For this year’s family camping trip, Kel said she was tired of the inconsistent quality of campstove percolator coffee. With five coffee drinkers now in the family who can tell the difference between various beans and blends, the pressure was on to deliver high quality coffee and a lot of it! Fortunately, Coleman just came out with the Coleman Portable Propane Coffeemaker with Stainless Steel Carafe and we splurged to give it a try. It was totally worth it.
How it works: The coffeemaker uses a propane tank connected to a burner under the unit, which is lit by an ignition switch that actually worked every time. One morning’s heavy dew caused it to not fire, but there’s an easy way to light the burner manually with a lighter stick. The unit functions just like a drip coffeemaker from your kitchen, using a flat-bottom paper filter and a bunch of your favorite coffee (we featured our favorite, Casi Cielo from Starbucks this week in Florida).
The pro’s: This makes coffee the way you like to drink it – and you’ll become the best friend of others in the campground (if you want to be generous) who boil grounds in fry pans, messing with percolators that overflow into the fire, and who stir in instant coffee into hot water. It lights easily and within 30 minutes produces two pots of coffee that kept our two campsites happy, warm (it was a cold week), and caffeinated (read: not grumpy campers).
The Con’s: These are more like issues or limitations and not really anything negative. It’s a big unit and takes up a lot of pack
space. So this won’t work for backpacking or wilderness camping (like the Boundary Waters) unless you just loved your coffee so much it’d be worth the space. I also would not characterize the unit as fast. The website says 15 minutes, but I say it’s more like
20-25 minutes. Finally, the reservoir doesn’t hold 10 cups of water. I don’t know how this got past the engineers at Coleman, but it holds more like 8 cups. I had to add the final 2 cups of water once the thing started, which I didn’t mind, but it is a curious drawback to me.
The carafe: The unit we used (you can see in the picture) came with a glass carafe just like you’d get with a home coffeemaker. I didn’t know that they came with more durable stainless steel carafes, which I would definitely recommend. I was so nervous about the glass carafe breaking and we’d be unable to replace it all week since we were camping on a remote island. (I wonder, too, if the steel carafe may be smaller too, thus holding the same amount of water that the reservoir can hold.)
At first I wasn’t too thrilled about the big expense and the big space the Coleman Portable Propane Coffeemaker with Stainless Steel Carafe was going to take up. After a week of flawless coffee along the Gulf of Mexico, and as much as we all wanted, I was happy we brought it.