How to Make Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee in Your RV

Feb 15, 2021 | Food & Camp Cooking

How to Make Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee in Your RV

Here are five ways to make coffee in your RV, plus the products you need for barista-quality coffee on the road.

By Alyssa Padgett

Photo: Alyssa Padgett

There’s nothing better than enjoying a hot cup of coffee at the campground while taking in the views through your RV window. But with a tiny kitchen, limited room for gadgets, and variable power, making a cup of coffee to start your day can be more difficult on the road. 

As a lifetime lover of coffee and a full-time RVer, I’ve tried a myriad of ways to brew coffee in the RV to start my day off right. Here are five tried-and-true ways to make coffee while camping, plus the products you need in your RV kitchen for brewing. 

Couple drinking coffee at the beach
Photo: Alyssa Padgett

How Do You Make Coffee in an RV? 

Espresso

I make a pot of espresso every morning in our RV and find that it’s one of the easiest ways to enjoy a perfect cup of coffee. With a stovetop espresso maker, all you need to do is grind your coffee to a fine grain and you can have espresso no matter where you’re parked.

Espresso is the base for most coffee-based drinks but is commonly consumed by the shot. In the U.S., it’s more common to drink your espresso as an Americano, which is one shot of espresso topped with a few ounces of hot water. 

With an espresso maker, you can make many of the fancy coffeehouse drinks you’ll see on cafe menus. Drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos are made with espresso, but also require a milk frother or steamer to heat milk. 

Pressed Coffee

One of the most popular ways to make coffee is with a French press or AeroPress, both of which are RV friendly.

For French-pressed coffee (sometimes called plunger coffee), you’ll want a coarse grind of coffee and hot water. I recommend buying an insulated press that keeps your coffee warm. Add 2 tablespoons of coffee for every cup of coffee and let brew for 4 minutes before pressing. 

An AeroPress, which is a three-piece plastic coffee press, presses you a cup of hot coffee in half the time. However, it only makes one cup at a time. 

Both pressed coffee options are easy to clean and have reusable metal filters to make brewing and cleanup easier. 

Pour-Over Coffee

To make, use a silicone or metal pour-over cone that rests on top of your coffee mug. Just add coffee grounds and slowly pour hot water over the grounds. It’s the simplest way to make a cup of joe because you brew the coffee directly into your cup. Plus, a silicone pour-over cone flattens to store. 

Steeped Coffee

Much like tea, you can find coffee bags that are designed for steeping. All you need is hot water and a mug. 

For those that don’t like the effects of brewed coffee, look to Golden Ratio. The coffee comes in tea bags and can be steeped for 5 to 10 minutes to brew a hot cup, or chilled overnight in water for a cold brew. This style of coffee is harder to find on grocery store shelves, but an ideal option if you’re looking for a more mellow drink. 

Brewed Coffee

If you prefer a regular cup of drip coffee, a basic brew is your best option. You can make brewed coffee with a standard coffee pot or single-cup coffee maker. I prefer the single-cup option to save on dishes and avoid wasting coffee. 

While machines from brands like Keurig, Nespresso, and Verismo are common in the home, I don’t recommend them for use in an RV. They’re often large and difficult to store—depending on the size of your RV, you may not have room on your countertop.

They also require significant power. Every machine is different, but if the lights in your RV dim when you use an appliance, it’s pulling too much power. My family used to travel with a Keurig, but had no place to store it while driving, causing it to fly off the countertop more than once, no matter how hard we tried to secure it. 


Products We Love for Making Coffee in Your RV

There are two primary questions to ask yourself when it comes to making coffee in the RV:

  • Do I have room for multiple coffee gadgets?
  • Can I make coffee without hookups? 

We’ve traveled in our RV full-time for years and can effortlessly make coffee no matter where we camp, with these RV-friendly coffee products.

Insulated French Press

A French press is the easiest way to make a fresh cup of coffee when you’re boondocking. Look for an insulated or stainless steel French press, like the OVRLNDR Press, that can take a few falls or bumps on the road. Plus, insulated versions will keep your coffee warmer than a traditional glass French press.

Kettle

Great for tea, hot cocoa, or even instant coffee, a kettle is also essential for making a pot of French press coffee, pour-over, or steeped coffee. We opt for a stovetop kettle that can also be used when boondocking.

Moka Pot

Moka pots are stovetop espresso makers or stovetop coffee makers. Note that a 6-cup Moka pot yields about six shots of espresso, not six full cups of coffee. 

Coffee Grinder

For French press or Moka pots, you will need a coffee grinder. French press coffee requires a coarse grind, which is thicker than the ground coffee you buy at the grocery store. Espresso requires a fine grind, which is much smaller than ground coffee. An electric grinder works well, but coffee experts say a hand grinder, or manual burr grinder, brews a better cup of coffee.

Milk Frother

For lattes or cappuccinos, you’ll need a milk frother to steam milk. An electric milk frother works best, but you can easily use a battery-powered frother to conserve power. Milk frothers work with almost any type of milk, but generally, the thicker the milk, the more froth it produces. 

Single-Cup Coffee Maker

My family has used this Black+Decker single-cup coffee maker for nearly 10 years, and it’s still part of our RV kitchen. It’s tall enough to fit a travel mug and doesn’t pull as much power as a standard coffee pot. A coffee maker like this one uses fresh coffee instead of pods—it tastes better and produces less waste. 

Collapsible Silicone Pour-Over Cone

You can make pour-over coffee almost anywhere with just hot water and a pour-over cone. Silicone options provide collapsible storage, but metal cones don’t require paper coffee filters. 


Whether you’re a latte-drinker or prefer to keep it simple with your morning drink, it’s easy to make coffee without electricity and in your RV. Pick up a few boondocking-friendly tools to heat your coffee over a gas stove and you can make nearly every type of coffee in your RV. 

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Alyssa Padgett

Alyssa and her husband Heath visited all 50 states during their first year of marriage and haven’t stopped traveling since. She is an entrepreneur, producer, and best-selling author of the book A Beginner’s Guide to Living in an RV.

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