How to make coffee

Few things in life are as essential as coffee—maybe water and oxygen (both ingredients needed to make coffee by the way). Since being on the road, we’ve tried a variety of coffee brewing techniques before settling on Aeropress our morning joe. In this post I will outline the various methods and their pratfalls. 

Coffeemaker: For those in an honest-to-god RV—one of those movable hotel rooms, this is probably the best option because you’ll have a robust electrical system. Alas, my electrical system is simply two golf cart batteries hooked together and the draw is simply too much. Add in the coffee filters and a (usually) glass carafe and it’s just not the right fit for us. 

Pour over: One of our driveway hosts did a pour-over cup for both Miracle and I one morning and it was perfect. He used purified water and heated it to the exact right temperature before systematically pouring it clockwise over the funnel thingy full of fresh ground beans. Don’t get me wrong—it was amazing, but I just don’t have the monk-like dedication to make artisanal coffee like that first thing in the morning. 

French press: Every hipster’s favorite method of making coffee involves several implements: a kettle to heat water, the glass tube with the plunger, a stir, and patience. Much like the pour-over, I appreciate the artisanal nature of the brew; however, going through the steps of French press whilst still waking up is like asking a chimp to solve a quadratic equation. Add in the messiest clean-up of all these brewing methods and I’ll take a hard pass. 

Instant coffee / coffee crystals: Get away from me, Satan. 

Stovetop percolator: Pre-divorce I had a really cool, all-glass Pyrex percolator so you could actually watch the water turn to coffee like there was a tiny coked-up Jesus in there. That percolator belongs to the ages now. The best part is how self-contained and no-nonsense the stovetop perc is. Fill it up with water, put the course ground grounds in the basket and set it on the burner until the liquid in the perc cap turns the proper shade of brown. When you take it off the stove, let it settle for 30ish seconds and then you have the most perfect piping hot java you could want. Even better is the the percolator can be set in a fire or even on a grill. Clean up is super easy and takes no time at all. We used a stovetop perc for the first 12 weeks of our trip before discovering a better option. What are the pratfalls, you ask? First, the percolator itself is not of the quality of my old Pyrex one (and before anyone asks, we try to not keep any glass in the bus… so no replacement Pyrex for us). We bought the perc we use from Cabela’s, where they stock mostly guns and ‘Merica wear. The tinny little thing has a clear plastic cap that survives close to nothing at all. Add in that the base is narrow and regularly tipped sideways on the stove riser, and it was just a pain in ass.

The percolator also takes a cruelly long time to heat up in the cold. Like nearly a half hour long. If you can imagine waking up in a stealth camping area under the threat of a ranger or cop rolling you out and it’s cold and you have a couple hours of driving ahead of you, the thought of watching the perc slowly come to a boil is enough to make you consider coffee crystals stuffed into your lip like a wad of tobacco dip. In warmer times when you have the luxury of a leisurely day ahead, this is a fine method.

Which brings us to our current coffee method:

Aeropress: Our friends at Happy Productions turned us on to this method. Emma specifically said this was her favorite because it reduces the acidity in your java. We love that it is super quick. You heat up a tea kettle of water (and yes, fellow nerds, a kettle with the wider, lipped base is designed to collect and distribute heat more efficiently than, say, that cheap ass perc I got from Cabela’s. You dump a scoop of coffee into a tube with a little paper filter. Add the hot water, stir, and press. Piping hot, fresh coffee—that, yes, is smooth and surprisingly acid-free—is ready instantly. Plus, the clean-up is a snap: unscrew the mesh cap and plunge the puck of grounds and filter into the trash.

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