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Coffee while boondocking: You can do good things with little water

Coffee. To say I’m passionate about it would be like stating I like beer. But maybe I like coffee more than I like beer, and I’m pretty picky. That hot brown liquid in most “coffee shops” isn’t something I enjoy. 

When I was working for Apple many, many years ago, a representative from Aldus Corporation (that may take some of you back, who knows?) told me about a little coffee shop she found near their headquarters called Starbucks and I started mail ordering their coffee then. Who knew the company would grow to where they are now? 

I wish I had kept my money in Apple and bought a bit of Starbucks, but that’s another story for another day. 

Anyhow, knowing how much I like coffee, a representative from a company called Amor Perfecto reached out and asked if I’d like to try their coffee. That got me interested in writing a whole story about coffee on the road, specifically while boondocking, which you’re reading now. 

Coffee while boondocking gadget

There are a lot of ways to make coffee, including the recent fad of K-cups. But the best way that I’ve found, which happens to be great for boondocking, is either a French Press or an Aeropress. 

I really like the Aeropress because it makes one cup at a time and cleanup is a breeze. You grind the coffee (I have an electric grinder at home, a manual one for on the road) and then put it in the Aeropress. 

Heat the water to 190° F and then pour and wait two minutes. Then you press down over your cup of choice and enjoy. Yum-o. 

This makes a great cup of very strong coffee, but my wife will add water to hers as she’s not an espresso drinker. 

The best thing about the Aeropress, to me, is that the cleanup does make it ideal for coffee while boondocking. You just pop out the grounds and you’re almost done. A quick rinse finishes the job and you’ve used very, very little water. 

And, boy, do you get a great cup of coffee. The Aeropress is made of plastic so it travels well. While I’m usually not a fan of plastic and hot liquids, this seems to work really well and not impart any weird taste to the final product. 

Using the Aeropress while boondocking also means that you can heat water in the method that works best for boondocking. We have a propane stove (with a 22” oven—none of this worthless tiny oven nonsense!), so we heat the water that way and use a candy thermometer to make sure the water’s at the right temperature. Yes, I’m that picky. 

The coffee itself, for boondocking or home

I mentioned that I used to get coffee from Starbucks many years ago, but I’ve since stopped. It seems that their beans are just over-roasted and the coffee tastes more burned than anything. 

Lots of folks buy blended drinks from them, but I should also mention that I like my coffee like I like my night sky—pitch black. 

Amor Perfecto

I got my bag of coffee from Amor Perfecto, who sent their Nariño coffee. Amor Perfecto is actually a family farm that not only grows its coffee in Colombia, but also roasts and ships it. The company states that, while typical coffee in your hands was picked 24-144 weeks ago, theirs averages six weeks. 

The coffee I have been buying is from a small, Fair Trade roaster, so their story intrigued me. 

The Nariño coffee they sent is a much lighter roast than I usually go for. I did what I always do and ground up a cup’s worth and went through the whole water temperature and brewing ritual that might annoy some folks. 

This is a really good cup of coffee. I was surprised by how flavorful and delightful it was. This lighter roast did not lack flavor, and I thought it was rather complex with some notes of fruit and a nice earthy tone. 

My wife, on the other hand, wasn’t very impressed. Coffee—like beer, relationships, colors of the rainbow and so many other things—is a rather subjective thing. While so many folks just drink what they’ve always drunk, I do encourage you to go be adventurous once in a while. I was surprised, though. 

Thanksgiving coffee

What I normally have been buying nowadays is from Thanksgiving Coffee, which is also a relatively small company in Fort Bragg, California. It brews coffees they get primarily from small family farms and purchase in fair trade arrangements. 

My typical choice from them is called Songbird and it has a flavor that gives me a hint of blueberry. But Songbird is a fairly dark roast, as well.

However, they were out of Songbird, so this time I got a bag of Noyo Harbor French. It was a very, very dark roast that was a bit strong for my liking. I’m going to go back to Songbird when I run out. 

Again, subjective. 

A few years ago when we bought a bed and breakfast, we went and visited Thanksgiving Coffee and saw how they roasted the coffees and where they came from and all of that. I learned better how to make a good cup of coffee, which I’ve shared here. 

Thanksgiving Coffee still delivers to the bed and breakfast my wife and I owned, even though we sold it seven odd years ago. 

The bottom line

Coffee is like love. We each have what strikes passion in our souls, although a lot of coffee I’ve tasted really could be a simple substitute for licking the gutter. Or something like that. 

I love the origin story of the Amor Perfecto and also like that they’re working to make the coffee process better for all involved. However, this comes at a price and a bag of their coffee isn’t cheap. 

Thanksgiving Coffee, too, supports farmers, though I suspect the farmers are happier under Amor Perfecto. 

Neither of these are the cheapest coffees you can buy, but I like the idea of helping support the farmers who grow this, so I vote with my hardly-earned money. However, I also know a lot of people who think I’m nuts, and, for the most part, I can’t argue that. 

But the main takeaway from this might be that you don’t need electricity nor a lot of water to brew a great cup of coffee while boondocking, no matter what your preference. For us Boondockers, that can make a big difference. 

I look forward to your replies!

##RVT1051

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Steven N
6 days ago

Love, love, love my AeroPress! I use it both at home and work. I even take it with me when visiting relatives so I can have my fix the way I like it. I got it this winter so haven’t taken it camping yet but plan on it.

Eric
8 days ago

Our RV’ing coffee is a Peet’s dark roast. Usually their French Roast, but sometime other blends like their limited release Yosemite blend, depending on the choices at our local Costco.
Fill the french press with water, pour that water into a pan and bring to a boil on the stove. When the water boils, turn the heat off, let it sit for half a minute, then pour back into the french press that you’ve added the ground coffee to already. Put the lid on, wait four minutes, the press the plunger and it’s ready.
Dump the grounds in the trash & rinse the pot out over the fire pit.

Bob Weinfurt
9 days ago

I think I’m too simple a person to jump into this topic.
I make my coffee using Folgers in an old (had it for 38 years) comet aluminum stove top percolator. It always comes out good as long as you don’t perk it more than 8 minutes or with the stove turned up too high. After pouring a cup I put the rest into a thermos so it stays hot. Just throw out the grounds and a quick rinse and it’s ready for the next brew.

Scott
9 days ago

Tony, you need to try Mayorga coffee. They are based in Maryland, but they ship anywhere. They buy directly from the farmers, all their coffee is organic. They have cut out the middlemen. They have dark, light, medium roast. All are delicious. Give them a try.

Megan Edwards
9 days ago

What about good old cowboy coffee. Easy to make and if made right, delicious.

Gene Bjerke
9 days ago

We use coffee bags (like tea bags, but full of ground coffee, not instant). Just heat some water on the stove and pour over the bag in the cup. Great for an RV — minimum storage, no equipment needed, and my wife likes it.

Sherry
9 days ago

6 months ago we used our cheap Mr Coffee drip and what-ever on salesale preground beans. For an anniversary present for ourselves we got an espresso machine. The only espresso we had ever tasted were abroad (super great) or Starbucks (over advertised and burned). We too have had great fun learning about different beans and trying them out. In February our kids got us a small batch roaster. The end of this month we head out on a mostly boondocking adventure with our grandson. He weights about the same as our coffee paraphernalia but produces more energy than he uses so we chose to take him. We tried the old time stove top espresso machine but was a mess. Now we are going to use two insulated metal french press and I got a hand grinder. It will be the grandson’s job to grind the coffee every day for us. He is growing up in Seattle so he gets it. Happy travels to all

Firefly
9 days ago

Like you Tony, I can’t start my morning without a cup out of my AreoPress. And you’ve really nailed it with how easy the cleanup is. I travel full-time and enjoy visiting local roasters to get fresh beans. It can be hit or miss in terms of quality, but it’s usually an interesting experience because these small scale roasters are doing it out of passion, not profit. Wish you had mentioned what you were using to grind your beans.

Irvin Kanode
9 days ago

A French press is the easiest way to make good coffee in an RV. The problem when boondocking is they use a lot of water to clean. The solution is a french press paper filter. Make coffee, then just dump the filter and grounds in the trash without any grounds stuck to the side of the French press.

Caffi French Press filters. (They come in several sizes.)
https://www.roastmasters.com/french-press-xl-filters.html

A French press for RVing needs to be unbreakable. I use this one both at home and in the RV. (They make smaller sizes.)
https://gsioutdoors.com/30-fl-oz-javapress.html

Cathleen Moore
9 days ago

I’ve got three aeropress makers now. One home, one in RV, and one for the road when not in the camper. I heat my water in a mini silicon pot made to heat on my burner convection “hot” plate. Drinking Cafe BuStella – already ground, espresso style, with chocolate undertones. I drink it dark and rich.

TIM MCRAE
9 days ago

Tony I agree with everything your saying except I gotta ask why your not roasting your own beans. It’s incredibly easy and you can use your bbq or rv grill.

Great article. I love your passion & your writing. This is not criticism just what I do.

Coffee beans lose more flavor after they are roasted than after they get ground. {As much as 50%}. Google how to grill your own beans. It’s all there.

But, I gave up the whole thing. You can buy, roast, grind, and store airtight, in advance for purrfect coffee whenever you want it. However you can buy pre-ground luxury coffee at the supermarket. Right now I am enjoying an amazing turkish medium roast that I bought at Kroger. Airtight seal as fresh as the day it was roasted!

I also use a cowboy percolator. I can ‘steep’ as long as I want and I get a perfect 190 degrees. I hate all the coffee press gadgetry and I never make just 1 (or even 4) cups!

Steve Comstock
10 days ago

Tony, I will have to admit being a card-carrying coffee-colic. To help with boon docking, I have recently discovered the Bialetti Brikka and a portable, battery-powered burr grinder. The combination works so well, that even at home, I start with a double espresso from that combination!

Eric
10 days ago

When boondocking we use a drip coffee maker (think “Mr. Coffee”) but instead of using electricity it is heated on the stove, When the coffee is made I turn off the burner (a must on order not to damage the unit), put the hot coffee in a thermos and have hot coffee all day long.
In this way we get the same coffee while boondocking as we get when using our electric drip coffee maker . . . without taxing our batteries!
Our unit was made by Coleman but I believe there are others offering the same type of unit.

Wren Grace
10 days ago

Both of my son-in-laws use an Aeropress to make their coffee and wouldn’t be caught without it! One son-in-law used to own a coffee shop and he still roasts his own beans! Thanks for “spilling the beans!”