Adventures in Onboard Coffee-making

Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:13AM - Comments: (70)

Nothing like a hot cup of coffee to remind us who is in charge.

A few years ago, a gourmet coffee maker contacted us about a new blend it had developed especially for sailors. As I recall, the medium roast was formulated to create a full-bodied taste and aroma when savored outside in the salt air. Sadly, my own sense of taste can’t detect such nuanced flavors (nor could any of my friends who sampled the blend), but I do like a good cup of coffee on board. And this is a problem.

As far as I can tell, no one yet has designed the ideal way to make cup of coffee underway aboard a sailboat. With the hopes of sparing other coffee-lovers years of frustration, or possible injury, I’m sharing my experience with the several methods we’ve tried.

  • Instant coffee: We spent a couple weeks recaulking our ketch, Tosca, in Cartegena, Colombia

    French press
    and were chagrined to discover that Nescafe was served at all the restaurants in this coffee-producing country, prompting us to give it a try. Perhaps the South American version was different from the one we knew? Nope. No matter what water-to-coffee ratio I used, mine always seemed to have the consistency of motor oil. I’m told that Starbuck’s Via blends, sold in in planet-polluting, single-serve pouches, tastes better than most. On the good side, this is probably the easiest coffee to make on a moving boat. Bottom line: For the truly desperate only. Tolerable with lots of cream and sugar.
  • Cowboy coffee: We were introduced to this method by a couple of Canadian conspiracy theorists in Fiji, who refused to buy anything made in an industrialized nation that they did not absolutely need. As I recall, all their meals — like their coffee — were made in one large pot. To make the concoction, they would simply stir course grounds into a hot pot of water and curse the CIA (in hushed tones) while they watched it simmer. They would then pour the oily liquid into a cup, trying in vain to leave all the grounds in the pot, which they later read like tea leaves. Bottom line: A very big mess waiting to happen. And gritty. Recommended for cowboys and anarchists only.
  • Stovetop percolator: We picked up one of these at a hardware store in Venezuela. It worked tolerably well at anchor, when the tall pot remained upright, but if you need your morning coffee fast, waiting intently for the telltale gurgle and drip (it seemed to take forever) is a sadistic form of torture. At sea,

    Stovetop espresso maker
    after repeatedly cleaning the filter basket after each pot and mopping up the mess when the pot tipped over, we soon found ourselves scouring the cabinets for traces of Nescafe. Bottom line: Tolerable at anchor; a marriage-wrecker at sea.
  • French press: I only recently learned that I have been using this wrong all these years, which might be why I never really fully appreciated the taste. The correct approach involves freshly ground beans of a uniform coarseness (apparently only achievable with a special kind of grinder), and a carefully timed steeping. Here’s a link to one of several sites that describe the process in detail. There are so many ways this process can go wrong that I don’t know where to start, but two words sum it up quite well “burr grinder.” In Fiji, we hosted some stateside guests who were coffee aficionados, and they brought one of these aboard. It was an AC version, but it drew so little current that we could run it off our small inverter — something I regretfully revealed during an unguarded moment. The grinder soon developed a short circuit, however, and I was unable to fix this with my 24-ounce framing hammer. Bottom line: If you decide upon this method, I suggest you keep the grinder well-hidden, and use it only when you are on board alone.
  • Stovetop espresso maker: We bought this at the same time we picked up the percolator. (Venezuelans have more kinds of coffee than we have breakfast cereals.)

    Manual-drip coffee cone
    We were giddy with the excitement of making espresso (real espresso!) onboard, until we realized that this contraption, in the process of brewing, transfers all of the water from the bottom of the container to the top. This is akin to moving the lead in your keel to the top of your mast. Bottom line: We heard of a former tightrope walker who was able to make coffee using this device — but only at anchor.

  • Manual drip cone: In the end, we settled for this method. It uses a funnel-type basket that  accepts the same type of filters you use in drip coffeemakers. On long passages, we’d make one thermos full in the evening — in the sink, in case of spills — and this was usually accomplished without injury. You can also make one cup at a time. Like the Venezuelan espresso-maker, this is a top-heavy approach, requiring you to perch the funnel atop the thermos (or cup) and pour hot water into it. Ideally, the thermos and funnel would latch together, but I don’t think anyone yet makes a device that does this.


    Bottom line: It works, but not without risk. A good teapot that pours without spilling helps prevent disasters. When its just me in the morning, I still make my coffee this way.

We are currently investigating other methods of making coffee onboard, including the Aeropress, which works something like a French press to make espresso. Interestingly, it’s made by the same company that developed the far-flying Aerobie flying disc. How someone made the connection between something you fling great distances and a contraption that makes coffee, I’m curious to learn. (I suspect it involves an incident with a burr-grinder.) Anyway, if you have found a way of making coffee onboard that won’t drive me further over the brink, I would be delighted to hear it. I’m sure there are other sailors who would appreciate your wisdom, as well.

Comments (69)

I use an ROK Presso manual espresso machine at home, on the road and most importantly on any boat I am on. It makes incredible espressos although this does not help the coffee drinking crowds.

Posted by: Wannathermal | January 3, 2018 9:54 AM    Report this comment

I use an ROK Presso manual espresso machine at home, on the road and most importantly on any boat I am on. It makes incredible espressos although this does not help the coffee drinking crowds.

Posted by: Wannathermal | January 3, 2018 9:53 AM    Report this comment

I use an ROK Presso manual espresso machine at home, on the road and most importantly on any boat I am on. It makes incredible espressos although this does not help the coffee drinking crowds.

Posted by: Wannathermal | January 3, 2018 9:53 AM    Report this comment

I'm never one to comment but we have the BEST coffee and I don't see it listed here :) I buy already ground Italian espresso (second choice Starbucks). We have a Mr. Coffee espresso machine on our boat and make espresso & lattes all day long, at shore & on the sea. The Mr.Coffee espresso machine is $40.00 at Walmart and we have gotten at least 5 years out it. Not sure how my husband hocked up the electricity to work at sea but he did. Nothing like a good coffee as the sun rises from an over night sail. Small and simple metal container for dumping the grounds, so not very messy at all, especially for GOOD coffee !!

Posted by: Kimberly | August 16, 2017 3:09 PM    Report this comment

I'm never one to comment but we have the BEST coffee and I don't see it listed here :) I buy already ground Italian espresso (second choice Starbucks). We have a Mr. Coffee espresso machine on our boat and make espresso & lattes all day long, at shore & on the sea. The Mr.Coffee espresso machine is $40.00 at Walmart and we have gotten at least 5 years out it. Not sure how my husband hocked up the electricity to work at sea but he did. Nothing like a good coffee as the sun rises from an over night sail. Small and simple metal container for dumping the grounds, so not very messy at all, especially for GOOD coffee !!

Posted by: Kimberly | August 16, 2017 3:09 PM    Report this comment

I am a huge fan of the Aeropress. Compact, lightweight and makes great coffee. However, since it makes only a cup at a time, might be best to buy 2. ALSO... I like to make lattes on board, and found an excellent compromise for a milk steamer: Capresso Milk Frother. So actually, you can split the coffee from one Aeropress, and fill the rest of the cup with frothed milk.

Posted by: Evanw25 | August 4, 2017 6:13 AM    Report this comment

We are happy with an Ebay-sourced 12 cup aluminum stovetop percolator. The TRICK tho is Melita sells a fold-and-wrap filter paper liner for stovetop percolator that wraps the grounds and makes cleanup a breeze. The grounds are enclosed in the filter and the basket cleans with a few swabs of the sponge... No loose grounds to mess with.

Yes, a 12 cup batch takes longer than a puny French Press, but everyone gets a proper mugfull. I also think perced coffee tastes just fine.

Posted by: Hriehl1 | July 31, 2017 7:28 PM    Report this comment

Nespresso. When you are in France or Spain, fill up the larder with 20cent capsules, available in any and all supermarkets. Takes a bit to find the good brands, but we've found the ones that are even better than the brand-name ones. In Italy you'll pay an extortionate 30cent per capsule in most places, but at that price, you can get the "Segafredo"-brand Nespresso capsules, which are, simply put, the best in the world. Highly recommended.

Capsules are impossible to find in most of the Greek islands, so be sure at stock up elsewhere in Europe. We usually carry a 6-month supply, just in case. Back in the U.S., buy your Nespresso at a factory Nespresso store, preferably in Florida: best price (70cent), no shipping, and no sales tax. If you mail order, even from Nespresso, and even from Florida, they'll add sales tax.

You can make your piping hot Nespresso underway even if the boat is tilting at 30degree and the toerail is in the water.

Posted by: F M | July 31, 2017 1:01 PM    Report this comment

Simple is better. Barb and I use ground coffee or our antique hand grinder that keeps changing settings. We put the coffee in a hand wire mesh strainer and pour boiling water through it. We have a convenient size wide mouth thermos, but frequently make only two cups, directly into the cups. If we don't want the mud in the bottom of the cup, we don't drink the mud. Paper filters in the strainer will take out everything, but then you have the trash to deal with.
As an alternative, cowboy coffee works fine, but just pour it through the strainer, or strainer with filter. If you put the grounds into boiling or near boiling water, watch out for the over flow of boiling water.

Advantage? requires nothing special. Saves space, money and waste. enjoy!

Posted by: Umpqua Chief | July 30, 2017 12:28 PM    Report this comment

Try an Aeropress if you have not. If you like excellent coffee cup by cup, you'll probably end up using it every day at home as well as on the boat. All plastic, very small paper filters, no grounds in the cup, very low acidity because the grounds are in the water for only 30 to 40 seconds. Requires a solid place to press very hard, just with body power.

Posted by: PSR | July 30, 2017 10:19 AM    Report this comment

what's worked out best for us . . .
1. Good beans, either obtained locally or brought in. They keep a pretty long time
2. A decent manual grinder. The Kyocera, available through Amazon, is our choice. There's also an improving alignment plate that's also available through Amazon, that results in a more uniform grind, and longer life. Not expensive, not susceptible to moisture in the marine environment.
3. A press pot/French press. The glass ones won't last. REI sells a stainless, vacuum insulated version that's very stable on a countertop. Excellent! But costs over $40. Amazon (again) sells a few similar, we're now using a thermos brand. It's not as stable, but works fine.
We're out full time, and carry spares of the grinder and pot.

Posted by: el sapo | July 30, 2017 9:49 AM    Report this comment

Nothing beats a hot mug of coffee while watching the sun rise in a quiet anchorage. At home I use a coffee press. On the boat, I find that cleaning the coffee press uses a lot of water. So, while on the boat, I use the pour over drip cone method into an insulated carafe. I just picked up a great cone filter holder on Ebay last week for $10 It's large enough for 12 cups and fits just about any carafe or thermos because of it's long "nozzle." It's made by a company called "RSVP International." Another brand I came across is "HIC" for pour over cone filter holders. Always do the pouring over of the hot water in the sink. Great cup of coffee.

Posted by: lambchop27 | July 30, 2017 8:58 AM    Report this comment

I used various french press solutions for many years. Glass, insulated stainless, etc. Never REALLY happy with any of them, but they worked.

Now I use a Melita 10 cup thermal carafe and drip funnel. The carafe is amazingly insulated. Coffee will be hot for 10 or 12 hours. It is low profile, and doesn't tip over, the funnel fits securely and isn't at risk of coming off in any conditions I want to make coffee in. Flitered drip coffee is my preferred taste, although that is a very personal thing.

Posted by: S/V Harmonie | July 29, 2017 2:29 PM    Report this comment

Don't underestimate the Starbucks Via option. They are nothing like Nescafe. They are really good actually. Under-sail or just lazy, they are our 1st best option. French press serves as our "at anchor" option. Once you get used to this, it's not hard to get it right. Your other options seem less than ideal.

Posted by: Shelby | July 29, 2017 1:37 PM    Report this comment

Don't underestimate the Starbucks Via option. They are nothing like Nescafe. They are really good actually. Under-sail or just lazy, they are our 1st best option. French press serves as our "at anchor" option. Once you get used to this, it's not hard to get it right. Your other options seem less than ideal.

Posted by: Shelby | July 29, 2017 1:37 PM    Report this comment

I use Caffi Paper Coffee Filter bags made in Denmark in my French Press ... smoother brew, no sediments, and most important makes cleanup super easy because grounds are in bag such that cleaning Press is as simple as a quick rinse.

Posted by: CA Dude | July 28, 2017 11:18 PM    Report this comment

From Amazon, I have a 32 oz. plastic french press. It has a strainer on the plunger lid that aligns with the pour spout that keeps the grounds out of my cup. After pouring the first cup I put the rest into a thermos that keeps it warm for hours.

Posted by: Stillwater | July 28, 2017 12:23 PM    Report this comment

Considering that if you can't boil water, you don't deserve good coffee, then I find the french press the least oppressive machine to operate. There are, however, two important must-haves. The first is a press that can survive the rock and roll environment of sailing (and you always wondered where that term came from?). Peets coffee(in some shops) sells an impressive(I had to) French press with two great features. First the glass carafe is the world standard available replacement, in case of breakage. Second, the carafe is surrounded by a plastic enclosure that helps keep the coffee warm longer and protects if from breakage nearly to the top.
Second, burr grinding is a MUST have to reduce a mud in last sip.

Posted by: 1rickruff | July 28, 2017 11:20 AM    Report this comment

French press here..... two bottles water, manual bur grinder, grind beans and dump into press, pour boiling water half way, stir then top off put top on and let sit for 10 minutes. Perfect every time!

Posted by: NYSail | July 27, 2017 8:16 PM    Report this comment

I have always been a coffee afeciando and the percolator on the gimbaled stove works great! For the space constrained cabin, the single gimbaled burner works really great! No matter what the sea state, I've always been able to brew a great pot of coffee with the gimbaled single burner propane burner and stainless steel coffee pot.

Posted by: SvTwinbrothers | July 27, 2017 7:49 PM    Report this comment

Coffee on land, tea on the sea.

A tea bag in a tall insulated cup, let it sit in the sink brewing while the new watch is getting ready.

Posted by: David Smyth | July 27, 2017 6:07 PM    Report this comment

Areopress for us! We've tried them all but aeropress delivers a quality cup

Posted by: HughB | July 27, 2017 4:54 PM    Report this comment

For 14 years as liveaboards, 9 actively cruising, we have a hand grinder for the excellent local beans, and a stainless steel, insulated, French press. It's not that difficult.

Posted by: Silverheels III | July 27, 2017 2:39 PM    Report this comment

Years ago when I lived in New Orleans I was introduced to cold brew coffee. I purchased the Filtron system which allows for a coffee concentrate to be made overnight without any heat source. Adding hot milk makes a superb cafe au lait, or simply add hot water for conventional joe!

Posted by: Sowwanin II | July 27, 2017 1:52 PM    Report this comment

Of course the subject of coffee would generate a big response! Few things are as essential at sea as coffee!! I love the aeropress; love it for camping, and found that's it great for underway coffee-making! Actually prefer a glass French press, but that doesn't work well; had one go crashing to the deck and shatter (predictably) when locker opened in a big sea. In port, with shore power, I also like a Black & Decker single cup drip machine which comfortably accommodates a tall travel mug. Cheers!

Posted by: KevinH | July 27, 2017 1:20 PM    Report this comment

I recently switched from French Press to AeroPress... it's good and easy cleanup. I keep a few packets of Via strictly for emergencies. Whenever I have the stove fired up, I pour some hot water into a thermos for later coffee or oatmeal. At home in the PNW, I use Seattle's Best Coffee #5.

As for Cowboy coffee, one needs to stir and pour a small amount of cold water into the whirlpool to force the grounds to the bottom.

Posted by: jkindredpdx | July 27, 2017 12:34 PM    Report this comment

Darrell, my wife and I love your sense of humor! We hope you write about your other adventures, as well. Anything available?

Posted by: Old Salts | July 27, 2017 11:41 AM    Report this comment

Well obviously this discussion is about more than just making coffee. It seems to now involve what is the best way to make coffee that the writer and readers think tastes best. And that is a truly personal decision. But a couple of points IMHO:
Using anything that is made out of glass to make coffee on a boat is just dumb for obvious reasons. No plan is foolproof and the sea likes to make fools out of all of us.
Why all this discussion about grinders? Just buy coffee in a can that is already ground. Problem solved.
About cowboy coffee: if you have grounds loose in the water you need some way to settle them before drinking. The traditional method out here in the west, is to add a tablespoon of COLD water to the brewed coffee. Sinks the grounds. However, on a pitching boat, that won't last for long.
That same cowboy coffee pot, which by the way you can get almost anywhere cheap, probably comes as a percolator. This is our personal choice. After the water comes to a boil you need to perk about 7 minutes according to taste. How much slower is this compared to either a press or funnel? In both cases you need to boil the water so they are equal there. So the real question is, what is the time difference between the percolator and the time it takes to brew in a press method or to run through a funnel? A little bit longer for sure.
But consider this: with a funnel method you're got two generally disconnected pieces that are just asking to come apart at the wrong moment. In addition, you have a top heavy system with open water at the top until it flows through the coffee all the while cooling off and liable to spill.
Press coffee makes appear to be much more sensitive to the size of the grind but that is correctible by changing how long it brews. Most, but not all, French press coffee makers are glass - see first comment above. French press coffee makers are much more expensive than the cowboy percolator. In a press coffee maker you need two items: something to boil the water in and the press maker itself. The percolator is a single self contained unit and if you can boil water on your stove without dumping it, you can run a percolator. In fact the percolator pot can be used for all your water boiling needs in addition to making coffee.
But to each his own. Good luck.

Posted by: PeggyAnn | July 27, 2017 11:14 AM    Report this comment

I was using the manual drip cone while underway when the boat lurched, the cone toppled off the thermos and the boiling water and coffee grounds landed on my ankle. I was lucky to escape with only second degree burns which I treated with Aloe verde and medicated cream for several weeks.
When I got back home I got a Keurig that works fine with my does draw several hundred watts but I only keep it on long enough to make a few more burns and I like the taste of the starbuck and Peet pods

Posted by: reuben | July 27, 2017 10:51 AM    Report this comment

I'm taking the easy way out.
I put in an INVERTER and then bought a KUERIG. All done!

Posted by: tdg | July 27, 2017 10:38 AM    Report this comment

I have been using for 2 years now Handpresso device. Will never turn back.

Posted by: Fulub | July 27, 2017 10:30 AM    Report this comment

We have also experimented with multiple ways to make coffee and have not concluded that a french press thermos carafe is the best solution. We have a very nice stainless steel double wall lined french press that keeps the coffee hot long enough for us to enjoy several cups of coffee that has been steeped and fresh. The french press is part of the container, looks elegant on the boat and feels special

Posted by: realem | July 27, 2017 10:24 AM    Report this comment

I agree with Sailster's grinder recommendation. The $30-$50 Japanese stainless hand burr grinders are perfect for all travel, including on board. For coffee making, I like the stainless, double walled, vacuum sealed Espro French Press. Fantastic extracted coffee, unbreakable, and no need to risk water burns while pouring water over grounds as with drip methods.

Posted by: Don RI | July 27, 2017 10:22 AM    Report this comment

Aeropress & a good hand crank burr grinder can't be beat.

Posted by: Sailster | July 27, 2017 9:57 AM    Report this comment

Well, here is your solution:
1. Coffee beans in sealed container (my choice Illy Coffee)
2. Manual old fashion grinder.
3. Large coffee/tea mug.
4. Tea pot/hot water (boiling!)
5. 2 full teaspoons of freshly grinned coffee in the mug.
6. Fill the mug 3/4 with hot water.
7. Cover the top with anything (plate, passport, notebook, etc. ;-) ) to prevent temperature lost.
8. Wait 4-5 minutes till coffee sinks to the bottom.
9. Do not leave or put spoon to the mug until coffee is ready, as well as do not stir coffee until then.
10. Add 1/2-1 teaspoon of Colorado honey, stir, add/or not to taste milk only(!) (best small containers of Parmalat Milk)
ENJOY!!! ... and you can travel around the world without electric and contribution to polluting the Earth!
Two Finger Captain

Posted by: Two Finger Captain | July 27, 2017 9:21 AM    Report this comment

Melitta sells a great drip system, with a large plastic filter funnel which fits on top of an insulated thermos. The thermos has a nice screw-on lid. After the coffee is dripped, just toss the filter into the trash, so no dealing with the grounds. Don't want to use the paper filters? The thermos and filter funnel comes with a metal mesh re-usable filter. Make a thermos full of hot coffee while at anchor or while underway but not bouncing much and you will have hot coffee available for a while, even when conditions change. During a passage from the Chesapeake to Virgin Gorda a few years ago, we took advantage of every calm moment to keep the thermos filled for when it wasn't so calm.

Posted by: bigskyrad | July 27, 2017 9:13 AM    Report this comment

For our offshore races we have used a 12volt coffee maker to heat the water and mix with Cool Brew Coffee Concentrate. Works fairly well especially on those 0100-0500 watches.

Posted by: Dieter H | July 27, 2017 9:11 AM    Report this comment

People seem to be over thinking this. We use a tried and true stainless campfire perk coffee maker (you can get them at places like cabellas in various sizes) on the stove and it makes great coffee (once you learn how to use it, which is easy). The sides are tapered and is always bottom heavy. It is simple, bomb proof, and we can make coffee under way with no problem as long as we aren't heeled way over. I tried to include a picture but it wouldn't work, but you can see an example on cabellas web site. I hope this helps.

Posted by: Cgroves | July 27, 2017 8:48 AM    Report this comment

Aeropress for me! I use a manual (hand cranked) grinder as well. Best coffee ever. Easy to clean up as well.

Posted by: sailing Jack | July 27, 2017 8:42 AM    Report this comment

Aeropress for me! I use a manual (hand cranked) grinder as well. Best coffee ever. Easy to clean up as well.

Posted by: sailing Jack | July 27, 2017 8:41 AM    Report this comment

We used Aeropress for about 10,000 of our 40,000 miles. When we had AC power (generator or shore), we used an electric kettle for hot water; and if not we used the gas stove to boil water. We tried all of your others...Aeropress was superior.

Posted by: BeBe | July 27, 2017 8:33 AM    Report this comment

People appear to be over thinking this. We use an old fashioned, bomb proof stainless camping stove top perk coffee maker ( just like the cowboys do), inexpensive and maintenance free. Always bottom heavy, makes fantastic coffee if you learn how to use it (which is easy) and requires no electricity. We can make coffee under way with no problem.

Posted by: Cgroves | July 27, 2017 8:29 AM    Report this comment

I'll add my voice to the fans of the Aeropress. We loved it so much for the boat that we got one from home and don't use our drip coffee maker any longer. We use only finely-ground espresso roast coffee. It is as good as anything I have purchased at a coffee shop. And the Aeropress works great for a boat - no electricity required. I've even made it under way with just the hot water heated by the circulation of the engine cooling water and it was still great, just a little cooler than truly boiling water. And you can't beat the price!

Posted by: Claygr | July 26, 2017 4:18 PM    Report this comment

We use two methods. The first is a double wall stainless press from IKEA, which with coarse ground coffee makes enough to fill the preheated thermos. We also have a restaurant style coffee pot (you press the top to pump the liquid out through the spout) which we fill with hot water, and then use the Starbucks Via instant for "cups on demand".

Posted by: WM | November 19, 2013 11:20 AM    Report this comment

I have found a storable size auto drip coffee maker. I brew it and then immediately put it into a stainless steel double walled thermos. It stays hot for hours.

Posted by: Unknown | July 30, 2013 3:31 PM    Report this comment

About ten years ago while in Germany, I found the perfect solution to making filter coffee in a thermos. it was a normal looking filter cone but the base was shaped like a tube that fit into the thermos; thus providing much more stability. I have looked for one in that states and was never able to find it again. After reading this report, I checked out the name on the cone ---Alfi, and searched the web. The company is Alfi Carafe, a division of the upscale WMF company.
I found the cones in the accessories section but they are available here only in porcelain at the steep price of $45. a solution, but not the ultimate given the fragility of the material and the price

Posted by: Bob R | July 13, 2013 7:34 AM    Report this comment

I'm with John C. Good old traditional SS percolator locks to the stove, pours easy and makes a good cuppa joe. Good enough to satisfy all the coffee snobs in the family.

Posted by: Win S | July 10, 2013 11:35 AM    Report this comment

Hucklberry mocka is called for in the mornings on our boat. My wife and
I purchased a Breville pump espresso machine that works flawless while sailing. We grind our beans and the inverter works only for a few minutes while heating the water and making the espresso.
The beauty of this is with a different syrup you can make other flavors, but not all stores carry syrup. We have had to carry a few extra bottles of syrup on board when sailing to other places.

Posted by: Mac-2 | July 8, 2013 1:15 PM    Report this comment

Thank you for sharing your experiance and starting this thread. Good, hot coffee while underway is essential. We prefer drip to perk and use an all metal pot I inherited from my grandparents, couldn't say were to purchase one today.

Posted by: zeph | July 7, 2013 9:21 PM    Report this comment

We bought a Nespresso machine and it makes real expresso. You have to use the inverter and it draws less than 10 amps from the batteries, since it takes only two minutes for two espressos. Plus you get the choice of many different coffees at around 70 cents a cup.

Posted by: Rusty | July 4, 2013 8:19 PM    Report this comment

We use a manual drip method into a thermos. We purchased this 10+ years ago. It fits on top of our stainless steel thermos. The funnel is plastic so it will not break like the glass ones might. We have to watch it while pouring the hot water from the teapot since it is top heavy, but the coffee is as good as at home. We cannot find this funnel anymore, unfortunately.

Posted by: Robert K | July 3, 2013 8:11 PM    Report this comment

My wife and I sailed for 5 years on our Beneteau 393 Oceanus Clipper. We spent 4 years + in the Med then crossed the Atlantic and spent 7 months in the Carib on the way home to Vancouver Canada. I really enjoy a cup of GOOD coffee in the morning and on an overnight sail I like a cup (or 3) for my shift (01:00 - 07:00)press. We found that the best coffee we could make was with a French Press, using boiling water, which we poured into the press resting in the sink. After we broke the second press, we bought one with a soft plastic cover.It still serves us well here in Nanoose Bay, BC. We also found that our Spectra reverse osmosis water made the best coffee.

Posted by: MICHAEL SWANGARD | July 3, 2013 3:45 PM    Report this comment

My wife and I have been using a Coleman Camping Coffee maker for several years with great results, it's a little slower than a home maker but the coffee comes out the same. We have a 2 burner gimbaled stove, we remove the burner grate and lock the unit in with potholders and it has never moved under sail. We do put a small bungee around the carafe while underway.

Posted by: MIKE G | July 3, 2013 3:40 PM    Report this comment

I'm partial to a french press at home. When I'm cruising having the grounds neatly encased in a paper filter for easy disposal wins the day for the Melitta filter setup, which works fine with a little care on a gimballed stove.

There's a little burr grinder called Hario (model MSS-1B) that's hand-cranked. You'd hate it if you were making coffee for a crowd but it's great for one or two cups, takes a minute or so of cranking but does a great job, takes up very little space, seems like it might last forever, doesn't require electricity. I got mine on Amazon.

Posted by: JAMES N | July 3, 2013 3:06 PM    Report this comment

When we were outfitting our new Shannon 28 in 1980 for what would become a nearly three year honeymoon cruise, my wife and I decided that if we couldn't find an easy, safe way to make fresh coffee aboard, we might have to seriously question the wisdom of our plans. Neither one of us can even think about functioning in the morning without a good cup of fresh coffee.

One day as I walked through a K-Mart in hopes of finding something suitable, I spotted a Melitta drip coffee maker. With a 10 cup glass decanter, plastic cone filter holder and paper filters, it sure seemed like a simple solution to our problem. Since it only cost about ten bucks, I figured that I could afford to take one home to test it out without taking a hit in the wallet if it didn't work out.

Well, to our great surprise and joy, the darn thing made a better cup of coffee than the restaurant grade Bunn that we had at home. The key was the fact that the water would reach boiling before it was poured over the grounds. Most coffee makers have plastic parts which won't allow them to get the water hot enough for full extraction. The Melitta, in its simplicity, completely solved that problem.

We used our Melitta aboard Mary Flower for fifteen years. We had a stainless steel teapot for boiling the water and pot holders on our gimballed propane stove to keep everything in place. The system was secure enough that we could make a pot of steaming hot coffee after coming off watch even on a stormy night when the boat was pounding in rough seas.

To this day, we use a Melitta in our home and everyone who has a cup of coffee made with this little wonder always says it's the best coffee they're ever had.

And it can still be had for only about ten bucks. Amazing!

Posted by: Mary Flower | July 3, 2013 2:58 PM    Report this comment

I've found the french press makes the best coffee with the least amount of hassle. There are stainless steel insulated french presses that keep your coffee hot, are unbreakable and easy to clean. Depending on the model, Bodum also has a plastic strainer now which makes the grind less critical. We freeze whole beans and grind them as needed with a burr grinder, but store ground works fine. Look for them at Amazon. The great thing with these is you can heat your water whichever way is best for your situation. I put non-skid feet on mine so it stays put .

Posted by: Bradley C | July 3, 2013 2:20 PM    Report this comment

We love the Aeropress! A finely ground coffee works best. We make espresso and add hot water to make 2 cups of Americano style coffee in the morning.

Posted by: Moondance38 | July 3, 2013 11:42 AM    Report this comment

Alessi makes a stovetop espresso maker in several sizes that is well suited to boats. Has a broad base that makes the unit more stable underway. Not cheap but high quality.

Posted by: BRIAN L | July 3, 2013 11:18 AM    Report this comment

I've never used one (I drink Tea) but Folger's (I think) had a brew in the cup coffee in a bag, much like you brew tea. If you wanted more than a cup or two, you could brew several bags in a pot of hot water. (We used to do that to make a gallon or so of tea at once when we wanted Iced Tea.)

Happy Sailing

Posted by: Chris W | July 3, 2013 10:57 AM    Report this comment

We use ground coffee in a french press. We've tried all kinds of options and this is probably the easiest (and safest). We love fresh ground and love fresh roasted and ground even more. But sailing about involves some compromises.

Posted by: SAM C | July 3, 2013 10:52 AM    Report this comment

I still use an 8 cup ss stove top perculator, let it boil 8 mins. and always get a GOOD as well as HOT cup of coffee. Never had a pot spill on my gimballed stove with pot grippers

Posted by: JOHN C | July 3, 2013 10:43 AM    Report this comment

Keurig all the way! Easy to store coffee stays fresh, fast brewing, no need to heat water on the stove. The newer small Keurig K10 model fits into our lockers better--we've switched to that one.

Posted by: James S | July 3, 2013 10:42 AM    Report this comment

I found that Folger's coffee bags do a tolerable job, store rather easily, and are really easy to clean up.

Posted by: Sid W | July 3, 2013 10:29 AM    Report this comment

don't laugh! we use a Coleman stove top automatic drip maker! a bit large and has a glass carafe, but makes awesome coffee

Posted by: Phantomracer | July 2, 2013 8:59 PM    Report this comment

I love my AeroPress. We have a few of them and never travel anywhere without one. Since it only makes one cup at a time, I also have a large French Press from REI. I'd suggest avoiding French Presses that have the metal around the perimeter. We have a Capresso hot water pot that we use to heat water to 180 degrees. You can't use the same grind in the AeroPress as you do in the French Press. Our standard coffee is Cafe LaLlave that we buy at Safeway for 5.99 (4.99) when it's on sale and it comes in 12oz cans. Sometimes I'll buy something else and use a burr grinder but the Cafe LaLlave is ground perfectly for the AeroPress and reasonably priced for a good espresso coffee.

Posted by: DAVID B | July 2, 2013 3:52 PM    Report this comment

We use a funnel that has a smaller disc than picure. It fits inside the opening of our thermos. We found that helps keep it upright. Also, only pour in enough water to wet the coffee and fill the funnel 1/3 or 1/2 full first. Let that drip down and then fill to top. Has worked out well for years. The funnel is a 6 cup model.

Posted by: BARRY S | July 2, 2013 2:30 PM    Report this comment

We have used an Aeropress underway successfully. It requires you to be careful, but it makes great coffee. We use something like Pete ground French Roast. I wouldn't call it espresso, but if is very good strong coffee.

Posted by: ROBERT H | July 2, 2013 1:57 PM    Report this comment

I could a 'Keurig' style cup at time maker being useful on board. Maybe one you pour hot water into instead of keeping the water at temp. The little canisters, although a little pricier, would be easy to store and keep fresh.

Posted by: tuckersaylor | July 2, 2013 11:47 AM    Report this comment

Best coffee I have ever made was using an Aeropress. I unfortunately have found out that not only is the water temperature important but your beans are critical. Something changed with my Organic Rain Forest beans and a cup of coffee changed from awesome to less than mediocre after using these beans for years. I've always ground my beans for a Turkish brew and only made one cup at a time.

Posted by: KENNETH T | July 1, 2013 11:53 PM    Report this comment

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