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10 Methods: Making Coffee in The Great Outdoors

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Black, rich, and caffeine-fortified, a cup of coffee — or a whole pot — is a requisite and highly-regarded ritual in the outdoors.


Coffee was meant to be sipped in the outdoors. It’s just better when savored out in nature, a wind kissing your face as the sun filters through aspen leaves.

Or, maybe you’re an addict (like us) and will take any method to get caffeine into your system. Either way, it’s not rocket science. Here are 10 methods to get a brew in hand outdoors, easy and fast.

#1 – Cowboy Coffee (grounds straight into the pot)

Cowboy Coffee

For the rugged and ultra-light minimalists, this one takes no extra equipment. Just heat up water, toss some coffee grounds into the pot, wait a bit, then transfer to a mug (maybe sans grounds), and partake. For a more hardcore option, get your fiber, too, and drink it right from the pot, grounds and all.

#2 – DIY Coffee Bag (‘tea bag’ it)

This method adds almost no weight to a pack and is really scalable; you can make a single cup or a whole pot for a group just by altering how much coffee you add to the filter.

coffee bag

Bring along some paper coffee filters. When you’re ready to brew, put the desired amount of grounds into the center of the filter, draw up the edges like a coin purse, and tie it shut using any string. Dental floss works well, which you have thanks to your homemade camping repair kit, right?

Get your water to a boil and either drop the bag in the pot or pour water over the bag. Wait a few minutes, and drink away. If you tied well, you shouldn’t be drinking coffee grounds that leak.

#3 – Hanky Coffee (dirtbags only)

Coffee Bag

Instead of paper filters, go green and use a handkerchief (or, if you’re desperate, a shirt, sock or, really, any clean cloth) as a filter. Same process as the DIY Coffee Bag above but without the waste, and possibly with a “unique” added taste.

#4 – Instant Coffee (almost like cheating)

So easy it’s almost cheating, instant coffee is the laziest, and maybe lightest, way to make coffee in the outdoors. It also can be, admittedly, quite good. Starbucks VIA, the most notable instant coffee option, comes in small packages the size of a stick of gum.

French Press

You simply heat up some water over a fire or camp stove, pour the coffee in, and voilà: hot, caffeinated (or decaffeinated) coffee. You can also administer them in cold water for an ad hoc “iced” brew.

#5 – AeroPress (espresso-like)

An AeroPress, which looks like a giant syringe, is another go-to for brewing a quick cup of coffee outdoors. They’re cheap ($20-30) and allow you to use ground coffee.


Simply heat up some water, add the coffee and then the water, stir, and press for 20-30 seconds. Coffee tastes more like espresso because of the pressure-through-filter brew method. Tip: invest in a steel filter ($10) so you don’t have to deal with trash from the paper filters.

#6 – Reusable Coffee Filter (backpacker’s companion)

MSR Mug Mate

Cheap ($15), reusable coffee filters like MSR’s MugMate (pictured) negate the need for paper filters and can be stored in any mug or cup. Weighing less than one ounce, a reusable coffee filter is the lightest option behind instant coffee, thus an excellent choice for backpacking. Just fill the filter with coffee grounds, place into a mug, pour hot water through it, and let it steep for a few minutes.

#7 – Drip Coffee Maker (pour-over anywhere)

Drip Coffee Maker

So, you only drink pour-over coffee, huh? Well, you’re in luck. Companies like GSI make lightweight, affordable drip coffee makers for as little as $10. You’ll only need the usuals, ground coffee and hot water, and you’ll be all set.

#8 – Pocket PourOver – by Kuju (modernized single serving)

A new way to brew coffee in the great outdoors is now available at Sportsman’s Warehouse and your local outdoor retailer. The Kuju PourOver, a successfully backed Kickstarter product, is dubbed as “the best way to brew coffee in the outdoors.”

Kuju PourOver

The blend of convenience and high-quality coffee might just defend that ambitious tagline. The lightweight, foldable pour-over pouch is filled with coffee grounds and then sealed in “nitrogen-flushed packaging,” staying fresh for weeks on end, the company touts. Simply attach the pouch to any size mug, pour some hot water over it, and get your caffeine fix.

#9 – French Press (car-camping choice)

French press coffee is pretty darn good. However, because of weight and bulk, the French press is usually relegated to the realm of car camping.

French Press Coffee

Outdoor companies like MSR and Jetboil still provide coffee connoisseurs with this option, though at a more expensive price. Or, you can bring along your favorite french press from home, just be sure to treat fragile glass models with care or you’ll be faced with cowboy coffee in an instant.

#10 – A Coffee Maker (an RVer’s luxury)

This one’s really over the top, but for the “glampers” of the world, a full-blown coffeemaker might be a legitimate option. And if you’re going all the way, might as well go all the way: Oxx Coffeeboxx ($249) is the ultimate coffee maker to load into your Earth Roamer RV.

oxx coffeee maker

Dubbed as the world’s toughest coffee maker, the Coffeeboxx model uses the K-Cup system and electricity. If you have a monster RV, then plug the beast into your outlet and have a heyday.

We have been testing the bulletproof Oxx coffeemaker for a month at the GearJunkie office. The unit is slick, with a high-quality design and easy-to-use brew controls. The company has made the unit rugged, including a weather-resistant body, strong handles, and a chassis quoted to withstand 1,500 pounds of force (in case you run it over on your way out of camp?). See more info here on the Oxx sale site.

#ll: Editor’s Bonus: The Percolator

stanley coffee percolator review

They are old-school as it gets, but Percolators get the job done. Just pour in coffee and boil away, enjoying the bubbly noise and sweet aroma. A negative point of percolators is that they need to keep boiling to brew, using the force from boiling to push water up and into a basket of grounds. But if fuel (and weight) aren’t an issue, the humble percolator is a great way to make a large pot of coffee outdoors.

Sipping Coffee Outside

With so many options, it’s obvious that brewed coffee shouldn’t be confined to your kitchen or nearest coffee shop. Head for the outdoors and enjoy some joe on a crisp morning soon.

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