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The Campervan Coffee Guide

The Campervan Coffee Guide

At team Redknot we are uncompromising in everything we do.

We wouldn’t entertain a lousy cup of coffee at home - so we want the very best coffee we can get when out exploring the world in our camper. What view isn’t enhanced when enjoyed sipping a banging brew? It’s a reward after a mountain hike. A warm up after a dip in a fairy pool. An energy boost after conquering Hardknot Pass on the bike. And let’s not be too romantic, when the thundering rain drums the pop top all night and you’re in bleary eyed dire need of a caffeine jolt

But there are some considerations for brewing up in your camper that don’t really apply at home, so you need to adapt to find the best method that suits your taste. So we’ve teamed up with the coffee experts at Rinaldo’s, to give you top notch advice about how to make the best coffee possible when you’re on the move.

Firstly, and this should go without saying, crappy beans make crappy coffee. Get the best, freshly roasted beans you can afford and source. We love to check out coffee roasters when we’re on the road – you’ll get the freshest roast, meet new people, and support a local business. Everyone’s a winner! As Redknot is based in Lancashire we call in to see the Rinaldo’s team near Kendal when we’re heading north. Not only can you pick up exceptional single origin, ethically sourced beans, you can grab a coffee at their swanky espresso bar, and swag some outstanding bread and pastries from their neighbour Lovingly Artisan on the way out.

As with sourcing the best beans, a fresh grind will always be superior. For short trips we’ll usually grind at home before we go, compromising a bit of flavour for convenience, and saving faff and mess. But for longer trips we would pack something like the Aergrind, a brilliant plastic-free ergonomic grinder hand built in Edinburgh that enables you to grind on the go without a battery or electricity.

We love the ceremony of brewing up, and enjoy the experience even more when exploring the world, taking our time, enjoying the view, savouring the process. So whilst speed and ease aren’t necessarily high on our list, we know that’s important to others so we’ve taken a look at that in this review. You’ll also need to think about weight, storage bulk, durability, water use, cleaning, and waste – and we think environmental impact is important too. And of course the style of coffee but that one’s a bit more personal.

So which method and kit?

Coffee bags

Convenient, lightweight, take up no space, make a brew that’s somehow both muddy and weak. Absolutely do not bother.

Single use plastic filters/pour overs

As above, but take up more space and create totally unnecessary plastic waste. The worst of all worlds.


You’re joking right? Absolutely not, wouldn’t last five minutes on the road.

Espresso machine

Even if this is your favourite method at home, it’s not going to work in a van. It’s much too heavy, it takes up valuable counter space, you probably don’t want steam shooting everywhere in a confined space, and most importantly, you won’t be able to use it off-grid.

That said, Rinaldo’s have some absolutely gorgeous gear, so if you’re in the market for a new espresso machine at home do check out their range.

ECM Espresso Machine

Cafetiere / French press

As per the Chimex, glass should be avoided, no matter how careful you are it will smash, and whilst you might be an adventurer you don’t want brewing up to be an adrenaline sport. Metal and plastic cafetieres are now available, and you can even get your hands on a glass version with silicon body armour. Even so, it’s undeniable that they are bulky and take up essential space which is at a premium in the camper. Another perennial challenge for van life is the clean up operation. Swilling out a cafetiere uses water – a precious commodity, especially when off-griding, and the grounds are a pain to get rid of (whatever you do, don’t rinse them away in the sink - guaranteed blockage). And the filter mesh is a nuisance to clean. But it does make a rich full bodied brew in about 4-5 minutes, and it’s probably the best option if you take your coffee by the pint or you’re brewing for a crowd.

You might want to consider small individual cafetiere cups if you like this style of coffee but have limited space. But that’s a bit too close to hard core camping as an experience for us.

One cup pour over dripper

If you choose something like the Hario V60 rather than a glass, ceramic or steel option, this is an affordable (super cheap!) and lightweight method and makes a really clean brew. Even the two cup dripper is compact, it takes about 3 minutes to brew, and although it uses disposable filters (generating a bit of waste, though it’s biodegradable), the clean up operation is relatively mess free. Overall this is a good option when out exploring, for its durability, simplicity and convenience and makes a clean, medium to light bodied brew. But if this isn’t your usual brewing method the process takes a bit of practice and really works best with a pour over kettle which for us is an indulgence too far in the van. The main downside to this method is you can realistically only make a couple of small brews max in one sitting.

Moka pot

The moka pot, much beloved of Italians, makes a strong brew in espresso territory but a little rougher and readier. The aluminium pot is lightweight and there are a range of sizes so you can select the option for the number of drinkers. Smaller ones don’t take up much space at all and can be stored easily especially in separate components. The grounds in theory can be tapped out but in practice generally need a bit of whittling but all in all it’s fairly easy to clean. But unlike all the other methods you’re left with a hot pot of metal at the end of brewing up and the handle can overheat especially if your hob is gas which is less of an issue in a home kitchen but a bit risky in the van with limited space especially if there are little wandering hands or a clumsy wagging tail around.

Bialetti Moka Pot


The Aeropress was the first innovation in the home coffee market for years, and has stayed the course. This neat, lightweight device offers great versatility, with the option to make a strong short brew to drink as it comes, or top up, or you can go for a longer, clean cup. The brewing method takes a bit of practice as it does take some force to deploy the plunger and whilst that might not be an issue in your pottery or ceramic mug at home, there’s a bit more jeopardy with the flimsier bamboo cup you’re likely to use in a van. Afficionados invert the press to stop coffee dripping through the filter whilst the brew is steeping - but we’re not super keen on hot water acrobatics. Which is where the Fellow Prismo attachment comes in – an absolute gamechanger that takes the brew up to the next level in espresso-style coffee. This neat little accessory solves the coffee drip through problem, and forces the water through at a higher pressure than either the regular attachment or a moka pot, creating a brew as close to espresso as you can get without the high tech kit. There’s no waste if you swap the paper filter for a metal mesh or use the Fellow Prismo attachment, and the grounds form a neat little puck which are a doddle to dispose of. It takes less than a minute to brew so if you’re an impatient soul and you love espresso, this is the option for you.

And a word for the milky drinkers

If you’re a hardcore fan of one of the milky drinks you might want to sacrifice some precious van space for the Bialetti tuttocrema milk frother. You can warm the milk on your hob (but not induction) and the double whisk creates a silky smooth froth so with a bit of practice you can achieve the much sought after micro foam beloved of the flat whiters. It’s lightweight and bomb proof but it is fairly bulky. Contending with cleaning a milky double frother needs dedication, and you’ve likely hogged the whole hob between boiling the water and warming the milk - so we reckon you need to be evangelical about a cappuccino to plump for this option. But there’s no denying a cup of cappuccino on a frosty morning is a gorgeous thing.

So that’s the run down. Everyone will have different priorities and a lot of this comes down to what kind of cup you like best – and you’ll probably be willing to compromise some factors if you just can’t live without your favourite brew. But we’ve had a crack at putting it all in a table so you can compare the factors that apply to van life coffee. If you’re still stuck give the coffee experts at Rinaldo’s a call, they’re a lovely bunch and even crazier about coffee than us. Happy brewing.

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