How to Brew Coffee in the Wilderness

Ad Code

How to Brew Coffee in the Wilderness

A step-by-step guide on various methods and techniques to brew coffee while camping or hiking in the wilderness. Covers equipment, ingredients and recipes for making great wilderness coffee.
How to Brew Coffee in the Wilderness

 For many campers and hikers, starting the day with a hot cup of freshly brewed coffee is a must, even when roughing it in the great outdoors. Thankfully, with some preparation and creativity, you can enjoy a delicious coffee while camping or hiking in the wilderness.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about brewing coffee in the wilderness, from equipment to ingredients to different brewing methods and recipes. Read on to learn how to make your morning brew a reality while camping off-grid.

Table of Contents


Having the right equipment will make brewing coffee in the wilderness much easier. Here are some essential items to pack:

  • Backpacking stove and fuel source - To heat water for coffee.
  • Camping coffee kettle or pot - For boiling water.
  • Coffee mug - Insulated is ideal to keep coffee hot.
  • Coffee filters - For pour-over brewing.
  • Portable coffee grinder - To freshly grind beans.
  • French press - For immersion brewing.
  • Coffee drip cone - For pour-over method.

Optional items that improve the brewing experience include a camp coffee pot for percolating, a coffee infuser for boiling, and a portable coffee press. Packing coffee grounds instead of beans helps minimize equipment.


While the coffee itself is the most vital component, other ingredients can enhance the flavor and experience.

Coffee Beans or Grounds

Bring pre-ground coffee or beans with a grinder. Being as fresh as possible is best for optimal flavor. If packing grounds, use an airtight container and store in a cool place.


Fresh water from a local source like a stream or lake may impart interesting flavors. Boil or filter water first to remove impurities.


To sweeten your cup, packet sugars, honey, maple syrup, agave, or other sweeteners travel well. Condensated or powdered milk can provide creaminess.


Consider instant espresso powder, chocolate powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and other spices to spice up your brew.

Boiled Coffee

One of the simplest ways to make coffee in the wilderness is by boiling the grounds in water. Here's how:

  1. Bring water to a boil in a pot or kettle over a campfire or stove.
  2. Add coarse coffee grounds to the boiling water using a ratio of about 1/3rd cup grounds per 1 cup of water.
  3. Remove from heat and let steep for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Stir grounds and let settle before carefully pouring coffee into your mug, leaving grounds behind.
  5. Add sugar, milk, or other flavorings as desired.

Cowboy Coffee

For a stronger brew, try the iconic cowboy method:

  1. Bring ample water just to a boil in the pot.
  2. Remove from heat and add coffee grounds - about 1/3rd cup per cup of water.
  3. Let steep for a few minutes before returning to heat.
  4. Once boiling again, remove from heat and let settle for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Slowly pour into a mug, leaving grounds behind. Can filter through bandana if desired.
  6. Add milk, sugar, or spices as preferred.


A vintage-style percolator makes an excellent wilderness coffee machine:

  1. Fill the bottom of the percolator with water.
  2. Insert the coffee basket with the desired grounds into the percolator.
  3. Place the percolator on the stove or fire and bring water to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, percolation will begin, cycling boiling water through the grounds.
  5. Allow percolating for 8-12 minutes for best extraction.
  6. Pour into a mug, and add any milk, sugar, or spices.

Pour Over

The pour-over method produces a delicious single cup:

  1. Place filter in drip cone or special pour-over holder. Wet the filter first.
  2. Add coarsely ground coffee to the filter. Use about 1-2 tablespoons per cup brewed.
  3. Position over the mug and slowly pour just-boiled water in circular motions over the grounds.
  4. Let drain. Pour more hot water in circles until the mug is full.
  5. Can adjust the strength by changing the coffee/water ratio.

Cold Brew

For a refreshing iced coffee:

  1. Coarsely grind beans and place them in a container.
  2. Add cool, filtered water at a 1:4 coffee-to-water ratio.
  3. Stir mixture and cover. Allow to steep for 12-24 hours.
  4. Strain through the filter into another container or bottle.
  5. Can add milk, sweeteners, and ice before drinking.


Try these tasty wilderness coffee recipes:

Campfire Mocha

  • Brew coffee using any method
  • Add milk/milk powder, chocolate powder, marshmallows
  • Top with whipped cream if you have it

Maple Coffee

  • Make cowboy, boiled, or percolated coffee
  • Add maple syrup to taste
  • Optional: cinnamon or nutmeg

Medicine Bow Cowboys

  • Brew cowboy coffee extra strong
  • Add a dash of bourbon whiskey and sugar

Campfire Cafe Au Lait

  • Brew coffee with a French press or pour it over
  • Heat milk in a separate container
  • Mix 1/2 coffee and 1/2 steamed milk
  • Sweeten as desired


As you can see, there are many ways to brew flavorful coffee while camping or hiking as long as you come prepared. With a portable brewing setup, quality coffee, and creative recipes, you can wake up to a warm cup no matter how remote the campsite is.

The key is having the right gear for your preferred method, from tried and true cowboy techniques to more advanced pour-overs. Seek out fresh water and use the best beans or grounds you can. The rewarding ritual of handcrafting a morning brew will energize you to seize the day in the great outdoors.

So venture forth, trek into the wilderness, and make every campfire complete with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the easiest way to make coffee while camping?

The easiest ways to make coffee while camping are boiling or cowboy style since they require minimal equipment - just hot water, grounds, and a pot.

How do you make coffee taste good in the wilderness?

Using freshly ground or whole bean coffee and filtered water is key for making great-tasting wilderness coffee. Bringing milk, sugar, spices, and flavorings also improves flavor.

Is cold brew or hot coffee better for camping?

Both have their perks! Hot coffee is great for the morning warmth and energy. Cold brew is refreshing on a hot day and convenient since it steeps in advance.

Can you use a regular drip coffee maker while camping?

You cannot use a typical home drip coffee maker while camping unless you have access to electricity. However, there are specialized camping coffee makers designed for heating over a stove or campfire.

What is the strongest method of coffee brewing while camping?

The cowboy method produces an especially strong coffee concentrate. Percolated coffee is also very potent. Using an immersion French press can yield robust coffee as well.

Post a Comment