There are many ways to enjoy the tasty liquid extracted from ground coffee beans, but some methods are simply better than others on backcountry excursions. Whether it’s to wash down some campfire grub or to satisfy a caffeine fix, here are the best methods to make coffee in the outdoors.
#1 Cowboy coffee
This is a bold, strong brew, filled with as much character as the cowboys who drink it. Fill a large kettle with water and bring it to a boil, then add a quarter pound or so of ground coffee and simmer for two to five minutes. Remove the kettle from the heat and wait five minutes for the grounds to sink to the bottom; you can add crushed egg shells (yes, it actually works) to expedite the process. If you’re equipped with one, a thick cowboy moustache can work as a strainer.
Pros: Minimal equipment; makes enough coffee for large groups.
Cons: Strong taste and rogue grounds can be off-putting.
Make coffee to taste depending on the amount of time you percolate the water. In this method, you suspend a basket of coffee above the water in a percolator pot. As the water boils, the steam rises, condenses and runs back through the coffee grounds.
Pros: Works well on a camp stove.
Cons: A bitter flavour develops when the coffee is perked too long.
Boiling water poured over fine-ground coffee in an ultra-fine filter makes a delicious cup of coffee. The strength will vary with the amount of grounds in the filter. This is my favourite method.
Pros: Full-flavoured coffee without bitterness.
Cons: Best suited to one or two cups at a time.
#4 French press
This is a low-tech, portable brewing method, and it’s extremely popular, based on the variety of available brands. Simply pour hot water over coarse-ground coffee and let it steep for three to four minutes before pressing down the filter and serving.
Pros: Easy to make; suitable for large groups; you control the brew time, and hence the taste.
Cons: You need to monitor the time; you can end up with sludge in the cup.
#5 Instant coffee
With this method, a quick cup of go-juice is only a boiling cup of water away—perfect for the minimalist. The quality of instant coffee varies considerably, so buy whatever suits your taste. My go-to is micro-ground instant coffee sold in individual portions.
Pros: Quick and easy to make; minimal equipment.
Cons: Not as tasty as brewed coffee.