Percolated Coffee
Recipe type: Coffee
Cuisine: Camp Cooking
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
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Drip and press coffee making systems have taken over the world, but for a long time percolating coffee was the most common way to make it – especially when camping. It takes longer than drip coffee making, and you don’t have the grounds all bound up in a paper filter for easy disposal. Yet there is an appeal to tradition. Few moments of a camping day are as enjoyable as zipping back into your sleeping bag and listening to the perk of coffee on the cook stove or campfire. Just like an old-fashioned, corded countertop telephone, it’s entirely possible there are people who have never seen or experienced a percolating coffee pot. Basically, it’s a tall pot, usually with a glass bulb atop the metal lid. Inside there’s a strainer basket suspended on the top of a hollow metal stem. It’s held upright by a slightly domed metal base. You put the ground coffee in the strainer basket and cover it with the strainer top. This whole contraption fits in the pot you’ve partially filled with water. Then you snap the coffee pot lid in place, and put the pot on the stove to come to a boil. When the water begins to boil, you’ll see it bubble into that glass bulb on top and you’ll begin to hear the “perking” sound. You then turn down the heat to just keep the percolation going at a slow rate. Inside the pot, boiling water and steam is forced up the center stem and out its top. It splashes on to the strainer and filters down through the coffee grounds and back into the water. The repeated process makes stronger and stronger coffee the longer it percolates. When you go to REI or Cabela’s to buy a camping coffee pot, along side the French presses and collapsible drip cones, you’ll find old-fashioned percolator pots. They are nostalgic and make some darn good coffee – especially if you like it strong. Percolating perfect coffee is a learned skill. It takes some practice, but once you get it down, you’ll love the caffeinated results!
  • Percolating coffee pot with strainer, stem and bulb.
  • Fresh water
  • 2 Tbsp. regular grind coffee for each 8 oz. water in the pot
  1. Fill pot with enough water so it’s just below the level of the bottom of the strainer basket.
  2. Place the strainer on its stem into the pot.
  3. Place two heaping tablespoons of regular grind coffee into the strainer basket for each cup of water in the pot.
  4. Put the top on the strainer basket, and then the lid on the pot.
  5. Set on the heat and wait for it to boil. Watch and listen carefully, because it can boil over easily.
  6. When it’s boiling, move the pot to the edge of the fire or turn down the heat to low.
  7. Allow the coffee to percolate slowly for at least 5-10 minutes. Remember the longer you percolate it, the stronger the coffee will be.
Recipe by 50 Campfires at