Morning Jetfuel – Espresso on the Road

Even though the total cost of this nomadic lifestyle is less than a stick-&-brick based life, we should not have to endure a life of trade-offs. Vanlife is most sustainable when you can maintain your lifestyle as a nomad.  Case-in-point: coffee.

Beginning in a wander through north and central Italy during college I experienced a paradigm shift in this arena. My experience before this trip included stuff from a can that included ‘flavor crystals’. Espresso is a fairly central part to life in the regions of Italy that I visited. Whether it was espresso-grappa (a slap yo face morning jet fuel concoction) or espresso shots w/ a tiny heaper spoonful of cane sugar at seemingly every part of the day except afternoon & evening cocktail times. Once I returned back to the US, I promptly bought a countertop espresso maker and have built an espresso concoction pretty much every morning unless we went out for coffee.

Ok, now back to the #vanlife. A $5 per day espresso drink drains the bank unnecessarily fast, but relax – there’s no need for austerity. We chose this lifestyle to squeeze all the quality and experience we could out of the time we have on this rock and not feel like we are depriving ourselves while living on the road. Starting each day with a proper coffee – or as we like to call it ’the floof-a-chino’- is a necessary starting point in this quest.

The Coffee

As with all good things, you must start with quality ingredients. We seek out and stockpile Doma Coffee Chronic Dark Roast as the basic building block. We do have an 12v – 110v inverter, but a countertop espresso maker, in our opinion, is not reasonable in a van. Enter the AeroPress. This magical science experiment of an espresso maker is a gamechanger. Its literally a caffeine extraction syringe. Its small, easy to use/clean, and has an available stainless re-useable screen.

Building the proper morning coffee is a great way to get the gears turning for a day.

To kick off the floof-a-chino effort, start bringing water to a near-boil temperature on your stovetop. We use the perfectly sized and light GSI Halulite teapot. Grab your AeroPress and pull the plunger out to ~3.5 shots, add a heaping scoop of properly (fine, espresso) ground coffee into the inverted aeropress, then fill to rim with your hot water, and let sit with strainer lid & filter properly secured. We like to let this steep for just over a minute. Then, put the Aeropress funnel thingy in your Stanley Vacuum-sealed Stainless Pint Cup, put the aeropress in the top of the funnel, and press your way to coffee goodness.

The ‘Floof’

For the cappuccino to be legit, you’re going to need some warmed and frothed milk. We use the Nespresso milk frother powered by the 12v-110v inverter. These things consistently make great frothy goodness. We fill the Nespresso up just past the top of the spinner with 2% milk for a 16 oz drink and let it do its thing. Once it’s done, stir the frothy goodness into your insulated Stanley pint glass of espresso. For efficient use of time, start the milk frother after you’ve added the coffee/hot water to the AeroPress. Then everything’s working toward a common union in time and space.

Bonus Round

Now, the Nomads like to go the extra mile with our morning coffee drinks so we typically add a bit of Torani or Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate and/or Caramel sauce to the cup before adding the AeroPress espresso and mix this all up before adding the frothed milk. Building the proper morning coffee is a great way to get the gears turning for a day.

This setup is fairly small, clean-up is pretty easy, and once you have a handle on how you like your floof-a-chino, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat it – even at your local shop. Enjoy!

In our travels, we’ve had alot of opportunity to try out different kitchen tools and gear.  We’ve compiled the durable, compact, and functional goods that we have in the van, love, use daily at our Amazon Ideas List.

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