How to use a Camping Coffee Percolator? [+Video]

How to use a Camping Coffee Percolator? [+Video]

The internet is awash, with millions of users roving the internet searching for new ways to make coffee. One quaint but effective way of doing this is to use a coffee percolator.

Nothing beats a cup of percolator-made Joe when you’re at the campground, trying to recharge and get away from the hustle-bustle frenzy of the city.

No doubt, coffee tastes better when you’re savoring the ambiance of the surrounding countryside and disconnecting from reality. As you can already imagine, there is no coffee shops insight when you’re in the middle of a campground with no electricity. Expectedly, you want to make sure you make the perfect brew with a decent camp coffee maker. It’s necessary to turn your sights to a perco-maker to elevate your camping experience.

How a coffee percolator works

Percolating coffee is one of the oldest methods of extracting coffee in the US. It comes with simple, lightweight, and fuss-free components that make for a fulfilling outdoor experience.

The science of percolator coffee-making is still more straightforward. Water is poured into the pot, and a tube is secured inside it, with a pipe set in place inside it. It is then placed over a stove. As the water boils, it travels up the pipe and splashes down on a basket located midway down the pipe. The basket encases the coffee powder, oozing out a distinct flavor and fragrance as hot water gushes through them. The water falls back to the bottom in a convective cycle until you’re left with a used-up filter and a delicious brew of caffeine goodness.

Percolator fun facts

Fun fact #1: The first drip coffee maker was invented in 1954 by Gottlieb Widman. It was named the Wigomat.

Fun fact #2: the first coffee percolator was designed in 1880 by Hanson Goodrich.

Fun fact #3: before percolators or drip coffee makers, coffee was brewed by adding grounds and cold water into a pot. It was then brought to a boil. Legend has it that suspending an eggshell on top of the mixture makes the grounds settle.

Types of coffee percolators

Stovetop percolators

A stovetop percolator is a natural option when you’re thinking about brewing outdoors. They have no special heating mechanism and must be set on a stove – electric or camping – to boil the water. Stovetop percolators are highly functional but need to be monitored closely as overheating can lead to a bitter extract.

Electric percolators

An electric percolator can be used for camping if there is a power outlet you can connect to. It is suitable for motorhome camping. Electronic percolating pots flips to warming mode when brewing is complete. Since they are electronic, they will halt the brewing procedure when the coffee is just right. This allows for a leveled-out brew, and you don’t have to wait like you’re watching paint dry while at it.


This doesn’t exactly fit into a campground scene, except you are on tour and will be checking in at an RV park that provides microwaving amenities. Otherwise, a microwave coffee camping pot is suitable for home coffee percolation.

How to make campfire coffee with a percolator

Create a heat source

Whether you’re using a campfire and grate, allow the fire to burn until you have a fine pad of low-smoke, red-hot coals with a siding of two unburned wood. This ensures that you’re getting steady heat to brew easily. If you are using a camp stove, you can set it up so it’s level. If you have a Sterno, otherwise called canned heat, create an elevation to place your coffee pot on.

You can position your percolator by suspending it over the heat source with rigidly built frames, place it right on the grate, or even close to the hot coals. Ensure that the percolator is steady and you can completely monitor the exercise.

Prepare the water

Detach the percolator centerpiece, and fill up the pot with water. A suitable level may be below where the place where the bottom of the coffee grounds is situated.

Use the heat source

Place the coffee pot over the heat source, and bring the water to a boil.

Add the coffee grounds

  • While the water boils, add 2tbsp of coffee powder to the basket. Align the stem with the basket.
  • While the water boils, drop the stem and the basket assemblage in.
  • Open the lid carefully, while holding the assemblage by the roof of the stem.

Place it slowly into the coffee pot

You can also add the water into the basket component and the powder in the pot contemporaneously. Doing things this way makes for a more bitter drink.

Observe the coffee in the pot as it spurts

If your percolator comes with a clear, glass knob at the top, you should be able to see the coffee bubbling up into the knob. When the desired coffee hue is reached, your coffee is set and ready for consumption. If your pot lacks this feature, look out for the grubby sound of water as it bubbles out through the powder. You can pour a small amount of your preparation into a cup to view its color.

Pour the prepared drink through a sieve

One of the downsides of a percolator is that you can get some coffee granules on the bottom side of the pot. Sieving the preparation means it’s easy on your teeth or scoops powdery remnants out of your cup.

Exercise patience

Coffee made with a coffee percolator is hotter than those made with an espresso maker or any coffee-making device. Allow the brew to cool down for a minute or two, or add milk or cream to lower its temperature.

Best Coffee Percolator Brands

There are so many percolator brands out there. So many that a buyer will have to narrow them down.

Cook N Home 8-Cup Stainless Steel

Forged from the mirror and galvanized stainless steel. This is one of the best-rated models for camping in the market. Enough for 8 cups. It is the perfect measure for any camper. It works well on all stovetops and traps heat. Users have hinted that it lasts year after year, making it a worthwhile investment.


  • Dimensions: 5″ × 8″ × 8″
  • Weight: 1.7 lbs
  • One piece feature that eliminates the possibility of leaks
  • Mirror-polished stainless steel gives it stylish finish
  • Clear plastic knob that allows you to view the drink as it brews
  • Comfortable handle remains cool even when subjected to immense heat
  • For multivariate uses including tea-making and water boiling

What we liked

  • Adequate camping size
  • One piece design lowers the risk of leaks
  • Dishwasher safe

What could be better

  • Some people favor a glass knob in lieu of the plastic knob

Coleman Percolator

The Coleman 12 Cup Stainless Steel Percolator Coffee Maker is larger than most others, delivering 12 cups. The top of the coffee maker is made of glass instead of plastic. Coleman comes with larger pot size, has a strong glass top, and is made of heavy-duty stainless steel.


  • Dimensions: 6.43″ × 8.57″ × 9.50″
  • Weight: 0.1 lbs
  • Stainless steel

What we liked

  • Large capacity; hold 12 cups at once
  • Irreplaceable glass knob
  • Lightweight and sturdy
  • Corrosion resistant
  • Easy to clean

What could be better

  • The price; it’s an expensive model
  • Too large for an individual camper or a small party

Coletti Bozeman Coffee Pot

This coffee pot is made of 18/8 stainless steel. The stovetop-type model pulls out a richer, more robust flavor that leaves you with an outstanding cup of Joe. Bozeman is a 9-cup percolator that gives you the feeling of cooking over a stove.


  • Dimensions: 8.0″ × 4.8″ × 7.8″
  • Weight: 2.4 lbs
  • Glass cover knob and handle
  • Stylish design
  • 18/8 steel
  • Dishwasher-safe product

What we liked

  • Withstands all preparation temperature conditions
  • Filters accompany the device; though it may not be essential
  • All profits go to charity

What could be better

  • Product wears out after a while

Stanley Camp Percolator

This stainless steel appliance brews fresh coffee to up to 6 cups, making it the darling of any camp-goer. This refreshed design from Stanley is easy to clean, lightweight, and easy to carry when camping or hiking.


  • Dimensions: 8.1″ × 8.5″ × 4.6″
  • Weight: 1 Ibs
  • Delivers a family-size brew of 6 cups
  • Stainless steel model
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Lifetime warranty

What we liked

  • Hard-wearing durability
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Silicone handle ensures you don’t get hurt

What could be better

  • Excessively lightweight; may tip over if not well-balanced
  • Hinge feels loose on the lid

Faberware 50124 Classic Yosemite Stainless Steel

This classic coffee brewer is made from premium-quality stainless steel. It has a plastic bubble atop that notifies you that the coffee is percolating. There is an irremovable filter basket on the inside so that you needn’t worry about filter papers. Its dishwasher-friendly design allows for easy cleaning.


  • Dimensions: 9.2″ × 8.7″ × 7.0″
  • Sleek, traditional look
  • Holds 4 to 12 cups
  • Lifetime guarantee

What we liked

  • Irremovable perco filter
  • Clear glass knob allows you to know when percolation starts

What could be better

  • 12 cup capacity may be overboard when you’re carrying other camping equipment

Stansport Aluminum Percolator

This bubbly campground product is made of rust-protected polished aluminum. However, it feels thinner than most campfire coffee makers. The percolator stem and basket, also made of aluminum, are also added. It has a top handle instead of a side handle, a thoughtful design as campfires burn the hands when attempting to handle them from the side. The Stansport camping model comes in two versions: one that makes nine-cup servings and another that makes twenty cups.


  • Dimensions: 8.5″ × 8.2″ × 6.8″
  • 9-cup and 20-cup serving capacity
  • High-gloss polished aluminum

What we liked

  • Bail handle
  • Lightweight

What could be better

  • No measurement lines
  • Too light for long-term use
  • Secondary handle is redundant


How long does it take to percolate coffee?

Coffee percolation is a very practical method that requires close attention to properly complete. It typically takes 5 to 8 minutes to brew percolate coffee, depending on your method and how strong you want your concentrate to be. Overall, don’t percolate coffee for more than 10 minutes. It burns the brew giving you a bitter, scorched taste.

As you brew, you need to check to see that your kettle is not dispelling any steam, as this means that the water is boiling and over-wetting the grounds. To avoid this, increase the temperature and lower the heat intermittently before boiling starts.

What are the most important features of a camping coffee pot?

  • Stainless steel
  • Aluminum
  • Baked ceramic

Overall, the best-performing percolation devices are stainless steel, while the less pricey ones are made from aluminum. As you may already know, backcountry camping pots should not be used in or around the campfire to avoid disfigurement.

How many cups of coffee can a percolator make?

Generally, a percolation pot can appear in three sizes:

  • 8 cup
  • 9 cup
  • 12-14 cup

Now, a cup refers to the traditional cup. Many newer versions of camping cups are considerably larger than the traditional cups and contain two traditional mugs. As a rule of thumb, the higher the volume, the denser the pot.

Larger percolators usually have a bigger grill, metal grate, and a solid camping hook. An even larger percolator enables you to be more self-reliant while camping than a battery-powered coffee maker or a camping coffee maker.

What’s the difference between a percolator and a cafetiere?

The cafetiere, also known as the French press, is an appliance used for making coffee via infusion. Hot water is poured into the coffee grounds and is left to soak for a while. Infusion brewing is the oldest method of extracting coffee.

The cafetiere comprises a container and a glass flask, a plunger, and a metallic sieve. The grounds are placed at the base of the flask, and hot water is poured in. The mixture is allowed to stand for a while, and the plunger is pressed down. The coffee can then be served directly. The taste and concentration of the coffee can be altered by changing the grind size of the coffee granules and the duration of time spent steeping.

On the other hand, a percolator is a 19th-century creation, developed for the brewing of coffee by percolation and not by infusion, which is already widespread. It simply involves running water through ground coffee to sequester the flavors instead of seeping it like the infusion approach.

The percolator comprises so many parts, the basket, bucket, filter, and cap. Essentially, it works by using the cyclical action of steam pressure from boiling water at the bottom of the pot to force water through a funnel into a basket containing the coffee grounds, where it percolates back into the pot. So long as it is on a heat source, the coffee is recycled through the granules to make it more concentrated and sour.

The percolator is a notable relic of coffee-making in America. It has been the most pervasive form of brewing coffee until the 70s when it was replaced by the Mr. Coffee Electric Drip Coffee Maker.

What type of coffee do you put in a percolator?

Medium-roast coffee is the best for a percolator pot. A dark roast may be too sour or give a burnt taste, while the nuances of a light roast are diminished during the distillation process.

To avoid seeing grounds in your perco-made coffee, it’s better to use a coarse grind than a fine grind. Also, using freshly ground coffee is better than anything from the grocery store.

Can a coffee percolator be used for other things?

Yes, a camping pot is not used to make coffee alone. It can also be used to:

  • Make coffee or boiling water
  • Heat soup
  • Make hot cider
  • Boil water for boiled sausages

The essential thing to keep in mind is to keep your camping toolkit portable to maximize usage through diversification. Compatibility means you don’t have to travel or hike with a lot of equipment. Think about it: why pack a tiny percolator and a pot to heat water when a large coffee pot can do both?

Also, you’ll need a travel coffee grinding tool alongside a coffee flask. It would help if you had a grinder at the camp to distill the best coffee because the oil in the coffee beans stays fresh when the beans are still whole.

How to Use it (Video)

Final thoughts

Truth be told, a cup of coffee tastes better when prepared over a campfire than anywhere else. It heightens the experience for all. Get a camping coffee maker today. There is nothing better than waking up to a hazy morning after nighttime under the stars.