Jan 21, 2022
4 Ways to Make Great Coffee on the Road
According to a Nomadic Barista
Guest post by Chad, founder of Autobahn Coffee
Chad is a long-time coffee aficionado and traveler. In June 2018, he started Autobahn Coffee, a full-service cafe housed in a 1972 Volkswagen Westfalia. When he’s not hiking around the world on his winter break, he’s busy serving the Pacific Northwest from his coffee-on-wheels.
Needless to say, Chad knows a thing or two about making the best possible brew on the road or on the trails. We asked him to share his recommendations for those of us wanting to know our options to make great coffee on the go.
We'll go over 4 ways to make great coffee on a road trip. All will deliver a great coffee experience — but I’ll finish with my personal favorite.
Keeping your coffee fresh
Think of your coffee as a fruit when storing it. Limiting its exposure to oxygen with air-tight container will improve its freshness.
Airscape® - Airless coffee storage canister, Classic
Airscape® - Airless coffee storage canister, Kilo (Large)
Planetary Design - Coffee Scoop: 2 Tbs of ground coffee, fits in any canister
There are two types of hand grinders: blade grinders & burr grinders. Blade grinders are known to leave grounds uneven, while burr grinders force beans through two opposing discs, ensuring a uniform grind. The grinders offered below are all hand burr. While most design choices revolve around materials used for weight and durability, I’d say the most important thing is the quality of burrs in the grinder. I personally like to look for stainless steel burrs over ceramic burrs, but the latter are great and more budget-friendly.
1. The french pressFlavor: the French press will deliver a great coffee — the less coarse you grind the coffee, the more intense it will be, but it’ll keep its rich flavor
Brewing time: about 6 minutes
Grind size: coarse
Coffee: 30g (indicative)
Water: 350g (indicative)
- Pour 60g of water evenly
- Gently stir the grounds to immerse all of the ground (5 seconds)
- Let the coffee bloom (30 seconds)
- In a spiral motion, pour the remaining 290g of water
- Let the coffee steep (3 minutes)
- Slowly press the filter down
BruTrek™ - OVRLNDR Travel Press: brews 24 fl.oz. of coffee, removable bottom makes cleaning easy
BruTrek™ - Double Shot 3.0 Travel Press: the most portable, brews 16 fl.oz., integrated storage canister
BruTrek™ - Basecamp French Press: the sturdiest press, works for tea as well
2. The pour-overFlavor: the pour-over can deliver some of the tastiest brew when done properly: clean, rich and will enhance the quality of your beans
Brewing time: 5 minutes
Grind size: medium Coffee: 15g (indicative)
Water: 250g (indicative)
- Pour 50g of water evenly
- Let the coffee bloom (20 seconds)
- In a spiral motion, pour another 100g of water
- Let the water drain through the grounds (30 seconds)
- Pour the remaining 100g of water around the edges of the dripper and let it drain through the grounds
- When all the water has drained, serve!
BruTrek™ - Collapsible Pour Over (includes reusable coffee filters)
Caffewerks - Foldable Triangle Pour-Over
3. The cold brewFlavor: Using an immersion technique, the cold brew method will extract more flavor than most brewing methods. Coffee steeps in cold water for a long period of time, delivering an incredibly tasty experience for those early afternoon Summer coffee cups
Brewing time: 24 hours or more depending on intensity wanted
Coffee/water ratio: (indicative) a ratio of 1:8 of coffee to water will produce a tasty and refreshing coffee, ready to drink after around 24 hours. Create a cold brew concentrate with a ratio of 1:4 for stronger coffee, or increase brewing time for more flavor intensity.
Instructions: Combine the grounds with water, then let it steep and infuse overnight - we recommend 24 hours. Tip: make cold brew in larger quantities and store it in the fridge to sip it through a hot Summer day!
4. The AeroPress
Why AeroPress® is my go to
For years, the AeroPress® has been my go-to brewer for life on the road and trails. The functionality of the AeroPress® is ideal for a downsized lifestyle while simultaneously not compromising on yielding a quality cup of coffee. Here’s 7 reasons why you should consider get one:
- the AeroPress® brews a fantastic cup — very clean thanks to it utilizing a filter,
- the brewer is self contained and takes up little space in your van or backpack,
- it's virtually indestructible, I’ve used mine heavily for 5+ years without replacing any parts,
- the AeroPress® comes with a measuring scoop and water units are visible on the side of the brewing unit, so less complementary equipment is necessary to brew a great cup,
- aftermarket reusable metal filters allow your brew to be zero-paper waste,
- it pairs with your preexisting water boiling equipment in your van, no need for a fancy coffee kettle,
- it can be used to make cold brew by letting coffee grounds steep in the AeroPress® overnight — great for summer camping!
Brewing time: 1.5 minute
Grind size: fine
Coffee: 15g (indicative)
Water: 240g (indicative)
- Pour 50g of water evenly into the AeroPress®, on your finely ground coffee
- Gently stir the grounds to immerse all of the ground
- Wait for the coffee to bloom (10 seconds)
- In a spiral motion, pour another 210g of water
- Place the plunger on the brewer, slightly pull up to create a pressure seal
- Wait for the coffee to brew (1 minute)
- Gently and steadily press on the plunger
- When at the bottom, twist off the bottom cap, pop the grounds and the filter
Get your AeroPress®
The success of the AeroPress® has brought many to design aftermarket accessories. Here's my favorites.
"Focus on using quality coffee beans and a brew method you’re most comfortable with."
To take your vanlife brewing to the next level and really dial in your brewing you can incorporate a timer (your phone will do!) and a scale. A scale helps you establish a preferred water to coffee ratio. A timer will help you dial in your grind size by measuring how fast (or slow) water if flowing through your coffee.
Initially, focus on using quality coffee beans and a brew method you’re most comfortable with. With great beans, clean water and a sound brew method it’s difficult to make a cup you won’t enjoy.
Happy brewing, and see you on the road!
Take your roadside coffee experience to the next level
Build an eco-friendly coffee routine with these reusable products:
AeroPress® style Stainless Steel Filter - Fine Grind
AeroPress® style Stainless Steel Filter - Course Grind
Reusable Coffee Filters: Cone #4
Reusable Coffee Filters: Basket
Latte art on the go
Take your coffee making to the next level at the camp spot, with Subminimal's handheld-battery powered milk foamer and accessories:
Subminimal - NanoFoamer™: a surprising handheld and battery-powered milk foamer
Subminimal -FlowTip™ Milk Jug, indestructible with a heat-resistant handle
These two brewers take portability and functionality to the next level:
Varia Multi Brewer - six-in-one: filter, cold Brew, french press, moka pot, kettle and tea pot
Trinity Zero Mini Press: a stronger coffee in under 60 seconds, no filters required
Serve your camp coffee in style with our selection of unique enamel mugs. All hand-painted in Oregon by our friends over at Camp Mug Supply Co: