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Last Updated on January 11, 2023
When the weather is good, few places will give you as relaxing a night of sleep as a boat. Gently rocking to sleep on an overnight yacht trip, far away from city lights and noises, and the stresses of work and modern life, is restful and restorative for the soul.
However, the boating life is better known for quality of sleep than quantity. On board, early wakeup calls and grogginess are the norm when you have to prepare and plan for the tasks of the day ahead. A good, hot cup of coffee is the best friend of many habitual sailors.
If you’re in need of a new coffee maker to take out on your boat for overnight trips, what do you need to consider and which coffee makers are the best?
The best coffee makers for boats are ideally quick, easy to clean, easy to store, relatively inexpensive and make great-tasting coffee.
The overall best style of coffee maker for boats is a French press, but a number of other methods are suitable. If you have access to electricity on board, a whole new category opens up for ocean-going coffee fans.
Things To Consider in Coffee Makers for Boats
Before you get started shopping, there are a number of factors to consider that will help influence which option you steer toward.
Space and Sizing
On board, how much space can you devote to coffee? The needs and choices for a 24-footer can be very different than those for a 45′.
Think about the sizing of cups and the capacity of your coffee maker.
Most coffee pots label by 6-ounce cups. If you have two coffee drinkers on board and each wants a couple of mugs in the morning, that could easily equal 8–10 “cups.”
Be careful with glass pots, which are not ideal for boat storage. If your maker of choice includes some glass, think about some simple padding options for when it’s not in use.
Is electricity available or not? This factor obviously greatly influences your options. An electric coffee maker can require up to 800 watts of energy. You need a 1000-watt inverter, a generator, or access to shore power.
Are you a recreational, one weekend away every month or two type, or a full-time live-aboard sailor?
Ease of Use
Coffee makers run the gamut from virtually hands-off operation to active involvement. Which do you prefer? How much attention/time do you want to give to a coffee maker in the morning?
Keeping Coffee Hot
Do you intend to drink the brew immediately or later in the middle of a watch on deck?
Obviously, the coffee maker you ultimately sail with should brew fresh coffee that you really enjoy.
Methods of Brewing Coffee on Board a Boat
French presses feature ease of use, good taste, consistent brews and a reasonable price. Cleanup can be a bit of a problem. Overall, it’s generally considered the top brewing method for many boats.
Inexpensive and easy to use, these make strong, hot coffee. However, cleanup can be messy and you can get some coffee granules in your drink. It takes a while, and you must watch and time things carefully. Not good for sailors busy with the wind on deck.
Manual Drip Cones (Pour-Over Method)
Inexpensive, with ease/convenience, speed and relatively easy cleanup. Good idea to have as a backup plan on your boat.
Electric Coffee Makers
If you’ve got the power and the space, there are lots of models out there.
Small Espresso Makers
Lightweight and very compact, featuring quick, easy use and cleanup. These machines produce one cup of espresso at a time.
Whether for single-serve packets or a jar of coffee grounds, it can be stored onboard as an emergency backup option.
Coffee Makers We Recommend for Boats
So you’re ready to narrow your choices down and make a decision.
Here are several makes and models to consider, all of which brew great boat coffee.
One minor drawback: it only makes a couple of cups at a time, so it’s best suited for one or two sailors.
The Moka Express is compact, unbreakable, and makes a delicious espresso or strong coffee. A little more high maintenance: cleanup can be a bit messy, the handles get hot, and it requires some focus when using.
The KONA French Press comes at an affordable price for high quality. It’s lightweight, with an insulated and protective outer sleeve and a comfortable handle that protects your hand from high temperatures. The filter does let some grinds through if they are too fine, though.
The BruTrek Table Top French Press makes good coffee, with an easy clean, low maintenance and quiet operation (if your first mate is still asleep!). Some glass parts.
The Cuisinart DCC-450BK Coffee Maker is compact and durable, with a brew-pause feature and easy pour spot. It uses just 550 watts. One drawback: you’ll go through a lot of filters.
A hi-tech powerhouse, the Sboly Drip Coffee Maker features touch screen controls, an LCD display, brewing strength control, and is 24-hour programmable. Available in stainless steel (preferred) or glass. The downside is the electricity (120 volts, 900 watts), and some users have noted the coffee does not stay hot for longer periods of time.
A combo of stainless steel and a fair bit of glass, the Bodum is an easy-cleaning fast brew and reasonably durable.
The Farberware is a rugged, nicely finished steel machine. It’s non-messy and durable, with a large capacity. It does have a glass handle top that you should wrap a towel around when storing.
Made of stainless steel and copper, the Moss & Stone is durable and features removable parts for a relatively easy clean. It maintains temperatures for 20 minutes and can brew 2–10 cups of coffee.
This Melitta pour-over brewer features stainless steel and can keep 10 cups warm for hours.
Who’s throwing a boat party? The choice of Russian oligarch yacht owners, the Hamilton Beach Coffee Urn is a fast brew with a huge capacity and a ready indicator light. Also, a two-way dispenser. On the downside, the urn is not heat resistant and requires some serious cleaning.
Lightweight and very compact, the Handpresso is quick and easy to use with minimal cleanup, and makes one cup of espresso at a time. Impressive, but pricey.
Coffee Accessories for Your Boat
Built from aircraft-grade aluminum for backcountry hiking, this awesome little tool is durable yet still relatively lightweight and is designed to easily clip on to luggage or a backpack. It has 50 grind settings and can go fine enough to make espresso, which gives it admirable versatility. It is limited to a 20-gram capacity. The VSSL Java also comes with a cleaning brush.
If you want to take small and light to the extreme on your boat, check this tiny grinder out. The Porlex Mini Portable Hand Grinder has 13 consistent grind settings (including fine espresso) and weighs in at just 8 ounces (226 grams). It actually fits inside an AeroPress, helping with storage space!
These inexpensive cup holders, originally designed for baby strollers and bikes, come with adjustable, built-in clamps that you can install without the need for tools or equipment. The BundlePro Universal Cup Holder is a lightweight solution to preventing coffee spills above and below deck.
One of the best travel mugs we’ve encountered in a while, the Carter Everywhere Travel Mug is a double-wall, vacuum-insulated stainless steel tumbler with a ceramic interior that retains heat for up to 12 hours. The quick twist locking lid has a leak-proof seal. This one thought of everything!
Making Your Choice
Evaluate the specific needs on your boat and then make your choice.
If you can’t decide, buy two and either return the runner-up or keep it as a backup.
Waking up to great coffee on the water is one of life’s great pleasures, and you’ll start planning boat trips just based on that sensory experience.