Stuff You Gotta Have: Great Coffee

percolator 2
December 19, 2010

The percolator: classic coffee goodness!

If you’ve read this month’s article about the things that campers won’t leave home without, you know the number one response from our Facebook fans was this: coffee. And they’re pretty darned specific about the way they want to make it.

The Perks of Coffee

Some, like Michael Lundy, go the old-fashioned route. “We use an old percolator that my mother-in-law had when she camped,” he wrote. “We perk our coffee over a Coleman stove and it is great.” Bob Reid agrees. “I have an old stainless steel percolator with the glass dome on top so I can see when my coffee’s done. It takes awhile, but sure is worth it.”

Nan Ziegler shares her secret for terrific percolated coffee: She says, “Use an 8 cup stovetop percolator, use coffee that is 1/2 Boyers French Vanilla Coffee and 1/2 regular coffee. I then use sugar and a creamer made with 1/2 Mocha Mix (cream substitute) and 1/2 International Coffee Chocolate and Caramel. It is soooooooo good. Plus, I use almost 1/4 less coffee than called for. I like coffee a tiny bit on the weak side, plus really flavourful!”

Not to be outdone, Giuseppe Lipari brings an international flair to his cup. He says, “I bring my Espresso Percolator with Italian coffee and make it in our tent trailer or on the fire. [I] can’t live or speak without it.”

Pressed is Best

Other folks like the ease and flavor that a French press provides. Karen Scott says, “[A] French press is the only way to go.” Nancy Green couldn’t agree more, recommending grinding the beans at home for peak freshness. According to Nancy Junker using the press is easy: “Boil the water in a teakettle outside on grill, firepit, or inside on stove if poor weather. Fabulous for camping mornings!”

“I use a Jetboil Java Pot,” Michael Dyer says. “ It’s a French press with built in burner on the bottom! It will boil two cups of water in a minute. Add the coffee and four minutes later you have two great cups of coffee.”

Dream Machines

“My Mister Coffee.” That’s what Cindy Barta—who also says that she likes her coffee straight black and steaming hot– told us she brings with her every time she camps. “[It’s] not fancy, but it gets the job done. Then I go out and sit in my lawn chair and enjoy the great sites and sounds at KOA campgrounds.” And Cindy’s not alone. “The Mr. Coffee is always packed in the camper,” says Melissa Simpkins. “My husband would go crazy without his daily coffee intake.”

And for those who love the machine but want to make things even easier? We were stunned by how many folks wouldn’t even think about camping without their Keurigs.

“We bring our Keurig and have a selection of about 20 different coffees,” says Mike Ritchie. “ Neighbors have even noticed and liked the idea.”

And a Whole Lot More

What else did campers tell us? Well, we got a fair number of folks, like Kelli Allred, who turn to the KOA kampstore when they need their coffee fix, whether it’s steaming hot in a cup or a cool bottle of latte from the fridge. Others, like Stephanie Danford, opts for single serve instant coffee because of their small size and portability. And still others head out for a drive to pick up a cup from a local barista.

In truth, it didn’t really matter how they got their coffee—our campers just know that the great outdoors just isn’t the same without it.

Now it’s your turn to share your coffee preferences with us. How do you brew it? Do you take yours with sugar, or are you a plain java sort? Have any secret “add-ins” that make your coffee even tastier? We can’t wait to hear ’em!

  • James Haynes

    Very interesting. The cowboy coffee and French press different concepts.
    This won’t change the way we make coffee unless our new coffee makers dies like the old one did.



  • Ken Barbor

    We make our coffee in a antique vaccuum coffee maker on the RV stove top. Takes about 10 minutes but the coffee is great. When it’s finished we add cream and one tea spoon of raspberry flavor to each cup. Enjoy.

  • Christina

    That Coleman coffee pot looks really interesting. We’re not too far from a Cabellas (my husband practically lives there)–I’ll have to go check it out. I wonder if that burner thing comes with it?

  • April J

    We had the coleman coffee pot. You just use it on whatever stove you have. We loved it, but when we got our pop up it didn’t fit on that stove. So now we use just a regular pot. Keep the percolater handy for the times when we don’t have electric. Can’t be without coffee!

  • James Okvist

    My wife and I both like coffee. She has Duncan Donuts coffee brewed in an electric Mr Coffee like brewer. She has a lot of Splenda and Cremora in it. Hard to imagine that she can taste the coffee. I have the Duncan Donuts coffee because its ready when I get up. Black with 2 Splenda packets in it. Although I like the Duncan Donuts coffee I prefer 100% Columbian coffee. There are many other good coffee’s that I like. However I am not a fan of Starbucks. I think it’s bitter.
    I just got a Krups espresso maker. I really like the cappuccino that I have made in it. But I doubt that we will bring it on the road. I don’t drink Cappuccino every day and the maker will take up too much space for it’s limited use.

  • Dave Souza

    I bring my Cuisinart Grind and Brew with me everywhere I go. Love grinding my beans and then immediately brewing them. The longer the interval between grinding and brewing, the more bitter the taste. If you grind before you leave, make sure you keep the grounds in an air tight container. Add some ground cinnamon to the grounds before brewing and it adds a wonderful flavor.

  • Beachline

    I have a four cup Cuisinart electric coffee maker and I use 100% columbian coffee. Like many campers I don’t function until after the first cup of coffee. Add to that an Entemans coffee cake and my day is made.!

  • Nancy Hughes

    The smell of coffee brewing in a campground is almost as delicious and the smell of bacon frying. Love them both.

  • Michelle H.

    I love my morning coffee too. My husband and I have a 21.5 foot travel trailer with not a lot of counter space. But my Keurig goes everywhere with us. It sits right on our dining table. My Keurig made it from Barrie Ontario all the way out to Montana and back through the prairies stopping at Multiple KOA’s along the way without a scratch or dent on it. Hoping to enjoy my coffee at many more KOA Kampgrounds this year. Oh, and by the way. It is “Glamping” not Kamping. Short for glamorous camping.

  • Todd

    Being an Army Veteran the best coffee is good old field mud. The stronger the better. Although when we camp we use a perculator over the fire or coleman stove.

  • Sharon W.

    I vote for the percolator. What do you do with your Mister Coffee if you dry camp? We have a 12 cup pot that makes great coffee. My Mother-In-Law taught me how to use a percolator 35 years ago. She said to let it perc for 5 minutes after it boils. This also is good to make sure no bugs are in your water since you boil it for 5 minutes. I remember her every time I make camper coffee. We once had a raccoon give it’s life to make sure we had no electricity. Boy was I glad I could still make my morning coffee.

  • Billy MacK.

    We ride Harley’s – not a lot of room for a coffeemaker, so it’s cowboy coffee for us. Small 4 cup coffee pot, 2 scoops of ground Eight O Clock coffee from a ziplock bag, boil it up, pour it threw a small fine strainer and enjoy. A shot of Bailey’s (optional)

  • Dan King

    After a lot of experimenting I now have my favorite.
    In a lge coffee mug fill to 2/3 with water and microwave for 2.5 min. Add heaping tspn Tasters Choice-Original, 1 tspn Tahoe Joes organic cocoa, 1 tspn extra virgin coconut oil. Stir and top off with Almond Breeze almond milk #90. Heat for another 30 seconds. It’s yummy!
    Bonus; coconut oil helps lower LDL cholesterol.
    PS, you can use less water if you want more almond milk.

  • cheryl

    I have my mom’s Corningware perculator from the 70’s in our trailer. We mix Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla and Hazelnut together. The first thing we do in the morning is light the burner for the perculator. Smells heavenly!

  • Fisher Family

    We have to have our Keurig Brewer. Husband loves coffee, I like tea, and the kids like hot chocolate. The Keurig is perfect because each one of us can have a cup of what we want anytime of the day in all of about a minute. We have a large Keurig at home, and a small one that stays in our travel trailer 24/7 365.

  • Phyllis

    We use a small 4 cup coffee maker when we have electric…. and Maxwell House coffee in filter packs…. that way there are no messy grounds to deal with. For backup we use a stainless steel stove top perculator.

  • Jesse

    We use Thanksgiving Coffee, our local coffee roaster. We try to fresh grind before we go on our trip. The french press is the preferred method for our morning coffee. We sometimes will fall back to the old percolator if we have to make a larger batch of coffee. And when all else fails or when looking for just a cup, we will use the single cup drip coffee maker. No matter what method as long as we have our favorite type of coffee.

  • Cindy Stephenson

    Living here in the Northwest, I **LOVE** my coffee. And am picky about my coffee! I roast my own coffee beans and grind the beans just prior to brewing. At home I have a fancy brewer, but when we’re camping it’s a perculator all the way – yummm, nothing like the smell & taste of fresh roasted & ground coffee perculating over the open fire. Only problem is, it’s hard to find perculator-size filters (thank God for the internet where we are able to buy in bulk).

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  • Wayne

    For years, it was the the perculator or cowboy coffee when camping, but we got a Coleman drip coffee pot a couple years ago and it makes coffee just like it’s made in our kitchen.

  • Marsha

    We use an inexpensive electric drip pot with nothing but Starbucks coffee!
    When we are “dry” camping I just take the top off of it put it over the glass carafe, add coffee (using a filter, no mess just throw it away) for the amount of coffee I want to make. Then I measure water into my little Revere Ware teakettle for that amount of coffee, bring it to a boil (on top of my gas stove) then carefully pour it over the ground coffee. It may take 3-4 pours until it runs through the grounds, but it is worth the wait! Put the rest in a thermos(keeps it HOT). We both drink it black and strong! What a treat!! We often do this when we stop for lunch or a break while traveling. WE LOVE OUR COFFEE! 🙂

  • Crystal

    Camping coffee, Latest trick: Take a pour over coffee basket, fill it with a filter and the amount of coffee you want to make, set it over top of a container to catch the hot coffee. Measure water, heat, and pour boiling water over coffee and filter. Be careful with this part, as the basket may have to be held over the container, so it does not spill. I take the basket and (2 microwavable pots) I catch the coffee with the larger one ,(2 qt.), Heat water in the other, then, when it’s run thru, and the water pot is empty, I set the basket in the smaller one (1qt.,) to catch any drips. While, I pour the coffee into drinking cups, and enjoy. Checking frequently, so as not to over flow the smaller pot. I keep emptying the smaller pot back to the larger pot. I take the basket and (2 microwavable pots) which I believe I got from Pampered chef. Any brands will do. I only run mine thru once. I take the plastic basket from my electric pour over pot at home. I have done this with a microwave, or gas stove. You will need a pot for heating if you use the gas stove. Do not put microwave dishes on a gas flame. I use this when we fly to Florida, we always have coffee, and TSA always checks my suit case.

  • CPT Kirk

    Ummm.. I’m now a slave to my Keurig! I do need a 120 volt outlet, though. 😀

    Happy Kamping!

  • Jimmerbobber

    Plain old $9 12 cup Proctor Silex. Sits right down in the sink when on the road. It sure ain’t 3 minute Bunn back home, but early morning when the campground is coming awake- ain’t no better!

  • Mark Wattenbarger

    We have to have the Keurig. Dunkin Donuts house blend is the morning eye opener for my wife and I.