3 Tips for Camping Coffee

The only downside of the first cup of coffee each morning is making it. Sure, it’s a fairly simple process– if you’ve had a cup of coffee. Thanks to that catch-22, it can be a hazy, horrible ordeal.  The wonders of modern technology have paved many paths to easy morning coffee; kettles, Instant Coffee, brewing machines with timers and, yes, even those “one cup” things. But they all hinge on electricity and/or easy access to boiling water.

So what happens when you’re camping? It’s WHAT’o’clock in the morning, and you can barely operate the sleeping bag zipper, let alone build a fire!  And even if you could, do you know what’s involved with making coffee? Measuring and mixing and brewing and filters and– HELP!

Luckily, with a bit of planning and/or shortcuts, you can still enjoy a good cup of coffee each and every morning of your camping trip with these 3 methods.

#1: In The Heat Of The Night

It’s nighttime. Everyone’s roasting marshmallows. You know why they’re roasting? Because of that convenient fire!  It’s there, it’s built– take advantage of it. Boil some water, make some coffee– and then put it in the best thermos you have. Any half-decent one will do, but try to get one that’s vacuum insulated. I have some fairly low-end models, and they still keep beverages hot for more than 12 hours. Don’t add your milk just yet, you want the coffee as hot as possible. In the morning you’ll have some hot, steaming coffee.

This solves the problem of hot water availability in the morning– but you’re still dealing with coffee made while camping. What if you wanted home brew? A thermos isn’t going to preserve coffee across multiple days. How about…

#2: Cold as Ice

Go back even further in time. Before leaving on your trip, make a pot of your favorite coffee. Make it exactly the way you want. Just the right beans. Just the right water. Let it cool a bit, then pour it into ice-cube trays and freeze it. Do as many pots as you think you’ll need. When packing your cooler, put the coffee-cubes into a watertight ziplock. Now you have home brewed coffee, AND it’ll help keep your hotdogs cool.

The best way to employee these cubic caffeine conveniences is a hybrid with #1.  Brew your coffee stronger than you normally would. Boil water the night before, and store the boiled water only in the thermos. Then in the morning, mix the boiling water and the ice cubes (using whatever ratio is most appropriate for how you brewed).

But for the brave and bold, there’s one option left…

#3: Courage

Fresh brewed is still the best, right? But even if you have the right equipment, technique and bravado, you still need heat to boil the water. Maybe you’re having a cold breakfast (mmm, little cereal boxes), and an entire campfire would be a waste. Even if not, no matter how good you are, building a pre-coffee fire is more than a little daunting.

Unless you have a Chimney Starter, a handful of coal, and a grate.

In that case it’s unbelievably easy!  With just a handful of charcoal in the chimney, you can create a blast-furnace of heat underneath the kettle. You’ll have boiling water in no time.  If you are making a hot breakfast, you can use the charcoal as a fire starter.

Happy caffeinated camping, everyone!

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