French Press vs Percolator for Camping

French Press vs Percolator for Camping

Going on a camping trip is exciting and a great form of adventure. Aside from the usual provisions and outdoor gear to prepare, you should see to it that you have your coffee equipment with you. A common favorite among campers is the trusty percolator while some favor the French Press. Let us take a look at these two methods and get to know why they are ideal camping buddies. 

French Press vs. percolator for camping: How they work and steps to make coffee

What is a French Press and how does it work?

A French Press is a coffee pot that contains a plunger made of the fine mesh where the coffee grounds are pushed to the bottom. Once it is done, the coffee is ready to be poured.  This coffee brewer is also known as a press pot, coffee press, coffee plunger and cafetiere. 

It is easy to use and only needs minimal effort. You need to have hot water to reduce the preparation time when brewing coffee with it. 

These are the reasons why this brewer is preferred by many coffee fans:

1. It retains the flavor and aroma of coffee.

A French Press allows you to enjoy the flavors of coffee and the tiny coffee grounds that are in the cup add to the great coffee taste.

2. It allows steeping.

This brewing method allows steeping for up to four minutes to get coffee’s full aroma, body and taste. By doing so, water can penetrate the cells of coffee grounds and prepares them for extracting when pressed.

3. It gives you a full cup. 

The method allows you to enjoy a full cup and everything that goes in it including all the flavors and aroma. 

5. It saturates all the coffee grounds. 

Real coffee goodness is extracted with this method since all the coffee grounds are penetrated with water. This is not the case with a drip machine or percolator since hot water just passes through the coffee grounds. 

6. It can help you make espresso.

You can recreate your espresso at home with this brewer, unlike other methods.

To use a French Press, just place the coffee grounds at the bottom of the carafe. Be sure to use coarse grounds to achieve a better flavor. Add hot water and place the plunger but do not push immediately. Steep the coffee first for at least three to four minutes to make the coffee bloom so you can achieve a full-bodied coffee.  Then, press the plunger down in one constant motion. 

How to make French Press camping coffee 

Here are the materials that you need:

  • French Press 
  • A pot to boil the water
  • Medium ground coffee 
  • Camping mug
  • A heat source such as a stove or campfire

Here are the steps to make French Press camping coffee:

  1. First, heat water to a desired near-boiling temperature. 
  2. Remove the plunger from the brewer. 
  3. Add medium ground coffee to the brew chamber. The ratio should be at least 1.5 tablespoons for each cup of water.
  4. Next, add water to the desired amount and stir slowly for at least 15 seconds. 
  5. Reinsert the press plunger and allow it to rest just above the water and coffee grounds mixture.
  6. Allow to sit and brew. The ideal brewing time is around four minutes. 
  7. Place slow and downward pressure on the plunger to press the grounds. This could take about 10 to 15 seconds. 
  8. Once the grounds are pressed to the bottom, you can now pour a delightful cup of French Press camp coffee. 

After brewing, remove the plunger from the brew chamber and dump the grounds into the trash. Rinse the brew chamber and plunger thoroughly with soap and water, rinse again and dry off with a clean cloth. 

What is a percolator and how does it work?

A percolator is a type of coffee pot that is used to brew coffee by continuously cycling the boiling brew by using gravity to achieve the required strength. This brewer was invented in 1880 by Hanson Goodrich and it is considered as the earliest coffee device to use percolation instead of infusion as a means of extraction. 

These are the reasons why it is preferred by coffee lovers and campers:

1. It has good brew quality. 

Fans of this brewing method attest that coffee becomes more flavorful. The reason is that the pressure is exerted by boiling water as it passes through the coffee grounds allowing all the flavors to be extracted. 

2. It is durable. 

Percolators are made of durable aluminum or stainless steel and are made to last for years. They do not have fancy or complicated electronic parts and are common fixtures at your grandparents’ home. 

3. It is easy to use and clean. 

The brewing process is not complicated since you only need to measure the correct ratio of coffee grounds to water.  Then, you just turn on the stove, put the percolator on and you will have well-brewed coffee in a matter of minutes. It is also easy to clean since it usually just needs soap and water. 

To use the percolator, place water on the jug and follow the dotted lines to avoid water spillage. Insert the stem then put the basket under the knob.  Put the filter on the basket and add the coffee grounds. 

When the water heats up, it will start to bubble and create some pressure. The bubbling water enters the stem and spills over the basket. This will push through the coffee grounds. Once the water starts bubbling, lower the heat so you won’t burn the coffee. 

How to make percolator camping coffee 

Here are the materials that you need:

  • Percolator 
  • Coarse coffee grounds 
  • Camping coffee mug 
  • Heat sources such as a stove or campfire

Here are the steps to make percolator camping coffee:

  1. First, remove the percolator apparatus and place cold water.
  2. Reinsert the apparatus.
  3. You can insert a disc filter on the grounds basket but this is optional. 
  4. Pour coarse ground coffee, preferably one heaping tablespoon per cup of water, into the grounds basket. Place the cover and close the lid but make sure that the siphon stem is aligned with the sight glass. 
  5. Apply medium heat until you notice the first eruption of water which is visible in the sight glass.
  6. Next, decrease the heat or remove the percolator from the fire. Allow it to sputter. Once brewed to your preference, more or less a few minutes, you can open the lid and remove the apparatus carefully.
  7. Finally, allow a couple of minutes for the grounds to settle then pour and enjoy!

After using the percolator, be sure to dispose of the grounds and filter if you use one and place them in the trash. Disassemble the percolator apparatus which consists of the siphon, grounds basket and basket cover. Wash all the parts along with the pot. 


If you cannot decide between the French Press vs percolator for camping, it is not your fault. Both of these brewing methods have their admirable features and advantages which makes them popular choices among coffee fans and campers alike. While the French Press does not need a heat source you still have to prepare hot water. Meanwhile, using the percolator is convenient since you can just place it on top of a heat source such as a campfire and allow it to boil. 

Image: / Andrey Nikitin