Updated: May 7
Hi everybody, we're back with another recommendation post for you all and today we are going to cover ways to make top quality proper coffee in your van or out and about on adventures.
For coffee enthusiasts being able to make a decent cup of coffee in their vans is very important and thankfully there are plenty of awesome, travel friendly products on the market that are perfect for van life that use traditional methods of making coffee. Don't forget decent coffee far outdates electric coffee machines so the traditional methods are ideal for van life, camping and any other outdoor activity where electric isn't the best option.
In this post we cover a few different styles of coffee makers, some are better for some situations than others so it all depends on what type of coffee you like, what you will be using it for, your budget etc so we have tried our best to find something in each style to suit all options. Because of this we haven't made it a top 10 post where we have listed them from 10 to 1 with 1 being our favourite we have listed them in no particular order.
We have also added loads of option extras and other coffee related items for coffee lovers after our list so if that sounds like something you are interested in please keep scrolling and check them out, we have linked to some really awesome stuff!
So with that being said here are the 10 Awesome Proper Coffee Solutions For Van Life in no particular order...
French press (cafetière) style coffee makers are in no way new to the market and are a simple and quick way to make amazing coffee.
Before coffee machines became so popular everywhere the French press was the most common way of making proper coffee in homes, restaurants, hotels etc but you hardly see them anywhere now.
They are vey easy to use and produce top quality black coffee a decent amount at a time, all you need to do is fill them with water, spoon in your coffee, leave it for a while then push the plunger down slowly until it reaches the bottom of the cafetière and it is ready to pour and drink.
They work by pushing the coffee grinds down through the water with a metal filter that only allows the water to pass up through it, this means there are no paper filters needed (apart from the contradiction below) so once you have the a cafetière there are no extra costs apart from your coffee
1. AeroPress Go Travel
Our first recommendation is the AeroPress Go travel. These amazing little gadgets are very popular with van lifers, campers, hikers, and pretty much anybody that enjoys coffee and the outdoors. The non travel version is also very popular with coffee lovers around the world who use them in their house out of choice... Yes they really are that good.
The travel version is only slightly smaller than the normal version but it also comes with its own little cup and lid making it perfect for travel and space saving.
They can make 3 cups of espresso or 1 cup of normal coffee at a time and they couldn't be any quicker or easier to use. They do however work slightly differently to any other french press as you push the water through the coffee instead of pushing the coffee through the water and this means that you need a cup to catch the coffee in instead of it remaining inside. Another difference between the AeroPress and other french press style coffee makers is the contradiction that we mentioned earlier and that is you do need to use some kind of a filter with them. You can either buy disposable one use filters or metal reusable ones that come in mesh, extra fine, fine etc so enthusiasts can get everything just the way the like it.
The price is quite reasonable too for the quality of coffee you can make in them and if you get the mesh filters instead of disposable ones then once you have purchased them you there will be no extra costs and you can spend your money on better coffee or your van or if you live in a house you can use it to pay your endless bills.
AeroPress 10R11 Go Travel Coffee Maker, Free of Phthalate, Grey
For more info on how to use the AeroPress Go Travel please check out their video below. For accessories for it please see further down the post
AeroPress Filter Papers, Pack of 350, White
AIEX 700pcs Unbleached Paper Coffee Filter Round Replacement Coffee Filters Fits for Aerobie Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Makers (6.4cm/2.5inch in Diameter)
Reusable Filters for AeroPress Coffee Maker - FINE, ULTRA-FINE and MESH - Premium Stainless Steel - Brewing Guide Included
2. Betterbrew Travel French Press
Our next awesome French press option works in the same way as a traditional French press but with an added bonus.
As space in a van is always at a premium it is always good when you can find something that has more than one function and this is what makes this option perfect for van life as it is also a travel mug/flask too. Not only can you save on valuable space you can also save valuable water and time as it reduces the amount of things you need to wash up.
As we mentioned above it works in the same way as a traditional French press so there will be no extra costs involved once your own it and no running out of filters when you are in the middle of nowhere or up early before the shops are open.
They come in glass or stainless steel, we suggest getting the stainless steel version if you live an active live and don’t want to risk smashing it. The stainless steel one does however hold slightly less coffee but will keep your drink hot for longer than the glass version.
BetterBrew Travel French Press Coffee Maker | Portable Insulated Coffee Press with Plunger for Travel, Commuting and Outdoors | Borosilicate Glass Cup for Proper Coffee to Go! (15 oz)
Betterbrew Travel French Press Coffee Maker | Portable Insulated Coffee Press with Plunger for Travel, Commuting and Outdoors | Stainless Steel Cup for Proper Coffee To Go! (13 oz)
For more info on how to use the Betterbrew Travel French Press please watch the video below
3. Groenenberg French Press
Our final French press offering is just a really good traditional french press coffee maker. Goenenberg make really good quality equipment and have made it into our list twice and this post three times today.
It is double walled stainless steel so it will keep your coffee warm for far longer than any glass
cafetière's could. They are also a lot less delicate than glass and this is a must for campers or motorhomes.
You can make up to 3 cups of coffee at a time and because of the previously mentioned double walled stainless steel design if you are on your own you can save some for later and not need to boil water again. It is also perfect for couples as the 3 cups is more like 2 big cups in reality.
Just like the Betterbrew above these do not require any filters so once you have one you are good to go...
Groenenberg French Press Coffee Maker 0,6 Litre | 3 Cup Stainless Steel Coffee Press | Double-Walled Cafetière & incl. Extra Filter | Portable | for Home & Camping
We couldn't find any videos by this company but if you don't know how to use a french press to make coffee please watch the video below for a simple step by step tutorial
POUR OVER/FILTER COFEE/DRIP COFEE
Pour over is the traditional way of making coffee in many countries around the world and is has recently become very trendy and popular again with coffee enthusiasts all over the world with Chemex coffee makers as their weapon of choice. Chemex coffee makers are made from glass though so would be way to fragile for van life and wouldn't last long at all.
They work by pouring hot water over coffee grinds in a filter and letting the coffee drip through the filter into a cup or a mug hence the three popular names for it mentioned above. The are very easy to use and make it easy to make proper coffee literally anywhere especially with the options below.
4. Wolecok Coffee Dripper Cone.
If you are looking for a budget, space saving, light weight but very well made option that does the job it was made for perfectly this might be the perfect option for you. Because of this reason it is also a fantastic option for camping trips, hiking, fishing, days out etc as it is made of silicone and collapsible so it takes up very little space and weighs next to nothing.
The one downside to these things is you need to use coffee filters with them and that will be a reoccurring cost however it really is a small price to pay for the convenience of it.
All you have to do is pop it out, place it on a cup, place a filter inside, spoon in ground coffee, pour in hot water and wait for the cup to fill up.
Size 2 filters are the correct size please see the links below...
Wolecok Silicone Collapsible Coffee Filter, Camping Coffee Dripper Cone, Pour Over Coffee Brewer
300 Size 2 Coffee Filter Paper Cones, Unbleached
Our next pour over option is perfect for anybody that just wants a simple, low cost, light weight option for use inside your van or home. It wouldn't last long in a bag on adventures as I wouldn't exactly describe it as heavy duty but in the safety of your van it will be perfect.
It has a built in filter as you can see from the photo below so once you have it there are no extra costs and it comes with a brush to keep it clean.
Again they are super easy to use as you just place it on top of your cup or mug, spoon in some ground coffee, pour over hot water and wait for your cup to fill.
E-PRANCE Metal Coffee Filter, Stainless Steel Pour Over Coffee Filter, Paperless and Permanent, Reusable Coffee Cone Dripper with Separate Stand for 1-2 Cups
6. Stanley Perfect Brew
If you are the type of person that likes top quality equipment that is built to last this is the perfect option for you. The Stanley Perfect Brew is very sturdy and will last a very long time.
Although these are quite big we would still class it as portable and good for camping, hiking fishing etc as they won't get damaged in your bag unlike the option above, so this is a good all rounder option for people who like coffee in the van or on the go.
Again the perfect brew has a filter built in so you don't have to keep buying filters for it, once you have purchased it there are no extra costs unless you want to buy some of the cool matching accessories in the same product line. (we will post links further down in the post))
STANLEY Perfect Brew Pour Over
STANLEY Camp Pour Over Set
For more info on how to use the Stanley Perfect Brew please watch the video below.
MOKA POTS/ESPRESSO MAKERS
Moka pots/Stovetop Espresso makers were invented in 1933 by an Italian man called Alfonso Bialetti and are to this day used by millions of Italians (and others) every day because of the quality of coffee they produce and we all know that Italians make a really good cup of coffee.
As the alternate name suggests these make coffee on your stovetop and work in a different way to pour over and french press coffee makers. They use pressurised steam to force the hot water from the bottom of the pot, up through the ground coffee and into the section in the top. When the noise stops your coffee is done.
Espresso makers also use pressure to make the coffee but need a lot more than Moka pots do. The typical pressure a Moka pot will use is 1-2 bar and Espresso makers need a very specific 9 bars of pressure to be considered a true Espresso. They use steam for this too and this means they use a lot of power to heat the water so most need a 240v power supply and use a lot of water to turn into steam so the machines have to be plumbed into a water supply too. They also take up a lot of counter space because of the size and weigh a lot too.
Don't worry there are a few decent options on the market for van life and outdoor activities so please see number 9 in our list for our favourite tiny, portable, awesome Espresso maker!
7. Bialetti Moka Express
The first Moka Pot that we are going to recommend is basically the godfather of Moka pots and invented by the very same Alfonso Bialetti that we mentioned above… The Bialetti Moka Express Aluminium Stovetop Coffee Maker.
The original and still the best after nearly 100 years and that says a lot about the quality of both the product and the coffee it produces.
They are very simple to use and clean (video posted below), make amazing coffee, doesn't require any extra filters, and come in different colours and sizes so you can choose the perfect colour or size for you and or your family.
Although these are a perfect option for making coffee in your van, camper, caravan, boat etc they wouldn't be ideal for camping, back packing and other outdoor activities as they are quite big and take up valuable space in your bag.
The one problem with the Bialetti Moka Express that you might run into is it isn't compatible with induction stoves. They do make a model that does work with induction stoves or a plate to put on an induction stove to make them compatible (please see milk frothers further down) if that is something you might be interested in or you could see the next option on the list.
Bialetti Moka Express Aluminium Stovetop Coffee Maker
Bialetti Moka Express Aluminium Stovetop Coffee Maker
Bialetti Moka Express (3 Cup)
Bialetti Moka Express 6 Cup Espresso Maker
For more info on how to use the Bialetti Moka Express please watch the video below
8. Groenenberg Espresso Maker
As we mentioned above if you are looking for a Moka Pot and have an induction cook top you will need one that has be designed in the current century and although Bialetti do have a new model that is it is basically the same as the option below but twice the price.
Groenenberg make some awesome products at a reasonable price! We have tried and tested their French press, Coffee grinder and Moka pot and all are top quality and built to last.
Groenenberg Espresso Maker | Moka Pot Induction | 4-6 Cup stovetop Coffee Maker (200-300 ml) | Stainless Steel Italian Coffee Maker incl. Extra sealings & Manual (4 Cup, 200 ml)
9. Wacaco Nanopresso
The Nanopresso is our favourite accessory in this list and there are a few reasons for this.
First and above all the other reasons it is our favourite is the quality of Espresso is produces with such little time and effort needed. It really is professional quality coffee and once you have tried it you will know what I mean by that, it even leaves a beautiful crema on the top like the big posh Italian coffee machines and nothing else on this list can do that. If you like beautiful silky smooth crema topped coffee on your adventures look no further.
The next reason this is our favourite is the size and weight of it. Even in its protective case it is small enough to fit in a kitchen drawer, a side pocket of a back pack or even a large coat or trouser pocket making it not only an awesome option for van life but also pretty much any activity at all if you carry a flask full of hot water too. (please keep scrolling for flasks)
Another reason we like them so much is because they look good, we know it says nothing about the functionality of them but accessories that look good always get an extra tick in the pro's column from us. There are lots of different colours and designs available so you can choose one that you like as they all cost the same amount.
The final reason this is our favourite option on the list is the optional extras available for it and the most notable of them are the coffee pod adapters. Yes you heard me right you can now enjoy your favourite coffee pods out and about making the Nanopresso even easier to use on the go and clean after use. Currently there are only two adapter options so they are not compatible with every pod on the market but you can get one compatible with Nespresso pods and one compatible with Dolce Gusto pods so there are plenty of pods to choose from.
You can also get a flask compatible with it to use on the go... Please keep scrolling for a link and for some awesome flasks!
And finally you can get the Barista kit that doubles thew capacity of coffee and water you can fit so you can make a double shot or even two at the same time if you are a couple or have company.
WACACO Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker Bundled with Protective Case, Upgrade Version of Minipresso, 18 Bar Pressure, Travel Coffee Maker, Manually Operated (Nanopresso Journey Winter Ride)
Available in many colours, some not shown here.
For more info on how to use the Nanopresso please watch the video below.
WACACO Nanopresso NS Adapter, Accessory to Allow Nanopresso to be Compatible with NS Capsules, Perfect for Traveling, Camping or Office Use
DOLCE GUSTO ADAPTER
Wacaco DG Kit, Accessory for Nanopresso Compatible with DG Coffee Capsules, Perfect for Traveling, Camping or Office Use
WACACO Nanopresso Barista Kit, Accessory for Allowing Nanopresso Machine to Prepare Lungo or Double Espresso
The last option on our list today isn't for everybody but have earned their place due to the simplicity of them and that is coffee bags.
These are the perfect solution for anybody that likes proper coffee but not all the time and effort it takes to make it. One of the secrets to amazing coffee is freshly ground coffee so the quality is never going to be as good as any of the options above where you have the choice to grind it just before you make it however it is still a huge step up from instant coffee and couldn't be easier to prepare.
They work in exactly the same way as tea bags and are just as quick too...
10. Coffee Bags
When it comes to coffee bags it's pretty hard to recommend specific one as it all depends on your own tastes and preferences. It is basically just case of finding the perfect blend for you.
There are so many options on the market and there is a good chance that your favourite brands of ground coffee already offer their product in bag form, ours certainly do.
So with that being said here are a few of our favourite brands in bags...
Lazy Ape Coffee Club - 50 Coffee Bags | SMOOTH ARABICA
Taylors of Harrogate Hot Lava Java Coffee Bags 10 Enveloped Bags, 75g
Moreish Coffee Roasters Strong Shit! Coffee Bags - Dark Roasted Blend of Arabica and Robusta (50 Coffee Bags)
Taylors Of Harrogate Rich Italian Coffee Bags, 75 g
Devil's Roast 🔱 Extra-Strong Highly Caffeinated Bold Coffee 🔱 50 Coffee Bags 🔱 Premium Robusta by Black Donkey Coffee Roasters
For those of you that like frothy, milky coffee like Cappuccino, Latte, Mocha etc there are a few good options on the market to choose from all good for different circumstances.
If you want something portable that you can take with you anywhere you go this Dallfoll USB rechargeable milk frother would be perfect for you. They might look cheap and rubbish but they're really not, they can froth your milk up in no time at all and are super powerful. They also come with a few extra attachments for beating eggs etc so they are multifunctional and that is always good for van life as storage space is always a problem.
The one thing this type of frother can't do that the rest of the frothers on the list can is heat the milk too so that will need to be done independently from the frothing.
Milk Frother, Dallfoll Coffee Frother Electric Whisk, Handheld Milk Frothers USB Rechargeable, 3 Gear Adjustable Milk Bubbler for Latte, Cappuccino, Hot Chocolate, Egg Beating (New Version Black)
If you are looking for an awesome frother to use in your van that both heats and froths your milk we recommend another product by Bialetti and that is their Tuttocrema stove top milk frother. Bialetti products never fail to impress and always excel at the jobs they were designed to do and this can seriously froth milk to perfection...
They do however suffer from the same problem as their Moka Pots and are not suitable for induction stoves. If you do have an induction stove and would like to use one of these in your van you can get a plate for the stove that makes it possible to use one. I will post a link to it below. If you have an induction stove and are open to another idea please see the next option...
Bialetti CD Tuttocrema-166 ml Tuttocrema-Manual Milk frother with a Capacity of 166 ml, Plastic, Black
Bialetti DCDESIGN08 Piattello Induzione Per Moka Induction Plate, Suitable for Coffee Makers up to 6 Cups and Small pots, 25.5 x 13 x 5.5 cm, Steel, 6 Pints, Silver
Our final milk frother choice isn't going to be the best choice for most people however there are a few circumstances where it will be the best choice or a viable option at least.
If you only consume non dairy products this is 100% the option for you as it will froth literally anything with the word milk in the title unlike some other products.
This is a 240v milk frother so to use this in your van you will need either an inverter or a hook up point and be plugged in. It is also 500w as it heats the milk too so the inverter should be at least 1000w but it is so low powered you will get away with using it with pretty much any leisure battery. I'll do the maths...
The power of the frother is 500w divided by a 12v battery = 41.7 amps for an hour.
It takes about 2 mins to heat and froth the milk so 41.7 divided by 60 mins = 0.67 amps per min
0.67 per min x 2 = 1.37 amps or AH taken from your battery each time you use it but let's round it up to 2 because inverters are never 100% efficient. Very low powered...
Lavazza A Modo Mio Milk Easy Frother, For Milk-based Recipe, Black
Freshly ground coffee is one of the secrets to amazing coffee so if you're buying your coffee already ground you are robbing yourself of the potential your coffee could have. For freshly ground coffee you will need a coffee grinder you can use anywhere.
For a good, budget, decent all round coffee grinder that can grind a decent amount of coffee at a time with an adjustable grind size check out the Hario...
Hario, Transparent Black Mini Mill Plus | Compact & Adjustable Hand Coffee Grinder with Ceramic Burrs, Plastic
Groenenberg products appeared twice in our top 10 list and that's because of the quality of their accessories. Their hand coffee grinder is no different and we highly recommend it for solo van lifers and couples. If you have a larger group or family this grinder wouldn't be ideal as it can only grind a small amount of coffee at a time.
It is sturdy, grinds well, adjustable, looks good, and easy to transport, what more could you want?
Groenenberg Coffee Grinder manual | Adjustable Hand Coffee Bean Grinder | Ceramic Burr Coffee Grinder | Stainless Steel | Portable Coffee Mill
If you are a complete coffee connoisseur who likes complete control over your grind, likes the best of the best or just likes having really nice things then you should definitely check out the VSSL Java
It has no less than 50 adjustable grind settings so even the pickiest person can get the perfect grind on their coffee and that is impressive. It is also very light and small so perfect for anybody in a van but also anybody out on adventures or even at work.
VSSL JAVA Manual Hand Coffee Grinder. 50 adjustable grind settings for Aeropress, French Press, Drip Coffee, Espresso with best-in-class stainless steel burrs. 20g grind capacity.
Flasks & Travel Mugs
If you are looking for a lightweight coffee cup that takes up very little space, you can take anywhere, fit in a kitchen drawer or even your pocket then check out collapsible cups.
When it comes to collapsible coffee cups it is a good idea to get a sturdy one as you don't want them collapsing in your hand with hot liquid in them. I tried a few before settling on the Stojo. They come in 3 different sizes and quite a few different colours so you can find one that suits your taste...
Stojo On The Go Coffee Cup | Biggie Pocket Size Collapsible Silicone Travel Cup - Indigo, 16oz / 470ml
If you are thinking about buying any of the Bialetti products mentioned above and would like a sleek looking matching flask to take out with you once you have have made your coffee take a look at their Thermal bottle that will keep your coffee or hot water for your coffee warm whilst out and about...
Bialetti Thermal Bottle with Lid 460 ml dark grey
If you are looking for a flask/water tank that is compatible with and attaches to the Nanopresso check out the Nanovessel. You can keep hot water in it until you are ready to make your coffee or you can keep your hot coffee in it after you have made it or both...
WACACO Nanovessel, 3-in-1 Vacuum Insulated Flask, Compatible with Nanopresso -304 Stainless Steel- Tumbler, Tea Infuser and Water Tank, Travel Coffee Bottle, Camping Espresso Accessory, 7 oz Capacity
They also make a really good travel mug if that is something you are interested in and like your accessories to match...
WACACO Octaroma Grande Vacuum Insulated Coffee Mug, Double-Wall Stainless Steel Travel Tumbler with Drinking Lid, 15 fl oz (435ml), Grey
Stanley make very good quality products that are built to last. If you are looking for decent flask that can hold a decent amount of water or coffee, that will keep your liquids hot for a long time these are worth taking a look at. They can keep your liquids hot or cold for 40 hours...
Stanley Classic Legendary Thermos Flask 1.4L Hammertone Green – BPA-free Stainless Steel Thermos - Flask for Hot Drink Keeps Cold or Hot for 40 Hours - Leakproof Lid Doubles as Cup - Dishwasher Safe
And because they make such good quality products if you are looking for a decent quality, sturdy travel mug for when you are driving, heading to work or out and about check out their Trigger action travel mug that is leakproof and will keep your drink hot for 7 hours...
Stanley Trigger Action Travel Mug 0.47L Hammertone Green – Keeps Hot for 7 Hours - BPA-free Stainless Steel Thermos Travel Mug for Hot Drinks Leakproof Reusable Coffee Cups
Thats about it for this post, we hope you found it helpful and found something that would be perfect for you.
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