How to Make Camping Coffee

By Ryan Wilson

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how to make camping coffee

There’s something special about waking up while camping and enjoying a steaming cup of coffee as you soak in your picturesque surroundings. 

If you’re like me, having a reliable and easy-to-use coffee maker is a must while camping. 

But how to make camping coffee that actually tastes great requires a coffee maker that can work without electricity and is simple to use and clean.

Because of the popularity of coffee, you’ll have no problem finding a variety of ways for how to make camping coffee.

Among the various options available, a percolator stands out as the quintessential coffee maker for camping. And for good reason because it makes a great cup of coffee when properly used. But other methods can make an exceptional cup of coffee when camping too.

In this guide, I’ll explore the options for how to make camping coffee. I’ll then dive deeper into what a percolator is, how to make coffee while camping with one, and the key considerations when choosing a percolator for your next outdoor adventure.

How to Make Camping Coffee

Making coffee when camping is generally as straightforward as making it at home. The only difference is that you usually won’t have a power source, so a standard drip coffee machine is likely not a viable option.

Thankfully, many of the same devices we use at home also work well for making coffee when camping.

There are three primary types of coffee makers for making a great cup of coffee when camping. Or you can always just use instant coffee!

Pour Over Coffee

Using a filter basket, pour-over coffee is a straightforward method for how to make coffee while camping.

With a filter placed in a filter basket, hot water is poured over coffee grounds, allowing it to slowly drip through and extract the flavors. This method provides a clean and well-balanced cup of coffee, and it’s easy to carry lightweight filter basket and filters when camping.

French Press

A french press is another great way for how to make camping coffee. It involves steeping coffee grounds in hot water and then pressing a mesh plunger down to separate the brewed coffee from the grounds. The French press offers a full-bodied and flavorful cup of coffee and is relatively compact and easy to use in outdoor settings.

Camp Coffee Percolator

A percolator is a traditional coffee-making device that has long been favored by campers. It consists of a pot with a chamber for water and a perforated chamber for coffee grounds.

As the water boils, it is forced up through a tube and filters through the coffee, creating a rich and robust brew.

Percolators are known for their durability and ability to be used over a campfire or camping stove, making them a popular choice for camping enthusiasts. It truly is a great

Camp Coffee Percolator Use

A percolator is a coffee brewing device that consists of a pot with a chamber at the bottom for water and a perforated chamber above it for coffee grounds. 

How does a camping coffee percolator work? As the water in the lower chamber boils, it rises through a small tube and boils over the coffee grounds. This process creates a rich and robust cup of coffee that many camping enthusiasts swear by. 

Percolators are known for their durability, simplicity, and ability to brew coffee over a campfire or a camping stove.

How to Make Camping Coffee with a Percolator

  1. Preparing the Percolator:
    • Disassemble the camp coffee percolator and remove the stem and basket.
    • Fill the bottom chamber with cold water, ensuring it doesn’t exceed the maximum fill line.
    • Place the stem and basket back into the camp coffee percolator, ensuring a snug fit.
camp coffee percolator
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  1. Add Coffee Grounds:
    • Coarsely ground coffee works best for a camp coffee percolator and avoids coffee sneaking through the holes in the filter basket.
    • Measure approximately one tablespoon of coffee per cup of water and add it to the basket.
how to make camping coffee
  1. Assemble and Brew:
    • Ensure that the percolator’s lid is securely attached to the pot.
    • Place the camp coffee percolator on a campfire or camping stove and allow it to heat up.
    • Once the water begins to boil, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
    • Monitor the percolator and brew time. Typically, 6-8 minutes of brewing yields a flavorful cup.
    • You’ll see the color of the brewed coffee in the clear cap on the lid. Use this to monitor if the coffee is strong enough to your liking.
    • If you prefer stronger coffee, allow it to brew for a longer duration.
Note the light light color of the coffee:

It is not ready yet!

After a few minutes of boiling the coffee is darker and ready to drink
  1. Enjoy a Cup of Coffee When Camping

Considerations When Buying a Camp Coffee Percolator

There are several factors to consider when purchasing a camping coffee percolator. 

By carefully evaluating these considerations, you can make an informed decision and find the ideal percolator to meet your camping needs.

  • Size and Capacity:
    • Consider the number of people you’ll be brewing coffee for while camping.
    • Choose a percolator size that matches your group’s coffee consumption.
    • Larger percolators may be heavier and require more space.
  • Construction and Durability:
    • Look for percolators made of sturdy materials like stainless steel or those with an enamel coating.
    • Ensure the handles and knobs are heat-resistant and ergonomic for easy handling.
    • Opt for models with rust-resistant coatings for long-lasting durability.
  • Portability and Weight:
    • Evaluate the portability of the percolator, especially if you’re going on a trip where space is limited. Like a rafting trip.
    • Consider lightweight options or percolators with detachable handles for easier transport.
  • Ease of Use and Maintenance:
    • Choose a camp coffee percolator with simple assembly and disassembly for hassle-free brewing.
    • Look for models with removable parts that are easy to clean, both at home and in the wild.
    • Consider percolators with clear lids or knobs on the lid for monitoring the brewing process.


Making a hot cup of coffee when camping is a great start to your day and can be an important mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

While there are many coffee making devices on the market that are great for making coffee when camping, in my opinion, a camp coffee percolator is the best option

By following my tips on how to use a percolator and you can choose the perfect percolator for your next camping trip and have the knowledge to make a great cup of coffee with it!

Preparing a list of gear for your next camping trip? Take a look at our current gear buying guides to help you make the best choice based on my years of camping experience.

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Ryan is an avid outdoorsman who loves camping, hiking, and backpacking. He was initially reluctant to join the camper world, but after his first camping trip in one, he became a convert. He especially loves how camper ownership extends the camping season and makes it easier to be more adventurous with young kids. When not enjoying his free time, he works as a professional wildlife biologist studying the ecology and conservation of large mammals in Alaska.