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How to Use a Camp Coffee Percolator

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If you’re shopping for the best coffee maker, you may wonder if a camping percolator is suitable for you. The beauty of a camping percolator is that it makes strong coffee and doesn’t require a power source. In addition, you only need a fire or camp stove to heat water for your cowboy coffee. However, while the brewing process isn’t overly complicated, it isn’t as convenient as instant coffee or a drip maker. So, if you want a cup of coffee for your next camping trip, read our guide. We will teach you how to use a camp coffee percolator.


  • Get some freshly ground coffee and fill your percolator with fresh water.
  • Fill the upper chamber with coffee and place it in the percolator pot.
  • Allow 10 minutes for the coffee to percolate before removing it from the burner.

What is a Camp Coffee Percolator?

A percolator consists of three parts: the percolator pot, filter basket, and pump stem. We’ll want a stainless steel model and possibly a camping stove for a cup of camp coffee. That said, this brewing method is just acceptable over a campfire. Consider learning how to use a coffee maker if you want a more straightforward method of coffee brewing.

If you’re interested in percolator coffee at home, consider learning how to use an electric percolator. You can take an electric percolator camping with you as well just keep in mind you may need an inverter to run it. Don’t worry, we have an excellent article that covers that so don’t have to wonder “how big of an inverter do I need to run a coffee maker?” Your electric percolator won’t have the smokey taste of a cup of camp percolator coffee. Still, it will be stronger than the average brew from a drip coffee maker.

Ands if you have ever wondered which is better for your use case we have an article on the differences between french press coffee vs percolator. Or if you want to know more about some single-serve alternatives, you can check out our comparison of Aeropress vs Keurig.

Insider Tip

Do not use too few tablespoons of coffee, or else you’ll end up with a drink that only tastes of hot water.

How to Make Coffee with a Camp Percolator

Tools: Gas stove (optional), fire, coarse ground coffee, camping coffee percolator

STEP 1 Fill the Camping Coffee Pot

Fill the boiling chamber with water. Use enough cups of water to fill it, but do not go past the fill line.

STEP 2 Fill Brew Basket with Coffee Grounds

Fill the grounds basket, but do not tamp down the beans. If you’re using pre-ground coffee, use a paper filter to avoid a cloudy drink. Once you have enough coffee, slide the basket assembly into the percolator and close the basket lid.

STEP 3 Boil Water

Place the percolator in the fire or on the camping stove and wait for the water to bubble. Do not let the water boil, or it will affect the taste of your drink.

STEP 4 Move the Camping Percolator

Once you notice bubbling water, remove the percolator from the flame. Set the pot of coffee to the edge of the fire or off the stove.

STEP 5 Let the Pot of Coffee Brew

Your coffee should brew in about 10-15 minutes. That said, watch the bubble spot for a change of color. When the glass is a brown color, the coffee is made.

STEP 6 Serve and Enjoy

Now you can serve the drinks, but be careful of the steam from the hot coffee.


Be careful when dealing with boiling water. Exposure to the steam can cause burns to your hands.


What kind of coffee do you use in a camping percolator?

For flavorful cups of coffee, use medium-roast coffee beans and use coarser grounds than if you were making regular ground coffee.

How long do you let coffee percolate in a percolator?

You should remove the brewing chamber from the hot coals after about 10 minutes. Pay close attention to the bubble spot and when it changes color.

How do you make iced coffee when camping?

The best way to enjoy iced coffee on a camping trip is to make it before you go. That said, if you are in a pinch, use any coffee brewing method and let it cool before adding ice.

STAT: According to a survey from Gallup, Americans making $30,000 or less per year reported drinking 58% more coffee than the wealthiest respondents. (source)

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