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  7. How Do You Brew on the Road?

How Do You Brew on the Road?

Three different ways to make coffee while camping.

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How do you take yours? Cream and sugar? Black? Over ice? With just those questions you already know I’m talking about coffee—the most popular drink in the United States (and the world). In fact, Americans drink more coffee per year than soda and tea—combined! With that popularity (and dependence) there’s no way you’re not bringing some along on your camping trip or RVing adventure.

The only question is, how will you brew it? There are as many ways to make coffee as there are to take it. Check out all the best ways to make coffee while camping and how to keep your morning tradition alive no matter where you wake up.

Coffee Best Practices

 The Ratio

Before I break down the best ways to make coffee while camping, let’s go over some best practices when it comes to brewing. Coffee is all about balance i.e., the ratio between water and grounds. The “sweet spot” ranges from about 1:13 to 1:17 depending on how strong you like yours, which means for every 1-part coffee you have 13-17 parts water. So, one gram of coffee grounds calls for 15 grams of water.

Pro Tip: A 12 oz coffee (a tall at Starbucks) is approximately 340 grams, so if this is how much coffee you’d like in the AM, scoop out or grind 23 grams of coffee (340/15=23). If you just don’t care this much when it comes to your coffee, just aim for 2 tbs of coffee for every 8 oz of water.

The Grind

The texture of your grounds is as important as how much you have. The finer the grind the quicker the coffee brewing experience, so if you’re whipping up a batch of cold brew you’ll want a very coarse grind if you’re working with a French press, medium, and if you’re making espresso, as fine as you can get.

The Temperature

Lastly, temperature. The ideal temperature for brewing coffee is 200º F. An instant-read thermometer is a great way to know for sure your water is perfect for coffee, but not necessary. A good rule of thumb is to get your water to a boil and then take it off the heat source and wait 30 seconds. It should be around 200º by then and ready for brewing.

Cowboy Coffee – Best for the Camper with a Crowd


The quintessential brew for camping, cowboy coffee is known as being, well … bad. But, it doesn’t’ have to be. It’s the best method for a crowd of campers and, when you follow the right steps, you’ll have a strong brew that will wake everyone up for a day of exploring!

What You’ll Need:

  1. A large pot or kettle
  2. A roaring fire
  3. The basics – coffee, water, and a mug or thermos


  1. Add water to your pot and bring it to a boil.
  2. Once the water’s boiling, remove the pot from your fire and let it sit for 30 seconds (see best practices).
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of finely ground coffee for every 8 ounces of water. Pro Tip: Not bringing measuring utensils, make sure you know how much water your pot holds and how much coffee a spoon you bring holds before going camping so you can get an accurate measure).
  4. Stir the grounds into the water.
  5. Let the brew sit for two minutes and stir again.
  6. Let the coffee sit for two more minutes.
  7. After a total of four minutes of brewing, sprinkle some cold water on the grounds. This will cause the grounds to sink to the bottom of your pot.
  8. Slowly pour the coffee so the grounds remain on the bottom of the pot.

Pour-Over Coffee – Best for the Solo Coffee Snob Camper

coffee pour over

Have you ever ordered a specific roast of coffee from a coffee shop and they didn’t have any brewed? They likely offered to prepare one for you as a pour-over. This method is literally what its name implies. A coffee drip sits on top of the cup you’ll drink the coffee out of. A filter is placed in it, then the coffee grounds, and then, the water is poured over and the prepared coffee drips into the cup below. It’s great for one great cup of coffee.

What You’ll Need

  1. A Coffee Drip – Check out this collapsible one which saves space while camping
  2. Cone Coffee Filters – You can also go green with a reusable filter.
  3. The basics – coffee, water, and a mug or thermos


  1. Measure out your coffee and water.
  2. Bring your water to a boil.
  3. While your water is heating up, place your coffee drip over your cup or mug and add the filter.
  4. If the filter is paper, wet it just enough to saturate it. This will reduce the chance of getting a “paper” taste in your coffee.
  5. Add coffee grounds and shake gently to evenly distribute them.
  6. Once the water reaches a boil, take it off the heat and wait 30 seconds.
  7. Pour a small amount of water into the drip, just enough to cover the grounds. This is called a “bloom.” It releases gas from the coffee and helps improve the flavor.
  8. After 30 seconds, pour the rest of the water slowly into the drip in small circles.
  9. Once brewed, remove the filter and drip, and enjoy your coffee.

Instant Coffee – Best for the “Wake Up and Go” Camper

instant coffee

Whether you don’t want to fuss with measuring beans and water, just want to get right to your hike or busy day, or regularly oversleep and need the quickest and easiest method of making coffee possible, instant coffee is your best bet.

Instant coffee is a freeze-dried coffee extract. So, when you mix it with hot water, the extract melts in, creating a fresh cup of coffee in an instant, hence the name. Instant coffee not only saves time, but also space, and, with more and more brands developing their own instant coffee blends, the quality is better than ever.

What You’ll Need

  1. A packet of instant coffee
  2. Water
  3. A cup or mug – that’s it!

If you want to save even more time and ease, go with Trader Joe’s instant coffee packets that come already dressed with cream and sugar.

Each of these methods for brewing coffee varies in their complexity, the amount they make, and tools required to make them, but the end result will relatively be the same – a warm cup of coffee that wakes you up and makes you feel like you’re right at home no matter where you are. Enjoy!

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