How Do I Brew Coffee with No Electricity When Camping?
Coffee is a big part of everyday life for many of us and it’s hard to imagine a peaceful morning without a hot cup of coffee. You have your nice big grind and brewer and home, but what about when you travel or go camping? If you have a way to get electricity I’ve reviewed some of the best small coffee makers and you can check that out if it fits a little better to your needs. Or if you have a 12-volt outlet check out these 12-volt coffee makers.
The focus of this article is going to be on camping coffee makers which are small portable ways to brew coffee that require no electricity. Just a camp stove, burner, or even a good fire.
There are lots of coffee brewing styles that require no electricity and I’ve chosen the ones that require the least amount of clean up and set up, so no french presses on this list today. Pour-over drip coffee makers and percolators some of the easiest and best ways to make coffee while camping. I even have a small one cup pour-over cone in my trailer for mornings when I don’t want to start up the generator or use my solar set up.
Pour-over coffee makers aren’t a new thing but they’ve become incredibly popular these past few years. Normally when you want a really good cup of coffee you have to get it from a coffee shop that has a machine capable of brewing coffee with really hot water. With a pour-over, you can boil water on the stove in a kettle and brew amazing tasting coffee cheap and easy.
I used to own the popular Bodum Pour Over Coffee Maker and I loved using it at home but whenever I tried to take it tent camping I found myself having a hard time getting it packed right so it wouldn’t break. For camping, you need durable equipment that you don’t have to waste time worrying about. That’s why none of the products on my camping coffee makers list are made with glass.
Moka coffee makers from Italy and have taken the camping coffee maker scene by storm these past few years. You can boil water and brew coffee with one unit and the coffee produced is dark, rich, and downright fantastic.
Percolators have been around for even longer than pour-over coffee makers. My parents have the percolator that my great-grandpa used to use. It must be at least 100 years old, and they still make coffee in it when we go camping. Personally, I like the taste of pour over coffee more so I don’t have a percolator myself but they are convenient when camping because to brew coffee all you need is the percolator. You don’t have to have an extra kettle to boil water in.
Here’s my list and reviews of the best camping coffee makers. They are durable, portable, easy to pack and make excellent tasting coffee.
Comparison Table of Camping Coffee Makers
Best Pour Over Coffee Maker
Best Moka Coffee Maker
Best Percolator Coffee Maker
Note: Scroll left/right on tablets and phones
Camping Coffee Makers Reviews and Info
The Melitta pour-over coffee cone is the simplest of the camping coffee makers and one of my favorites. I use this pour-over coffee maker as a backup in my trailer for the days when I’m low on power or just want an exceptional cup of coffee.
It’s made of plastic and has a solid feel and design. It’s not going to break or crack when thrown into a bag or jostled around in the back of a vehicle. Melitta recommends using #2 filter with it because it’s fairly small but I use normal #4 coffee filters with it too and they work just fine.
I’ve used many different brands that were this style of a pour-over coffee maker and the reason the Melitta beats them all is they have the cone raised and there are two big holes on either side of the base. This does two things. It makes it so you can see when your cup or mug is getting full, and it stops a seal from being created. On a lot of other pour-over brewers that sit directly on a mug, you have to pick it up sometimes to stop the vacuum being created so the coffee will drip out the other side.
It’s simple and very functional and that’s what you need when you are limited on space when camping. The only downside to it is you need a way to boil and pour water. A lot of times you already have one to rehydrate meals but if you don’t just any camping kettle will do. The most important thing is that it has a spout.
If you are using this in a van, RV, or travel trailer and you have a little more space the gooseneck kettles are awesome for pour-over coffee. If you can get one like the Coffee Gator then you will have some seriously good coffee while camping or traveling.
- Very portable
- Functional Design
- Made of durable plastic
This is another simple pour-over coffee maker with a little twist. Most pour-over coffee cones come with a glass carafe that it sits in. It looks awesome but isn’t so great for camping.
The other kind like the Melitta Pour Over Coffee Cone sits over a mug the coffee drips directly into. The RSVP International drip coffee cone could be used to make coffee into a mug but what it’s really made for is to drip directly into a carafe or thermos.
Being able to make coffee into a stainless steel carafe is fantastic for two main reasons. First, the stainless steel carafe is ultra-durable and also insulates your coffee. You can make some coffee in the morning and still have hot coffee in the carafe for lunch. The second reason it’s so great is you can make coffee for more than just yourself without having to change the filter or transfer the cone.
The cone is compatible with most thermoses and carafes. One of my favorites is the 1-liter GiNT stainless steel thermal coffee carafe. It’s double-wall vacuum insulated and can keep coffee hot for up to 12 hours. It’s also leak-proof and has a very nice pinch release stopper. Just press the lever and pour your coffee.
Of course, if you already have a thermos or insulated carafe that will work with the pour-over coffee maker then you can use that.
As far as being a camping coffee maker this is a great option for people who don’t camp alone and need to make multiple cups of coffee. This cone is large enough to make up to 6 cups of coffee.
Like the Melitta you need to have a kettle with a spout to pour hot water onto the coffee grinds.
- Drips into a thermos or insulated carafe
- Makes up to 6 cups of coffee
- Made of durable plastic
- Very portable
If you’ve walked through a campground in the morning hours you’ve probably seen quite a few of these on a camp stove or sitting next to a fire. Moka coffee makers are extremely popular camping coffee makers and they just look mysterious and awesome.
Originating and made in Italy Moka coffee makers deliver a strong espresso-style coffee. The good news about them is you can use regular drip coffee grounds in them or you can do what Bialetti recommends and use Italian coffee.
It takes a little trial and error to get the hang of this style of camping coffee maker but once you do making a cup of coffee to your taste is easy. It can be used over a stove or fire. For help with using a Moka pot check out these detailed instructions here.
What I like about the Moka coffee maker and percolators is you don’t need to have a separate kettle to boil water in. You have everything you need in one little unit.
Moka coffee is made a lot like a percolator makes coffee with a few differences. First off the Moka uses no paper filter. The water is placed in the bottom part, then the coffee goes into the compartment that sits above the water. Now the big difference happens. The water is pushed through the coffee and comes out into the top compartment of the Moka.
In a percolator, the water that is boiling is mixed with the coffee. It’s harder to find the sweet spot for coffee with a percolator because the coffee is being boiled too. In the Moka, the water is boiled then transferred into another compartment so it never boils.
The Bialetti Moka Coffee Maker is one of the original Moka coffee makers so it’s naturally the best you can buy. It’s super light and very portable for camping. The 6-cup size is deceiving because it only makes 1 maybe 2 cups of coffee. But it’s the perfect size to be placed on a tiny backpacking stove.
If you are a coffee enthusiast and love rich dark coffee this is the perfect camping coffee maker for you. It brews coffee in less than 5 minutes and you can customize the coffee and amounts used to your taste. And as a bonus, you don’t need to worry about paper filters.
- Don’t need an extra kettle
- Uses normal coffee grounds
- Ultra-light and portable
- Makes very rich, flavorful coffee
- Easier to use than a percolator
Now it’s time to get into the classic camping coffee makers, percolators. My great-grandparents had a percolator that has been passed down through the family for 3 generations. Unfortunately, the company that made that beast of a percolator isn’t around anymore but there are still plenty of good options out there, like the Faberware Yosemite coffee percolator.
Coffee percolators are great because they boil the water and brew the coffee in one single unit, so you don’t need any extra kettles. You can also use the percolator as a kettle to boil water so it’s multifunctional.
The way a percolator works is fairly simple. Fill it with water, place the metal pipe with the grounds basket on it into the pot, put your grounds in the basket in either a paper filter or without one. This percolator has a metal filter so you don’t have to use a paper one if you don’t want to. Then you just turn on the burner and let it cook.
The longer you boil the coffee the stronger it will be and that’s where the fault of percolators comes into play. It can be difficult to find the sweet spot between perfect robust coffee and bitter coffee. Usually, it takes 5-7 minutes. You know it’s done when the clear knob on top of the lid starts to get dark brown liquid bouncing around in it.
When you do get the brew just right the coffee percolators produce is absolutely wonderful. For me, I get a sense of nostalgia when I use a percolator over a campfire in the mountains. Just like great-grandpa used to do.
If you are willing to try it out a few times and risk a few bitter pots of coffee then a percolator is the perfect camping coffee maker.
The Yosemite is made with stainless steel and the clear knob and handle are made out of plastic. It’s surprisingly heavy and built to last for decades. And to top it all off it’s dishwasher safe.
A feature on Faberwares percolator that makes it one of the best is its tight fitting lid. Sometimes the lids will start to bounce around and spit hot water and coffee all over the place when the water starts to boil. Not with the Faberware Yosemite.
You can buy their 8-cup or 12-cup sizes, the 8-cup makes about 6 mugs worth of coffee. It’s a great camping coffee maker if you need to make coffee for more than just yourself.
The Farberware Yosemite Coffee Percolator is of high-quality and comes with their guarantee for life. Whether you camp in a tent, RV, travel trailer, van, or car, you can make mornings out in the wild more enjoyable with rich percolator coffee.
- Extremely durable
- Can be used as a kettle as well
- No paper filter necessary
- Makes rich, flavorful coffee
- No extra kettle needed to boil water
- Can make up to 6 mugs of coffee
What to Consider
If you like using paper filters then all of these styles of brewing can take paper filters except the Moka one. And on the other side, all brew styles don’t have to have a paper filter either. If you want a pour over cone that doesn’t require a paper filter the YITELLE Stainless Steel Pour Over Coffee Cone is a really good one.
Storage Space and Weight
When camping or backpacking weight and the amount of space you have to transport things around becomes an issue. If you are already going to have a kettle with you to cook backpacking food then the Melitta Pour Over Coffee Cone is going to be one of the best options for you.
If you aren’t going to bring a kettle and you need something very light then the Bialetti Moka Coffee Maker is a great choice.
Thinking about weight, how much space you have for coffee making stuff is something you should think about before you buy a camping coffee maker.
How much coffee do you need to make?
The single cup pour over coffee cones are great for one person, but if you need to make more than one cup of coffee you have to change the filter and add more grounds. The Moka coffee pot is great for maybe 2 cups of coffee at most. If you need to make coffee for a lot of people a percolator or a large pour over coffee cone with a thermos or carafe is going to be a good choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a pour over coffee maker?
Pour over coffee makers are slow drip coffee makers where the water is poured over manually. To bring out the rich dark flavors in coffee the water it is brewed in needs to be almost boiling. Using a gooseneck kettle you can bring water to a boil and then slowly pour the hot water directly onto the coffee grounds in the pour over cone. A lot of pour over coffee makers have a glass carafe that holds the cone and then the coffee.
Pour over coffee makers have become incredibly popular because they are a cheaper way to make amazing tasting coffee.
Can a Moka pot explode?
It’s very important to not overfill a Moka pot with water because they can build up pressure if the release valve is covered. They don’t explode but they can suddenly spit out coffee grounds and hot water when the pressure gets too high.
To avoid this make sure you never fill the water above the pressure valve in the bottom compartment. It’s recommended to fill the water to the bottom of the valve only. Also, make sure your grounds are ground fine but not too fine, and never pack them down. There needs to be space for the water to seep up through the grounds and into the top compartment.
Are Moka pots good?
Moka pots are really good if you buy a good quality one made in Italy and like dark, rich, espresso like coffee. They are great for homemade lattes and americanos as well.
They are also really good because they are so portable and you can make coffee almost anywhere with them. All you need is a burner or fire. They also require no paper filter so that’s one less thing you have to buy for them.
Are Moka pots safe?
If you follow the instructions they are perfectly safe. Don’t cover the release valve with water, and don’t pack the coffee grounds into the tray and you will have no problems.
Are Moka pots dishwasher safe?
Traditional Moka pots are made with aluminum and are not dishwasher safe.
What Moka pot is best?
Moka pots come from Italy and if you want the best make sure the Moka pot you buy is made in Italy like the Bialetti Moka Coffee Maker.
What size Moka pot is for 1 person?
The measuring system for a Moka pot can be confusing, but a 6-cup Moka pot like the Bialetti Moka Coffee Maker makes a little more than 1 mug of coffee, perfect for one person.
Who invented the Moka Pot?
in 1933 Alfonso Bialetti invented the Moka Express Coffeemaker. He was also the founder of Bialetti Industries and you can buy an original Moka pot from his very company today.
Why percolator coffee?
Percolator coffee makers make a very rich dark coffee much like a Moka pot. The only difference is the coffee blends with the boiling water and slowly becomes stronger. Percolator coffee is amazing because you can create the exact strength of coffee you want.
The only problem is that it’s easy to cook percolator coffee too long and it can become bitter. Once you find the perfect balance you can make some of the best tasting coffee in a percolator.
When is percolator coffee done?
Percolator coffee is usually done after it’s been boiling for 5-7 minutes. But it depends on what kind of coffee you are using and what strength of coffee you prefer. Always use a timer when you percolate coffee and experiment until you get the perfect strength for you.
When was the percolator invented?
The modern percolator coffee maker we know today was invented in 1880 by Hanson Goodrich. A farmer from Illinois. There were methods of percolating coffee around before then but his percolator was the one that became the standard for percolator coffee makers.
Have any more questions about camping coffee makers? Leave a comment below and I’ll try and help out.