The best ways to make coffee while camping or backpacking

While going camping is one of our favorite things to do, making coffee while camping can be a real pain. You have to deal with all sorts of problems that you wouldn't normally encounter when making coffee at home. But, don't worry: we're here to help! In this blog post, we'll discuss the best ways to make coffee while camping and how to solve the common problems that people face. We'll focus on two methods/occasions for making coffee for camping: backpacking and car camping.


Man making coffee in front of his tent while backpacking

The problems with making coffee while camping

One of the most common problems people face when making coffee while camping is finding a way to heat up water. This can be tricky if you're not prepared, but before you left for your next trip you read this blog post, so you ARE prepared. Go you!

The other problem with making coffee while camping is figuring out how to bring and grind your coffee beans. We'll discuss our recommendations for what to do about grinding your beans depending on whether you're going backpacking or going car camping.

The final problem is bringing the right equipment. This is more of a problem when you're backpacking, in which just remember: less is more. Don't bring anything you don't need on a backpacking trip because you'll regret it 2-3 miles in. Focus on the essentials and pack appropriately around that.

So to recap:

  1. How are you going to heat your water?
  2. How are you going to grind your coffee beans?
  3. What equipment are you going to bring to brew your coffee?

We'll use the following paragraphs to review our recommended solutions for these.


Person drinking coffee while wearing hiking boots

The backpacking coffee solution

We love backpacking and never forget to bring coffee on our trips. After all, there's really nothing better than starting the morning with a cup of coffee to really get you going. This is especially necessary after a night where you might not have slept as well as you normally do (we know from experience).

There are two main ways you can do your coffee when backpacking:

  1. Bring along instant coffee (bleh)
  2. Bring the AeroPress Go, which is the best way to to do it.

No matter which method you choose, you're going to have to get hot water to make the coffee. But, this isn't a concern if you already know anything about backpacking since you're most likely going to be bringing a camp stove and a pot to boil water in.

For backpacking, we do recommend sacrificing a little bit of weight and bringing along the AeroPress Go. It makes the best cup of coffee AND it packs up nicely into its own little cup and lid. You could even reduce weight by not bringing along the cup, lid, stirrer and scoop, so then you're really in great shape. Just don't forget the filters! And, don't forget a hard cup (not one of those collapsible ones) that you can push the coffee into to make it.

One other thing you'll need to prepare for is to either have a hand grinder or grind your coffee medium-fine before you go. We recommend the sacrilegious practice of grinding the coffee before you go. That way, you can compress the coffee so it takes up less space, and you don't have to worry about using energy to grind. This is especially helpful when you're exhausting from all the hiking you're doing and just want to get the coffee going.

Here's how we make coffee while camping using the AeroPress Go:

  1. Boil 16-20 oz. of water in your backpacking pot.
  2. Wet the paper AeroPress filter using a little bit of filtered water.
  3. Screw the filter piece with the paper filter onto the chamber with the numbers in circles on it. Set it on top of whatever you're going to drink the coffee out of.
  4. Use one scoop for each cup you're going to make, which is decided by the number on the AeroPress Go. One scoop = one cup of coffee. So, if you're going to make one cup of coffee, you'll add one scoop of coffee and then you'll fill If you didn't bring the scoop, just eyeball 2.5 tablespoons (that's the size of the scoop).
  5. Put the coffee into the chamber with the numbers on it.
  6. Add water up to the number in the circle on the chamber of the amount of scoops you put in there. So, if you put one scoop in there, pour to the number 1. Go to like the middle or top of the circle. (If you're making more, obviously add more water).
  7. Stir the mixture of coffee and water around in the chamber for 10 seconds or so.
  8. Insert the plunger and push down slowly so that the coffee mixture passes through the filter and into your cup in the bottom.
  9. Voila! You have REALLY strong coffee. You can drink it like this, but it's better if you...
  10. Add water to the mixture similar to how you'd make an Americano with espresso. Maybe around 8 oz. of water? It's really up to you and how strong you want your coffee. When camping, we tend to like the coffee nice and strong to perk us up in the morning.

There you go! Another bonus tip if you like to add cream to your coffee: you can buy the dried creamer powder, add some sugar to it, and bring it in a plastic bag to stir into your coffee. It's not as good as half and half or a creamer, but it sure travels much better.


A group of friends enjoying coffee and sitting around a campfire

The car camping coffee solution

Car camping at least cuts out (for the most part) the problems you'll have with having to lug a bunch of equipment with you. When car camping, you can bring more of the essentials, so our methods will assume you don't mind bringing some extra equipment along.

The first thing we'll focus on is: how are you going to get hot water?

One solution is to boil water on a camp stove. This requires you to bring a pot or a kettle (using the same pot that you'll do other cooking in is a good idea so that you don't have to bring even more stuff).

The other solution is to just bring along a plug-in kettle with a heating element, assuming you're going to have power. Obviously if you're camping in a more primitive site this isn't a solution, but some sites do have power and water hookups at them (like at many state parks).

You could also use your vehicle or one of those big Jackery battery packs for this. Lots of vehicles these days have a plug in them that you can just plug your kettle into and heat water that way.

We'll recommend two methods for making coffee while car camping:

  1. The pour over method for car camping
  2. The French press method for car camping
  3. Making cold brew beforehand and bringing it in a cooler

Making coffee using the pour over method when car camping

To make coffee while camping using the pour over method, start by grinding your beans to a medium-coarse consistency. Then, place your ground coffee into the filter of your pour over device and wet it with a little bit of hot water. Next, slowly add more hot water to the grounds in a circular motion until you have poured all of the water over them. Let the coffee extract for about 3-4 minutes, then remove the filter and enjoy your fresh cup of coffee!

If you can, bring your scale and do it the conventional way to make sure you've got the proper bean-to-water ratio that you're looking for. If you're going to drink good coffee while camping, you might as well do it right!

Making coffee in a French press when camping

To make coffee while camping using the French press method, it's important to use the correct amount of coffee and water. For 2 cups of coffee, you'll need 1-2 tablespoons of ground coffee per cup, depending on your preferred level of strength. If you want to make more, just remember to use 1-2 tablespoons of coffee per cup.

Next, you will need to grind your coffee beans properly. We recommend grinding the coffee at home before the trip to a medium-coarse grind and placing either back in the Runyon Coffee bag or in a plastic bag or container to make it easy to pack up and travel with.

Once you have your ground beans and hot water ready, add the grounds to your French press and slowly pour in the water. Place the lid firmly on top of the carafe and allow the mixture to steep for at least 3 minutes. After this time has passed, slowly push down on the plunger until all of the grounds are pressed down into the bottom chamber. Pour out your perfectly brewed cup of hot coffee and enjoy!

Make cold brew before you go and bring it with you in the cooler

If you're a cold brew fanatic like we are, this one's a must. Though you can make cold brew with your AeroPress, batching the cold brew before you go is actually the easiest way to have coffee while camping because:

  • You don't have to do anything in the mornings except pour coffee
  • You don't have to bring any extra equipment except for the cold brew container
  • It's nice and cold, especially when camping during the summer is hot!

To learn how to make the best cold brew coffee for camping, we'll refer you to our ultimate guide to the best cold brew coffee. If you follow this method, you'll have a gallon of cold brew, which is perfect for a weekend car camping getaway. Don't forget to get some extra ice in a cooler to pour your cold brew over!


A cup of cold brew coffee sitting in an outdoor setting

Making coffee while camping: conclusion

So there you have it! These are just a few of the common problems people face when making coffee while camping, as well as some solutions. Be sure to check out our website for more tips on making coffee while camping. And don't forget to pick up some Runyon Coffee beans before your next camping trip! They'll make all the difference in your cup of coffee. Thanks for reading!