Coffee is an essential part of the hunter’s diet. On a typical day, we’re up early and start with coffee. By midmorning, we need a pick-me-up. Just after lunch, one of two things tend to happen. We’re either pulled down into the depths of a nap or fueled further by caffeine, ie coffee.
Today’s to-go cups are so efficient in maintaining the temperature of their contents that they allow us to keep coffee hot for much longer periods. So whether the hot black liquid originates in a kitchen, coffee shop, or gas station, you’re good to go.
But what do you do when your hunting adventure requires camping? Easy - you choose and over time perfect one of the various methods for making coffee. Though it could sound intimidating, there are plenty of ways to get to the comforting warmth and waking of the body that only coffee provides. Knowing the various ways to make coffee while camping will keep you sufficiently caffeinated no matter where you’re hunting.
Instant coffee is probably the easiest method. It’s lightweight and really only requires a burner, some butane, and water to boil. For the hunter with the less “esteemed palate” who is looking to shed critical ounces, instant coffee is probably your best bet.
Simply remove the packets from the box to reduce bulk in your pack. To make it, boil water, dump in the grounds, stir, and when it’s an acceptable temperature, drink. This is a coffee that is rather palatable. Plus, your mindset is different in the woods where foods you may not otherwise consume taste pretty dang good.
It’s pretty much the same as instant coffee except it comes in a bag. Like tea. Simply heat your water and steep. Upon reaching your desired strength, remove the coffee bag and toss it in the fire or trash bag. This method is also very packable and lightweight.
Our grandfathers used a percolator. (Or made cowboy coffee - pour grounds in water and boil.) Even today the percolator holds its place among the various ways to make coffee while camping. While they may add a little bulk and some weight to your pack, using a kettle-style percolator is environmentally friendly as it requires no paper.
Simply add water to the lower chamber, a suitable amount of grounds in the upper chamber, and set over a fire or burner. Let it percolate for about seven minutes and then rest for two to three minutes more. Remove the small basket in the kettle that holds the grounds and it’s ready to drink.
Using a French Press is another simple, straightforward method. Again, if you can spare a little added bulk and weight with the press, a bag of coffee, and a way to boil water, you’re almost guaranteed good taste with every cup. While the water is boiling, add about two to three fingers worth of grounds to the press. Pour in your boiling water, let stand for five minutes, press, and drink. Jetboil makes a great French Press-style system that’s designed specifically for camping.
If you’re car camping, have the means for coffee-making equipment that requires electricity, and must start your day with a quality cup of coffee, then the portable espresso machine is for you. Simply plug, make, and pour. If the machine comes equipped with a frother, bring milk to make lattes or cafe au lait. If you think your friends will be unimpressed. Guess again. A quality coffee drink on a cold morning before a hunt is something of a luxury non-hunters couldn’t understand.
Let’s circle back to the to-go cup real quick as an important reminder. You could always carry a simple mug with you. But if you’re on the go pretty soon after wake up call, having a hot coffee ready to drink when you reach the first glassing spot is somewhat of a reward.