seem to hear of this problem on a regular basis, we're here to help out.  With a little prep work and a little research, you can easily be drinking exquisite cups of intense dark roasts in any outdoor location, whether you're at the top of a mountain peak or relaxing near a quiet, calm lake.  Without the burnt smoky taste of a fire and without a mixture that's half liquid, half grounds.  You know what we're talking about right?

Coffee for Camping: Preferred Methods

Insert drumroll!  Depending upon your level of camping "expertise," this will probably very greatly.  Mr. Mountainman can probably whip up a fabulous pot of coffee from thin air.  The rest of us need a few basic tools.  We're going to break our favorites down depending upon how you prefer to make your coffee at home.  After all, it just makes sense to model your coffee for camping as closely as possible to the coffee you make at home

Camp Coffee: The French PressFrench Press4

There are many of us who use a French Press at home on a regular basis, and for very good reason.  A French press is not only simple, affordable and easy to master, it makes some terrific coffee.  And, the French press is a fantastic option for camping.  All you need to do is boil water and you can make your coffee exactly as you would if standing in your kitchen at home.  Opt for a mug style one and you can save yourself the trouble of having more dishes to wash.  Since many complain of coffee grounds in their coffee while out camping (particularly from percolators), this is one of the easiest ways to eliminate that problem.  Generally considered the "best tasting" option.

Camp Coffee: Espresso!

"Moka Pot"

Bialetti Moka PotIf you're an espresso lover, you may be slightly worried about living without your daily shot.  (This is where I fit in.) But!  Once again, we're here to assure you there are options galore.  For those familiar with a stovetop espresso maker, you'll quickly realize that these are perfect for use over a gas-fire stove or the campfire.  Though, beware that you may want a separate stovetop espresso maker if you're opting for fire use, since chances are good it's going to lose it's sparkly sparkle after a few uses.  The Bialetti Moka Express is our favorite.  Works much like a percolator, but it can achieve a higher level of pressure and produces an extraction ratio similar to what you would get from a true espresso machine.  It's also made from an extremely high quality aluminum that will never rust out or fade.  You won't get the crema of a standard espresso machine though... so you may need to prepare yourself for this in advance.  If you opt for the Bialetti Muka Express, you can put milk in the top chamber and froth your milk while you brew your espresso for a faux-cappuccino. 

Handpresso Espresso

HP WildOur favorite, by far, when it comes to espresso in the category of coffee for camping is the Handpresso Espresso.  This produces genuine espresso in a small, easily portable handheld device.  It weighs just 2.05 pounds, which is fantastic, especially if you're backpacking in to your camping locale.  The Handpresso achieves 16 bar pressure, just as high and in some cases, higher than an electric espresso machine but uses power you create manually, much like with a bicycle pump.  You can opt between two models, one that uses pre-packaged E.S.E. pods or one that uses freshly ground coffee beans.  Super eco-friendly and super stylish too.  All you need is hot water, which is easily made over your fire.  Best espresso option.

Good 'ol Fashioned Coffee for Camping

If you do want to try to master the original method of camp coffee, you may be in for some frustration, but you may also be in for the treat of a lifetime.  In fact, many prefer the aroma and taste of coffee brewed over an open fire, so if you've never tried it before, we highly suggest giving it chance (or two).  Plus, this way you don't need anything but your soup pot (and coffee, of course).  And, as it turns out, genuine camp coffee happens to be some of the highest caffeinated coffee that people drink.  Just some FYI.  Best "traditional" option.

Instructions for Campfire Coffee
Fill pot with water (good water people!) and bring to a rolling boil.  Once you've got a steady boil going, remove the pot from the fire and add in your coffee, generally around 1 to 2 tablespoons per cup, depending upon how strong you like it brewed.  Put the pot back in the coals and allow it to boil for another minute or two.  Your last step is to add a few tablespoons of ice cold water.  This will help the grounds to settle at the bottom of the pot, which means fewer of them floating around in your mug.  Some opt to pour the coffee through something like a cheese cloth to filter the coffee, but if you're a diehard for the orginial, then you'll have to brush up on your pouring skills a bit to get a fantastic cup that's free of "floaties."

Just some Coffee for Camping Tips

Obviously, the options are wide and vast and will depend upon what kind of setup you'll have, whether that's nothing but you and a cup and a blanket under the stars or a pop-out trailer complete with a stove, a bed and 500 count thread sheets.  (It happens!)  You'll also have to consider how much room is available and how much weight is feasible. 

For backpackers, nothing beats the Handpresso or a lightweight plastic French press. 

For sitting around the campfire on a cool brisk morning, try your hand at some old fashioned campfire coffee and see what happens.  You might be hooked. 

Always remember that the water you use is crucial.  If you can, invest in some sort of filtration system.  If you're starting out with bad water, it's not going to matter what you use, how long you brew it, or how well you filter it, your coffee is not going to taste good.

Consider purchasing a small portable coffee grinder.  If you're going to be gone for more than a couple days, your grounds will start to become stale rather quickly.

Be adventurous.  Try a smoky hint.  Brew a more intense cup than you usually do.  Drink it from the pot.  It's hard to beat coffee camping, no matter what you do.

Lounge in a chair by a rippling brook and drink a cup of fantastic hot coffee while the sun comes up.  It can't be beat.