Tag Archives: camp coffee

Camp Coffee: Melitta Style

You’re on a river trip, or  a camp trip, everything’s wonderful. All the logistics and planning are done, all the chaos is behind you and now it’s time to be in the wilderness enjoying yourself.

Steaming cup of Coffee
Steaming cup of Coffee

The first morning you pull yourself from your sleeping bag and wonder where you’re going to get a cup of coffee. Will it be cowboy coffee? instant? Will there even be coffee? Yes there’s coffee and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had.

Just because you’re in the wilderness, doesn’t mean you have to suffer, particularly if you’re on a river trip. Rafts can carry a lot of gear, some of that should be reserved for coffee brewing.

I’ve seen all sorts of ways people brew coffee in the wild. Through much trial and error, the way we do it produces the best cup of coffee.

This is the best way to brew coffee on a raft trip!

Coffee Melitta
Coffee Melitta

We bring a large coffee pot, a large pot to boil water, a ladle, a Melitta, filters, and fresh ground coffee beans (very important to grind the coffee before the trip).

here’s the routine:

In the morning we fill a large pot with fresh water and put it on the stove. If you have a jet burner, that’s the quickest method, but a good old standard camp stove works too, just takes longer.

While the water’s coming to a boil, place the melitta on the coffee pot with a number 4 coffee filter inside. We like our coffee strong so we put a lot of coffee grounds in the filter, not too much though, you don’t want an overflow.

When the water’s at a rolling boil, carefully scoop with the ladle and pour over the coffee grounds. you’ll hear the satisfying drip, then the rush of a steady stream as it starts filling the coffee pot. Keep at it, adding more water as the level allows.


Don’t allow anyone to pour themselves a cup until you have a full pot (beat them back with the ladle). If you pour prematurely, that person’s cup of Joe will be very strong, but everyone elses will be weaker.

As the water drips through the melitta it seeps the nectar from the grounds, so each time the water picks up less and less coffee. It seems obvious but i’ll say it anyway, the first few ladlefulls of water will be stronger coffee than the last few. If you allow the process to continue uninterrupted, the super strong will mix with the weaker and you’ll have a perfect cup of coffee. Be patient, and ruthless!

If you have a big pot of coffee to fill you may have to replace the coffee filled filter with another before you’re done brewing. This is controversial, but there’s a wonderful way to tell when your coffee filter needs to be re-done.

When you’re ladling boiling water into the melitta, you’ll notice the coffee grounds will start to change. At first they float and bubble as the water drips through, then they get saturated and things go along wonderfully.

But eventually the water will take longer to percolate through. You’ll notice the grounds will become almost solid, melted together. You’re getting close to having to start over, but the way to truly know is when the water takes on a glassy, calm lake look.  There may be a bubble that forms. This is a sure sign it’s time to start over. If you continue, you’ll be adding minimal content and almost clear, very weak coffee that takes an age to drip through.

The plusses to this method:  you’ll have a very good cup of coffee…that’s a huge plus.

The minuses: it takes awhile (the person in charge is tied to the job until it’s done), If you didn’t start the process before people have woken, you may have to fight them off until it’s ready. Plan to wake at least 20 minutes earlier than everyone else to allow enough time for a full pot.

I’ve been on lots of river trips and seen all kinds of coffee making methods but I believe for the best cup of coffee, this is the best method. It takes some time and effort, but it’s well worth it in the long run…besides, you’re on the river…what’s the rush?