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How to Make Coffee in a Camping Percolator

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Easy Camping Percolator Coffee

Are you getting ready for your next camping trip? You got all the right clothes packed, flashlight, batteries, emergency medical kit, and all that.

Great! How about coffee? No, don’t say you have instant coffee in your bag.

Not good enough! If you’re afraid you won’t manage to make some coffee over the campfire, we have the perfect solution – the Percolator!

Camping and Coffee - The Perfect Combo

It’s great to wake up in a tent, get out and fill your lungs with the fresh air of the forest, admire the scenic view… Wait, before you can admire anything you need some eye-opener, popularly known as coffee.

If you take our advice and bring a percolator with you, making coffee will be as easy as pie! No, unfortunately, making pie over a campfire is not possible, forget we mentioned it!

Choosing the Best Camping Percolator

If you go online and search for percolators, you will find many types of electric percolators. Unless you’re traveling in an RV, you cannot use this, so look for traditional ones that go on the stove.

How big a percolator do you need? If you have a large family or many friends, buy the biggest you can find – some are for 50 fl oz, which should be enough for 8 cups of coffee. Since a traditional cup is 6 fl oz, do the math and buy one that meets your needs.

Some percolators come with a permanent filter in the spout, which is great as it keeps the grounds from sneaking into your cup. If this doesn’t bother you, never mind the filter!

Also, look at the descriptions and try to find one that keeps the coffee warm for a longer period. It could be useful, as a camping trip can be full of surprises and you don’t know when you might need one like this.

How to Clean Your Camping Percolator

If you take good care of your percolator, it will be your companion for many trips to come. Treat it well and clean it as soon as you’ve had your coffee. Disassemble it and clean every part thoroughly. If you wash it in a river, make sure you don’t drop anything in the water.

Let it dry before putting the pieces together and tuck it back in your back-pack. Keeping it in its original box might be a good idea. Also, once a month clean with a water and vinegar solution to remove coffee stains.

OK, you can do this at home, you’re not expected to carry a bottle of vinegar with you on a mountain trail.

Percolator vs. French Press

Some people prefer using a French Press to make campfire coffee and there’s nothing wrong with that. To make the choice easier for you, let’s see how they compare.

The first thing to consider is portability and the percolator wins big time. French Press machines may be great, but the main part of it is made of glass. Carrying a big glass pot on a difficult trail might be risky.

The French Press produces a robust, full-bodied brew, many prefer over percolator coffee which tends to be over-extracted and bitter, but also stronger. Basically, you have to choose between flavor and strength.

On the other hand, a French Press brew is ready in 5 minutes, while a Percolator can take up to 10 minutes. Also, the percolator is easier to clean than a French Press which has a few fiddly parts, definitely not what you want on a camping trip.

How to Make Percolator Coffee on a Campfire

Enough with the talk, let’s start brewing.

1. Start Your Campfire

If you paid any attention during Scouts’ trips you’ll know how to build a fire. If you can use a fire pit grate to place the percolator on top of it that would be great. If not, put it over a bed of coals.

2. Fill Your Percolator

Measure the water. As said, you need 6 fl oz of filtered water per cup. The line of water should not go over the bottom of the spout in any case.

3. Assemble the Basket

A percolator works by forcing boiling water through a long stem into the brew basket where the coffee grounds go. First, attach the basket to the stem, then add the coffee grounds. Remember, the ratio is two tablespoons of coffee per cup. If the basket comes with a filter, put it in its place to keep the grounds from messing around in the brew.

4. Assemble the Percolator

You need to carefully place the stem with the coffee basket inside the percolator pot and close the lid tightly.

5. Start boiling

Put the pot over the fire and wait for the water to boil. Once the water starts boiling, take the percolator away from the direct flame to lower the heat. Let it percolate for 5 to10 minutes. You can use the transparent dome to watch as the coffee darkens, and decide when it has reached the strength you prefer.

That’s all! Bring out the cups and enjoy!

Tips for making perfect campfire coffee

The fact that you’re on a camping trip doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the best possible coffee. If you don’t like black coffee, bring some creamer with you, or even a bit of milk.

Another option is to flavor your coffee. Chocolate syrup would be nice, but maybe it’s too much to carry around, in which case try a little cinnamon.

Just because you’re not going to use a fancy coffee maker doesn’t mean you should buy any coffee. Look for a good brand as it will be harder to ruin even if your brew isn’t perfect. Did you know there are certain brands that a coffee blend made especially for use with a camping coffee percolator?

The coffee percolator is the best option for camping in the wild where there is no source of power. And it’s quite easy if you follow the steps mentioned above.
Don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time. Practice makes perfect.

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