From cowboy coffee to French press, here’s how to make campfire coffee 7 different ways. Plus, some tips for each method…
Whether you’re a practical cowboy coffee drinker or a French press aficionado, this article will guide you through the best ways to make campfire coffee.
We first cover how to make a campfire for brewing coffee. Then, we outline several different ways to make camp coffee, including cowboy, instant, french press, percolated, and more.
You can jump ahead to a specific method by clicking these links:
- Cowboy Coffee
- Instant Coffee
- Wildland Coffee Bags
- Percolator Coffee
- French Press Coffee
- Pour-Over Coffee
- Cold Brew Coffee
- Portable Coffee Makers
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How to Make a Campfire for Brewing Coffee
To ensure the perfect cup of campfire coffee, it’s important to create the right fire. Building a suitable fire provides the necessary heat for brewing coffee and sets the ambiance for a cozy and enjoyable camping experience.
Follow these steps to make the best campfire for brewing coffee:
1. Gather the Right Wood
Start by collecting dry and seasoned firewood. Look for hardwoods such as oak or maple, which burn slower and produce a hotter fire. Avoid using softwoods like pine, as they tend to create excess smoke and can leave a resinous flavor in the coffee.
2. Prepare a Small Fire
A small and hot fire is ideal for making coffee while camping. Begin by setting up a portable fire pit or designated area for your campfire. Arrange the firewood in a teepee or log cabin structure, leaving ample space for airflow.
3. Ignite the Fire
Carefully light the fire with matches, a lighter, or fire starter. Take precautions to ensure the fire is contained and won’t spread beyond the designated fire area.
4. Allow Coals to Form
Let the fire burn and develop a bed of hot coals. This typically takes about 20 minutes, depending on the size of the fire and the wood you’re using. The glowing coals provide a consistent and even heat for brewing coffee.
5. Create a Small Circle of Hot Coals
Once you have a good bed of hot coals, gather the brightest and hottest coals into a small circle. This arrangement optimizes heat dispersion and directs it directly into the pot or kettle, ensuring the water boils efficiently for brewing coffee.
6. Position Your Pot or Kettle
Using a grate or tripod ensures stability and allows for easier control of the brewing process. Adjust the distance between the pot and the coals to regulate the heat, preventing the coffee from boiling too quickly or not enough.
7. Monitor the Fire
Keep a close eye on the fire and maintain a steady heat source throughout the brewing process. Add additional small pieces of firewood or blow gently on the coals to maintain heat if necessary.
How to Make Campfire Coffee
Alright! Now that your campfire is ready, let’s get down to brewing! Here are 7 different ways to brew coffee while camping.
1. Cowboy Coffee: Embracing the Rustic Brew
Cowboy coffee is not just a method of making coffee; it’s a tribute to the rugged spirit of the Old West. It may not be the most refined brewing method, but it carries a unique charm that captures the essence of outdoor life.
To make cowboy coffee, all you need is a pot or kettle, potable water, coffee grounds, and a campfire. It’s a straightforward process that allos you to enjoy a strong and robust cup of coffee outdoors.
While cowboy coffee can be an acquired taste due to its lack of filtration, many campers have fallen in love with its simplicity and authenticity.
How to Make Cowboy Coffee Step by Step
- Boil water in a pot or kettle over your camp stove or open fire.
- Add your preferred amount of coffee grounds directly to the boiling water. (Appx. 1 Tbsp per 6 oz. of water)
- Let it steep for a few minutes, depending on how strong you like your coffee.
- Settle the grounds to the bottom of the pot by adding a splash of cold water or a few crushed eggshells.
- Slowly pour the coffee, making sure to leave the sediment behind. Yeehaw! You now have a delicious cup of cowboy coffee to fuel your outdoor adventures.
Tips for Making the Best Cowboy Coffee
- Use freshly ground coffee beans: For the best flavor, grind the coffee beans just before brewing. Opt for a medium ground to ensure proper extraction.
- Choose the right coffee-to-water ratio. A good rule of thumb is to add 1 tablespoon for every 6 ounces of water. To achieve a stronger coffee, increase the ratio of coffee grounds to water. Experiment with different ratios until you find the one that suits your taste.
- Control the brew time: The longer you let the coffee steep, the stronger it will be. Keep an eye on the brewing time to avoid over-extracted or bitter coffee.
- Settle the grounds: To prevent too much sediment in your cup, settle the coffee grounds by adding a splash of cold water or crushed eggshells. This helps to separate the liquid coffee from the grounds.
By following these tips, you can ensure a smooth and flavorful cup of cowboy coffee, embracing the rustic charm of the Old West while enjoying the great outdoors.
**OR! Avoid grounds in your coffee by using Wildland Coffee (see more info below).
2. Instant Coffee: Quick and Easy Fix
Instant coffee has gained a reputation for being the go-to option for convenience, especially while camping. Its lightweight and compact nature make it an ideal choice for backpackers or those with limited packing space.
Instant coffee also offers versatility, as it can be enjoyed hot or cold, making it suitable for any weather conditions.
While instant coffee may not offer the same depth of flavor as freshly brewed options, it has come a long way in recent years.
How to Make Instant Campfire Coffee Step by Step
- Boil water in a pot or kettle over your camp stove or open fire.
- Add your desired amount of instant coffee into a cup.
- Pour the boiling water over the coffee and stir until dissolved.
- Feel free to add any additional ingredients like creamer or sugar to personalize your cup of instant campfire coffee.
Tips for Enhancing Instant Coffee
- Experiment with flavored creamers: Instant coffee can benefit from the addition of flavored creamers to enhance the taste profile. Try options like vanilla, hazelnut, or caramel creamers to elevate your cup.
- Mix in cocoa powder or spices: Add a dash of cocoa powder, cinnamon, or nutmeg to your instant coffee for a unique flavor twist. These additions can lend rich, warm notes to your cup.
- Carry single-serve packets: To avoid the need to measure out portions, consider using single-serve packets of instant coffee. These pre-portioned packets are convenient while camping.
A Tasty Instant Coffee Alternative
Wildland Coffee had the ingenious idea of putting coffee in tea bags. They roast specialty-grade coffee beans from Brazil, grind them, and package them all within 4 days. Then they nitro-flush each pouch so the coffee stays fresh for at least 12 months.
So, you get all the convenience of instant coffee but with quality ground coffee!
Want to give Wildland Coffee a try? Use this link and the discount code CFR10 to get 10% OFF your order.
How to Make Campfire Coffee with Wildland Coffee Bags
- Boil water in a pot or kettle over your camp stove or open fire.
- Fill your camping mug with the hot water and dunk your Wildland coffee bag just as you would a tea bag.
- Sip and enjoy!
3. Percolator Coffee: Traditional Charm
Percolator coffee holds a special place in the hearts of many campers who appreciate its traditional charm and rich taste. The percolator brewing method entails passing boiling water through the coffee grounds several times, creating a strong and full-bodied brew.
The continuous percolation process allows the coffee flavors to develop gradually, resulting in a robust and satisfying cup. The nostalgic sound of the percolator bubbling away on the stove or campfire adds to the overall camping experience.
How to Use a Campfire Coffee Percolator
- Fill the bottom chamber of your camping percolator with water. The amount will depend on how many cups of coffee you’d like to brew.
- Add coarsely ground coffee to the brew basket or filter basket. Use about 1 tablespoon of coffee per 6 oz. of water.
- Place the percolator on a heat source, such as a camp stove or over hot coals from your campfire.
- Allow the water to boil and percolate through the coffee grounds, infusing the flavors. The percolation process typically takes 5-10 minutes.
- Remove the percolator from the heat source and let it sit for a minute or two to allow the coffee to settle before pouring.
- Pour yourself a cup of campfire coffee from the percolator, and enjoy the rich, aromatic goodness.
Tips for Making the Best Percolator Coffee
- If you don’t have a camping percolator, the GSI Outdoors Percolator Coffee Pot is a popular choice.
- Choose the right grind size: Opt for a coarser grind to prevent the grounds from passing through the filter basket. This ensures a clean cup without any sediment.
- Find your brewing time: Experiment with the percolation time to achieve your desired strength of coffee. A longer brewing time will yield a bolder cup, while a shorter time will result in a milder brew.
- Use high-quality coffee beans: Invest in freshly roasted whole beans and grind them just before brewing for the best flavor. Look for beans with a flavor profile that complements your taste preferences.
- Understand water-to-coffee ratios: Generally, a ratio of 1 tablespoon of coffee per 6 ounces of water produces a balanced cup. Adjust the ratio based on your desired strength.
By following these tips, you can create a delightful cup of percolator coffee that embodies the essence of traditional camping coffee brewing.
4. French Press Coffee: Rich and Full-Bodied
French press coffee is celebrated for its ability to extract oils, flavors, and aromatic compounds from coffee grounds, resulting in an intense and bold cup of coffee. The process immerses the coffee grounds in hot water and subsequently presses them to separate the grounds and the brewed coffee.
Many French presses are glass and require electricity, which isn’t ideal for camping. Instead, we recommend using this travel Aeropress Coffee Maker.
How to Make French Press Coffee While Camping
- Boil water in a pot or kettle.
- Coarsely grind your preferred coffee beans until they resemble breadcrumbs.
- Add the ground coffee to your travel French press, and pour hot water over it, ensuring all the grounds are saturated.
- Let it steep for 4-5 minutes, allowing the coffee to extract its flavors fully.
- Slowly press the plunger down, separating the brewed coffee from the grounds.
- Pour the delicious, full-bodied coffee into your camp mug, and savor the rich flavors.
Tips for Making the Best French Press Coffee
- The Aeropress Coffee Maker is a popular travel coffee press kit.
- Start with the right water-to-coffee ratio: A general guideline is using a ratio of 1 part coffee to 15 parts water. Adjust the ratio to your taste preferences and the strength of the coffee beans you’re using.
- Control the brewing time: Experiment with the steeping time to find your preferred level of strength and flavor. Generally, a brewing time of 4-5 minutes is recommended, but you can adjust it as needed.
- Consider using a coffee scale: For precise measurements, use a coffee scale to ensure you have the correct coffee-to-water ratio. This allows for consistency in your brews.
- Plunge gently and avoid pressing too hard: Press the plunger down gently and smoothly to separate the grounds from the brewed coffee. Avoid applying excessive pressure, as it may cause the brewed coffee to become bitter or over-extracted.
- Use a thermally insulated French press: Consider investing in this insulated stainless steel French press to keep your coffee hot for longer. This is especially beneficial for camping trips in colder weather or when enjoying a leisurely cup over an extended period.
5. Pour-Over Coffee: Fancier Cowboy Coffee
Pour-over coffee has gained popularity among coffee enthusiasts due to its simplicity and ability to accentuate the flavors of the coffee beans. This method involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds, allowing the water to pass through a filter to extract the desired flavors.
The slow and deliberate pouring action, combined with the use of paper filters, results in a clean and sediment-free cup of coffee.
How to Make Pour-Over Coffee Step-by-Step
- Place a paper filter in your pour-over dripper and rinse it with hot water to preheat the brewing vessel.
- Grind your coffee beans to a medium to medium-fine consistency, similar to sand or granulated sugar.
- Measure and add the desired amount of coffee grounds to the dripper.
- Heat water in a kettle to 195°F to 205°F (90°C to 96°C).
- Pour a small amount of hot water over the grounds to allow them to bloom for about 30 seconds.
- Start pouring hot water slowly in a circular motion over the grounds, wetting them evenly.
- Continue pouring the water in a slow and controlled manner until you’ve reached the desired amount of coffee.
- Let the coffee drip through the filter into your coffee mug or carafe.
- Stir the brewed coffee gently to ensure even extraction.
- Enjoy your pour-over coffee as is or add milk, cream, or sweetener according to your preference.
Tips for Making the Best Pour-Over Coffee
- Pre-wet the paper filter: Before adding the coffee grounds, pre-wet the paper filter inside the pour-over dripper. This helps to remove any paper taste and warms up the brewing vessel.
- Utilize the blooming technique: After adding the coffee grounds to the filter, pour a small amount of hot water over them and let it sit for approximately 30 seconds. This allows the coffee to bloom, releasing trapped gases and enhancing the flavors.
- Master the pouring technique: Experiment with different pouring techniques, including circular motions and gentle spirals, to ensure even saturation of the coffee grounds. Adjust your pouring speed to control the brewing process.
- Consider using a gooseneck kettle: A gooseneck kettle provides better control over the pouring speed and accuracy, allowing for precise saturation of the coffee grounds. It is especially useful when brewing with a pour-over dripper.
6. Cold Brew Coffee: Chill and Refreshing
Cold brew coffee has gained immense popularity among coffee lovers, particularly during the warmer months. Cold brew is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period, resulting in a smooth, low-acidity, and full-flavored beverage.
The slow extraction process of cold brew allows for the extraction of different compounds from the coffee beans compared to hot brewing methods. This results in a coffee with distinct flavor characteristics and a naturally sweet profile.
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee Step by Step
- Pre-grind your coffee beans to a coarse grind.Combine the ground coffee and cold water in a container, using a ratio of approximately 1 part coffee to 4 parts water.
- Stir the mixture gently until all the coffee grounds are fully immersed in the water.
- Cover the container and let it steep for 12 to 24 hours at room temperature or in a cooler.
- After steeping, strain the coffee through a fine-mesh sieve or a coffee filter into another container, removing any sediment or grounds.
- If desired, dilute the concentrated cold brew with equal parts water or milk.
- Serve the cold brew coffee over ice and garnish with your favorite additions, such as a splash of cream or a drizzle of sweet syrup.
Tips for Making the Best Cold Brew Coffee
- Experiment with different coffee beans: Cold brew allows you to explore different coffee bean origins and flavors.
- Experiment with single-origin beans or blends to find your preferred taste profile.
- Adjust the brewing time: The steeping time can vary depending on personal preference and the desired strength of the cold brew.
- Experiment with different steeping times ranging from 12 to 24 hours to find the perfect balance.
- Focus on water quality: Since cold brew is mostly water, it’s crucial to use filtered or high-quality water to ensure a clean and refreshing taste.
- Consider cold brew accessories: Explore accessories like cold brew filters or coffee-specific cold brew makers to simplify the brewing and straining process while camping.
- Explore flavor additions: Enhance the flavor of your cold brew by adding ingredients like a vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks, or citrus peels during the steeping process. This allows the coffee to infuse with the flavors for a more nuanced taste.
7. Portable Coffee Makers: Coffee on the Go
When selecting a portable coffee maker, consider factors such as its size, weight, durability, ease of use, and brewing capacity. Each option offers unique advantages, allowing you to enjoy quality coffee while camping, backpacking, or exploring the great outdoors.
Our sister site, RV Lifestyle, has a list of 13 Best Coffee Makers for RV Travel.
Personalize your Camping Coffee Experience
To add a personal touch to your campfire coffee, take along additional add-ons such as flavored syrups, non-dairy alternatives, or natural sweeteners. These extras allow you to customize your brew according to your taste preferences and create a truly personalized camping coffee experience.
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