SAIL - préparer son café en plein air

The best ways to make coffee outdoors

Also available in: French

Coffee…the single greatest way to start the morning off right. There’s really nothing quite like a hot cup of coffee in the great outdoors. Coffee may seem simple, but making it might not seem so easy without the ease and comfort of your coffee maker or local Tim Hortons. Luckily, there are a number of different ways to make coffee so you can find one that best suits you. So here are the best ways to make coffee outdoors.

Whether you’re trying to keep weight down in your pack, or looking for a faster way to make coffee, these simple methods work great.

Camping coffee makers & kettles

Instant coffee

By far the simplest method for making coffee, instant coffee allows you to enjoy it with minimal effort. Add the instant coffee to your mug of choice, boil up some water on the camp stove or in a pot over the fire. Add the boiling water to the mug, stir and enjoy. There is a large variety of instant coffees available on the market to choose from. It’s easy to find one that fits your tastes whether you prefer your coffee creamy and sweet, plain black instant coffee, or even fancier flavoured coffee like Vanilla or Caramel.

Cowboy coffee

When it’s getting cold outside, a hot cup of coffee can help to warm you up from the inside out. Just drink it quickly since the coffee won’t stay hot for long.

To make cowboy coffee, we filled up a pot with cold water and added the coffee grounds. The pot was placed on the stove inside our hot tent and we waited until the water came to a boil. Once the water and coffee hit a boil, we left it at a rolling boil for another minute. Next, we took the pot off the stove and held it by its handle pumping it towards the ground several times to let gravity force the coffee grounds to the bottom of the pot. This allowed us to pour the coffee with only a few coffee grounds getting into our mugs. This method is very simple as all that is required is a pot to boil water.

If you’re more of a coffee connoisseur, you may prefer a more involved coffee-making experience. These options require more equipment, but you’ll definitely reap the rewards of a delicious cup of coffee using these methods.

French Press

A dedicated French press kit is needed to make this type of coffee. To make a French press coffee, boil water and add your desired amount of coffee to the carafe. Pour the boiling water into the carafe and stir. Let the coffee sit for 4 minutes. Once the 4 minutes is up, take the press and put it on top of the carafe and press the plunger down, this will force all of the coffee grounds to the bottom of the carafe. Your French pressed coffee is now ready to serve.

Pour over/drip coffee

SAIL - préparation du café en plein airThis is our favourite method of making coffee in the backcountry. We like this system because it all fits inside the carafe, and has a reusable coffee filter keeping your waste to a minimum. To make a pour over or drip coffee, boil water and place the drip cone on top of the carafe. The coffee filter fits into the drip cone and once placed, you can add your desired amount of coffee into the filter. Take your pot of boiling water and slowly pour it over the coffee grounds, making sure to cover the coffee grounds evenly. After you are done pouring the water into the drip cone and all of the water has filtered through to your cup, remove the drip cone and place the lid over the carafe. It is now time to share some delicious pour over coffee with a friend.

Filters & coffee makers


While not ideal for backpacking (due to its size and weight), a percolator is a great way to make coffee for a larger group while car camping, or on a winter trip with a sled. To use a percolator, get your fire roaring and add 1 tablespoon of coffee for every cup of water you are going to add to the percolator into the filter basket (add a little extra coffee if you like it strong). Then fill the percolator with water and place the filter basket inside. Close the lid and place the percolator containing the water and coffee onto the fire and let it boil. On top of a percolator is a clear handle. Keep an eye on the colour of the bubbles in the handle. Once the bubbles turn dark, the coffee is ready. Take the percolator off of the fire, pour into a mug and enjoy!

Camping percolators

Coffee Grinder

For the serious coffee enthusiast, a portable coffee grinder can bring your coffee experience to a whole new level. Bringing one of these along on your next trip will allow you to have the freshest ground coffee in the morning with just a little extra work.

Whichever method you choose, may your coffee be as strong as your will to go out and explore!

Also available in: French