How to Use a Camping Percolator

How to Use a Camping Percolator

(Last Updated On: June 30, 2016)

Nothing like a mug of pumping hot coffee can make your camping holiday more enjoyable. Suddenly, life on the trails becomes easier, and the stimulation that you get from the caffeine gives you the energy to start your day just right. But you cannot enjoy your coffee on the trails if you do not know how to use a percolator when camping. However, after reading this article, you will become a pro user of the percolator.

What does a percolator look like?

Before you even know how to use a percolator, one thing that you must know is the parts that make up this coffee pot. There are just a few parts, nothing frightening:

  • The basket
  • The stem
  • Basket lid
  • The coffee pot and its lid

Percolator parts

Firstly, what is a coffee percolator? Well, we could say many things about it, but the one thing that will pop into your mind when you see it is its simplicity. It looks so traditional, so effectively simple yet it is the kind of appliance that will stand the rigors of the campsite.

The best coffee percolator for camping is the traditional coffee pot, simple in design and so easy to use. Now, when you go looking for information about how to use a coffee percolator online, you will find images of a modern, electric operated coffee percolator. Do not fall for that one since it is not ideal for camping and furthermore, you may find yourself in an area where you cannot access electricity.



The kind of percolator that you want is the traditional one, you know, the kind of thing that a cowboy would have used on the prairies, alone on a lonely night over a small wood fire. From this alone, you can deduce that the percolator we are talking about here is just a traditional coffee pot.

Simple percolator

How to use a percolator requires no formula at all. Just make a wood fire, wait until the wood burns down to red-hot coals, then pour coffee grinds and water into your percolator, cover it and then place it on the coals to boil.

Firstly, you will be required to measure the ingredients, that is, coffee and water mostly, which will depend on the number of people drinking the coffee and how many servings they are going to have. Sometimes, when it is cold and you have nowhere to go other than sit around the coal fire and swap stories, you will want to make more coffee.

Step-by-step instructions for how to use a camp coffee percolator

You have reached the campsite, it is cold and you need a caffeine-filled coffee to stimulate your energy and your mind too. Luckily, you brought your coffee maker with you. You will be surprised at how easy it is to make coffee at the campsite, and better yet, the traditional way.

  1. You will need to make a campfire. Get that wood burning until it starts breaking up into coals.
  2. Create a coal bed now. This is simple. Beside the campfire, just dig a small hole, about 6 inches (~15 cm) deep and about 12 inches (~30 cm) wide.
  3. With a shovel, transfer the burning coals to the coal pit. You now have your coals ready. You need to get the camping coffee percolator ready, and your ingredients too.
  4. You have already unpacked your coffee percolator and you have water standing by. The percolator should have its own measurements, you know, up to what level you can fill it with water. However, even if it does not, about 6 oz (~180 ml) of water should be enough for one cup of coffee.
  5. Get your coffee now. This should be about 2 tablespoonfuls of ground coffee per cup of water. Thus, if you have measured 6 cups of water, that should be 12 teaspoonfuls of coffee. Place the coffee in the basket and then cover it tight with its lid.
  6. Place the basket on the stem, tighten the lid and then place the coffee basket inside the pot with the water. Gently place it on the hot coals and as you wait for it to boil, you can prepare the cream, the sweetener and the milk.
  7. Once it starts boiling, get your coffee out of the fire. It is ready. You should not let it boil over. Your coffee is ready to serve and drink, piping hot and delicious. Now, that is how to use a percolator coffee pot. Easy, isn’t it?

But there is another option apart from the traditional coal coffee pot. If you are going with your RV, then you can carry along your electric coffee percolator and just plug it in the kitchen and boil your coffee. Unlike the traditional stainless steel coffee maker, you will find many options for the electric variety in the market.

Electric coffee pot

Choosing the best coffee percolator pot

As you will definitely see when you go online to look for a coffee percolator for camping, you will find many brand names out there. They all claim to be the best thus making it a daunting task to pick the best one. However, here are a few pointers for buying as well as how to use a camping percolator.

  1. Read reviews. You should be careful here because the home coffee percolators are different from the camping ones. Luckily, there is a lot of information about this. As you seek to know everything about using a percolator, be keen to look at the features.
  2. Know what you want. Knowing how to use camping percolator is not enough. You still need to know what kind of percolator will be most applicable to your situation. For example, if you prefer making coffee the traditional way, then the most appropriate coffee maker for you is the traditional one that you can use on coal fire as we have discussed above.
  3. If you will camp inside your RV, look for an electric coffee percolator, just as the one you have at home. However, look for the one that is designed for camping since that will be hardy and can withstand the rigors of packing, unpacking, weather elements and so on. Some of the most popular brands include Farberware, REI, large and small GSI JavaDrip coffee makers for camping coffee percolators.
  4. Consider the features of the camping coffee percolator. For example, the one with a permanent filter in the spout will ensure that no grounds get into your cup. However, the beauty of drinking coffee camping-style is to have to spit the grounds out of your mouth.
  5. How big would you like your coffee percolator to be? Some are for 30 ounces (~0.9 l), some for 50 ounces (~1.5 l). If you are a large family, you will want to buy a big one. If it is just you and your partner, buy a smaller camping coffee percolator.
  6. Some camp coffee percolators are known for their ability to keep the coffee warm for a long time. Buy such so that you can make a lot at a go and drink it for some time. However, the good thing with a stainless steel over-the-coal coffee maker is that you can keep it near the hot coals all the time to keep the coffee piping hot.

How to clean and maintain your camping percolator

It is a hard economy and you want to live as frugally as you can. One of the ways to do that is to bear in mind a few important things like; how do you use a percolator for the longest time possible? Well, this depends on the kind of care and maintenance that you give your coffee pot. The good thing is that the camping percolators are very easy to maintain.

  1. Firstly, when you are done cooking, disassemble your coffee maker. Take out the basket, the stem, and then clean everything thoroughly.
  2. Clean the pot thoroughly. You will know when it is clean because it is made of stainless steel and therefore when it gets that sparkle and sheen, you will know it is good.
  3. Dry the percolator and its parts on a drying rack until they are completely moisture free.
  4. Pack your percolator, just the same way you had it packed when you were going camping. If you take good care of your percolator, it will serve you for a long time to come.
  5. Do not just find out how to use camp coffee percolator. Also find out how to clean it thoroughly such that it rises to the cooking occasion all the time. While the electric coffee makers may require more time and care to clean, the camping percolators just need a thorough cleaning once per month with water-vinegar solution to get rid of the coffee stains.
  6. When done with camping, store your coffee percolator in its box if you still have it and if you do not, get another sizeable box for it. Anything to keep it safe.
  7. You can also use cleaning solutions that are found in the local supermarkets, but be sure to give the percolator a thorough cleaning every so often because of the stains.

Here is a great video about perculator cleaning:

How to use camp coffee percolator is not a complicated skill if you have the right one. You should never let your love for coffee stop you from going camping when you can make your own there, easily.

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