5 Ways to Make Coffee at Your Campsite

5 Ways to Make Coffee at Your Campsite
And a short story about the best cup of camp coffee I’ve ever brewed.
-Erica Zazo-


My partner and I packed up our tiny Ford Fiesta in downtown Chicago and headed north to Wisconsin for a weekend camping trip. However, this wasn’t your average campout. It was a backpacking trip along the Ice Age Trail in the middle of winter.


It was also the weekend I had the best cup of camp coffee – ever.


Some folks might call us crazy. But we were excited to hit the trail with the slim chance of seeing anyone else for multiple days. When we arrived at the Kettle Moraine Northern Unit [EZ1] trailhead, it had already turned dark (thanks, daylight saving time[EZ2] ). We threw on our headlamps, strapped on our backpacks, and headed out at a brisk pace to keep warm on the 2.5-mile hike.


The Ice Age Trail certainly lived up to its name. The entire trail was covered in ice due to rain showers earlier in the week that froze over. Luckily, we were able to hike in the snow on the edge of the trail -- being careful to step over fallen branches and brush along the way. After we arrived, it took us no longer than a few minutes to activate and heat up our hand and toe warmers, and settle into our sleeping bags for a chilly night of sleep.


We woke up the next morning with the sunrise with one mission in mind: start the Jetboil to heat up water for our coffee.


While the water heated, we added our pre-ground Sandhill San Miguel coffee into our GSI Ultralight Java Drip coffee maker – which attached directly to the rim of our camp mug. Once the water was ready, we slowly poured it over the grinds and watched as the water seeped through the grinds and into our cup in a perfect hazelnut-colored stream.


The bold scent of citrus and chocolate notes wafted into the 15-degree air, and warm steam heated our faces as we passed the mug back and forth enjoying the smell. And as soon as the coffee hit my mouth, I instantly felt warmer.


Surrounded by fresh snow-covered trees in the morning light, savoring every sip, we both came to a simple conclusion: There’s nothing quite like a piping-hot cup of coffee at the campsite on a winter morning.




Camp Coffee 5 Ways.


To help you enjoy Sandhill Coffee no matter if you’re at your favorite state park campground, deep in the woods, or even in your back yard -- we’ve detailed five simple methods for brewing the perfect cup of coffee outdoors.

Note: We recommend pre-grinding your beans before heading to the campground, to cut down on additional coffee equipment (i.e. a grinder) you’ll need to bring along on the trip.



Type of grind: Medium to fine

Recommended Sandhill Coffee: San Miguel

Serving size: 1 cup of coffee

Best method for: Car camping

A tried-and-true method for brewing, pour over and/or filtering method is a great way to get a full-flavor cup with minimal effort. This method requires either a paper or reusable filter, and a cone if not already included with your brewing equipment.


Step 1: Attach or rest your pour-over system to your camp mug (we love the GSI Ultralight or Sea to Summit X-Brew). If you’re using a Chemex or cone requiring a filter, bring that along.

Step 2: Add  ~3 tablespoons of pre-ground coffee (medium to coarse grind) to your filter

Step 3: Boil ~1 cup of water 

Step 4: Slowly pour your boiling water over the coffee, stirring occasionally with a spoon or other utensil

Step 5: Let all your water steep through the grinds

Step 6: Enjoy!



Type of grind: Coarse

Recommended Sandhill Coffee: Market Blend

Serving size: 3 cups of coffee

Best method for: Group camping


Cold coffee on a hot day? We’re in. Steeping some cold brew at your campsite overnight can be a great way to wake up on a summer camping trip. For this method, make sure you pack a sealable container and pre-ground coffee.


Step 1: Add ~9 tablespoons of pre-ground coffee to a sealable container (like a mason jar) with 3 cups of cold water (the colder the water the better) 

Step 2: Steep overnight (around 12-14 hours is ideal)

Step 3: Pour the steeped coffee over a filter (paper, metal or synthetic filters all work fine)

Step 4: Pour into your cup, and enjoy!

Bonus tip: We have a trick for cold brew – and well let you in on the secret. We recommend covering the grounds with hot water first to let the coffee “bloom.” Let it sit for a few minutes to pull out the flavor, then add your cold water to steep overnight.



Type of grind: Fine

Recommended Sandhill Coffee: Dark Side of the Loon

Serving size: 1 cup of coffee

Best method for: Solo camping


Coffee snobs far and wide will argue that AeroPress is the best way to brew. An AeroPress will cost you about $30, but it’s worth it if you’re looking for a premium cup of coffee. The AeroPress is extremely lightweight, compact, and makes an extraordinary-tasting cup of Joe.


Step 1: Disassemble your AeroPress

Step 2: Add an AeroPress filter into the filter cap

Step 3: Twist filter cap onto the brewing chamber

Step 4: Stand chamber onto a sturdy mug and put one round scoop of finely ground coffee into the chamber

Step 5: Shake to level coffee

Step 6: Add boiled water up to Level 1 on the chamber (you can also use cold water to make cold brew)

Step 7: Using the AeroPress coffee stir stick, stir 10 seconds for hot brew, 1 minute for cold brew

Step 8: Insert plunger and press gently until the plunger reaches and stops at the grounds

Step 9: Enjoy!

Psst…you can also find these directions and more on the AeroPress website.



Type of grind: Super fine (powder-like)

Recommended Sandhill Coffee: Kula Peaberry

Serving size: 1 cup of coffee

Best method for: Ultralight backpacking


Did you know you can make your own instant coffee? Of course, you can buy instant coffee brands at the store. But it can be just as convenient, more eco-friendly, and more cost-efficient to bring your own homemade instant coffee to the campground.


Step 1: Before leaving for your camp trip, scoop 1 tablespoon into grinder and grind super fine until it’s a powder-like consistency

Step 2: Boil ~1 cup of water

Step 3: Add super fine grounds to your camp mug

Step 4: Add hot water and stir until grounds are dissolved

Step 5: Enjoy!


French Press

Type of grind: Coarse

Recommended Sandhill Coffee: Jose Francisco

Best method for: Family or friends car camping


French presses are known for making a thick and rich cup of coffee. This method does not require a filter, but you will need to pack it – so be mindful if you’re backpacking as the equipment can take up quite a bit of space. Most french presses are also made of glass, so you’ll want to be careful handling them at your campsite.


Step 1: Boil ~3 cups of water

Step 2: Add ~9 tablespoons of pre-ground coffee to the inside of your french press 

Step 3: Add ~.5 cups of hot (boiled) water to your french press

Step 4: Let the grounds bloom (rest/steep in the water) for 30 seconds

Step 5: Add the rest of the water

Step 6: Insert the plunger into the french press, let steep for 4 minutes

Step 7: Plunge until the plunger reaches/stops at the grounds

Step 8: Pour and enjoy!


Bonus tip: Jetboil makes a french press attachment, which makes it easy to boil water, and steep and strain your coffee, all in one container. There are also french press mugs, like the X and Y, which are great for single-cup servings and lighter packing.


Riverside coffee

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