Good camping trips often mean early mornings. You’ll have a hike planned so you can see the morning sun in just the right spot, you have a breakfast to make with the whole day stretching out ahead of you, or your schedule is jam-packed with so much hiking and exploring your day begins early. No matter what your plans are, starting off the day with a fresh cup of coffee can be a necessity. Whether you want to have a warm drink in the morning to get you started or caffeine is a must-have, here are two fantastic camping coffee recipes that get you a brew without a big to-do.
Even just the name sounds adventurous and rugged; sometimes you’ll meet a few people who have had (or seen and smelled) the more traditional version of the recipe from when cowboys ran low on coffee and started to augment it with potato skins, and they’ll scrunch their nose at the idea of it. But really, cowboy coffee is none of those things. It’s just an easy way to make coffee without a filter or using a lot of containers. Here’s the process:
1. Boil your water.
Coffee ‘cups’ are six ounces instead of eight so you might want to just eyeball how much water you’ll need based on your thermos instead of relying on exact recipes and ratios.
2. Once the water has boiled, set it aside for a minute.
Boiling your water is always a good idea while you’re camping, and you certainly want hot water for coffee. But adding grounds to boiling water will overcook the grounds and make your coffee bitter.
3. Now that the water is no longer boiling, add a few tablespoons of coffee grounds.
You’ll want to add approximately two tablespoons for every eight ounces of water, but you can make your coffee as weak or as strong as you’d like for this recipe. But while you’re adding them, remember: the longer the grounds have contact with the water, the stronger the coffee will be. So either put all of the coffee in a thermos at once or be prepared for a stronger second cup. You’ll need to stir in the coffee grounds, too; they’ll want to stay floating along the top instead of mixing into the water immediately.
4. Let the grounds sit for a couple of minutes.
This is when your coffee really starts becoming coffee, and you only want to let it sit for two minutes so your coffee doesn’t brew for too long. So if you’re fixing the rest of your breakfast as it sits, you might want to set a timer: two minutes is just long enough to focus on something else.
5. Re-stir the coffee grounds and let it sit for another two minutes.
Now that the grounds have heated up, you can mix them in a little bit easier for even brewing.
6. Sprinkle in a bit of cool water.
This cool water will sink right to the bottom of the hot liquid, and it will take the grounds down with it. This means you can pour out the coffee — slowly and still with an eye out for an errant ground or two — into your mug or thermos for freshly brewed coffee without any unexpected crunch.
This recipe is super simple, and it gets the job done without any unnecessary fuss. As much as camping is about exploring, sometimes you want something familiar and cowboy coffee lets you use your usual grounds without too much of a twist.
Cowboy coffee is definitely a skill to master so you can easily brew coffee no matter your camping conditions, but there are a few variations of it that you can use to gain some credibility as a genius camper for a few tricks up your sleeve. If you’ve never heard of egg coffee before, you’re in for a treat. In this recipe, you will:
1. Boil your water.
Some people don’t keep it boiling at the risk of too much bitterness, but that’s largely up to you; the bitterness you have to worry about from letting it boil or brew too long will be taken care of. Also, you’ll be cooking an egg, so you want to keep the temperature up.
2. Mix coffee grounds with a raw egg.
Most recipes call for coarse ground coffee and between one or two tablespoons per cup. Again, every recipe is different because every coffee drinker is different, so add the amount you usually would at home. When you add the raw egg, we mean the yolk, the whites, and the shell. The whole egg. You’ll want to make sure the egg has been washed before you get started (and choose a good brand depending on your preference with organic and GMOs) so you can grind up the eggshell into the mix. When it’s all mixed together, it will look like sandy mud and be pretty vicious, which will make the last few steps super simple.
3. Add the whole thing to the boiling water and stir.
Some campers carry their egg and some premeasured grounds in a plastic bag and mash the two ingredients together in it so all they have to do is dump out the mixture. During this step, the liquid can quickly boil over and cause a mess so you will need to keep an eye on the pot for the whole five minutes of brewing time. If you’re making your breakfast at the same time, time this step so it coincides with a slow period.
4. After five minutes, add a bit of cold water.
Just like with cowboy coffee, adding cold water will make the grounds start to sink to the bottom of the coffee so you can pour more easily. And because you added an egg, the runny mixture will hold tight to the grounds and make your drink even smoother.
That’s it! A lot of campers prefer egg coffee because it makes the liquid smooth and slightly sweet without you having to add sugar or sweetener. The shell’s calcium carbonate also neutralizes the acid in your coffee, so boiling the grounds won’t have made your coffee bitter.
If you’re planning a trip with lots of people who have different tastes, keep your options open with a selection of tea bags or, if you want to reduce the trash you pack in and out of a site, loose tea leave and a filter. The most important thing to keep in mind is staying hydrated throughout the day, so start off with some form of water in the morning. This can be easy to forget about if you’re hiking in winter, but hydration is just as important in the cold and even easier to neglect when you don’t feel thirsty.
Whenever you’re camping, you’re often toeing the line between minimizing the supplies you need (for both necessity and convenience’s sake) and making food you actually like. But once you have the trick of cowboy coffee down, you will have a much easier time experimenting with brews that perk you up before long hiking trips. And there’s nothing like nonchalantly smashing a raw egg into your coffee grounds to make you look like a master of campground coffee. For more camping recipes and recommended camping sites around Ohio, check out our site here.
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