07 Feb

Camp Coffee 101: Making a Better Cup of Coffee at the Campground

On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about the art of making great camp coffee.  A morning ritual for so many of us at the campground, there are plenty of opinions about brewing a perfect cup! But we decided to call in an expert for his advice on compact equipment (perfect for camping on or off the grid) and brewing techniques.

Mike Ayars from Turnstile Coffee Roasters in Belmar, NJ invited your co-hosts to his shop for an informative session about what makes specialty coffee so special.  He also walked us through the pros and cons of the French press, the pour over, and the Aeropress.  We wrap up the segment by testing out equipment and sampling fresh roasted coffee–and man oh man was it goooooood!  Turnstile has also generously offered to give away two gift boxes that each contain a trio of coffees from the three major coffee producing regions of the world–enter in the sidebar!


Here are links to the equipment that we talk about on the show:


Hario Skerton Hand Mill


Bodum Chambord French Press 4 Cup

Hario Buono Kettle

Hario V60 Dripper

If you want to read some of our thoughts on camp coffee from over the years, you can visit this post on Jeremy’s great discovery in Cape Cod or this post on Stephanie’s history of coffee.

We also have a great interview with the owners of Inn Town Campground in Nevada City, California which is scheduled to open in the summer of 2016. The beautiful location and energetic young proprietors definitely caught our attention.  Their property is deeply wooded and filled with towering pine trees, but only a short walk to downtown.  We can’t wait to visit the finished product!

All of this, and so much more, on Episode 21 of RV Family Travel Atlas: Camp Coffee 101!




06 Feb

Thoughts On Coffee (and work, and marriage, and life)

I started drinking coffee when I was 13 years old. Young, right? But it made perfect sense at the time.

I was a teenager with no allowance and parents who were not inclined to buy frivolous items. I needed a job. Bad. Without a car or reliable ride, I had to look for something within walking distance. There happened to be a gas station up on the corner, so I paid the owner a visit, lied about my age, and started pumping gas the next week.

On Saturdays and Sundays I opened up the station. I would walk up to the corner at 4:45 am in the dark, take out my key, and start turning on lights. I stocked the chip racks, stacked packages of cigarettes, and made coffee.

By 5:30 am the fishermen and contractors started trickling in. I placed little meal worms in Tupperware, filled up gas tanks, and brewed pots and pots of coffee. Somewhere along the line I started drinking it side by side with my early bird customers. A morning ritual, still in place a quarter century later, was introduced.

My later jobs as a waitress and teacher ensured that coffee remained a central part of my work life. The unusual thing is that it never played a prominent role in my home. My parents did not make or drink coffee and Jeremy, my husband, didn’t touch the stuff. It was always just me, brewing it for myself, pouring it into a travel mug, and going on my way.

That is until my husband suddenly started drinking coffee at the age of 37. The man who had never drank a cup of coffee in his whole life found himself desperate to stay awake grading piles and piles of high school essays. At first the cups had lots of milk and sugar, later just a bit of milk, and now straight black just like I take mine.

The same man who had no idea how to use a drip coffee machine two years ago gets up every morning and grinds the beans, fills the machine with cold filtered water, and pours me my first cup, often telling me the region and roast. I can’t remember the last time I bought coffee. Jeremy stops at his favorite roasters on the way home and selects our beans for the week.

When we travel he stocks up the camper with all our coffee supplies and one of his favorite things to do is find a local roaster wherever we are staying.

They say that people don’t change, but that is not true. Eleven years into our marriage, Jeremy started drinking coffee.

So this week’s episode is all about coffee and how to get the best cup while you are traveling this beautiful country in your RV.  I hope you get to listen.

We had a blast interviewing our local coffee roaster and had an amazing tasting, comparing different methods of brewing. The whole time I was thinking how wonderful it is that we really do grow and change as travelers and spouses and people.

I was also thinking back to that first cup of coffee at the gas station. Almost every single thing about my life has changed.

Except coffee.


06 Jun

Gear for the Girls (a decent cup of joe equals decent human being)

I take back any hostile remarks I ever made about my camp stove. Now that I have the Coleman Camping Coffee Maker, I love my little propane-breathing, three-burner buddy.
My camping coffee journey started so authentically last year when I packed a blue-speckled, enamelware percolator for our first family camping trip.
The item itself immediately brought to mind what a perfect camping moment should look like–fleeces and Uggs to protect against the chill of the morning, soft mist rising slowly into a clearing sky, bubbles of perfect, brown coffee jumping into the clear dome at the top of the percolator, and the wonderful aroma of that coffee that nudged you gently from sleep and brought you stumbling out of the tent to relax by the morning fire.
Just like there are no quiet mornings by the fire when you have twin toddlers, percolators make crap coffee, all romantic imaginings aside. On the second camping trip, the percolator got ditched for Starbucks Via, a ridiculously expensive instant coffee that is actually pretty good. Only problem? I don’t really want a cup of instant coffee. I want aroma, mist, Uggs…etc, etc.
So last fall when we were camping in Lancaster, we stayed across the path from an older couple whose kids were too old and too cool to camp with them anymore. I think our boys brought back memories for them (their haze of sentimentality must have blocked out the continual squeals and howls coming from our site), and they kept coming over to visit with little offerings of firewood and such.
On one of these trips the husband brought me a steaming hot mug (yes, mug!) of perfect drip coffee made on his camp stove. He showed me the coffee maker which sits right over the open flame and brews away like the regular one you have sitting on your counter.
I would have gone on for the next five years thinking about this purchase. Lucky for me, my husband operates according to a strict guideline in life: buy it. Whatever it is, buy it.
So he bought it and I used it and I love it. And they (as in my coffee maker and I) lived happily ever after. The end.