Camp Coffee Maker and Teapot Buying Guide
Coffee makers and tea pots are a camping staple for many people. I’m not sure about you, but I simply cannot start a day without a strong cup of coffee, and an afternoon is much less enjoyable without a sweet cup of tea. Some people prefer one to the other, but I am an avid drinker of both. The fact that you are reading this tells me that you enjoy at least one of these fine beverages and would like more information about brewing the best cup on your camping trip.
This guide is filled with information about camp-style coffee makers and teapots. Though you could, potentially, hook a standard coffee maker up to an electrical outlet or a car lighter converter and you could possibly bring a standard teapot (if you don’t mind charring it over an open flame), this article will focus solely on coffee makers and teapots made for camping.
Some coffee makers and teapots are available in multiple sizes. As with most things, the larger a coffee maker or teapot is, the more expensive it is. The size of your coffee maker or teapot will also impact how long it takes to brew your preferred beverage. For example, it will take considerably longer to brew coffee in a 12-cup percolator than a 4-cup percolator. I caution you to choose your coffee maker or teapot according to the number of cups you will brew most often, and worry about the hassle of brewing extra cups on special occasions.
Teapots and Kettles
Teapots and kettles are rather straightforward; coffee makers are what bring a plethora of options and types to choose from. Generally speaking, when you purchase a teapot or kettle for your camping trip you are, essentially, purchasing the same type of device you would be buying for your home. The biggest difference you may notice between a home teapot or kettle and one built for camping is that those built for camping are often made completely of some sort of metal. This is a good thing – you want your teapot or kettle to be able to withstand the heat of an open flame if you intend to brew your tea over an open fire.
Percolating Coffee Makers
I will be honest with you; I placed percolating coffee makers first on this list because they are my favorite type of coffee maker. I enjoy the flavor of percolated coffee much more than any other type of coffee and also find peace in the percolation process. While others may complain that percolated coffee takes far too long to brew, I actually enjoy the time I spend in the early morning hours, building my fire and percolating the perfect cup.
If you are purchasing a percolator, whether it is built for use over an open fire or on a camp stove, be sure to find one which has been put together well. Since there are multiple parts to a percolator, you may find that some of those parts have been made in haste and with little discretion for quality. A quality percolator will feature a pump whose stem has been securely welded to its plunger piece. The basket should also be properly welded together.
A good percolator basket will reduce the likelihood of grinds making their way into your coffee by incorporating a two part sieve screen or a mesh sieve screen. More affordable options will feature little holes through which coffee grinds can easily slip.
You should also try to find a percolator which features a clear knob on the top. The clear knob is where you will be able to see the water bubbling up. You will know your coffee is ready when the bubbles turn a nice, rich brown. Percolators without clear knobs turn coffee making into a guessing game. If you have to keep lifting the lid to see if the coffee is ready, you will constantly reduce the temperature inside the percolator and cause the entire process to take much longer than necessary. You should also ensure that this knob is a little bit loose so that it will not crack as the heat inevitably expands it.
French Press Coffee Makers
Many people find French press coffee makers preferable to percolators, because they are much easier to use. You can put in your grinds and water and walk away. You do not need to worry about them bubbling over and they don’t take nearly as long to create a decent cup of coffee. That being said, many avid French press users prefer coffee which has steeped for a very long time. Long steeping times are what turn the grounds in the bottom of the press into a difficult-to-clean sludgy mess, but this process is also what lends pressed coffee its distinctively rich flavor.
Since French press coffee makers hold both the liquid and the grounds in the same place, it isn’t uncommon to find yourself drinking a cup full of grounds. A great way to avoid this problem is to purchase a press which features a fine mesh screen across its spout. The screen will stop the grounds from finding their way into your cup, while allowing the coffee to flow freely.
Drip Coffee Makers
Perhaps the most inexpensive type of coffee maker you can buy for your camping experience, drip coffee makers are often a great choice for those who prefer something lightweight and compact. In fact, these coffee makers are the best choice for backpackers.
Essentially, a compact, camping drip coffee maker is a filter attached to an apparatus that either already has a cup attached or to which you can attach a cup. By placing the coffee into the filter and adding water, you can mimic the coffee brewing experience you often get at home in your standard countertop drip coffee maker.
When purchasing a drip coffee maker for backpacking, try to find one made of silicone or another equally-safe collapsible material, so that it will fit into your bag without requiring much space. Reusable filters are also preferable, because they will not take up as much space as disposable filters.
Brewing Over Fire?
Now that we’ve discussed different types of beverage creators you can purchase for you camping expedition, we need to take a moment to focus on some basic things you should consider when purchasing almost any of these options.
Will you be using it over an open fire? If so, you will want to be certain of a few things. First, your kettle or coffee pot should be made entirely of metal. It is difficult to control the temperature of a fire or the size of its flames; any other type of material (even those which are melt-resistant) may become badly damaged if you use them over a fire.
If you are planning to use this over a fire you will also want to be sure that you have something upon which you can set your kettle or coffee maker. Although it may sound fun to try to build some sort of a structure of logs, this structure will quickly become unstable as the fire eats away at the wood. Basic stands with built-in grates can be found online or at any outdoors store and will make a world of difference to the brewing process.
Another thing to consider if you plan to use your kettle or coffee maker over an open flame is how you intend to remove it from the fire. First of all, since your kettle or coffee maker is made completely of steel, it is likely to be very hot – touching it will almost certainly result in a burn. Also, unlike a stove, you cannot just turn your fire on and off as you please. You can douse the flames with water to make it safe to move your hand toward the kettle or coffee maker, but then you will be stuck with the task of trying to restart your fire. I know from experience how difficult it can be to start a fire after someone has poured water onto it.
Will You Need an Insulated Kettle or Coffee Pot?
If you plan to make more coffee or tea than you intend to drink at one time, it may be smart to consider purchasing an insulated coffee pot or kettle. Insulated brewers feature two layers of metal with a space between them. This space stops cool outside air from penetrating through the brewer and into the coffee or tea inside.
Alternatively, you can choose to bring along insulated coffee mugs or a thermos. Both options will keep your coffee or tea warm for a couple of hours, allowing you to drink it whenever you are ready.