Find out how to drink great coffee outdoors, whether you’re spending a day hiking or camping out overnight. We’ll show you how you can combine your love of coffee with the great outdoors, with essential tips on coffee kit and brew guides.
For us coffee lovers nothing beats the invigorating experience of a freshly brewed coffee in the morning. Unless perhaps, if you imagine it’s a summer’s morning and you take your coffee outside to be enjoyed with some rays on your balcony or patio. Even better still, what about a fresh brew in the outdoors surrounded by wildlife and the soothing sounds of mother nature?
Spending time in the great outdoors can provide huge benefits to your mental and physical well being. Let’s face it, we don’t get a lot of sunny days here in the UK so it’s doubly important that we make the most of them! But with the nearest civilisation, including its coffee shops and power supply so far away, can coffee lovers enjoy the best of both worlds?
Coffee and camping actually go way back when we think about it. Explorers have been doing it for centuries and cowboys still do it to this day. Modern camping is, of course, a very different experience to the days of exploring armies and it’s fair to assume that most hiking expeditions aren’t accompanied by horsepower. We’ve often got to travel light and only bring with us the bare necessities.
We’ve provided 5 suggestions below for the most minimalistic essentials for making and serving great coffee when you’re out camping or hiking.
If you love filter coffee then you’re in luck. The Aeropress coffee brewing kit is one of the best ways to enjoy coffee in general, but it really lends itself to outdoor brewing especially.
The patented Aeropress kit comes equipped with everything you need (except for ground coffee and hot water) all in one handy travel bag. The best bit about it is that it is a small handheld device that’s made entirely of lightweight plastic, so you’ll barely feel it in your backpack!
The kit consists of a two part plunger system through which hot water is forced through a bed of coffee. We’ve provided a handy Aeropress Brew Guide here. You just need the Aeropress kit, a small set of digital scales, and some ground coffee, which you can pre-grind at home or bring a manual burr grinder camping with you. Around 15g of ground coffee will be enough for one person to brew one cup of coffee.
If you’re out camping, it’s safe to assume you will already be packing everything you need for boiling up some water and for drinking out of. You’re also likely to have you phone with you which comes with a stopwatch for timing your brew. If you’re hiking, just remember that you’ll need to pack these things.
French Press coffee
Another filter coffee brewing option that works outdoors is the french press (cafetiere). It’s a similar system to the Aeropress in that it involves the use of a plunger but in the french press, the plunger acts as the filter. You simply add the coffee to the pot (15-18g will be enough for one person), pour over hot water and leave it to steep for a few minutes. Then you plunge to filter out all those floating coffee grounds.
The french press method is extremely easy to use, we’ve created a handy French Press brew guide here. Another benefit is that you don’t need to pack any extra filters and it is easier to clean than the Aeropress, they can also be picked up for a very low price. Just make sure you go for an aluminum model rather than a glass one for safety reasons, it’ll also be lighter in your bag.
The only equipment you’ll need is a set of digital scales and the stuff you should already be taking with you for boiling water and heating up food. Again you can pre-grind your coffee at home or pack a manual burr grinder to take with you.
If a light and refreshing pot of filter coffee isn’t going to cut it for you while you’re outdoors, you may want to opt for a Moka Pot. You’ve probably seen one of these in the back of your parents’ kitchen cupboard or on holiday in Europe but don’t discount them, Moka Pots can make great coffee!
This is a stovetop method so will work great with your camping stove, in which water is boiled and forced through a bed of finely ground coffee (around 15g for one person). The result is something that isn’t quite like an espresso but is much more intense and full-bodied than a filter coffee.
The great thing about the moka pot is that they’re made of solid steel that securely screws together so they’re tough enough to survive the outdoors. Another added benefit is you can kind of wing it with the measurements so you don’t need to take a set of digital scales with you (but they would still certainly help).
For the full on outdoor experience, why not try making your own cowboy style coffee? This is the method you’ve probably seen them use in those old Western movies where they brew their coffee in a big pot over a fire.
It’s probably the easiest way to make coffee outdoors with the least additional equipment to what you’re probably already taking, you just need a pot to boil water and serve from. There’s no need for digital scales or filters. With that said it isn’t renowned for delivering the best results compared to the other methods, but hey if you want to live like a cowboy!
You just need to boil up some water over the stove, pour in the number of cups you need directly from the cup to get the right amount. Bring the water to the boil. Then you add coarsely ground coffee, use around 15g per person but you can wing the measurements here more than any other method. Then let it boil for a couple of minutes and take it off the heat.
You’ll need to leave it for a couple of minutes to let the coffee settle down to the bottom, there’s no filter remember. Then pour away cow-poke, you’ve got yourself a cup of coffee that’s as rugged as you!
Pack a manual burr grinder if you can
For fresher coffee that’s better tasting, we would always recommend that you grind your beans to order. We know you need to pack light and the thought of lugging your heavy burr grinder up and down mountains just isn’t going to work, especially as there will be nowhere to plug it in!
But if freshness is really important to you and you want to make your outdoor coffee moment truly special, then you should pack a manual burr grinder for the trip. Something like a Hario Handmill will be lightweight and practical for packing. Then with just a couple of minutes of elbow grease (it’s really easier than people make it look), you’ll have freshly ground beans for your perfect brew.