How to Make the Best Cup of Coffee in an RV


Best cup of coffee

A morning cup of joe is a must have for me and RV living hasn’t broken my search for the best cup of coffee.  But what is the best way to make coffee while being off grid?

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Obviously a standard coffee maker won’t cut it unless you are plugged in, plus they can be quite bulky to store.  We have personally tried 4 different methods of making coffee each with their own pros and cons but we think one of them hands down makes the best, consistent cup of coffee.  

The four methods we have tried are the French Press, the AeroPress, the pour over dripper, and the percolator. All of these methods require boiling water which in itself can add a layer of inconsistency since the temperature of the water can greatly affect the flavor of the coffee.  If it’s too hot the coffee will come out bitter, too cold and it’ll be weak.  I’m not going to address this here but, I think, we have utilized all four methods enough to have experienced both ends of the spectrum

French Press

The French Press is an age old coffee making technique with which most everyone is familiar.  They come in a variety of sizes and are typically made of glass though stainless steel is also available, like this one on Amazon.  I highly recommend purchasing one that will make the appropriate number of cups of coffee required.  In the pas,t we had one that only made one cup at a time and with the two of us, it was a pain.  

To use:

Start by adding the appropriate amount of coffee to the bottom of press, this amount will vary depending of the number of cups being made but typically one tablespoon per 200ml of water, add just shy of boiling water to desired level, give it a stir, put lid with filter/plunger attachment on but leave the plunger at the highest level, let steep for 3-4 min, gently push the plunger down to the bottom of the press.  Coffee is now ready to be poured.

Pros:

  •  ability to make multiple cups of coffee at one time
  •  easy to use
  •  no filters to purchase

Cons:

  •  breakable since they are typically made of glass
  •  pain to clean, you need to scoop the grounds out of the bottom of the press
  •  can end up with “sludge” in the bottom of you coffee
  •  multiple pieces

AeroPress

The AeroPress (link to Amazon) is relatively new to the coffee making scene.  It’s been on the market since 2005 and quickly has become popular.  It is basically a plastic tube with a paper filter on the bottom and a rubber plunger which forces the water through the coffee.  It makes more espresso style coffee than drip coffee.  Metal mesh reusable filters are available but we didn’t personally like ours.  We found the bottom didn’t screw on properly due to the extra thickness

To use: 

Place a paper filter in the bottom cap of the AeroPress, screw the bottom cap on to the body, add one scoop of coffee (or desired amount but this is what works for us) and gently shake to even it out, place body on top of mug, pour just shy of boiling water into the top of the body and fill to just above the #2, stir for 10-15 seconds, insert rubber plunger into top of the body and gently apply pressure, it should take about 30 seconds to fully depress the plunger, remove AeroPress from mug, top up mug with hot water (similar to an Americano)

Pros:

  • makes espresso style coffee, in theory, you can whip up a latte or cappuccino if you feel so inclined
  • easy to clean, once you are finished with your coffee making, unscrew the bottom cap, with AeroPress over the garbage/compost fully depress the plunger, the filter and all the coffee grounds should pop out into the garbage
  • non-breakable

Cons:

  • a small learning curve once mastered makes excellent coffee
  • only makes one cup at a time
  • need to purchase AeroPress specific paper filters (unless you buy the reusable one)
  • multiple pieces

Pour Over Dripper

This method is most similar to your standard drip coffee maker.  It consists of a funnel with a flared bottom ledge so it can rest on top of your mug.  They are made of plastic or cermic, like this one from Amazon and require a #2 paper filterMetal drippers (Amazon link) are also available and do not require a filter.  This method is probably the most foolproof of any of them.

To Use:

Place dripper on top of mug, insert filter into dripper, add a scoop (probably a tablespoon will do for one cup) of coffee in the filter, pour water into the dripper until dripper is full, allow water level to reduce then add more water to the dripper as needed until the mug is full of coffee.

Pro:

  • easy to use
  • non-breakable
  • few pieces
  • easy to clean – toss the filter and rinse/wash the dripper

Con:

  • make one cup at a time (although these are cheap enough that having two isn’t a big deal)
  • need to purchase #2 filters which are very common (unless you have the metal style)

Percolator

Percolators have also been around forever.  They were very common until the 1970’s when the automatic drip coffee maker made its debut.  Percolators are typically stainless steel, like this highly rated one on Amazon, and consist of a carafe, grounds basket with lid, and a perk tube.  The carafe has a sight glass on the top to help you see when your coffee is ready.  They work by boiling water in the carafe and the water will circulate up through the coffee grounds as is boils.

To Use:

Add the desired amount of water to the carafe, add the required amount of coffee to match the number of cups (usually marked in the basket), the basket is placed on the perk tube and the lid is placed on the basket,  this contraption is then loaded into the carafe and the carafe is closed.  The carafe is then placed on the stove for the water to boil, once coffee can be seen bubbling up in the sight glass it should be ready in another 6-8 min.  Prior to pouring your coffee, you should remove the basket to prevent grounds from ending up in your mug.

Pro:

  •  no need to boil water separately
  •  ability to make multiple cups of coffee at one time

Con:

  •  definite learning curve – I have ended up with grounds in my coffee numerous times when using this method
  •  pain to clean, need to ensure grinds end up in the garbage
  •  more time consuming to make 

After experimenting with these different methods our favorite has to be hands down the AeroPress! We find it consistently makes a great cup of coffee, its very easy to clean up and once you get used to it you can very quickly make two cups of coffee.  This was actually our method of making coffee in our house prior to brewing in our RV kitchen.  If you want something that is foolproof and few parts then I recommend the pour over dripper, this was our coffee making method prior to being introduced to the AeroPress. 

You may have noticed one method that didn’t make the cut here is the instant method.  Obviously the most basic of all but, personally, I have not found a brand of instant coffee that I will drink willingly.  Call me a coffee snob but I do love a good cup of coffee!

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Diane Dee

Diane is a lover of all things travel. She and her young family wanted to explore North America from the comfort of their own home so they bought an RV. After fully rehabbing a 1994 Safari Trek, they set out to explore both Canada and the USA.

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