The Art of Campfire Coffee, Scout Master Approved

There are few things as comforting as a warm cup of coffee in the morning as you stomp off the chill of the night. Campfire coffee is an art that, once mastered by the adventurer, will bring countless hours of happiness. Here are some time-tested as well as modern methods of pulling the perfect cup-o-joe off the beaten path. 

Be well,


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Boy Scout Coffee Pot
A stock photo, but I swear I have the same beat up old pot

If you are going to adventure, coffee or tea will likely fill the wet, cold, tired moments with a little bit of warmth and cheer. I can’t tell you a time when things did not seem better after a cup-o-joe was tightly lodged in my paw. Even a warm summer morning seems better with a warm beverage to help you shake the chill of the night as you roll out of your bag to watch the sunrise.

But, not all adventures come with a hip coffee spot and a wicked barista to pull you the smoothest latte of your life. So, what are you to do in the back country? Fear not, you are not the first to ask…and we have the answer. 

I recall Randy Kohler, Dave Graves, and Marv Peterson huddled around the campfires of my youth cradling a cup of coffee in their hand telling stories. Always in the fire was coffee being made by the preferred method. Between these three Scout Masters there was at least 100 years of woodcraft knowledge and I learned a thing or two, not least of which included the “Art of Campfire Coffee”

Here is Randy’s favorite method for making campfire coffee, often recited to us as we watched him sip the latest batch of bubbling brew…

“Take your cleanest dirty sock, pour in the correct amount of your favorite coffee, and drop it in your boiling water. Why not your clean sock? Because you need to wear that tomorrow.”

Mr. Graves was a bit more refined in his pallet and preferred his coffee without the foot funk of the day’s hike.

The Scout Master Way

Randy’s Fav


Mr. Grave’s Way

A drop of cold water

Marv’s Preference

The “Perc”

Dave would bring his water to a rolling boil in a beat up old pot over a perfectly built and precisely controlled cooking fire of coals and small twigs. He would then reduce the heat to a simmer and add his coffee directly to the water. When the bubbling blackness reached his preference of sludge he would remove it from the fire and add a drop of cold water to settle the grounds and pour his cup off the top.

Marv would simply walk into camp and strike up a conversation good enough that you shared your coffee just to keep him there. However, he did make a mean pot-o-joe. His preference was an old percolator placed directly on the fire. Honestly, to this day this is my favorite way to make coffee. Smooth, full bodied, tinted with just the right amount of woodsmoke and pipping hot!

Titanium Coffee Cup Over The Fire

In my pursuit of ultralight backpacking I have settled on a titanium cup like these Snow Peak Hotlips Titanium Mug to boil my coffee in, just like Mr. Graves. Nice thing about titanium is I can drink from the rim almost immediately because it cools so fast!

Jake brought a neat little jigger on our last over night outing. A French Press for backpacking! His Jetboil has a Jetboil Coffee Press Accessory. I am not sure I would necessarily add it to my pack, but he did rescue us when I just couldn’t get my twig stove to stay lit.  And, I’ll admit it was nice to drink my sunrise coffee without grounds in my teeth.

Jet Boil French Press

Take your pick of sweaty socks, grounds in the teeth, the refinement of the Perc or a cool Jet-Boil french press. No matter how you like to make your coffee, it always tastes better out there. 

Do you have any additions to the “Art of Campfire Coffee”? Leave em in the comments below, we love new ideas. 

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