The Best Ways to Make Coffee in Your Camper Van
One of the only ways to make coffee even better is to enjoy it while looking out at your favorite view from the comfort of your camper van. And just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you’ve got to compromise on making a great cup of coffee in the morning.
You might not be able to bring your home espresso machine along for the trip, but there are still some ways you can make great coffee while on the road in your van. Below are some of the Muse & Co. Outdoors team’s favorite methods and tips for brewing excellent coffee in our camper vans.
The first step to any good cup of coffee is freshly ground beans. Of course, you can bring along pre-ground coffee on your trip, but once beans are ground they begin to lose their freshness very quickly.
All coffee grinders are not created equal. What separates grinders is their ability to produce uniform coffee grounds, where there is minimal variance in the size of each ground. You’d be amazed at how much the grinder can affect the taste of your coffee. It’s likely that your favorite local coffee shop spent thousands of dollars on their grinders!
Of course, you won’t be bringing along a large, expensive electric coffee grinder in your camper van. Fortunately, there are some great options for compact, cheaper grinders that are ideal for making great coffee in your van!
Our choice for camper van coffee grinders are handheld burr grinders. These compact little coffee grinders take up almost no space in your van’s cabinets, and thanks to the burrs that grind the coffee, they produce reliably uniform coffee grounds! They operate using a hand crank, and are adjustable so you can make the grind finer or more coarse for different brewing methods. It might take a couple of minutes to grind enough beans for your morning joe, but we think that the (bean) juice is worth the squeeze!
French presses have been a favorite brewing method among campers and coffee enthusiasts for decades. These simple devices produce reliably strong and tasty coffee, and the lack of disposable filters means less trash and a more eco-friendly brewing method.
To make coffee in a french press, it’s usually recommended to adjust your grinder to a coarse setting. Since the coffee and water will brew for a few minutes, the coarse grind helps to slow down the extraction process. To brew coffee with a french press, you simply place your grinds in the bottom of the device, add hot water over them, allow them to brew for about 4 minutes, then ‘press’ the mesh filter all the way down to separate the grinds from your coffee. About two tablespoons of ground coffee per 10 ounces of water should give you a strong but balanced cup.
In a camper van, it might be wise to choose a french press made of all metal, rather than one with a glass cylinder, to ensure that the device doesn’t shatter in your cabinet on bumpy roads.
You can’t walk into a hip coffee shop anymore without seeing pour-over coffee on the menu. Pour-overs have become a favorite method of extraction among coffee enthusiasts because they do a great job of highlighting the unique flavors of a given coffee.
Pour-over coffee makers are best used with medium and light-roast coffees, which have more nuanced flavors that can be teased out with the right brewing method. And guess what? You can reliably make coffee shop-quality pour-over coffee while on the road in your camper van!
All you need to make pour-over coffee is your grinder (set to a medium grind), your pour-over cone, and paper filters. A water kettle with a long, skinny spout can come in handy, but any kettle with a spout that allows you to pour the water at a steady rate should work fine.
Once you’ve got the grounds in your filter, place the filter in the pour-over device and set it over the top of your mug of choice. Pour the water over your grinds in a slow, circular motion for an even extraction!
Making a perfect cup of pour-over coffee can take a bit of fine-tuning when it comes to the size of your coffee grounds, the temperature of the water, and your coffee-to-water ratio. Once you’ve got your method down, though, this can be one of the best ways to make gourmet coffee while you’re on the road.
You can find pour-over coffee cones in just about any material you could imagine, from plastic, to ceramic, to metal or glass. We recommend choosing a pour-over cone for your Sprinter van that isn’t easily breakable, and that fits over the top of your favorite travel mug!
To some of us, ‘coffee’ really means ‘espresso’. If you prefer your coffee in this extra concentrated form, there’s good news: You don’t have to sacrifice your morning (or afternoon) espresso while you’re on the road in your Sprinter camper van.
When it comes to espresso, all you need to do is follow the lead of the Italians. Espresso is pretty much the only form of coffee enjoyed in Italy, and they’ve got decades of experience when it comes to perfecting the art of making it.
In most Italian homes, you’ll find a Bialetti Moka stovetop espresso maker. These simple little aluminum contraptions allow you to make espresso with nothing more than coffee grounds, water, and a single burner. Once you get the hang of making espresso in your Bialetti Moka, you might find yourself continuing to use it, even at home.
Bialetti stovetop espresso makers are perfect for camper vans because they have no easily breakable parts, they’re relatively easy to clean, and they only require a stovetop burner to work. Just remember that espresso grinds are very fine, so set your hand grinder to one of its finest settings.
To make espresso, fill the Moka filter with espresso grounds, add the desired amount of water to the base, and set directly on your stovetop over a medium flame. Keep an eye on it and after a short time, espresso will begin to bubble up into the upper chamber and your van will fill with the unmistakable aroma of fresh coffee. When the Bialetti stops making a gurgling noise, the espresso is done brewing. You can take it off the flame, pour, and enjoy.