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Perk Your Coffee

Last camping trip my wife and I coffeed ourselves using a tried and true, albeit much maligned method; percolated coffee.  Percolated coffee, for you youngsters out there, is the way coffee was made way back before drip coffee makers. Way back before iPhones, the internet and Starbucks too.  Back in the days when television was black and white, men wore ties to work and women wore dresses even if they weren’t leaving the house, which they seldom did.  Monkeys were flying in space more than people and communists were behind every bush.

Percolated coffee, if done wrong, can produce the nastiest tasting undrinkable sludge you’ve ever drank.  If done right it can make a pretty good cup.  To make undrinkable sludge, overheat the coffee and let it percolate too long.  To make a pretty good cup, turn the heat down when you see the first few ‘perks’.  Make sure to take note of the time.  For me and my pot, 6 minutes of ‘perking’ does the trick.  I also put a filter in the bottom of the coffee basket to catch any loose grounds.  I made my filters by cutting drip coffee maker filters to fit.  It also helps to start with a really good, fresh roasted and ground coffee.  We are fortunate to have a coffee roaster nearby.

Admittedly, there are easier ways to make better tasting coffee on the road and there are certainly lighter weight methods as well.  But adding a little variety makes life more interesting.

Categories: Gear
  1. November 7, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    I know some oldtimers “clear” the percolated coffee with some egg white and shell. I’ve perked quite a bit of camping coffee, but eventually found that the same arrangement used to boil water and stoke a french press produces a mellower cup, to my taste.

  2. arlen
    November 8, 2011 at 7:10 am

    i remember my parents making coffee ….
    i also remember the stand in the clear glass coffee pot being made out of glass also…
    and how fragile it was….
    i broke so many of them while washing dishes….

    some time back i bought a stainless steel french coffee press cup back in wyoming
    un breakable….makes one hell of a cup of coffee…only problem to heavy an bulky….
    i picked up just recently from “kleen Kanteen” their brand spanking new wide mouth water bottle/thermos….then i found this coffee filter from REI that fits in the wide mouth…makes a very nice cup ….kind of like cowboy style….

    • The Velo Hobo
      November 8, 2011 at 7:14 am

      I’ve seen the collapsable filter cones, I may try that next.

  3. The Velo Hobo
    November 8, 2011 at 7:13 am

    I had a great Aunt who put egg shells in her coffee, although she made cowboy coffee. She just threw a handfull of ground in a pot and boiled it. She was a tough mountain woman who split wood and cooked on a wood stove well into her 90s.

    I prefer a french press type maker too. I have a press/mug I’ve been using for years and it still works well. I do like to mix it up from time to time.

  4. November 8, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    I tried the percolated coffee over campfires, camp stoves, home stoves, and probably an outdoor grill eye on occasion. I could never get it to taste decent. We also gravitated to a french press and have settled on that when camping. Now, we don’t ultralight camp so I’m talking about in our actual camper, which affords me the space to also carry an insulated thermos with pump so I can brew up LOTS of coffee and keep it warm for ourselves and visitors alike. (Sorry for the ultra-heavy approach to camping here on an ultra-light site but, hey, when it’s coffee we’re talking about…)

    – Zeke

    • The Velo Hobo
      November 8, 2011 at 5:54 pm

      Well that is a helpful hint for UL travelers…camp next to the travel trailer and chat them up for a cup of coffee in the morning. ~Jack

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