How to Make the Perfect Cup of Camp Coffee
By Kimberly Merryman
For many of us, coffee is a very important start to the day, and its importance doesn’t dwindle just because you’re on a campervan road trip and don’t have to go to work. Drinking your coffee just how you like it when you are out exploring can be tricky, but getting it right makes a cool camp morning so, so good. There are many ways to brew your beans at camp, but my favorite is the pour-over. It takes a little more time and attention than instant coffee, but it is definitely worth it. Here’s how to make a cup of camp coffee that is just as good as at home, or even better. Scroll down for a couple of simpler options, too.
The Camp Pour-Over
What You’ll Need
You can use the one in the Escape campervan kitchen kit or get your own. The one is your kitchen kit doesn’t require a filter and collapses for packing. However, I noticed these take a little longer to drip and sometimes clog. A bigger, ceramic one is nice because it doesn’t clog, but it’s a little clunky and awkward to pack and requires a filter.
Cone-shaped paper coffee filters
These are optional, only for those drippers that don’t have a built-in filter. The Escape kitchen kit dripper has a built-in filter.
Pot or kettle
Your Escape kitchen kit pot will heat water just fine. I adore my collapsible silicon kettle that fits on a propane stove or on a tiny backpacking stove. You can find these at most outdoor retailers.
The campervan has one!
This part is important. The quality of the coffee makes a big difference. Bring coffee you know you like or look up good roasters along your route and buy a bag to bring with you. Don’t forget to ask them to grind the beans for you! Whole beans will do you no good in the woods unless you brought a mortar and pestle. For a pour-over, you want the beans to be about as coarse as sugar—a medium-fine grind. Most good roasters will know exactly how to grind them if you tell them you’ll be brewing by pour-over.
You can use the mugs in the Escape kitchen kit or bring your favorite. Just make sure it fits your dripper. If you’re brewing 2 cups as in the recipe below, you will need a big mug or 2 smaller ones.
How to make a camp pour-over
Makes 2 cups.
Bring a little more than 2 cups of water to boil.
If using a paper filter, add a little extra water to the pot or kettle, place the filter in the dripper and once the water is warm, soak the filter and let the water drain out. This gets rid of the filter’s papery flavor. (Make sure you pour out that filter water.)
Keep the water heating while you place 5 tablespoons of coffee grounds into your dripper.
Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat and let the water sit until the bubbles stop. Boiling water is too hot for pour overs!
Place the dripper filled with coffee grounds on top of your mug. Slowly pour in just enough water to get all the grounds wet, starting in the middle of the grounds and moving outward in a spiral motion. Pause and let the beans “bloom” for 30 seconds.
Continue pouring water in a circular motion to just soak the beans, not letting the dripper fill up. Let the water drip until most of the liquid is gone, then pour again. Repeat this process until your water is gone, keeping an eye on how full your mug is getting. If you’re making two mugs, move the dripper back and forth between the mugs after each pour has dripped into the cup.
Remove the dripper and sip in the morning goodness.
Simpler Coffee Options When Camping
There are easier options for coffee on the road. These are great if you don’t have the time or equipment for a pour-over.
Steeped Bags and Drip Kits
Some coffee shops sell ground beans in a sealed filter like a tea bag. You just make your coffee like you would make a cup of tea. You can buy a 10-pack online from Santa Cruz’s Steeped or their partner, Captain + Stoker.
Some roasters sell their beans in packets with a Dripkit, a disposable coffee dripper. It’s a pour-over without the hassle of measuring or grinding beans or cleaning the dripper. Verve and Stumptown are high-quality options that sell Dripkits online.
If you want to do the least amount of work, instant coffee can be pretty decent or pretty terrible. Some of the major coffee chains offer instant packets. They’re finely ground coffee beans you just add to hot water in your mug, stir it up, and drink. I always keep a couple of blonde roast packets from the green mermaid in my camping gear, just in case.
However you decide to make your camp coffee, enjoy!