4 Ways to Make Great Coffee on the Road, According to a Nomadic Barista

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.

This post is presented by Caffewerks, a Pacific Northwest coffee & adventure company, and Simpler Ways seller

When on the road, I always have a minimalist brewing kit that allows me to enjoy coffee anywhere. No matter where I am, starting my day manually brewing a coffee helps me establish a routine: a much-needed luxury in a nomadic lifestyle. Over the years, I’ve experimented with different brew methods in pursuit of a system optimized for taste, portability, space consideration and time efficiency. 

Before I cover the top brewing methods for coffee on the go, it’s important to always remember that coffee is a fruit. Oxygen exposure is the #1 enemy of flavor preservation: just like how a watermelon will taste best when first cut... the fresher your coffee beans are when ground and brewed, the richer your coffee will taste.

Pre-ground coffee is convenient, but all the oxygen exposed surface area will rob your coffee of flavor.  You'll always get better coffee by minimizing bean exposure to oxygen, and grinding them right before brewing. 


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

Air-tight containers

Think of your coffee as a fruit when storing it. Limiting its exposure to oxygen with air-tight container will improve its freshness.

Airscape canister Classic

Airscape® - Airless coffee storage canister, Classic
View product

Airscape Kilo / Large

Airscape® - Airless coffee storage canister, Kilo (Large)
View product

Coffee Scoop by Planetary Design

Planetary Design - Coffee Scoop: 2 Tbs of ground coffee, fits in any canister
View product

Hand grinders

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.

VSSL Hand grinder

VSSL - Hand Grinder (stainless steel burr)
View product

Rhino Hand Grinder

Rhino™ Coffee Gear - Hand Grinder (ceramic burr)
View product

Rhino Hand grinder Aeropress

Rhino™ Coffee Gear - Hand Grinder (ceramic burr) + AeroPress® Adaptor
View product

Varia Hand grinder

Varia - Hand Grinder (stainless steel burr)
View product

1. The french press

Flavor: 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)
Instructions:

- 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
- Serve!

BruTrek OVRLNDR Travel Press

BruTrek™ - OVRLNDR Travel Press: brews 24 fl.oz. of coffee, removable bottom makes cleaning easy
View product

BruTrek Double Shot 3.0 Travel Press

BruTrek™ - Double Shot 3.0 Travel Press: the most portable, brews 16 fl.oz., integrated storage canister
View product

BruTrek Basecamp French Press

BruTrek™ - Basecamp French Press: the sturdiest press, works for tea as well
View product

2. The pour-over

Flavor: 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)
Instructions:

- 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!

Marley's Monsters Pour-over Silicone Cone

Pour Over Cone: Silicone
View product

Triangle Pour Over by Caffewerks

Foldable Triangle Pour-Over
View product

Spiral Dripper by Caffewerks

Foldable Spiral Dripper
View product

Marley's Monsters Reusable Coffee Filters: Cone #4

Reusable Coffee Filters: Cone #4
View product

3. The cold brew

Flavor: 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!

A cold brew could be made with virtually any press with a filtering system, such as the the French presses linked above, the Varia Multi Brewer, the AeroPress® Classic or the AeroPress® Go.

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:


  1. the AeroPress® brews a fantastic cup — very clean thanks to it utilizing a filter,
  2. the brewer is self contained and takes up little space in your van or backpack,
  3. it's virtually indestructible, I’ve used mine heavily for 5+ years without replacing any parts,
  4. 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,
  5. aftermarket reusable metal filters allow your brew to be zero-paper waste, 
  6. it pairs with your preexisting water boiling equipment in your van, no need for a fancy coffee kettle,
  7. it can be used to make cold brew by letting coffee grounds steep in the AeroPress® overnight — great for summer camping!

Flavor: using a metal filter will make for a bolder coffee than with paper filters, but it will be a very clean brew no matter what
Brewing time: 1.5 minute
Grind size: fine
Coffee: 15g (indicative)
Water: 240g (indicative)
Instructions:

- 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
- Enjoy!

Get your AeroPress®


Aeropress Classic

AeroPress® Classic
View product

Aeropress Go

AeroPress® Go
View product


AeroPress® Accessories

The success of the AeroPress® has brought many to design aftermarket accessories. Here's my favorites.

Rhino Hand Grinder with AeroPress® Adaptor

Rhino™ Coffee Gear Compact Hand Grinder with AeroPress® Adaptor
View product

AeroPress® Stainless Steel Filter - Fine Grind

AeroPress® style Stainless Steel Filter - Fine Grind
View product

AeroPress® Stainless Steel Filter - Course Grind

AeroPress® style Stainless Steel Filter - Course Grind
View product

Trestle - K Cup Adapter for AeroPress®

Trestle - K Cup Adapter for AeroPress®
View product

"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!



Website | Instagram

Take your roadside coffee experience to the next level

WASTE-FREE COFFEE

Build an eco-friendly coffee routine with these reusable products:


AeroPress® Stainless Steel Filter - Fine Grind

AeroPress® style Stainless Steel Filter - Fine Grind
View product

AeroPress® Stainless Steel Filter - Course Grind

AeroPress® style Stainless Steel Filter - Course Grind
View product

Marley's Monsters Reusable Coffee Filters: Cone #4

Reusable Coffee Filters: Cone #4
View product

Marley's Monsters Reusable Coffee Filters: Basket

Reusable Coffee Filters: Basket
View product

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:


NanoFoamer: Handheld and Battery-Powered Milk Foamer for Barista-Style Coffee

Subminimal - NanoFoamer™: a surprising handheld and battery-powered milk foamer
View product

FlowTip Milk Jug

Subminimal -FlowTip™ Milk Jug, indestructible with a heat-resistant handle
View product


THE innovators

These two brewers take portability and functionality to the next level:


Varia Multi Brewer

Varia Multi Brewer - six-in-one: filter, cold Brew, french press, moka pot, kettle and tea pot
View product

Trinity Zero Mini Press

Trinity Zero Mini Press: a stronger coffee in under 60 seconds, no filters required
View product


Hand-painted mugs

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:

Camp Mug supply Co Delica Love
Camp Mug Supply Co Aircooled Vanagon
Camp Mug Supply Co Westy Adventures
Camp Mug supply Co A-frame
Camp Mug Supply Co VW Bus
Camp Mug Supply Co The greatest places
Camp Mug supply Co Oregon Coast
Camp Mug Supply Co Stay wild

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published