Ah yes, the great outdoors!
You gotta love it.
We’re talking clean air, wide-open spaces, nothing but you and nature.
But, in order to get that fresh-air feeling, you really shouldn’t have to be sacrificing a perfect cup of morning coffee. In fact, brewing the best cup you can should be priority number one!
Because let’s face it, the only thing better than a perfect sunrise, is a perfect sunrise with a perfect cup of coffee.
The Camping Coffee Checklist:
Ensuring you’re getting the best possible cup of coffee you can while you’re engaging with the wilderness is going to take some prep work, and some hardware.
Coffee maker aside, you’ll need to think about warming water, something durable to drink out of and means of storing any extras you like to have in your coffee. Oh yeah, and you’ll need to think of the coffee grind itself. Different coffee machines will have different coffee grind specifications, and knowing which is which will be very helpful.
Here’s a list of coffee machine adjacent paraphernalia you will need when you’re next in the great outdoors!
+ Gas Burner or portable gas stove
+ Gas Canister
+ Pot or Kettle for boiling water and, if you’re fancy, a thermometer – Or a Trangia
+ Durable mug (Enamel or plastic is probably best) for housing that golden go-go juice
+ Coffee bean grinder (but you could do this part at home before you leave, so not to carry extra stuff)
+ A dishcloth for cleaning everything up afterwards
The Dos and Don’ts of Campsite Coffee:
Making coffee outside comes with a few extra caveats that we don’t need to consider indoors.
We’ve made a quick list of some tips for you to follow for happy camping:
+ Find a good spot
Make sure you find flat ground to put your coffee station onto to avoid a disaster as your coffee brews.
+ Keep out of the wind
Wind and camping stoves do not mix well. Save yourself the frustration and find a spot sheltered from the wind to set up your coffee station
+ Use the right gear
Find the best coffee machine for your needs and learn how to use it BEFORE you head out on your adventure – nothing worse then getting out there, and not actually knowing how to use the gear
+ Plan ahead
Make sure you have everything you need before you leave the house, and then double-check. And then double-check again.
Brewing your Best – Our Camping Coffee Collection
Now that we’re all aware of the extras, and how not to cause a bush fire, let’s get into the main event; What coffee machine are you bringing on your next adventure?
Each machine has its pros and cons, with some methods far outshining others in terms of taste, consistency and style.
What are we looking for in a camping coffee set-up?
Well, for starters, we want something light. We’re going to be lugging that thing around the bush, quite probably in a backpack. A heavy machine will end up causing more grumbles than good vibes.
The same goes for size. Your 10-cup Moka pot is great and all, but it will surely not be worth the mosquito-repellent you leave behind to fit it in. Smaller machines that pack more of a punch are far more appealing for time spent outside.
Next on our list is durability.
Let’s take a second here and imagine ourselves three days into a five day hike. It’s pretty magical, you’re surrounded by mountains when, whoops! Peter (the guy who tagged along last minute) misses a swipe at a wayward mossie and connects with your V60 Glass dripper, sending its thousand tiny pieces into the bush. Not ideal.
Finally, we want a coffee set-up that is as waste-free as possible, while still being able to brew great coffee, not weigh our bag down and not break.
The Coffee machine showdown:
And now we get to what we’re all here for, deciding which coffee machine is best to carry with us as we commune with mother nature!
We’ve made it easy, and included the pros and cons of each machine below:
The Aeropress is a heavy-weight in the camping world.
Made with polypropylene and weighing in at around 250 grams, this cylindrical, piston-style coffee brewer is easy to store, easy to clean and easy to fall in love with!
+ Small, Light, Durable
+ Forced extraction gives you a consistently strong, good cup
+ Easy to use measuring units to measure coffee
+ Minimal waste
+ Can be difficult to pack away, although the new Aeropress Go is more streamlined
+ 3 components to keep track of
+ Must remember paper filters
The Moka Pot:
Ye old Moka pot!
Every household has one. They are great, no doubt about it! But, they can be clunky to carry, heavy and difficult to work with outdoors.
+ Concentrated brew with a strong flavour
+ Minimal waste
+ Fairly durable, but not scratch-proof
+ Plastic handles melt easily over a fire
+ Small coffee yields and long wait time
+ Difficult to control the brewing process
The French Press:
The simplicity of the French Press should not be underestimated.
But, finding a high-quality plastic french press is a challenge, and it is very difficult to not over brew the coffee, leaving you with a bitter brew.
+ Minimal waste
+ Durable, if made of plastic
+ Simple to use
+ Two components to keep track of
+ Coffee is easy to burn and over brew
+ Mesh filters are difficult to clean
The Coffee Bag:
Well, this fairly lazy coffee brewing method speaks for itself. You have a tea bag, but, instead of tea, you have coffee grounds. Not overly inspiring, but definitely easy.
+ Easy to use
+ Easy to clean up
+ Bland coffee taste
+ No brewing control
+ No choice in specific coffee beans of flavours
The Aeropress! Simple to use, easy to clean, durable and easy to control, that Aeropress is the best of the best!
Brewing the Perfect Camping Coffee with an Aeropress:
To brew your perfect Aeropress coffee, make sure you have the following (in addition to the awesome list we made above of course):
+ Medium/fine coffee grounds
+ Aeropress filters – You can use disposable filters or purchase a metal mesh filter, making your Aeropress even more eco-conscious!
And now, we brew!
- Boil water in your pot or kettle, and let cool slightly (just off boiling)
- If you have not done so before your trip, grind your coffee beans
- Insert your filter into the filter basket and attach it to the brewing chamber, turning clockwise to secure it
- Add your coffee to the brew chamber, on top of the mesh filter – Around 2 tablespoons per cup you intend to brew
- Now you can fill your brew chamber with your just-off-boiling water
- Stir for 15-20 seconds and let the coffee settle to the bottom of the brew chamber
- Allow the coffee to begin to drip through the filter basket
- Top up your brew chamber with any remaining water
- Put the plunger into the brew chamber and press it downwards into the brew chamber, until it completely bottoms out – You’ll hear air being forced out the bottom of the coffee grounds here, giving the Aeropress its name!
- Remove the Aeropress from your camping mug, add in any extras you may want and enjoy!
Cleaning your Aeropress in the Outdoors:
Cleaning your Aeropress is as easy as it is to brew your coffee in the first place.
- Turn the Aeropress upside down, so that the filter basket is facing upwards
- Open the filter basket and remove it from the Aeropress
- Use the plunger to push all the grounds out of the brewing chamber
- Rinse all the components of the Aeropress and dry them off
A Final Stirring Thought:
A point to mention though, is taking care in how you remove your spent coffee from your camping experience.
If you’re close to a bin in a campsite, great! Throw your coffee and your filters away there!
But, if you’re in the backcountry, think about carrying some zip-seal bags along with you, and throwing your coffee in there until you can find a bin to dispose of the whole lot.
Leaving as little trace of you behind you is about as cool as being the only one in the camping group not drinking coffee in a tea bag.
Cold brews could also be the perfect idea to take camping if you have an esky! Then you don’t need to take all the extra brewing items- and you get a nice ice-cold coffee after your mid-morning hike.