How To Make The Perfect Cup Of Coffee (In A Camper Van!)

We love coffee. And we’re not talking about a frothy, syrupy concoction where the exquisite flavor of masterfully roasted coffee beans is buried beneath souped-up sweetness. We love the perfect cup of black coffee. We love waking up in a camper van, maybe parked beneath sweeping cedars, or steps away from a sandy beach. We love wrapping our fingers around a steaming mug, eyelids popping open to greet the world with that first, blissful sip. It feels like a ritual, too precious to be wasted on a cup of coffee that’s too bitter, too sweet, too sludgy, or too watered-down.

In our local Portland experience, no one makes a more perfect cup of coffee than the brilliant baristas at Cathedral Coffee! So we invited Tara and Kim to give us an onboard demonstration on how to make the perfect cup of coffee … in a camper van.

Tara, Kim, and Big Ed the High Top Dodge Sprinter Camper Van

Tara, Kim, and Big Ed the High Top Dodge Sprinter Camper Van

3 Best Brew Methods For Small Spaces

The very first thing you need, of course, are high quality, freshly ground coffee beans. Searching for the best bean is a great way to get to know your local coffee experts, or for exploring out-of-town roasters while out on a road trip across the Pacific Northwest, perhaps. Our bean selection for this “how to make the perfect cup of coffee” demonstration is a Cathedral Coffee favorite from Proud Mary Roasters. Whichever bean you choose, you’ll want the grind to match your brew method, which we’ll detail below. The three methods Tara and Kim are brewing up in the Sprinter Van known as Big Ed are: 1) Pour Over 2) French Press 3) AeroPress. Plus, how to make the perfect cup of iced coffee!

Cool beans, Tara.

Cool beans, Tara.

Brew Method 1: Pour Over

What You’ll Need

  • A Pour Over Brewer

  • Cone-shaped paper filter

  • 25 grams/3 tbsp of ground coffee (medium-fine grind)

  • Kettle - Gooseneck is the best

  • 400 grams/~ 1 1/2 cups hot water, 200°-205° (not boiling)

  • Your favorite camping mug

If you don’t have a scale, 25 grams of coffee is roughly 3 tbsp. And 400 grams of hot water is about 1 1/2 cups. If you want to make more than a single cup, you can double the quantities and pour into a carafe instead of a mug.

  1. Open your paper filter and place inside the pour over brewer.

  2. Add 25 grams/3 tbsp of ground coffee.

  3. Slowly saturate the grounds with hot water, just enough to cover the grounds. Let it “bloom”, rising up and bubbling a bit.

  4. Pour the remaining hot water in a slow, even spiral, adding water every 10-15 seconds.

  5. Allow the brewer to sit on your mug or carafe until the hot water has ceased dripping. Then remove the brewer, and enjoy!

Brew Method 2: French Press

What You’ll Need

  • A French Press brewer (we used an 8 cup)

  • Kettle

  • 50 grams/6 tbsp of coffee (medium-coarse grind, like kosher salt)

  • 800 grams/~ 3 cups hot water, 200°-205° (not boiling)

  • Timer

  • Wooden or bamboo spoon or chopstick

Whatever size of French Press you use, you’ll want to rely on a ratio of about 1:15, coffee to water. It works out to be about 3 tbsp of coffee grounds per 1 cup of water.

  1. Pre-heat your French Press and plunger with a hot water rinse. You can also pre-heat your mug by pouring in some hot water and letting it sit while you brew your coffee.

  2. Measure and add your coffee grounds to the French Press, give it a little shake so the grounds even out on the bottom.

  3. Start the timer and begin pouring in the hot water in a steady, circular motion until all the grounds are saturated and the French Press is half full. Pause.

  4. When the timer is at 30 seconds, give the grounds a gentle stir with your spoon or chopstick and watch it bloom.

  5. Evenly pour the remaining hot water and then rest the plunger on top (but don’t plunge yet!).

  6. At the 4 minute mark, slowly push the plunger all the way down.

  7. Pour into your pre-heated mug, “cheers” a friend, and enjoy!

Brew Method 3: AeroPress

What You’ll Need

  • An AeroPress Brewer and Filter

  • 16 grams/ 2 1/2 tbsp ground coffee (fine-grind, like table salt)

  • Hot water (200°-205° (not boiling)

  • Timer

  • Wooden or bamboo spoon or chopstick

  • Mug

The AeroPress method is incredibly portable, utilizing pressure for extraction (similar to espresso) and fine coffee grounds for a quicker cup that’s out of this world delicious. If you don’t have a scale, use about 2 1/2 tbsp of finely ground coffee, and enough hot water to fill to the #4 on the brew chamber (about 8 oz).

  1. Prep your AeroPress. Put the filter into the basket. You can do a pre-rinse and pre-heat with hot water over the filter and into your mug. Then discard the rinse water.

  2. Affix the filter basket to the bottom of the brew chamber and place on top of your mug.

  3. Add the finely-ground coffee.

  4. Start your timer as soon as you begin to pour the hot water into the brew chamber. Saturate the grounds within 10 seconds. Pour until the hot water reaches the #4 on the brew chamber.

  5. Stir the grounds with a wooden spoon or chopstick, then place the plunger on top of the brew chamber and pull up a bit to create a pressure seal (but don’t plunge yet!).

  6. At one minute and 15 seconds, remove the plunger and give it another gentle stir.

  7. Then replace the plunger and gently press down.

  8. Remove the AeroPress from your mug, rinse off for later use, and then ahhhhhh, coffee time.

The Perfect Iced Coffee

What You’ll Need

  • Pour Over brewer

  • 25 grams/3 tbsp of ground coffee (medium-fine grind)

  • 200 grams/~ 3/4 cup of ice

  • 200 grams/~ 3/4 cup of hot water (same proportions as a regular pour over, you’re just doing 1/2 ice, 1/2 water)

  • Carafe

To make your perfect cup of iced coffee, first fill the carafe with ice. Then place your pour over brewer onto the carafe. Then simply follow the above instructions for the pour over method, pouring the hot water to saturate the grounds until they bloom, and then slowwwly adding in the remaining hot water. Give those delicious, steaming grounds a good whiff (so, so good!), and then pour yourself a perfect cup of iced coffee!

GoCamp. GoCoffee.

Life’s too short to drink icky coffee. So put down the single-use Starbucks packets. Leave the percolator at home. And brew up a cup that you’ll want to savor as the sun rises! GoCamp camper vans are road-trip ready, which means they’re fully equipped with everything you need for a comfortable road trip or camping experience. Many of our vans include brewing equipment for either pour over, French Press, or AeroPress, and we’ll make sure you have a full inventory of what’s included in your camper van rental so that all you’ll need to do is pack your clothes and pick up groceries (don’t forget the coffee!).

Thank you to Kim and Tara for their time and expertise, and for brewing up for us the perfect cup of coffee in a camper van! Visit Cathedral Coffee in North Portland, or on Highway 30 in Scappoose (on the way to the beautiful Oregon coast perhaps …) and give them a follow at @cathedralcoffee and @cathedralscappoose.

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