A Drip Coffee Maker For Camping


[TE] goes camping, and on his excursion he likes to take just the bare necessities. A sleeping bag, a tent, food, but above all else, coffee. Most camping coffee makers are a percolator design, which is widely regarded as the worst way to make coffee ever. With a little bit of ingenuity, he created an improvised drip coffee maker for camping, just the thing for a nice cup of brew in the wilderness.

If you were to make your own drip coffee maker, your first inclination might be to use a funnel, put in a filter, pour in some coffee, and load it up with hot water. This was [TE]’s first design, but he quickly realized the hole in the bottom of his makeshift funnel would clog very quickly. After investigating his electronic drip coffee maker, he discovered the bottom of the basket had a series of baffles that allowed the filter to drain over its entire bottom surface. But how to replicate this in a piece of DIY equipment?

The solution came from [TE]’s wife, who pulled out an apple slicer. This allowed the filter to sit a little proud in the basket, allowing for an efficient draining of coffee. Simple, effective, and nearly impossible to break; that’s very good camping equipment.


34 thoughts on “A Drip Coffee Maker For Camping

  1. And the reason for not using a couple euro off-the-shelf coffee filter cone is…? Less tinkering and you’d have the correct fit between the cone and the filters.
    Sill, my personal vote goes also to a Moka pot.

  2. I use Coffee Bags; just like a Tea Bag, but filled with coffee – you can buy ’em at most grocery stores. I have also put coffee in a filter and just bundled it all up at the top; once it’s wet (careful it’s hot) you can just let the top hang over the side, then take it out when ready. (And then there’s freeze-dried coffee, but not everyone thinks that is real coffee.)

  3. I use a frech press myself but i remember a campout several years ago where our scout troop leaders forgot their percalator (they all get pretty cranky without their coffee). Our solution was taking the coffe can (one of the smaller metal ones) and cutting out the bottom of it and the inside of the plastic top leaving only the ring that seals the lid. To make coffee with it we set the can over a cup/mug and put the filter through the hole in the bottom securing it with the ring we made from the lid. :)

  4. I like percolated coffee… They’re great for camping too because they pack well and you can use the pot on its own for cooking something else. You could probably even make up a separate basket to stand inside the pot for steaming.

    1. The problem with perc pots is that they violate the three cardinal rules of good coffee:

      1. The brewing water is far too hot.

      2. The finished coffee is passed over the grounds multiple times.

      3. The finished coffee is heated to a boil.

      Perc pots are excellent for caffeine extraction, but that is about it. In terms of taste, they are entirely incapable of brewing a good cup of coffee by their fundamental design.

      If you like perc-pot coffee, my guess is that you’ve never had a proper cup of coffee.

      The french press really is one of the best ways to make coffee, whether you are at home or camping.

      1. The flavor of the coffee depends more on time and temperature in a perc pot, not necessarily how many times the water filters through the grounds. With a percolator you’re not really bringing the entire pot to boiling, just the water sitting at the very bottom. The boiling water makes its way into the tube and gets pushed up by the bubbling of the water that follows it. (Many drip machines use the same principle to send heated water up to the filter basket.) The water cools a bit by the time it gets to the top Once the entire batch starts getting too hot (near boiling), the effect doesn’t work anymore and the percolating stops. As long as you remove the pot from the heat source at the right time there’s no problem with boiling.

        Most of the time when I hear people complain that percolated coffee is “awful” or “burnt” it’s because they let the coffee start boiling after the brewing process finished, they’re repeating coffee snob myths, or they last used a perc pot in the early 80s when the supermarkets carried bad coffee grounds. (“Garbage in, garbage out” doesn’t apply just to computers!) Yes, you can get good coffee from a percolator. It just isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it appliance like a drip machine. (Well, electric pots might be…)

        Then again, I’m just words on the Internet so what do I know.

        1. Freshly brewed percolator coffee isn’t great, but it’s drinkable. What percolators are really good at, though, is taking that coffee and keeping it overheated and perking for hours, leaving a product that can not only strip the glaze off your coffee cup and stomach lining, but can also make a good start at dissolving the ceramic itself.

          I don’t go camping very often; the moka pot worked ok on a propane stove, and I didn’t bother hauling any coffee maker along on the backpacking part of my most recent trip, because I was sticking to cold foods that wouldn’t require fire, but an Aeropress and a generic pot to boil water in are a lot more flexible than the moka pot.

  5. I don’t want to sound over-critical, by why not use a camping cafeitere? I’ve been using one with a double-walled stainless steel pot for years now and, frankly, it’s the best part of the camping experience, since we had children.

    Here are some examples:

  6. My grandfather had a simple one cup drip coffeemaker. The bottom was an aluminum cup. The top was another aluminum cup with some holes in the bottom. There was another piece which snapped onto the bottom of the upper cup and fit snugly into the top of the bottom cup. That piece also had holes.

    Put coffee grounds into the middle part, fit it onto the upper cup then push that assembly into the bottom cup. Pour hot water into the top, put the lid on then wait for the water to drain through.

    As for what makes a “good” cup of coffee? Nothing! I’ve sampled some of what my hot bean juice imbibing friends say is “great” coffee. 100% awful, nasty, bitter gack.

    Bitterness, sourness and other unpleasant tastes and smells are natures way of communicating that something could be poisonous. I’m more than happy to oblige by not eating moldy cheese, rotten grain or fruit juices, or water containing the exudation of roasted, ground and boiled beans.

    There’s a master’s thesis paper for you. Why do some humans like to eat things which the smell and/or taste of ought to be making them vomit?

    OTOH, I really like the *smell* of coffee. Genetically concoct a bean that makes coffee taste as good as it smells, then I might drink it.

  7. I read the article and the only thing I could think of was “I could buy that for less than 5 reais”. Isn’t there something like this in the US?
    It’s 3 reais, or less than 1.50 US dollars. And that’s on an expensive store!

  8. One of my favorite things about camping was cowboy coffee.

    first you take The Pot, not tea pot, not coffee pot, just The Pot. Probably the same one you made beans in last night, and you fill it with water and put it on the fire.

    When that’s boiling you dump your prefered amount of coffee grounds into the water.

    When it looks like black death and smells like the farts of angels move it to the side of the fire.

    Take out your coffee cup, grab some cheese cloth if you have it handy/care, and pour your coffee in your cup.

    Then you eat your bacon and eggs, and the toast slightly burnt from being on the open fire.

    Then lear at the assholes in the mobile mansion rv’s sitting on their couch watching satellite tv while they “camp”.

  9. My sister used to make coffee for her husband by putting the apple masher (used to make applesauce) in the top of a pot, putting the filter and coffee grounds in and pouring in water from the tea kettle. George still says that thing made the best coffee. I don’t drink the stuff. It’s tea for mea.

  10. Coffee filters also remove most of the unhealthy components, unlike percolators, French presses, cowboy pots, etc. Not that an occasional camping trip would kill you, but if you drink that stuff constantly, your heart will revolt.

  11. Percolator coffee is the best, drip is acrid by comparison. Don’t mouth off if you’ve never tried it. Every convention center uses a big electric perc. That mellow flavor is not possible with drippy coffee.

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