How Long Do You Percolate Coffee on a Campfire? – 7 Simple Steps

Percolating Coffee on a Campfire

I understand more than anyone that coffee is an essential tool in those early mornings while camping. It’s perfect for waking you up for the day!

Here’s how you percolate coffee while camping:

  • Build a campfire.
  • Fill your pot.
  • Assemble your basket.
  • Add coffee.
  • Assemble your percolator.
  • Watch it boil.
  • Percolate for 10–15 minutes.

For a more detailed overview of how long to percolate your coffee, read on.

How Long Do You Percolate Coffee on a Campfire? – Percolating Coffee on a campfire

It usually takes 10–15 minutes to percolate coffee, but sometimes it can take as little as five minutes. If you percolate for longer, then your coffee will be stronger.

You won’t get the perfect cup of coffee on your first try, so experiment. Eventually, you’ll be able to tell when your coffee is ready to drink by the color. 

It darkens during percolation, and you’ll learn to recognize when your coffee is dark enough to provide the desired strength and flavor.

Try to stick to one coffee brand, though. Changing your brand will change the taste, so you’ll have to experiment with how long you percolate all over again.

How Do You Make Percolator Coffee? – Percolating Coffee on a campfire

There are several steps to making percolator coffee, but it’s not complex. With practice, you’ll be able to get this process done quickly.

Step #1: Build Up Your Campfire – How to Make Percolator Coffee

To start, you’ll need a campfire that’s not going out any time soon.

If you want to figure out how long do campfires last, then I’ve got an article on that for you, and it’ll give you tips on keeping the fire going for longer.

You don’t need any particular type of campfire for this, but it’ll be easier if it’s one with small flames. That way, you can place your percolator on top of a grate over the firepit.

Step #2: Fill Your Pot – How to Make Percolator Coffee

Once the fire is ready, it’s time to prepare to brew.

A good camping percolator will have a fill line. This line will usually indicate when you’ve filled the percolator with enough for different amounts of coffee (two cups, four cups, etc.)

If your percolator doesn’t have a fill line, then measure 6oz of water per cup of coffee for the perfect drink.

Step #3: Assemble Your Basket – How to Make Percolator Coffee

The basket in your percolator is the part that holds your coffee ground. There’s a long stem that goes into this, and the boiling water passes through this stem when you’re making your coffee.

However, you need to attach the stem and the basket. Your percolator will usually come with instructions on how to do this.

Step #4: Add Coffee – How to Make Percolator Coffee

Once you have your basket assembled, you can add your coffee to it. If your percolator came with a filter, then put that in the basket before the coffee.

Now it’s time to figure out how much coffee works to provide a drink that you enjoy. Usually, two tablespoons of coffee grounds per cup are enough. Although, some people prefer one spoon per two cups, so play with it a little.

Coffee brewing is never an exact science, so play around with your ratios until you discover the one that’s perfect for you.

Step #5: Assemble Your Percolator – How to Make Percolator Coffee

Now that your basket is ready, you can assemble the rest of the percolator. The basket will have a lid, so put that on, and ensure it’s snug. You don’t want a lid that wobbles, as this could lead to splashes and burns.

Your stem and basket will still be attached at this point, so place them into the pot of the percolator.

Step #6: Watch Your Pot – How to Make Percolator Coffee

It’s a common saying that a watched pot never boils, but it does—and you’ll need to keep an eye on your percolator.

Place the percolator over the fire or hot coals, and keep an eye on it until it boils. 

Once it’s boiling, decrease the heat. You can do this by moving the percolator off-center over a fire, raising it higher over tall flames, or lowering the temperature of a camping stove (if applicable.)

Step #7: Wait – How to Make Percolator Coffee

Now that your coffee’s boiling over the low heat, it’s percolating. Watch the coffee boil.

You don’t have to keep your eyes glued to it. Once you reach the five-minute mark, then you should start checking on the coffee every minute or so until it’s boiled for 10–15 minutes.

When the coffee is done, take it off the heat, and hold down the lid with a towel. You don’t want any steam to escape and burn you, and the lid will be too hot to touch.

Now you can serve your coffee. Wash your percolator while you wait for the coffee to cool, as you really don’t want those grounds to dry in and stick. Rinse it well if you can, then enjoy your drink!

Making Coffee in a Percolator Over a Fire

How Do You Know When Campfire Coffee Is Done? – Percolating Coffee on a campfire

Your coffee will pop into the dome in the percolator. This is how you know it’s boiling. Once the coffee is doing this, you know to keep an eye on the coffee. When it darkens to the color of your usual coffee after 10–15 minutes of percolating, then it’s very likely done.

Choosing the Right Camping Percolator – Percolating Coffee on a campfire

There are a few factors to consider when choosing a camping percolator. Let’s take a quick peek at the most important things to look for.

Capacity – Choosing the Right Camping Percolator

If it’s a solo trip, then a percolator that can make one cup of coffee at a time will be fine. However, group trips will require a larger percolator. Make sure you find one that suits your needs accordingly.

Percolators come in a variety of sizes. A small, single-cup percolator will suit a backpacker. These are sometimes hard to come across, though, so look for the smallest one you can find.

Huge groups should consider something like the Texsport Stainless Steel Coffee Pot. You can brew 28 cups of coffee at once!

Materials – Choosing the Right Camping Percolator

Stainless steel percolators are common, and they’re high-quality. Look for stainless steel if you can. Enameled steel and aluminum also work well, but aluminum tends to warp when it gets too hot, so be careful.

Type – Choosing the Right Camping Percolator

Not all percolators are stovetops, and you’ll most likely want a stovetop percolator for camping. This is the kind you can use over the fire.

There are also electric percolators available, and you can choose one of those if you wish. However, it’ll remove the fire-related steps from the tutorial on making percolator coffee.

Most percolators you’ll find are stovetop. Electric percolators just don’t work well for camping, as you’ll need a very long extension cable for it.

Other Ways To Make Camping Coffee – Percolating Coffee on a campfire

If a percolator isn’t your favorite thing in the world, then feel free to try one of these other methods of brewing your coffee!

Drip Coffee – Other Ways to Make Camping Coffee

Pour-over or drip coffee is a fantastic way to make your drink. Boil the water, add the grounds, and pour the coffee over them.

If you have a Chemex at home, then you could bring it on your car camping trips. A camp pour-over coffee set will work better if you’re traveling, though, as it’s less likely to break.

Instant – Other Ways to Make Camping Coffee

I get it—not everyone can tolerate instant coffee. But if you can, pick your favorite brand, and bring it along while camping! It’s always easy to make.

French Press – Other Ways to Make Camping Coffee

Cleaning a French press isn’t fun while camping, but if you’re up for the challenge, then you can make coffee this way.

You pull up the press, add your grounds to the receptacle, add boiling water, and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then press from the top down so the grounds are trapped under a filter. Now you can pour, and wash the French press ASAP.

Moka Pot – Other Ways to Make Camping Coffee

If you have a moka pot or stove top espresso machine at home, then bring it along on your camping trip. You can use a camping stove or fire instead of your stovetop.

You fill the lower chamber with water, then add finely ground coffee into the pot’s middle filter. As the water boils on the fire, it shoots up through the coffee grounds, making your coffee.

Cowboy Coffee – Other Ways to Make Camping Coffee

If you don’t mind a little mess, then cowboy coffee is great. Throw your grounds and water in a receptacle of some kind, and let it sit. Wait until the grounds settle to the bottom of the jar, then carefully pour the coffee into cups.

You might end up with some coffee grounds in your mouth, but if you’re careful, it won’t be a lot.

Percolating Coffee on a Campfire

Conclusion – Percolating Coffee on a campfire

With some prep and 10–15 minutes of percolating, you can have the perfect cup of coffee. Of course, the alternative coffee-making methods work wonderfully, too!

Make sure you get a percolator the right size for you and bring a thermos to ensure your coffee stays hot. There’s nothing worse than cold coffee unless it’s iced coffee in the summer.

Frequently Asked Questions – Percolating Coffee on a Campfire

What are Some Good Percolators to Use While Camping? – FAQs

Here are some of the best coffee percolators for camping:

GSI Outdoors Enamelware Percolator – Made of enamel-coated steel, this classic-looking percolator can brew up to 8 cups of coffee at once. It’s long-lasting, simple to clean, and has a heat-resistant handle for easy pouring.
Coleman Stainless Steel Percolator – Made of rust-resistant stainless steel, this percolator can brew up to 12 cups of coffee at once. The clear knob on top indicates when your coffee is ready, and the wide base helps distribute heat evenly over your campfire.
Texsport Aluminum Percolator – This lightweight aluminum percolator can brew up to 9 cups of coffee at once and is built to last. For added safety, the percolator has an easy-pour spout and a heat-resistant handle.
Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite Percolator – This attractive stainless steel percolator can brew up to 8 cups of coffee at once and features a permanent filter basket that eliminates the need for paper filters. In addition, the percolator has a tight-fitting lid that traps heat inside for faster brewing times.
Stansport Enamel Coffee Pot with Percolator – This tough enamel-coated steel pot comes with a removable percolator insert for brewing coffee over a campfire or stove. It can hold up to 8 cups of liquid and has an easy-pour spout for clean-up.

These coffee percolators are all excellent camping companions because they are long-lasting, simple to use, and produce delicious coffee over a campfire. They’re also built to be safe, with heat-resistant handles or knobs that make them easier to use while hot.

How Do I Wash Dishes While Camping? – FAQS

While camping, we recommend using the three-bucket dishwashing method. It’s a quick and easy way to keep your dishes clean and safe.

This is how it works:

  • Set up three buckets: For this method, you’ll need three buckets: one for washing, one for rinsing, and one for sanitizing. Pour hot water and a few drops of biodegradable dish soap into the first bucket. Fill the second bucket with clean water for rinsing, and the third bucket with bleach or another sanitizer.
  • Wash your dishes: Wash your dishes in the first bucket, beginning with the cleanest items (such as cups and utensils) and working your way up to dirtier items like pots and pans. Scrub each item thoroughly with a scrub brush or sponge, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies.
  • Rinse your dishes: After washing an item in the first bucket, rinse it in the second bucket of clean water to remove any leftover soap or food particles.
  • Sanitize your dishes: After rinsing an item in the second bucket, dip it briefly in the third bucket of sanitizer before setting it aside to dry. This will aid in the killing of any remaining bacteria or germs on your dishes.
  • Dry your dishes: After you’ve washed, rinsed, and sanitized all of your dishes, place them on a clean towel or drying rack to air dry.

The three-bucket dishwashing method is an efficient way to keep your campsite clean and sanitary while minimizing your environmental impact. It is critical to use biodegradable soap that will not harm plants or wildlife if it pollutes nearby streams or lakes. In the third bucket, use bleach or another sanitizer to ensure that all of your dishes are safe to use for your next meal.

So, How do I Clean a Percolator with this Three-Bucket Method? – FAQs

Cleaning a percolator with the three-bucket method is similar to cleaning other dishes, but there are a few extra steps.

Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Dismantle the percolator: Remove any removable parts from the percolator, such as the basket, stem, and lid.
  2. Fill the first bucket halfway with hot water and dish detergent: To the first bucket of hot water, add a few drops of biodegradable dish soap.
  3. Soap up the percolator parts: Scrub each part thoroughly in the soapy water with a scrub brush or sponge, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies.
  4. Rinse each component with clean water: After washing an item in the first bucket, rinse it with clean water in the second bucket to remove any remaining soap or food particles.
  5. Sanitize each part in bleach solution: After rinsing an item in the second bucket, dip it for a few seconds in the third bucket of sanitizing solution. This solution is made by adding a capful of bleach or another sanitizer to clean water.
  6. Reassemble the percolator: Reassemble all parts after they have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
  7. Run one cycle without coffee grounds: After cleaning your percolator, fill it with fresh water and run one cycle without coffee grounds before using it again for your next cup of coffee.

Cleaning your percolator on a regular basis keeps your coffee tasting fresh and prevents buildup that can interfere with its performance over time. You can ensure that your percolator is thoroughly cleaned and safe to use on your next camping trip by using this three-bucket method.

Ben Wann- Tent Camping Expert

My name is Ben Wann, and I’m a lifelong tent camper and backpacker who jumps on every opportunity to get out and enjoy nature! I created this site to inspire others to get outside and to make the process easier for you.