What's The Best Coffee Maker for Motorcycle Camping? - Moto Camp Nerd - motorcycle camping

What's the best coffee maker for motorcycle camping?

Article by Ben Williams and a lot of coffee!


The question has come up a lot recently, so I’ll try to cover all the common ways you can make coffee while moto camping, and in doing so help you determine which method would be best for your situation. I always say “BEST” is relative to you and your situation, and everyone is different, so let’s figure out your best. 

I'm going to list these from the easiest, with minimal equipment required, to more difficult with the most parts and/or equipment needed. I also just added a bonus style at the very end! Since water and coffee are the two essential parts to making a cup of coffee, understand that you will have water in some type of container and some type of coffee you will have to carry along. Some of these methods can be done without a stove and fuel to heat the water, but for these we will assume you want a hot cup of coffee and list the items required for each.

This write-up is more focused on the different brewing methods for coffee and not the add ons like sugar and milk and creamer.  

!Coffee Brewing Tips!

When brewing coffee, you want water to be around 195*F to 212*F depending on your roast. For lighter roasts I start with 212*F, and for darker roasts I use 195*F but I will adjust as needed for the best flavor. If your coffee is too bitter it’s a result of over extraction that occurs from water being too hot or too coarse of a grind. If your coffee is sour, sort of like a citrus sour, it’s from under extraction from the water temp too low or your coffee grind is too coarse. This applies to all methods and styles of brewing even with instant coffee.  While camping I typically bring my water to a temperature around 205*F which is usually when you start seeing small bubbles on the bottom of the pot start to form and gradually rise, or I bring to an angry boil and pull off the burner for 5 seconds. The twist here is that the higher the elevation the lower the temperature it takes to boil water. At 9000 FT water boils at 195*F, seems convenient. So keep this in mind as well.  

Source: https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/boiling-points-water-altitude-d_1344.html

 


Instant Coffee

The number one easiest and simplest coffee to make while motorcycle camping is instant coffee. All you need is a packet of instant coffee and water. It doesn't even have to be hot water, it can be cold or whatever the temp is outside. It takes longer to dissolve when cold and may taste different, sometimes better, but essentially you can have a water bottle with a packet of coffee and pour it in, shake it up, and you're good to go with literally no equipment but a water bottle and the instant coffee packet with little to no clean up.

Now if you want hot water you’ll have to account for a camp stove, fuel, and bare minimum a pot or cup to put on the burner to heat water and drink out of, if you don’t want to have another cup for drinking from.

best instant coffeehttps://motocampnerd.com/products/bivouac-instant-coffee

 

The downside is that you won’t be getting a quality cup of coffee compared to what you would get from ground coffee. This may not be a big deal if you aren’t very particular about your coffee or tend to add sugar or creamer. Some riders who are ultralight packers like to keep it really simple because they're “camping to ride” more than “riding to camp” and they are trying to keep their pack size and weight low. This is probably the number one option and the most popular by far because people like simplicity. Since you can get instant coffee in individual packets and in containers you measure out, you can make a larger volume of coffee more easily, depending on the size of the pot you use.


Minimum Items needed for 8-10oz cup of coffee

-8oz water

-Instant Coffee Packet or scoop

-Cooking pot/cup

-Stove

-Fuel


Coffee in a Tea Bag

The step up from instant is coffee in a tea bag. This is real ground coffee that’s been sealed in a tea bag that you brew just like a cup of tea. Same methods apply here like they would for instant coffee. You can put a bag of coffee in a water container without heating it, and let it soak all day or overnight and have a makeshift cold brew. For hot coffee, boil water in a vessel and either steep the bag in it or pour the hot water over the bag inside a mug. 


These do take 5 to 10 minutes to brew, and outside temperatures will affect that. The longer the water stays around that optimal temperature range of 195*F to 212*F the better extraction you’ll get. If the water cools too quickly you could have a weak cup of coffee because it didn’t extract well.

https://motocampnerd.com/products/wildland-coffee-coffee-brew-bags

 

As for cleaning up, really you just need to properly dispose of the bag, and wipe out your mug and go! These do result in a better brew than instant, and the ones we use and sell come in a corn fiber bag so you get a french press quality and flavor, as well as some of the silty like sediment. So if you're someone who does not like having any kind of grit in your coffee at all and really likes clean crisp coffee, this may not be the one for you. Still convenient and better flavor than instant coffee, but not as good as my personal favorite. Since the bags of coffee are made for 8oz of water, you’re stuck with making one cup at a time, or opening multiple packs. I’ve tried steeping one bag for longer in 12-16oz and it’s not as flavorful. 


Minimum Items needed for 8-10oz cup of coffee

-8oz water

-Coffee bag

-Cooking pot/cup

-Stove

-Fuel


Pour Over

My personal favorite method of making coffee while camping is the pour over. I also feel this is the easiest method with the best flavor as well. Before I turned coffee into a hobby, we enjoyed pour over coffee at camp for years, and camp coffee was always so much better than coffee at home. I thought it was just because we were camping, and outdoors, but then I discovered the science behind why pour over coffee was so much better than our coffee maker at home. Pour over brewing is where you quite literally, pour hot water over your ground coffee and then let it drip into your mug. Think of a very manual version of your auto drip coffee maker from home, but getting much more control.

I’ve been using the UST collapsible pour-over for years, even before we started the Moto Camp Nerd store. It pops up, then you put a cone style paper filter in, pour your coffee grounds in the filter and pour over your hot water. So there is a little more technique and details that go into this, but it all becomes second nature the more you do it.

https://motocampnerd.com/products/ust-flexware-coffee-drip

 

I like a pour over ratio of 1:15, or 1 gram of coffee to 15 grams water. If you want to be fancy with it, you can either bring a scale, or measure out your coffee into individual containers before you leave. An 8oz cup of coffee would be 225 grams of water and 15 grams of coffee. I know, bringing a scale and doing all this isn’t that practical while camping. It won’t be as accurate, but we can use measuring cups and spoons instead. Most Sea to Summit kitchen gear has measuring lines on the cup and pot, so if you’ve already got a set, great! If not, swipe something from the kitchen drawer or make marks on your current camp kitchen set. A level tablespoon of ground coffee is around 5 grams, so 3 level tablespoons of ground coffee into your filter, and pour over your 8oz of water. If you find this brew too strong, you can dilute with water or change to a higher ratio.

Now the technique to pour over with fresh ground coffee, is to pour enough water in a spiral motion from center, outward, back to center, to soak all the grounds and then stop. Wait about 30 seconds for the coffee to “bloom” and once you see the gas air bubbles stop, then you can begin pouring the rest in spiral motion evenly pouring on all the grounds.. The bloom is the escape of carbon dioxide in the beans, and because it has a sour taste, this will result in a better flavor of coffee and also not interfere with the rest of your pour with the escaping gas.. You can try this as well with previously ground coffee, but I’ve noticed after a few days, there is minimal carbon dioxide escaping during bloom on my pour over. The total brew time to pour and let it drip should take around 2-3 minutes. If it takes a long time, your grind might be too fine.

If using a paper filter, cleanup is as easy as disposing of the filter full of coffee, and doing a quick rinse and wipe down of the brew stand. There are some pour over devices out there that have a built-in filter that will take more time to dump and more water to rinse clean. Since I might have limited water, I prefer the paper filters for ease of cleaning. Also, paper filters provide a very crisp clean cup of coffee compared to mesh filters that may give that silty coffee sediment in and at the bottom of the cup. Just a few more things to consider when selecting the coffee style that works best for you.


https://motocampnerd.com/products/wacaco-cuppamoka-portable-pour-over-coffee

 

Pour overs can work well for brewing a larger volume of coffee as well, or for groups. The smaller collapsible UST pour over can accommodate enough coffee to make 16-20 oz of coffee, but any more will overfill it.

Minimum Items needed for 8-10 oz cup of coffee

-8oz water

-15g of ground coffee

-Pour over brewer

-Paper Filters

-Mug for coffee

-Pot to boil water

-Stove

-Fuel


AeroPress

Moving on from there would be my next personal favorite, AeroPress. This is an immersion style of brewing where instead of the water passing through the coffee, it’s mixed and brewed all together and then pressed out through the filter on the bottom.

 https://motocampnerd.com/products/aeropress-go-travel-coffee-maker

 

Out of the box, AeroPress is very friendly as it comes with the scoop, and has markings on the chamber for fill lines. Essentially 1 scoop of coffee means you fill with water to the 1 marker, let it steep, and press. 2 scoops of coffee, fill to the 2 mark, and so on. After you get past 2 scoops, it does get more difficult to press through all the coffee. This standard process recipe results in a condensed 1:6 ratio coffee that can be consumed as is, but typically would be diluted with hot water to get your standard cup of coffee, like a faux espresso watered down to an americano. Because it uses paper filters, you get a very clean crisp coffee,like the pour over. The scoop it comes with holds 11.5g or 2.5 tablespoons level, and about 14g or 3 tablespoons heaping. AeroPress has a huge following, so much so they have world brewing competitions with tons of recipes and methods, even inverting the brewer to increase immersion time.Since we are talking about coffee while camping, I say keep it simple with the scooper and the fill lines. I do encourage you to to try other methods and recipes with the AeroPress to see all it can do. The Aeromatic app is a great source for recipes and methods.

The AeroPress does take a special circle paper filter made to fit in the bottom of the chamber. Once you plunge or press the coffee, you unscrew the bottom cap and push the puck of coffee out and into the trash. While camping, I typically just use a rag or napkin to wipe it all down for a quick clean up. The AeroPress Go comes with the brew chamber, mug, stirrer, coffee scoop, and paper filters with holder that nests all together. There are some new accessories like a reusable metal screen, but I use more water trying to clean the screen than I do using a paper filter.

If you’re looking to make coffee in high volume, this method may not work for you. With the AeroPress Go, you can make up to 3 servings of condensed coffee that would result in 24oz of regular coffee, and the regular can make 4 servings of coffee, or 32oz. They did just release the AeroPress XL that’s double the size of the original, so that may be another option if you’re needing a lot of coffee. 

Minimum Items needed for 8-10oz cup of coffee

-8oz water

-11.5g of ground coffee

-AeroPress Go kit

-AeroPress Paper Filters

-Pot to boil water

-Stove

-Fuel


French Press

French Press is a tried and true method that a lot of people really enjoy and like the AeroPress, this would be considered an immersion brewer. It's really simple because you can have one do it all pot. You boil water, add your ground coffee, stir it up, let it steep, then put your screen on and press down through the mix. You push all the grounds to the bottom and the filtered coffee sits on top. Technically, you can drink straight from that pot if you like, or pour into a mug, and share with others. What I've found is that you get this muddy-ish kind of coffee and it's not really gritty but it has that silt-like feel to it and not a super clean coffee you get with pour over or other paper filtered coffees, but still a very good strong coffee flavor! The ratio for french press recipes can go as low as 1:12 up to 1:17 depending on how strong you like your coffee. Typically french press containers are made in larger volumes making it easier to prepare for a group. 

https://motocampnerd.com/products/jetboil-flash-java-kit

 

As for clean-up, after you plunge and push all the grounds to the bottom, you have to pull it all apart. On the Stanley and Jetboil version, it all gets stuck on the bottom so now you have to wipe it all out or rinse it all out. I’m trying not to be biased, but I’ve cleaned the grounds from the bottom of my french press enough to find it a clunky method for myself. Others love it and have no issues. Prime example of how everyone has their preferred ways and what works for them best.


Minimum Items needed for 8-10oz cup of coffee

-8oz water

-15g of ground coffee

-Jetboil Flash Java or French Press Kit add on

-Fuel

*To show the absolute minimum items I went with the Jetboil because it nests together and includes the stove. If you go with the Stanley or other French Press pot option, you’ll need add the stove.*



Moka Pot

Moving on from the French press, we are getting into more condensed coffee methods, starting with the moka pot. Finely ground coffee is placed in a basket between the lower and upper chambers. As the water in the bottom chamber heats up, it will create steam. This pressurized steam forces hot water up through the coffee grounds in the filter basket. The brewed coffee then travels up a tube in the center of the Moka pot and collects in the upper chamber. This brew results in the espresso like thickness, and condensed flavor, but without the crema you get from a high pressure system.


I've been using one for a little while but I've not dialed in a perfect brew. I’ve also been told by many that you need to brew several cups through it to get it seasoned with all the coffee oils so you get the best flavor. It’s tricky because you have to get the water temp up enough to push through the coffee grounds without exceeding your 212*F range because it will over extract the coffee and make it overly bitter.


So some people love it because they just love that really strong coffee, but it makes a smaller amount compared to other methods, similar to AeroPress. You can get Moke Pots in several styles and sizes, but then you start packing larger for more volume out. These typically do not use a paper filter, so you do get a thicker coffee similar to a French press, with a little bit of fines in there. 


Keep in mind that similar to the Aeropress, Moke Pots put out a small amount of condensed coffee. When you buy a 1 cup Moka Pot, it means it will make a 2oz cup of coffee, like an espresso shot. This can be enjoyed straight or diluted into 8oz for an americano style coffee.


Minimum Items needed for 8-10oz cup of coffee

-8oz water

-15g of ground coffee

-Moka Pot

-Mug

-Stove

-Fuel


Espresso

Something that I'm recently trying now is the little handheld mobile espresso makers. If it tells you anything, I enjoyed them so much I added them to our store. So many people have talked about them so I finally decided to try for myself and I can see why.I was very surprised because watching others use it seemed overly complicated because of all the little parts and prep work involved, but after using them, I realized it’s no different than how I enjoy cooking at camp. If you’re one to be in the moment, you can find zen in preparing and pulling that perfect espresso shot. That being said, if you want a quick and easy coffee, this may not be for you. 

https://motocampnerd.com/products/wacaco-picopresso-portable-espresso-machine

 

This process involves tamping your coffee into a basket, measuring it for precise weight to get the best results, filling the water tank with hot water, pumping the espresso machine to pressurize and push your shot out, and then clean up. Getting the coffee grounds out of the basket has been hit and miss for me. If you tamp the coffee too hard, it gets stuck and you have to scrape them out. Tamp too loose and the coffee puck turns into a soupy mess and you have to wipe it all out and rinse well. Since the water goes through a pump, it’s hard to get dry. I’ve left it out and open to dry for 2 days and still had water that was dripping out, so time will tell how that handles the outdoors.


Now this whole process has led me down a rabbit hole of espresso makers and espresso making methods, theories, and possibilities. I've realized that half the work of espresso is dialing in your grind size, because if the grind is not right, you don't get the right extraction. You can end up with a very sour shot of espresso or a very bitter shot of espresso really quick.


I’ve been using the Wacaco Picopresso, Nanopresso, and Minipresso to see what was the easiest to work with in the field. The Picopresso leans more on the real professional espresso side with a 18g steel portafilter and a large enough water tank to pull a 1:2 ratio shot, around 2 fluid ounces out, making it closest to a true double shot of espresso while camping. Using the Picopresso kit feels like making a real espresso with its style and build quality, along with the funnel, tamper and basket.


The Nanopresso and Minipresso have a plastic basket for coffee that’s only 8g, and the resulting output is not as complex, but still very tasty. You can put a lot more water in the tank to get out more than the 1:2 ratio. If you fill the water tank and press until empty, you can get a ratio of almost 1:6 with the 8g coffee basket. This still makes a shot with decent crema, but isn’t the standard 1:2 ratio you’d traditionally expect. This actually works well because if you want a thinner shot you can have it, and if you want a true single shot, just don’t fill the water tank fully, you’ll just need to measure. I feel this makes the Nanopresso more flexible for new users, like me, to play with ratios and styles at half the price of the Picopresso. I also found the Nanopresso more forgiving with the grind size and amount than the Picopresso was, making the Nanopresso easier to ditch the scale while on the road traveling and camping. I ditched using the Minipresso because the Nanopresso is essentially an updated, better version.

Wacaco Nanopresso Dark Souls + Case

https://motocampnerd.com/products/wacaco-nanopresso-case-portable-espresso-machine

 

Since these are single and double shots, these aren’t ideal if you want to make a lot of coffee, unless you just enjoy making espresso for everyone at camp to enjoy, one shot at a time. Since the Nanopresso is the more practical option for camping, I’ll use it for the needs below.


Minimum Items needed for single shot of espresso:

-2oz water

-8g of espresso ground coffee

-Nanopresso

-Pot to boil water

-Stove

-Fuel



BONUS COFFEE METHOD
I originally did not plan to talk about this one, but with the adding on all the espresso gear I added a new hand grinder and scale to my coffee hobby, and was able to grind my coffee fine enough to make and test out…


Turkish Coffee
I’ve seen and read about this but actually haven’t tried it outside of my home, so I’m not sure how close my homebrew is to the real deal, BUT for someone who doesn’t like a silty muddy coffee, I really liked this. Turkish coffee is typically made using a very fine grind of coffee beans, even finer than espresso. The beans are ground to a powder-like consistency, almost like powdered sugar. The coffee used for Turkish coffee is often a dark roast, and it's essential to use fresh coffee for the best flavor.

To make Turkish coffee, you'll need a special pot called a cezve or ibrik. It has a long handle and a wide base that narrows toward the top. The pot is usually made of copper, brass, or stainless steel. I didn’t have this so I instead used a small titanium 375mL Toaks cup/pot. You’ll need to get your spoon down inside so ideally any pot  that is not too tall, and since it’s such a small amount, not too wide. The coffee-to-water ratio is usually about one heaping tablespoon of coffee per 3 to 5 ounces of water. Adjust the coffee  amounts to your taste.


In the pot, mix the coffee, water, and sugar (if desired). The sugar should be added to the cold water before heating. Place the pot over low heat. The coffee should be heated very slowly, and as it starts to foam you’ll want to let it foam up but not boil, and remove from heat. Now this is where I’ve seen multiple methods. Some say to remove from the heat and scoop out a spoonful of foam into your cup, and then return to heat while others say just to pour into your cup and let rest for 2-3 minutes. After letting it rest, the grounds will settle to the bottom but you will still have a thick dense coffee. Once you get to the end don’t throw it back so you avoid the mouthful of grounds at the bottom of your cup.


This is very similar to cowboy coffee, although I’ve never tried that method, so I won’t speak to it too much. With cowboy coffee you use a very coarse grind instead of fine, and after brewing the coffee in your pot, you sprinkle some cold water over so the grinds settle to the bottom, and then pour carefully into your cup.


Minimum Items needed for Turkish Coffee:

-5oz water

-1 Tablespoon powder fine ground coffee

-Mug

-Pot to boil water

-Stove

-Fuel


Final Thoughts

My number 1 pick for motorcycle camping is still the pour over. For me, the quality brew and amount of coffee I get, along with the ease of cleanup makes it shine. It’s also more forgiving for new users who want to jump in because you can use a pre-ground coffee from the store, or maybe what you already use at home, and elevate that flavor and play with your water to coffee ratio. 

All of these brewing methods can be tweaked based on the roast and style of your coffee beans and grind. I’ve been using pour over for years by casually measuring my ground coffee and pouring over a guessed amount of water to make it taste good. After I added a scale and started grinding my beans fresh, it really elevated my coffee. My ratios were exact and I didn’t have coffee that was too weak or strong, it was consistently perfect. Now, I still don’t take a scale and grinder with me camping, but I will pre-grind and measure all the coffee I need and separate into individual bags and write the volume of water to add to each.

https://motocampnerd.com/products/wacaco-exagrind-manual-coffee-grinder

 

Those are all the brewing methods that I can think of that I've been messing around with. Hopefully this gives you some insight into what methods are out there and the involvement behind each, from quick and dirty instant coffee, to an outdoor zen experience with a shot of espresso!

Moto Camp Nerd Coffee Selection



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