For most sailors, good cof­fee is as im­por­tant as good rum. Here are the ways su­pe­rior cup of joe on board.

Cruising World - - Contents - By Lynda Mor­ris Chil­dress

When it comes to mak­ing a hot cup of joe, the French press is the tool of choice, but there are other op­tions.

What kind of cof­fee maker do you use aboard your boat? Re­cently, we posted this ques­tion to read­ers on Face­book. Re­sponses re­vealed clear-cut win­ners — none re­quire elec­tric­ity, and all you need is a stove to heat wa­ter. A few read­ers with reg­u­lar ac­cess to shore power or an on­board in­verter sin­gled out elec­tric K-cup cof­fee mak­ers, such as Ne­spresso, Keurig or Nescafe Dolce Gusto, but the vast ma­jor­ity pre­ferred sim­pler op­tions.


This clas­sic press was the over­all fa­vorite; users claim it makes the best-tast­ing cup of cof­fee, hands down. The de­sign is sim­ple: a cylin­dri­cal glass or me­tal carafe and plunger/lid with mesh fil­ter. Just add hot wa­ter to ground cof­fee in the carafe, al­low it to brew, then press grounds firmly to the bot­tom. In­vented in France in the 1800s, the aptly named French press didn’t gain pop­u­lar­ity in the United States un­til the mid-1970s and ’80s, when Dan­ish com­pany Bo­dum de­signed its own unit and launched a lit­eral full­court press on the world­wide re­tail mar­ket.

BREW­ING TIPS: Use hot, not boil­ing, wa­ter and coarseground cof­fee. Mea­sure cof­fee into the carafe; add a small amount of hot wa­ter; let cof­fee puff up, or “bloom”; stir. Add re­main­ing wa­ter, and let brew for three to five min­utes be­fore gen­tly plung­ing. Brew time: about five min­utes (ex­clud­ing wa­ter­heat­ing time).

PROS: Sweet, full-bod­ied cof­fee. Easy to use. Widely avail­able; mul­ti­ple styles (in­su­lated stain­less steel, glass, plas­tic), sizes and prices.

CONS: Cleanup can be messy. Oc­ca­sional sludge in cof­fee, the oc­cur­rence of which varies de­pend­ing on qual­ity (and con­di­tion) of press and fil­ter.

GOOD BETS: Plan­e­tary De­sign’s high-qual­ity Table Top French press with Brü-stop is ideal for on­board use: New tech­nol­ogy cre­ates a bar­rier be­tween grounds and brewed cof­fee, so it never gets bit­ter. Its stain­less-steel mesh screens en­sure a clean brew. (plan­e­tary­de­sign.com; sizes small, medium, large; $40-$60). Bo­dum (bo­dum .com) con­tin­ues to make high-qual­ity cof­fee presses, such as the ther­mal/ stain­less-steel Columbia; three sizes ($60-$80); also avail­able on ama­zon.com. The Espro Press (also sold by Star­bucks) is at­trac­tive and durable, with a vac­uum-sealed/ in­su­lated dou­ble-walled stain­less-steel carafe. A dou­ble mi­cro fil­ter guar­an­tees sludge­free brew (espro.ca; sizes medium, large, $100-$120).

2. Aero­press

A close sec­ond to the French press was the less-fa­mil­iar (but equally praised) read­ers brew a Aero­press by Aer­o­bie, in­vented and launched in 2005 by Alan Adler, an aero­dy­namic-toy de­signer. It’s a sleek, small, one-of-a-kind de­vice: a cylin­dri­cal plas­tic cham­ber and plunger, fil­ter cap with seal and a fun­nel, for plac­ing over in­di­vid­ual cups. Just scoop cof­fee into the cham­ber, add wa­ter, stir 10 sec­onds and gen­tly plunge. The re­sult is a liq­uid cof­fee con­cen­trate. For Amer­i­cano cof­fee, add wa­ter to fill a cup; for latte or cap­puc­cino, add milk. For espresso — pronto! — it’s ready (aero­press­inc. com or ama­zon.com; about $30, price varies by re­tailer).

BREW­ING TIPS: Heat wa­ter to a max­i­mum tem­per­a­ture of 175 de­grees Fahren­heit (185 de­grees for light roasts). Use espresso- or fine-drip-grind cof­fee. Brew time: about one minute, ex­clud­ing wa­ter-heat­ing time.

PROS: Com­pact; por­ta­ble (avail­able with a zip­pered ny­lon tote bag); light­weight; quick; easy cleanup; used

grounds can be ejected; makes ex­cel­lent cof­fee.

CONS: Only makes one to three cups at a time.

3. Man­ual-drip Cof­fee Mak­ers (the Pour-over Method)

This method was pi­o­neered about a cen­tury ago by Dutch house­wife Melitta Bentz. Ev­i­dently fed up with the lin­ger­ing grounds in boiled cof­fee, she made the first pour-over fil­ter us­ing a per­fo­rated brass cup and a sheet of blot­ting pa­per. To­day’s fa­mil­iar cof­fee mak­ers that bear her name are now syn­ony­mous with pour-over cof­fee. The tech­nique is sim­ple: Mea­sure cof­fee into a fil­ter-lined cone that fits snugly over a carafe (or cup), and pour hot wa­ter over cof­fee; it brews as wa­ter slowly drips through the fil­ter.

BREW­ING TIPS: Use hot, not boil­ing, wa­ter. Add a small amount first; wait 30 sec­onds for cof­fee to bloom. Add re­main­ing hot wa­ter slowly, in a cir­cu­lar mo­tion. Brew time: about five to 10 min­utes (ex­clud­ing wa­ter­heat­ing time).

PROS: Sim­ple to use. Easy cleanup. Ther­mal carafes avail­able; fil­ters come in mul­ti­ple sizes, in­clud­ing onecup. Slow-drip method draws out fla­vor.

CONS: You can’t walk away while cof­fee brews. For a full pot, the slow-drip process can take time.

GOOD BETS: The Melitta ther­mal pour-over and stain­less carafe (10-cup) is one of the few in­su­lated stain­less-steel/pour-over “sets” avail­able (melitta .com, ama­zon.com; $30-$50); glass carafe sets are widely avail­able. For one- or two-cup brew­ing, a patented fil­ter de­vice that’s both a pour-over


Cold-brewed cof­fee is great for hot days. The method is sim­ple and per­fect for a boat. For more de­tails and a recipe, visit cruis­ing­world.com/1810cold­brew.

and im­mer­sion brewer is worth a look: The Clever cof­fee drip­per brews cof­fee right in the self-con­tained fil­ter; a built-in lever au­to­mat­i­cally re­leases the brew when the cone is placed over a cup or small carafe (small, large; $15-$18; ama­zon.com).

4. Stove-top Per­co­la­tors

Many read­ers re­main faith­ful to stove-top per­co­la­tors for on­board brew­ing. When wa­ter is heated in per­co­la­tor pots on the stove-top, very hot wa­ter is drawn up­ward through a me­tal tube, cy­cling con­tin­u­ously through ground cof­fee in an at­tached fil­ter bas­ket, brew­ing cof­fee by cy­cling al­most-boil­ing wa­ter through it. En­thu­si­asts say they pre­fer the re­sult­ing

very hot cof­fee, as well as its stronger taste. The stove-top cof­feepots still in use to­day were patented by an Illi­nois farmer in 1889, who called his brew­ing method “per­co­lat­ing” — hence for­ever coin­ing the generic name.

BREW­ING TIPS: Use coarseground cof­fee, mod­er­ate heat and avoid boil­ing. When perks are au­di­ble/vis­i­ble, be­gin tim­ing (max­i­mum 10 min­utes). Pro­longed perk­ing re­sults in very bit­ter cof­fee. Re­move fil­ter and grounds be­fore pour­ing. Brew time: about 20 min­utes, de­pend­ing on stove/heat set­ting.

PROS: In­ex­pen­sive, widely avail­able and easy to use. Makes a strong, hot cup of joe.

CONS: Cleanup can be messy. Stray cof­fee gran­ules can end up in brew. Takes time. Must be watched or timed care­fully.

GOOD BETS: Far­ber­ware’s clas­sic stain­less-steel Yosemite eightcup (far­ber­ware­cook­ware.com; $25) and Chi­nook’s Tim­ber­line six-cup ($27) or nine-cup (about $40) of­fer heavy-duty, high-grade stain­less-steel con­struc­tion, dent-re­sis­tance and dura­bil­ity (avail­able at ama­zon.com and wal­mart.com).

5. Non­elec­tric Espresso Mak­ers

Espresso fans were in the mi­nor­ity, but sin­gled out some spe­cific prod­ucts (al­most none of them elec­tric).

STOVE-TOP: The Moka pot: Made of alu­minum or stain­less steel, two screw-to­gether com­part­ments plus a fil­ter bas­ket with tube fit to­gether to make the com­plete pot. Just add wa­ter to the lower sec­tion and fit the fil­ter bas­ket hold­ing cof­fee just above it. Screw top on and heat; wa­ter and steam are forced up through the cof­fee and into the up­per con­tainer to cre­ate the brew. The first Moka pot was patented in Italy for man­u­fac­turer Al­fonso Bialetti in 1933; Bialetti is still a mar­ket leader. Other pop­u­lar brands in­clude Cuisi­nox (pricey), Vremi and Am­fo­cus.

BREW­ING TIPS: Use espresso or Moka-grind cof­fee. Pre­heat wa­ter to avoid pro­longed boil­ing. Use mod­er­ate heat. Lower heat when caramel­col­ored cof­fee spurts into top sec­tion (some leave lid open). Stir and pour im­me­di­ately af­ter top con­tainer is full. Brew time: about five min­utes.

PROS: Var­i­ous mod­els and styles avail­able. Un­break­able. Sta­ble when placed on stove-top. Ver­sa­tile.

Makes espresso or (strong) con­ven­tional cof­fee.

CONS: Cleanup can be messy. Unin­su­lated han­dles get very hot. Must be watched care­fully (not boiled) to avoid scorch­ing cof­fee.

GOOD BETS: The Bialetti Moka Ex­press (largely un­changed from the orig­i­nal de­sign) re­mains one of the best. The oc­tag­o­nal pot is de­signed to dif­fuse heat for ideal cof­fee fla­vor. Avail­able in one- to 12-cup sizes (bialetti.com, $25-$60). The Bialetti Venus four- or six-cup is stain­less steel with an in­su­lated han­dle, and can be used on all stoves, in­clud­ing in­duc­tion ($40$45); also avail­able at ama­zon.com.


The Mini­presso and the Hand­presso are unique, por­ta­ble units that can go any­where; all you need for a quick espresso fix is a way to heat wa­ter (or hot wa­ter from a ther­mos). Both use a hand-pump pres­sure-brew­ing tech­nique (like pump­ing a minia­ture bi­cy­cle tire). Nei­ther re­quires elec­tric­ity or bat­ter­ies, and they can also make Amer­i­cano cof­fee — a shot of espresso with hot wa­ter added — or even cap­puc­cino if you’ve got milk.

The Mini­presso GR by Wa­caco is light­weight and com­pact. Wa­caco makes an­other model, the Mini­presso NS, which is for use with Ne­spresso cof­fee pods. It in­cludes a built-in espresso cup and scoop; a small carry bag is avail­able (wa­caco.com/ prod­ucts/mini­presso-gr; $50).

The Hand­presso is small, light­weight and can use ei­ther cof­fee pods or ground cof­fee. Two ba­sic mod­els are avail­able (hand­presso.com; $80-$100), as well as op­tions in­clud­ing cof­fee maker plus carry bag or case with ther­mos and cups ($129-$179).

BREW­ING TIPS: Use espresso grind cof­fee or pods. Don’t over­fill cof­fee con­tainer. Brew time: about one minute us­ing pre­heated wa­ter from a ther­mos.

PROS: Made of light­weight, sturdy plas­tic or plas­tic with some me­tal. Quick. Very com­pact. Easy to use. Easy cleanup. Makes tasty cof­fee.

CONS: Small yield – one cup espresso (about 1.5 to 2 ounces) at a time.

No mat­ter how you make it, cof­fee is an in­di­vid­u­al­ized taste — some want it strong; oth­ers like it weak or in be­tween. Some pre­fer only the finest blends, and still oth­ers like su­per­mar­ket brands. What­ever your pref­er­ence, us­ing one of th­ese meth­ods


If you want a re­ally fresh-tast­ing cup of cof­fee, con­sider buy­ing whole beans and grind­ing them aboard. The Hario man­ual cof­fee mill is a pop­u­lar, af­ford­able choice and stows eas­ily in a gal­ley locker.

for on­board brew­ing will yield a plea­sure like no other: sa­vor­ing a steam­ing cup of fresh-brewed joe while watch­ing the sun rise over your fa­vorite cove, or as a wel­come boost of warmth and aroma on a cold night watch at sea.

Lynda Mor­ris Chil­dress has cruised and char­tered her At­lantic 70 cut­ter, Stress­buster, in the Greek is­lands for the past 15 years.

From left: The French press was the most pop­u­lar method of brew­ing cof­fee aboard. It of­fers good fla­vor and is sim­ple to use. The Aero­press makes a tasty in­di­vid­ual cup. Look­ing for a shot of espresso? Check out the Mini­presso.

From left: Stove-top per­co­la­tors are a fa­vorite for peo­ple who like a very hot, strong cup of cof­fee. The Moka pot is avail­able in sev­eral sizes if there is more than one espresso lover aboard. The Hand­presso brews a sin­gle cup of espresso.

Man­ual-drip, or pour-over, cof­fee mak­ers can brew a full pot, such as with this set from Melitta, or just a cup.

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