How To Use A Coffee Percolator Camping

Coffee drinkers (and coffee addicts) unite! While your campsite of choice may not come complete with a friendly barista ready to make your latte just how you like it, a camping coffee percolator is a worthwhile and useful alternative!

Rather than changing over to instant coffee and dealing with the potential stomach troubles that come along with that, you can use a camp-friendly coffee percolator that’ll deliver tasty liquid gold whenever you need a pick-me-up.  

What Are The Different Types Of Camping Coffee Percolators?

Camping coffee pots come in two distinct styles. Glass knob camping coffee percolators provide a clear view of your coffee as it percolates. Your concoction will begin to bubble up into the knob as it heats up, and you can look at the color to judge whether it needs more time or it’s ready to drink.

The second style of camp coffee percolator comes without a glass knob. These are a little trickier to use as you don’t have a window into the color of your caffeine boost as it cooks. Instead of watching the color change, you have to listen for the slurping sound of the percolator. At that point, you can pour out little bits of coffee as you go to see if it’s how you want it. 

All of this is well and good, but it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t figure out how to use the dang thing! Let’s walk you through how to use a coffee percolator while camping, step-by-step to ensure your morning cup is just how you like it. 

two green mugs of hot coffee overlooking a campsite

9 Steps To Make A Perfect Cup Of Joe With A Coffee Percolator

  1. Get Things Heated Up And Ready To Roll

To get your coffee percolator going, you’re going to want an exact and steady source of heat. If you’re going old-school and using a campfire, burn the fire down to a bed of coals — using bits of wood when necessary to maintain an even burn.

For those using canned heat, elevate your percolator with the help of four rocks and an old stove burner. And for those who prefer propane camp stoves, just make sure that the apparatus is level before you light it up.

  1. Fill Your Percolator With Drinking Water

Be sure to use safe drinking water from your packed-in cache or filtered from whatever water source you prefer. While heat can help with distillation to a point, there’s no use risking getting sick for a cup of coffee or two.

To fill up your percolator, remove the centerpiece and pour in water to the highest watermark. On most percolators, this mark will be located just below the base of the basket reserved for coffee grounds. 

  1. Move Your Percolator Onto Your Heat Source

Securely place your percolator onto the top of your preferred heat source. Make sure that you have a stable spot to rest the percolator so it doesn’t fall over while cooking. 

Also, make sure that the coffee grounds basket and stem assembly is not in the percolator when boiling the water. Leave your camping coffee percolator as is until the water comes to a boil.

  1. Add Your Coffee Grounds The Way You Want ‘Em

Two tablespoons of coffee grounds are usually plenty for a strong cup of coffee. However, you can use that as a baseline and tinker with the formula if you want a stronger or weaker cup to taste. 

After adding your grounds to the basket, put together the stem and basket combo. If you’re unsure of how to do this, consult the included instruction manual. It should be pretty easy to accomplish without help, but you have the option if you need it.

hot cup of coffee keeping warm over a campfire
  1. As Your Water Boils, Add In The Stem And Basket

Once the water in the camping coffee percolator comes to a boil, gingerly open the lid and place the coffee grounds basket into the unit with the help of the stem.

You can skip this step if you want and boil the water with the basket/stem combination and coffee grounds in place. However, this will make for a bitter and overpowering flavor profile. If that’s what you’re looking for, feel free to boil the water with the coffee grounds and basket in place!

  1. Watch Your Percolator Percolate

This is where the glass knob camp coffee percolators come in handy. If you have a model with a knob, you can simply look at it and gauge the color of your coffee as it brews. Once it’s at your desired color, you’re ready for your morning jolt.

For those using an older coffee percolator without a knob, wait for the slurping sound and pour out just a little bit here and there to check the color. 

  1. Take Out The Basket And Put It In A Safe Spot

Safely remove the basket and stem assembly from the percolator, taking care to place it on a solid surface. If the coffee grounds fall over and onto the ground, you may have some very interested animal friends looking to visit you later to see what all the good smells are about. 

Toss the coffee grounds into your compost bag or a campsite-provided dumpster. Do your best to minimize the mess for the benefit of yourself, fellow campers, and wildlife in the area. 

  1. Strain Your Coffee To Remove Excess Grounds

Coffee percolators are a fantastic invention, but they do have their drawbacks. One of those drawbacks is that loose coffee grounds often settle at the bottom of the pot, making for some jarring grit and lumps in your cup.

Bring a small strainer along with you and use that to strain excess grounds from the pot. Your taste buds will thank you!

  1. Let It Cool And Enjoy!

If you’re used to coffee shop coffee delivered at a drinkable temperature or even a homemade brew with a normal coffee machine, just remember that coffee percolators deliver the goods in a much hotter form.

Cool down your cup with some creamer or tinned milk and let it sit for a bit. We all crave that first kick of caffeine, but we don’t need to scorch our tongues to get it!

Camping coffee percolators are easy to use and deliver high-quality brews in just a few minutes or so. With a good percolator in your pack, you may never want to go to a Starbucks again!


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