Anyone that’s been hanging around The RV Atlas headquarters for awhile knows that Jeremy is a campground coffee freak. It wasn’t always that way, though. In fact, he had never had a cup of coffee in his life before getting hooked at an AP English convention in his mid-30s.
Because he came to the coffee game so late in life, Jeremy approached the whole thing like it was college class and he wanted to score an A+. He had to try all the methods. Learn all the terminology. Buy all the gadgets.
So yes, we’ve experimented with every major coffee-making device, and we are ready to take you through them, RVFTA style. There’s no perfect way to make campground coffee. You have to find the best method for your taste and camping style. We’ll talk about the pros and cons of each camp coffee method, and hopefully lead you to a better cuppa joe.
Plus, we threw in a bonus segment on warm spirits, for any of you non-coffee drinkers out there. To find the recipes for 5 delicious hot beverages to enjoy around a campfire, click here.
Campground Coffee: Two Methods we DON’T Recommend
We’ve tried them all. Seriously. Our coffee set up has changed so many times over the last nine years, you could get dizzy trying to keep track of our java history.
Four of these methods are highly approved and in regular rotation at the campground. We’ll get to them shortly.
But first. We have to get the no-no’s out of the way. For more of the backstory on why these two methods got the boot early on, you’ll have to listen to the podcast segment.
First off…the Aeropress.
The Aeropress came highly recommended by many coffee snobs, and we were actually quite excited to try it out. It’s small and sleek. Plus, it doesn’t require electricity since you can just heat the water in a kettle over the fire or propane stove. Well we could never make a great cup of coffee in the Aeropress despite our best efforts. It was strong enough or hot enough. And, of course, if only made a small bit at a time which didn’t suit Jeremy’s coffee chugging tendencies.
So we moved on and never looked back.
Then there was also the time Jeremy came home from Costco with the ubiquitous Keurig machine.
It took a few weeks of stubborn experimenting with different pods and water amounts for Jeremy to admit that the Keurig just does not make a strong, robust cup of coffee.
Is it fast and convenient? Absolutely.
Will we use one in a pinch while waiting for our oil to be changed at the local gas station? You betcha.
But the machine got returned to Costco and we’ve never missed it for a minute.
So enough of the Negative Nellie talk and moving onto the four campground coffee methods that we love and adore…
Percolator Campground Coffee
This is the gold standard for campground coffee, right? There’s just something about making coffee over the fire that feels so outdoorsy and completely Instagrammable. Plus, percolators actually LOOK cool sitting around your campsite, or in the RV. You don’t need electricity to perk, so this method should be your go to if you tent camp or dry camp in an RV.
So what’s the downside? Well those coffee snobs claim that this is the absolute worst way to make coffee. The heat of an open flame gets too hot and the coffee gets over-extracted. This leads to a bitter taste. Perking can also take a whole heck of a long time. Many folks just don’t want to wait that long for their morning cup of joe.
Our inside tip? If you do decide to perk, stick with a smaller percolator. You’ll get a quicker, better tasting cup of coffee.
Drip Campground Coffee
Let’s be completely honest. Even though we mix up our camp coffee game, this is the one method that is in play the most. We have a complete replication of our home coffee set up in the Octane Toy Hauler. Drip coffee makers are easy to use, and can produce large pots of coffee for a crowd. They are also easy to clean. We love that they come with a variety of price points and levels of quality. The bottom line is that you can buy a drip machine that will make a cup of coffee that tastes almost as good as a cup from an elite coffee shop. You might pay a pretty penny, but you can get it.
However, a drip machine can take up a lot of counter (or cabinet) space in an RV, which can be a deal breaker for some of our small trailer owners. You also, of course, need electricity to run the darn things. This isn’t an issue for us now that we have solar. But if you dry camp a lot, you’ll want to consider another option.
The best inexpensive drip machine that we recommend is the Hamilton Beach 12 Cup Coffee Maker. Jeremy has this in regular rotation at his workplace.
We have a much more expensive option in the RV. The Bonavita cost nearly $200 when we bought it years ago. Now you can snag it for a cool $97 on Amazon. That’s a bargain price point for a machine that has lasted almost about eight years now.
French Press Campground Coffee
We probably like the taste of French Press coffee more than any other method out there. French Press makes a rich and flavorful cup of coffee that we adore. However, some folks find the taste oily and aren’t big fans. French presses are inexpensive to buy and easy to store. Plus you save money because you don’t ever have to buy filters again.
We used the French Press in our RV for years before finally bringing in our drip coffee maker. Why did we give it up? Well, they can be a little delicate and easy to break. But the real pain was cleaning up the darn thing. Scraping out all those grounds on a daily basis stuck in Stephanie’s craw. Jeremy was mostly annoyed that it didn’t stay hot long enough. All of these little grievances added up over time. The French Press is still in the RV. We just don’t get it out of the cabinet that often.
Pour Over Campground Coffee
The coffee snobs will tell you that the best coffee method of all is the pour over. And they are right. A pour over has a lot to recommend for itself. The equipment is cheap, cheap, cheap. Plus it’s small and easy to store in an RV or camp kitchen. If you are the only coffee drinker in the family, it’s easy to make one cup with no waste.
However, it is harder to get the method down to a science. It also takes a lot more time than hitting the button on that drip machine. Ultimately, we don’t like investing this much time and attention to getting our coffee fix in the morning. But if you’re a ritualistic type of person and love starting your day of slow, this will be practically perfect in every way.
Don’t forget to check out our two other blog posts with recipes from this podcast episode. We have our 5 Favorite Pie Iron Dinners and Stephanie’s Favorite Warm Spirits for the Campfire.
See you at the Campground,
Stephanie + Jeremy