If you’re a dedicated coffee drinker, you might want to know how to use a camping coffee percolator, along with other camp food preparation options. One of the quickest ways to feel sick on a camping trip is eating unfamiliar food that’s poorly prepared.
With an old-fashioned percolator, you don’t have to settle for instant coffee. You might even find that you like the coffee prepared this way better than the stuff made by your kitchen coffee maker.
Choices of Camp Coffee Percolators
Before learning how to use a camping coffee pot, you need to know their types. Camp coffee percolators come in two basic types: those with a clear glass knob at the top, and those without.
They both work the same way, but the ones with the clear glass knob are a little easier to use. You can purchase your camp percolator by going to the camping section of your local department store or by purchasing a stovetop percolator from the kitchen section of that same store.
Not all stores are created equal, and there isn’t a huge demand these days for percolators, thanks to the prevalence of drip coffee makers and coffee makers that use pre-measured coffee cups. However, it’s still a great way to make coffee while camping easily. If your local store doesn’t carry a camp or stovetop percolator, you can purchase them online from a variety of different sources.
What You Need to Make Your Camp Coffee
- A heat source
- A percolator
- Ground coffee, or coffee beans and a grinder
- A cup for each person drinking coffee (Ceramic preferred. Tin tends to lead to burned lips)
- A potholder or towel
How to Use a Coffee Percolator Camping
So how to use percolator coffee pot camping? Here are the steps you should follow:
- Prepare Your Heat Source: If you’re using a campfire or grill, let the fire burn down until you have a nice bed of coals, with a backlog or two of unburned wood. This produces a steady heat. If you’re using a propane camp stove or tea kettle for camping, set it up so that it’s level, and prepare to light the burner. If you’re using Sterno (sometimes known as canned heat), prepare an elevated place to put your coffee pot, such as an old stove burner top placed on four rocks.
- Prepare the Water: Remove the percolator centerpiece, and fill the pot with water up to the top watermark. This should be just a little way below where the base of the coffee grounds basket will be.
- Use the Heat Source: Place the pot over the heat source, and bring the water in the pot to a boil.
- Add Coffee Grounds: While the water is heating, add two tablespoons of coffee grounds to the grounds basket. Assemble the stem and the basket.
- When the Water is Boiling, Add the Stem and Basket Assembly: Carefully open the lid. Holding the assembly by the top of the stem, gently place it into the coffee pot.
Note: If you prefer, you can put the water, the basket assembly and the grounds in the pot at the same time. It tends to make a stronger, more bitter cup of coffee.
- Watch the Pot as It Perks: If you have the kind of percolator that has the clear, glass knob at the top, you’ll be able to see the coffee start to bubble up into the knob. When it reaches the color of the coffee desired, your coffee is ready to drink. If your pot doesn’t have this knob, listen for the distinctive “glurp, glurp” sound of the water as it bubbles up through the grounds. Pour a little of your brew into a cup to check its color.
- Remove the Coffee Basket Assembly from the Pot.
- Pour the Finished Coffee Through a Strainer: One of the disadvantages of a percolator is that you will get some coffee grounds in the lower part of the pot. This is especially true if you get too much water in the pot. Straining the coffee means that you don’t have to strain it through your teeth or pick bits of coffee out of your cup.
- Be Patient: Wait a minute or two, or cool your coffee down with some tinned milk or reconstituted creamer. Coffee prepared with a percolator will be much hotter than coffee that has been made using a drip coffee maker or similar coffee machine.
- Enjoy Your Cup of Coffee in a coffee mug for winter camping.
You Don’t Have to Go Camping to Enjoy a Camping Coffee Percolator
Before drip coffee percolators, a percolator was the high-tech method of brewing coffee. An even older method was to simply throw a few grounds in the pot or to pour hot water through the coffee grounds. Percolators tend to make a strong, bitter brew.
You can use a coffee percolator on your stovetop at home if you discover that you prefer the flavor and strength of coffee brewed using the percolator method.
- Fun Fact: The first drip coffee maker was invented in 1954 by Gottlieb Widmann. It was called the Wigomat.
- 2nd Fun Fact: The coffee percolator was invented in 1880 by Hanson Goodrich.
- 3rd Fun Fact: Before percolators or drip coffee makers, coffee was often made by putting the grounds and cold water into a pot.
It was then brought to a boil. Stories of that time say that floating an eggshell on the top of the coffee would cause the grounds to settle.
You don’t have to wait until you go camping to use your camping coffee percolator to learn how to use a camping percolator. Your percolator can be used on any sort of heat source, but a nice bed of coals at the edge of your campfire might be best.
If you start your eggs and bacon at the same time as your coffee, you can probably have your coffee ready to drink with your breakfast. Remember, coffee made in a percolator will be hotter than that made in a coffee maker, and don’t forget to strain the grounds out of the coffee.
It might be tempting to do a few camp chores while the coffee perks, but you could wind up with an extra-strong batch that way.