7 Ways to Make Coffee Outside

Posted by: Molly Herber on 1/6/17 9:03 AM

The morning ritual of making a hot beverage is precious to many an outdoorsperson (and a pain for the ones who like to get out of camp quickly). Interrupting that ritual could mean a full day of silence until you make up for it by giving up your last Snickers bar or promising to do dishes for the rest of the trip.

You might think that options are limited for making coffee while you’re camping, but you really have all kinds of choices. NOLS Coffee Mug

Photo by Molly Herber.

Here we’ve listed just seven ways you can make coffee while you’re camping, from the simplest to the fanciest (we’ll leave it up to you to determine which method gives you the best quality).

Your method will probably depend on the type of trip you’re taking, whether it's a long backpacking trip, short road trip, river trip, or something in between.

Everyone has their personal touch for coffee making (like adding powdered coconut milk). Since we don’t include coffee in our rations at NOLS, coffee drinkers can experiment to figure out what works best for them.

Try out some of these ideas and see which coffee you like best!

Cowboy Coffee

Pouring Coffee

Photo from the NOLS Cooking Show.

Pros: Simplicity; no fancy equipment needed
Cons: May drink coffee grounds along with the coffee

How to Make It

  1. Boil water (suggested 6 cups water for 4-6 Tbsp. of coffee)
  2. Stir in coffee grounds
  3. Let sit (*This is key so the grounds sink to the bottom of the pot)
  4. Pour into your drinking container
  5. Drink

Instant Coffee

Pros: No grounds at the end; efficiency; no fancy equipment needed; easy cleanup
Cons: Not quite as delicious as other coffee types

How to Make It

  1. Choose your coffee type (you can find a huge variety of options at most grocery stores).
  2. Put the crystals in your drinking container (water bottle, bowl, mate gourd, etc.)
  3. Pour in boiling water
  4. Let sit for a few seconds, then drink

*Pro tip: Some brands can be made with cold water for “iced” coffee—perfect for an alpine start or when you don’t want to get your stove out.

**You can plan ahead by packaging your instant coffee into the serving sizes you want (empty spice bottles work well), or packing the coffee from a bulk container into its own plastic bag.

Coffee Sock

Coffee Sock

Photo from the NOLS Cooking Show.

Pros: No grounds; when you aren’t camping, they’re more environmentally-friendly than paper coffee filters
Cons: Need to buy a one-purpose item; not easy to clean

How to Make It

  1. Put grounds in the sock (we suggest using drip grind coffee grounds)
  2. Boil water
  3. Pour hot water over sock into your vessel
  4. Drink

Mug Insert (Infuser)

Mesh filter for making coffee

Photo from the NOLS Cooking Show.

Pros: More durable than a coffee sock; can also use for making loose leaf tea
Cons: Somewhat bulky item

How to Make It

  1. Fill the insert with coffee grounds
  2. Place insert in your drinking container
  3. Pour boiling water into your container
  4. Let sit for a minute or two, then remove the filter and drink (the longer it sits, the stronger the coffee)

French Press

Pros: Delicious coffee; makes multiple cups of coffee at a time
Cons: More bulky item to pack; slightly longer brew time

How to Make It

  1. Put the grounds into the French press (we advise slightly coarser grounds, 1 Tbsp. per cup)
  2. Add boiling water
  3. Wait about 4 minutes
  4. Plunge the French press
  5. Drink

Aero PRess

Aero Press

Photo from the NOLS Cooking Show.

Pros: Delicious coffee; more portable and less likely to crack than a French press; makes one serving at a time
Cons: More bulky item to use; has several different pieces; makes one serving at a time

How to Make It

  1. Put the grounds into the press (1 scoop per serving)
  2. Put press over your drinking container
  3. Pour in boiling water
  4. Plunge
  5. Drink

Bialetti

Bialetti for making coffee

Photo from the NOLS Cooking Show.

Pros: Delicious coffee, good for car camping
Cons: Heavy piece of equipment

How to Make It

  1. Pour in grounds (espresso grind recommended)
  2. Add water
  3. Place on camp stove and heat until the coffee boils
  4. Drink

Learn how to make each of these coffee types by watching this video from the NOLS Cooking Show!

Come make coffee outside—explore NOLS expeditions today.

Molly loves the smell of her backpack and does her best writing before 7:00 am. When she's not scouting the next post for the NOLS Blog, she's running and climbing on rocks in Wyoming.