Matt Johnson

Campsite Barista: How to Make Coffee While Camping

Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthornePublished: Mar 5, 2024

There’s nothing quite like sipping a freshly brewed cup of coffee while surrounded by the serenity of nature. The aroma of coffee blending with the crisp outdoor air can elevate your camping experience to new heights. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a novice looking to improve your outdoor coffee game, becoming a campsite barista is easier than you think.

We’ll guide you through the essentials of brewing the perfect outdoor coffee, from selecting the right equipment to mastering the brewing process.

Choosing your brewing method.

When it comes to brewing coffee outdoors, simplicity and portability are key.

Here are a few popular methods that balance ease of use with delicious results.

The Classic French Press

French Press Coffee Maker at a Campsite

A favorite for many, the French Press is straightforward and produces a rich, full-bodied cup of coffee. These appear a bit more complicated than you’d expect, but they’re super easy and a favorite of campers and glampers.

Look for a durable, stainless steel press that can withstand the rigors of outdoor use. 

The process is simple—

  • Add coarse-ground coffee
  • Pour in hot water
  • Steep for about four minutes
  • Press.

The result? A delicious brew to start your day. Add your creamer if that’s your thing, and enjoy the sunrise.

The Convenient Pour-Over

Pour Over Coffee on a Picnic Table

The pour-over method is perfect for those who prefer a cleaner, more refined cup.

Lightweight and compact pour-over devices like the V60 or AeroPress are perfect for packing.

You’ll need a fine to medium grind, and the key here is to pour your hot water slowly, in a circular motion, ensuring even extraction.

The best part of the pour-over while camping is that it’s easy and transportable. Heat up your water on any campfire, and you have coffee.

The Sturdy Moka Pot

Moka Pot in a Fire

If espresso is more your style, which we totally get, a Moka Pot can be a great camping companion.

Made of durable aluminum or stainless steel, it’s designed for use on a stove or grill.

Fill the bottom with water, add fine coffee grounds to the filter basket, and place it on the heat. As the water boils, it’s forced through the coffee, creating a strong and flavorful espresso-like brew.

So, when you want a refined taste, go with the pour-over, but when you want a strong taste, go with the Moka Pot.

Get A Durable Camping Moka Pot for your Next Trip!

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The Reliable Camping Coffee Percolator

Old School Camping Coffee Percolator over a Campfire

For those who appreciate tradition and the nostalgia of a classic campfire coffee, the percolator stands out as a time-honored favorite. 

Its robust design and methodical brewing process make it perfect for campers seeking a hearty cup of joe amidst nature’s tranquility.

Opt for a heavy-duty stainless steel percolator that promises longevity and resilience against the elements of the great outdoors. We tend to see cheap camping coffee percolators last only a few trips.

The brewing process encapsulates the essence of simplicity and patience—

  • Fill the percolator with water
  • Add coarse ground coffee to the basket
  • Place it over the campfire or stove
  • Wait as the water heats, percolates through the grounds, and transforms into a bold and aromatic coffee.

The charm of the percolator lies in its ability to bring people together, sharing stories over the gentle bubble of brewing coffee. 

If you’re a tent camper, then the aroma will pull the rest of the campers from their slumber.

It’s a method that doesn’t rush; instead, it invites you to slow down and savor the moment, along with a richly flavored coffee that’s as robust as your adventures.

Picking the right coffee.

The quality of your coffee plays a significant role in the end result. There are literally thousands of coffees on the market, so take your time and try out different blends to see what hits just right.

  • Flavor profile. Coffee comes with a vast spectrum of flavors, from fruity and floral to nutty and chocolatey. Your preference could lead you to a light Ethiopian Yirgacheffe for its bright acidity and floral notes or perhaps to a Sumatran blend for its earthy and spicy undertones. It’s all about what tickles your palate.
  • Roast level. Roasts can dramatically alter the taste of your coffee.
    • Light Roast: Often tangy and with a pronounced acidity, it retains the original flavors of the coffee bean.
    • Medium Roast: Offers a balanced flavor, aroma, and acidity. Perfect for those who enjoy a harmonious cup.
    • Dark Roast: Known for its bold, smoky flavor, this roast brings out the rich, deep tones of the coffee, ideal for those who prefer a strong, hearty cup.
  • Origin. The origin of the coffee bean influences its flavor profile. Beans from Africa, like Kenya and Ethiopia, often have a fruity or floral taste, while Latin American coffees tend to be lighter and offer a hint of sweetness. Asian coffees, on the other hand, are typically fuller-bodied with a richer taste.
  • Bean type. The two main types of coffee beans are Arabica and Robusta.
    • Arabica: Known for its smooth, complex flavor profiles, Arabica beans are highly favored among coffee aficionados.
    • Robusta: Packs a punch with its strong, robust flavor and a higher caffeine content. It’s often used in espresso blends for an extra kick.

Experiment with different roasts and origins to find your perfect outdoor coffee. Start simple and work up from there.

Mastering the art of water temperature.

Achieving the right water temperature is crucial for extracting the best flavor from your coffee.

The ideal temperature is between 195°F and 205°F, just below boiling.

If you don’t achieve that 195°F, the flavors won’t mature completely. Maybe that’s what you’re going for, but we don’t recommend it. On the other hand, boiling the water will essentially burn the coffee, and you’ll have a flavor you might not have wanted to achieve.

If you don’t have a thermometer, a good rule of thumb is to let the water come to a boil, then let it sit for about 30 seconds before pouring. This will get you close to the optimal temperature for brewing.

Grinding your camping coffee beans to perfection.

Medium Coffee Grounds Off the Grinder

The grind size of your coffee beans should match your brewing method to ensure proper extraction. If you’re using pre-ground coffee, then there’s not much you can do about this. But if you’re getting roasted beans, you’ll want to get this step right.

A coarse grind works best for the French Press, medium for pour-over or even the percolator, and fine for the Moka Pot. 

Coffee Ground Grind Sizes Showing Coarse Medium and Fine
This shows the difference in the different types of grinds.

A portable, durable coffee grinder is an invaluable addition to your camping gear, allowing you to grind fresh beans for each brew. 

The importance of clean water.

The water you use can greatly affect the taste of your coffee.

Use filtered or bottled water whenever possible, especially if the natural water source is questionable. If you really care about the taste, we recommend avoiding the campground water supply.

This ensures your coffee tastes clean and pure, without any unwanted flavors.

Putting it all together!

Now that you have sorted your method, coffee, water temperature, and grind size, it’s time to brew.

Each method has its nuances, but the general principle remains the same: patience and attention to detail will yield the best cup.

Whether you’re pressing down on a French Press, watching your pour-over drip, or listening to the hiss of a Moka Pot, take the time to enjoy the process.

After all, part of the joy of camping is slowing down and appreciating the moment.

Enjoying your creation.

With your freshly brewed coffee in hand, find a comfortable spot to relax and savor the fruits of your labor. Whether you prefer your coffee black or with a splash of milk, the key is to enjoy the moment.

Let the aroma and flavor of your coffee blend with the natural beauty around you, creating an unforgettable outdoor experience.

Becoming a campsite barista is about more than just making coffee; it’s about enhancing your connection to nature through one of life’s simple pleasures.

With the right tools, some practice, and a bit of patience, you can brew coffee that rivals your favorite café, all while surrounded by the tranquil beauty of the outdoors.


Matt Johnson

Senior Content Writer

Matt is an experienced camper and glamping enthusiast with a Master's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Authoring posts for GlamperGear, he shares his wealth of knowledge on picturesque campsites, luxurious accommodations, and the best gear for outdoor adventures. His passion for nature and knack for comfort in the wilderness make him an expert guide for your next camping endeavor.

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