Getting started with coffee outside for free or cheap

Could it get any better than being out in nature AND having a warm cup of Joe in hand? Hyperbole aside, coffee outside is a staple for a good time in my book. Whether it’s with a group or solo, I always look forward to some java after a chilly night’s rest at camp or during a long winter ride. Want in on that coffee outside game? While some riders can certainly have fancy schmancy set ups, you can get started for free or cheap!

First things first. Ya need some beans – this part is the only thing that will likely not be free. If you intend on brewing coffee, be sure to bring a grinder or grind the beans at home. Instant coffee or espresso is another option and removes the need to have a means to brew coffee.

Not that you have your coffee, you need the gear. A basic portable coffee set up includes: a pot, a stove, a brewer and a cup. With options ranging from free to $$$, you’re sure to find a coffee outside set up that meets your budget!


coffee outside stove

Free: Wood burning can stove (some tools needed)

Cheap: Soda Can Camp Stove + denatured alcohol ($5, from a local hardware or big box store)

Cheap-ish: Generic compact backpacking stove, available through various online retailers or in a local camp store (they typically range from $7-$14, and would require a $3 butane stove)

$$$: An MSR Pocket Rocket ($45) and butane tank ($4)


coffee outside kettle

Free: A small pot, kettle or metal cup from home

Cheap: A thrift store pot or kettle (<$5)

Cheap-ish: Backpacking camp pot like this one ($12)

$$$: JetBoil (which includes an insulated pot – $80)

Don’t forget to have a way to pick the pot up off the stove, like a cloth napkin or pot holder!


Free: Put the grounds right in your kettle, aka: Cowboy Coffee

Cheap: Coffee sock ($5, found in the Badia section of most grocery stores)

Cheap-ish: Pour over filter-less strainer ($5 – $20)

$$$: AeroPress ($30)

Be sure you have a way to dispose of your grounds using Leave No Trace principles.


coffee outside mug

Free: A cup for hot drinks from home

Cheap: An enamel camp mug ($2)

Cheap-ish: An insulated mug ($5-$10)

A little bit about my set up:

As an avid outdoors woman, I’ve had many a year to refine my coffee outside set up. What will work best for you is a pretty personal thing but here is what I have found that works for me!

Stove: A Pocket Rocket that I got for free from a friend and a butane tank. I love how small and portable this set up us!

Pot: A green enamel tea kettle I bought from a thrift store. I love this kettle since it makes pouring the water out easy and the pot is damn near indestructible.

Brewer: Aeropress. After breaking many a glass french press carafe at home, my partner and I now exclusively use AeroPresses at home and for camping. They make great coffee quick and are SUPER easy to clean up with is perfect for camping in remote locations where washing dishes is more of a challenge.

Cup: A $6 generic Yeti type tumbler. I’m a slow drinker so I needed a cup that kept my coffee warm for a longer period of time. The smallest Magellan Outdoors mug from Academy Sports is also the perfect size to fit the AeroPress.

If you are an all the bells and whistles kinda rider, you can always build up your EdgeRunner to be a portable coffee shop 😉

coffee outside xtracycle