How To Make Coffee While Camping

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Almost everyone who goes camping enjoys a nice cup of coffee while on their camping trip. There are several ways to make coffee while camping. For car camping, percolators are the most popular option. However, to use a percolator requires you to pay attention to the percolator and learn how to master the art of percolator coffee. French Press is another alternative but people find that French Press coffee can become muddy if you press it incorrectly. And for many years, the simplest option was to make instant coffee. However, our recommended option based upon 3 months of research, is to use the Stanley Adventure All-in-One.

The Stanley Adventure is an improvement on the French Press. It contains 2 parts. The external single-walled steel pot holds 4 cups of water. The press is simple to use and does a much better job of filtering the coffee grinds without getting grit or muddy flavor like you do with traditional French Presses.

You can also use the pot to boil water without needing to make coffee.

To make coffee it is very simple.

You fill the pot with water to the marked Fill line.

Bring the pot to a boil whether over a campfire or a gas stove including a backpacking stove like a Jetboil.

Then put in your coffee. And let it sit for 5 minutes.

Then insert the press and pour your coffee.

However, keep in mind the pot is not insulated so if are using the Stanley only to make coffee for yourself, you need to pour it into a single insulated mug like a Yeti.

The Stanley is simple to use and gives me as good a cup on a camping trip as I get while at home with my coffee maker.

If you want to understand all of the different ways we can make coffee while camping, then continue reading.

Stanley Adventure All-in-One Boil + Brew camping french press, 32 oz, SilverStanley Adventure All-in-One Boil + Brew camping french press, 32 oz, SilverStanley Adventure All-in-One Boil + Brew camping french press, 32 oz, Silver


My Jetboil Tea Kettle I use to make instant coffee while camping

How Campers Brew Their Coffee Survey Results

How Campers Brew Their Coffee Pie Chart

We surveyed campers in a camping Facebook group.

And asked them, “How they liked to brew their coffee?”.

Here was the results from 254 results:

French Press24.00%
Pour Over6.00%
Instant Coffee Crystals4.00%
Instant Coffee Bags3.00%

How To Make Coffee In A Percolator While Camping

Fill the percolator with the amount of water needed for the amount of coffee you want to make.

Next, fill the basket with coffee grinds. If you don’t want to reduce the chances of getting grinds in your coffee, you can put a paper filter in the grinder basket.

Put the percolator over your heat source and wait for it to come to a boil. Then remove the percolator from the fire or stove. And let it percolate.

The percolating typically takes between 7 to 10 minutes.

You will get better with a percolator the more you use it.

This is one of our favorite percolators on Amazon.

How To Make Coffee With A French Press

French Press is also a very popular way to make coffee while camping. Because just like the percolator, it is an easy way to make coffee for multiple people.

With a French Press, you separate the heating of the water from the brewing.

Instead, what you do is that you first boil your water. Then let it cool for a minute. Cooling the water will reduce the chances of extracting the bitter compounds out of the coffee grinds.

While the water is boiling, you put your coffee grinds in the French Press. It is important to note that the size of the grinds can have a big difference to the quality of coffee with a French Press.

French Press coffee is best with larger but even grinds. They are larger than the traditional grinds created for drip coffee. If the grinds are too small, you may find you have a bitter cup of coffee plus grinds can end up in the cup.

After the water has heated up, you pour the water into the French Press and push down on the plunger. The plunger forces the water through the grinds.

If you need to hold the coffee after you have brewed the coffee, you should pour the coffee into a thermos or carafe. Otherwise, the coffee will turn bitter because the water will seep out more of the bitter flavors in the coffee grinds.

Percolator Vs French Press

Both a percolator and a French Press are great ways to make coffee for multiple people while camping.

The benefit of a percolator is that you brew the coffee while you are heating the water. However, you do need to pay attention to the percolator so that you don’t brew the coffee for too long. Otherwise, the coffee can turn bitter.

The French Press can turn out a great cup of coffee but potentially requires more equipment and effort than a percolator.

With a French Press, you heat the water separately.

But to maximize the taste for a French Press, you need to grind your coffee for your press.

According to the National Coffee Association, most of us prefer to buy our coffee pre-ground. And thus, this might mean you need to start grinding your coffee from whole beans.

Finally, if you are not able to drink all of the coffee produced by the press at once, then you should pour it into a separate vessel. Such as a thermos or carafe.

You can check out this French Press on Amazon.

Infographic: How Many Cups of Coffee Do Americans Drink Each Day? | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

Pour Over Coffee

Before I wrote this article, I thought pour-over coffee was just for people who wanted to be fancy.

But I wanted to try out making a pour-over coffee at home to see what the difference really was.

I purchased the SlickDrip on Amazon and tried it out.

Now I can see why people like pour-over coffee. It had the same taste as my drip coffee maker but with the speed of instant coffee.

The only downside I can see is that you can only make one coffee at a time.

However, you could pour it into a thermos instead of a mug, and this would let you make more coffee.

Instant Coffee

If you are a backpacker, then you want to minimize the gear needed for coffee. Most people will not want to carry a percolator or French Press because of the weight and space they take in your backpack.

You will most likely want to carry instant coffee.

There are four types of instant coffee.

The first type are coffee bags. This type of coffee comes in bags that resemble tea bags. You pour hot water into a cup with the bag and let it steep. The benefit of a coffee bag is that it has very little mess and no grinds in your coffee.

The next type are the packets of instant coffee. This type of instant coffee comes in packets that you pour into your cup of hot water, similar to hot cocoa.

The third type of instant coffee is the Kuju PourOver. The Kuju coffee allows you to have a pour-over coffee without the hassle of bringing a pourover kit. You just open a packet, arrange in your mug and pour the hot water over the coffee.

The fourth and final type is to DIY your own bags. You can put enough ground coffee into a filter. Then tie the ends with some fishing line. Now you have made your own coffee-bags. The benefit of this is that you can use your favorite coffee and are not limited to the instant coffee you can find in the store.

Cowboy Coffee

Cowboy coffee gets its name because its how people brewed coffee before percolators, pour-overs, and drip coffee.

It is simple to make because all you need is a pot of water, ground coffee, and a way to boil your water.

The downside is that it’s easy to get grinds in your coffee cup.

While you could boil the water in an actual quart pot like you use to cook with, many people will use a coffee pot.

One view I saw used a percolator coffee maker. They just removed the tube and grinds basket.

Next, you warm the water. Once the water is warmed up, then you can add in your coffee and let the water come to a boil.

Have it boil for 2-3 minutes.

Then take water off the heat source.

Add in some cold water to the main container. When you add in some cold water to the main container, it will disrupt the surface tension that is holding the coffee grounds on the surface.

After the water has cooled enough to drink pour some cool water down the spout. This will flush any grains out.

Finally, when you pour the coffee, if you have access to a fine mesh metal filter or even a pour-over filter, you can pour the coffee through it into the mug to catch any grounds that get through.


The Aeropress is similar to a French press but it’s an improved version because it can use smaller ground coffee.

Because it requires ground coffee and its own kit, this is bulkier than instant coffee.

But it’s not large, and if Texas Rangers hunting down bad-guys on the frontier managed to carry coffee with them, I’m sure you can too.

What you do with an Aeropress is heat water. While the water is heating, you put the coffee grounds in a container inside of a tube.

The tube is placed over the coffee cup. The bottom of the tube has a small grate. You can also put in your own paper filter.

Then pour the heated water down the tube. Then you take the plunger that comes with the kit and pushes it down.

This forces the water over the grounds, and you get coffee in your cup.

How To Make Good Coffee While Camping

Coffee is the result of complex chemistry.

While coffee has many great-tasting water-soluble flavors, unfortunately, there are also many bad-tasting water-soluble flavors as well.

And the temperature of the water as well can make a big difference. If the water is too hot, it will bring out more bitter flavors, which is why one of the steps in brewing good French Press coffee is to let the water cool for a moment after it’s brought to a boil.

According to this article in the Smithsonian, even how hard or soft the water is can make a big difference. If it’s too soft, you will end up with a more acidic up of coffee. And if the water is too hard it’s going to end up tasting like drinking a cup of chalk. You want the water to be in the middle.

And of course, the quality of coffee beans is going to make a big difference.

While I can’t tell you why my current preferred beans are better tasting than other beans, I can tell the difference. In particular, since I drink my coffee black.

Thus if you are not happy with the taste of your coffee while camping, then consider bringing bottled water just for the coffee. And experiment with different coffee beans to see which is your favorite.

How To Make Coffee Camping Without Fire

If you are going to make coffee, you will need a way to heat water.

You can read all of the ways to boil water on a camping trip in this article. But we will provide a simplified answer here.

Most of us would prefer to use a campfire. It isn’t always possible.

During the summer, many places will have burn bans to prevent forest fires. And thus you can’t light a campfire. Or you don’t want to put effort into getting a campfire going in the morning.

If this is the case you can use a camp stove. You can use either a gas stove or a biomass stove. A biomass stove uses sticks, dry grass, and leaves to create a small fire in the stove.

An example of a biomass stove is a Kelly Kettle.

The Easiest Way To Make Coffee While Camping

The easiest way to make coffee while camping is to buy it from Starbucks at the campsite’s trading post.

The actual answer would be instant coffee with a canteen or water bottle that you can heat the water over the campfire directly.

This way, you are not worrying about grinding coffee or messing with filters or watching the percolator.

How To Grind Your Own Coffee Beans While Camping

In the 2019 National Coffee Data Trends report it says that 74% of coffee drinkers buy their coffee already ground.

But if you are one of the 19% of people who prefer to ground their coffee at home then you need to prepare for grinding your coffee while camping.

There are battery-powered coffee grinders. But there are also manual coffee grinders.

One is the Janda grinder.

You don’t need any batteries but be prepared for a workout.

The person who introduced me to this grinder in a camping group told me it took about 30 cranks to get the coffee beans grounded to the proper grind.

Why Is Coffee So Popular With Campers

Coffee has always been popular with outdoor adventurers.

According to the State of Arizona official historian Marshall Trimble, Coffee was even more popular than alcohol in the Old West.

And in the National Coffee Association’s 2019 National Coffee Data Trends Report, over 60% of American adults over the age of 25 drank coffee. Which means that most likely, you enjoy coffee at home. And if you enjoy coffee at home, then you will want coffee while camping or backpacking.

There are also three very good reasons why people would want to drink coffee on the trail.

One reason is taste. In our modern society, where we have easy access to tap water or bottled water, we often find water boring to taste. The water you encountered on the trail wouldn’t necessarily taste good at all on its own.

The second reason is to make it safe to drink. That clear stream can contain microscopic organisms that can make you sick. Boiling water will kill them off.

And the third reason why coffee was popular is that it can keep you warm on a cold prairie night.

Battery Operated Coffee Maker

There’s one more option for making coffee while camping. And it doesn’t require a fire.

Or fiddling with a gas stove.

Nor needing shore power.

And you don’t have to learn how to drink cowboy coffee.

Instead, you can invest in a battery-powered coffee maker. This will work just like the coffee maker at home. Except remember to keep the batteries charged.

How To Choose Your Coffee

What type of coffee you bring with you will be based on the type of camping you are doing.

If you are backpacking in, you will want to consider the weight and space. Even if it’s just a short half-mile, it means you will not want to bring a full home coffee setup. Meaning, leave the grinder and whole beans at home.

If it is a car-camping trip. You can still bring a percolator and ground beans.

But if you are going on a multi-day backpacking trip, then you should look into instant coffee.

This is where it helps not to be a coffee snob. Folgers make instant coffee that comes in individual seal packets that when you open them up, the coffee is in tea bags. This way, you don’t have to worry about undissolved coffee crystals in your cup.

Don’t forget to carry out all of your instant coffee packets and leave no trace.

But try different varieties out before you and pick the brand you like the most.

Of course, if you are camping in a motorhome, trailer, or cabin then you can use whatever type of coffee that you have at home. You could even have drip coffee using a traditional electric coffee maker.

But that defeats the fun of making coffee over a campfire!

How To Make Drip Coffee While You Are Camping

Electric drip coffee maker at a campsite that had electricity

For many people, they may not know just what to do when they want to make drip coffee while they are camping. It will involve a silicone filter cone. They will need to have a #2 or a #4 filter for coffee inside it. Once they have that in place, they will want to add a couple of tablespoons of coffee. Then, it is important to boil the water. They will want to let it cool a bit before proceeding. They will pour enough water to allow the coffee grounds to blook and then they will pour the rest of the water in. Then, it is is as simple as lifting out the cone and enjoying their coffee. This is the best way to make drip coffee when people are camping.

A Pour-Over Coffee Mug

Some people would rather have a pour-over coffee mug for their cup of joy in the morning especially. They will need to place the filter over the mug with two tablespoons of coffee inside it. Always boil the water and add it to the coffee grounds so that they can be soaked. Let it cool for about 30 seconds. Then, they will want to pour in the rest of the boiling water, remove the filter, and put the lid on the travel mug. People love that this is a simple and no-fuss way of making the kind of coffee that will wake them up while they are on one of their camping expeditions.

Coleman 10-Cup Instastart Portable Propane Coffeemaker Review

Coleman 10-Cup Instastart Portable Propane CoffeemakerColeman 10-Cup Instastart Portable Propane CoffeemakerBuy Now From Amazon


Features of the Coleman 10-Cup Instastart Portable Propane Coffeemaker

  • It is a coffee maker that is usually powered by standard propane cylinders that you could get at the local camp store. Then you only need to find out where to keep the propane cylinders at, but usually, your smaller camp stoves should work off the same thing.

  • The Coleman coffee maker will cause a great temperature to it since it is going to apply the PerfectFlow regulator. In general, this is going to regulate the propane flow to the coffee maker. It will also help guarantee that it will have the right amount of heat to brew the coffee and water at the actual level you need it to have.

  • This device usually has a brewing time of about 15 minutes. Therefore, it will be much easier for you to prepare the coffee maker, and then you may walk away and let it brew as you get your other chores done around that campsite.

  • You will realize that the carafe’s (a stainless steel carafe) capacity of this device can hold up to 10 cups of coffee. With this in mind, you already know that you can prepare as much coffee as you want instead of only having a single cup. In other words, after having an enjoyable cup of coffee, you can rest assured that you can still have another great cup of coffee.

  • This device will make it much easier for you to prepare a great product that will be reasonably easy to clean up. You might think that this will be somewhat challenging to clean these up; however, you need to understand that it’s not that difficult since all the parts are dishwasher safe. And, although this won’t help with camping, it will mean that it will be much easier for you to buy the right product that you need to have and know it can be cleaned in your camp sink quickly.

  • Brew Features. The Coleman Propane Coffeemaker works just like a home countertop brewer. Add water in the reservoir, add ground coffee and a filter to the basket, put the pot underneath, and then press start. However, on this device, “pressing start” means hooking up a canister and propane adaptor and then lighting the burner using the “Instastart” push-button ignition.

  • Portability. This device is a portable brewer, meaning that you can transport it wherever you want. What’s more, it won’t require electricity. The coffeemaker is quite heavy and comes with a lot of components, including its breakable glass carafe. When the propane canister is attached to this device, it takes up a lot of space.

  • Weight. The Coleman Coffeemaker is quite heavy, coming in at 9.88 pounds. However, this can stop you from carrying it with you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to make coffee while camping?

The Stanley Adventure All-in-One is an excellent option for making coffee while camping. It functions as both a kettle to boil water and a French press to brew the coffee.

How does a percolator work?

A percolator repeatedly cycles boiling water through the coffee grounds using a vertical tube. It produces a strong, rich coffee.

What is the difference between a French press and percolator?

A French press separates the water heating from the brewing. A percolator heats and brews the coffee in one cycle. A French press requires coarser grounds.

How do you make pour over coffee?

Place a filter over your cup. Add grounds and bloom with a little hot water. Then slowly pour the rest of the water over the grounds in a circular motion.

How can you make coffee while camping without a fire?

Use a battery powered coffee maker, instant coffee, or a biomass stove like a Kelly Kettle that burns twigs and leaves.

Why was coffee popular in the Old West?

Coffee was popular because water often tasted bad and coffee made it safer to drink. Coffee also provided warmth and energy.

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