The Top 12-Volt Coffee Makers & Water Boilers For Overlanding

Read Time: 8 minutes

Last Updated on April 9, 2024

The Top 12-Volt Coffee Makers & Water Boilers For Overlanding By Versatility, Portability, & Capacity

If you love sleeping under the stars, exploring off-road trails, and defying all natural obstacles with your vehicle, you know how important it is to have the right tools. Outside of tools, there’s also the most essential fuel of all; coffee!

I keep logs of my coffee supply right next to the records of fresh water and gasoline. When I got my V8 4Runner, the first accessory I looked for was a good 12-volt coffee maker for my daily brew.

Nowadays, there are lots of options available when it comes to portable 12-volt coffee makers. I’ll break down what you need to consider and show you some of the best models out there. No mountain sunrise is complete without the smell of sweet caffeine!

 

Best All-Around: Spardar 12-Volt Water Kettle

Spardar 12V Hot Water Boiler

This little spark plug of a water boiler came out on top because it easily solves all of the concerns I had about making coffee on the road. It doesn’t leak, it’s rugged, portable, and easily makes hot water for pour-overs, instant coffee, instant meals, and much more.

After I discuss some of the other options, I will explain in-depth why I choose the Spardar and how well it has worked for me.

Best Portable Coffee Maker For Espresso Drinks: Handpresso Auto Set Capsule

12-Volt Coffee Makers Handpresso Auto Set Capsule

While I favor good old American coffee, I have traveled enough to understand the appeal of good espresso. One of the best coffees I’ve ever had came from an Australian Army food truck while I was sitting in an open field watching some Kangaroos graze at daybreak. The Aussies gave me a triple-shot Americano and it was really good.

A long story short, sometimes an outdoor adventure needs some good espresso. The good news is that this is possible without a big galley kitchen!

The Handrpresso is the best espresso maker for Overlanding. It’s like a cross between the Spardar and the Keurig; using coffee pods in a 12-volt machine sized for a cup holder. It will make a single cup of espresso in less than 5 minutes and while it doesn’t have a milk steamer, the espresso itself is amazing.

Best Budget Option: RoadPro 12V Coffee Maker w/ Glass Carafe

RoadPro 12V Coffee Maker w/ Glass Carafe 12-Volt Coffee Makers

This simple coffee pot will plug into your 12-volt outlet and is just as good as your coffee maker at home. It can make more cups than the Spardar but is harder to store. It also uses a glass carafe that can prove unwieldy on the road. However, for the price, it is pretty convenient!

Best High-Volume Drip Coffee Machine: Black & Decker 12-Cup Thermal Coffeemaker

12-Volt Coffee Makers Black & Decker 12-Cup Thermal Coffeemaker

At 120 volts / 750 Watts of AC power, this coffee maker should work with high-capacity battery packs/inverters. Be careful though; many battery packs are only rated for a max output of 500 or 600 Watts. That wouldn’t be sufficient to run this coffee maker. Storage can also be an issue for a coffee maker of this size.

If you are going to be camped out in the middle of the wilderness with your whole family and everyone wants to start the day with a freshly brewed cup of joe, then this is your setup. The Black & Decker CM2035B is a drip coffee maker that makes multiple cups of piping hot coffee at any strength of your choosing.

The first thing I like about this coffee maker is that it has a metal insulated carafe that fits snugly in the machine. It will help keep the coffee warm without being warm to the touch. It’s also less likely to break in transit.

Things To Consider With 12-Volt Coffee Makers

12V Hot Water Boiler

For a single-guy road-tripping and getting off-road, the small 12-volt Spardar water kettle works great for me. In the next few sections. Let’s outline what else you should consider with 12-volt coffee makers and water boilers.

How Many Cups Do You Need?

Since I usually travel solo and sometimes a plus one, I can get away with a smaller 12-volt coffee maker. The Spardar only boils 10 oz. of water at a time but that’s enough to start my day. If you’re building out a family kitchen for your rig, you might want to look into something more sizable. The main trade-offs are volume and storage space needed, and power consumption.

When & Where Will You Make Coffee?

I specifically got this for car camping. I wanted something I could use both on the road and when I was just getting up after a night in the back of the truck. For these reasons, an open flame was out of the question. The Jetboil series was a great option, but an electric setup made more sense for vehicle use.

Similarly, I didn’t want something that I had to break out of storage or take a lot of time to set up.

Carafe Material

I wanted a compact, self-contained design. I didn’t want anything with a glass carafe os that could spill all over the truck. However, if you are fitting out a full kitchen that you’ll use when parked at your camping site, a more traditional 12-volt coffee maker may be for you. I consider metal to be a better option for a carafe as it doesn’t get as hot to the touch and is less likely to crack on a bumpy road.

Power Consumption

For me, this one was pretty easy. I wanted something that could be powered by the 12-volt jack in the center console of my 4th Gen 4Runner. I don’t have a 120 Volt, AC inverter, or battery pack to run a large coffee maker.

If you opt to use a battery pack, its capacity is measured in amp-hours. The Spardar can run at either 80 or 120 watts and boils water in ~15 minutes (~0.25 hours). At 120 watts, that’s 2.5 amp-hours. Add 10% for system losses, and you get a 2.75 amp-hours draw for a single 10-oz cup.

If your vehicle’s battery is rated at 40 amp-hours, you can theoretically get 14 cups of coffee out of your battery before it’s completely dead. I don’t push my luck, so I always run the car when I have accessories drawing power. This way, the power is being drawn from the alternator rather than the battery.

Storage

When I go car camping, I sleep in the back of the 4Runner and like to keep that space organized for easy ingress and egress. For that reason, I was looking for something pretty small. That’s where the Spardar really shines; as it easily fits in the center console or in the cup holders.

Brew Time

Spardar Hot Water Maker

In 11 minutes, the water is at ~70C / 158F. This is hot enough for steam bubbles to start appearing, but I like it a little hotter.

12-Volt Hot Water Maker

In 15 minutes, the water is at 92C / 197F. I like this temperature for my coffee.

Hot Water Maker For Trucks

You can see the steam bubbles rising at 15 minutes.

For you engineering types out there, water has a huge specific heat capacity, so it takes a lot of energy to boil it. One of the advantages of car camping is that I’ve got a gas-powered generator (the 4Runner itself) ready to use at any time.

Now, I’m a millennial and normally don’t want to wait for anything. The Spadar does take about 15 minutes to get 10 oz. of water up to coffee temperatures. While I would prefer something a bit faster, camping is all about slowing down and enjoying the peace. Plus, the price of the power supply needed to boil water fast seems a little silly to me.

Versatility

Making Hot Water For Car Camping

One of the big reasons I went with the Spardar is because it is a water boiler first and a 12-volt coffee maker second. Anyone who’s spent any time in a tent knows the importance of hot water for a number of uses. With a quick cup of boiling water, I can make coffee, heat some instant oatmeal, and even wash up!

Another advantage of the Spardar is that it can be used as a beverage warmer. It has a temperature setting to keep any liquid at whatever temperature you set. No more cold coffee a few hours into your road trips.

Can It Actually Make Good Coffee?

Car Camping Instant Coffee

This is the most subjective question you can ask, but I’ll give it a shot.

I’m a bit of a coffee snob, but nothing crazy. I used to hate instant coffee but there are some options that aren’t bad at all. In a pinch, I’m perfectly happy picking up a couple of packs of instant Starbucks on my way out.

12V Hot Water Maker w/ Instant Coffee

Once I boil some water in the Spardar, I just pour and stir. Voila! How convenient is that?

OXO Pour-Over Coffee - 12-Volt Coffee Makers

The Blue Bottle next to my apartment has taken way too much of my money lately. So when I want to splurge, I will bring out this OXO pour-over rig.

Car Camping Pour-Over Coffee Maker

The pour-over rig can fit in the glove box and filters don’t take up much room. If you are really space-conscious, this silicone pour-over rig is perfect. Boiling water goes in the pour-over and it’s just as good as any big, traditional drip coffee maker.

Making Pour-Over Coffee 12-Volt Coffee Makers

I certainly wouldn’t recommend trying the pour-over while driving but for a morning wake-up, it sure hits the spot.

Top Accessories For 12-Volt Coffee Makers

12-Volt Coffee Makers & Accessories

When heading out for your next adventure, don’t forget everything you will need to make your coffee experience as enjoyable as possible.

  • Metal Utensils – Minimize your use of plastics.
  • Paper Filters – If you are going to do a pour-over or some drip coffee you are going to need a filter. I like paper filters that are made from recycled paper. Remember what you carry in, carry out!
  • Travel Mug – What good is a hot cup if it cools off right away? I love the Yeti line of mugs, just for that reason. They are almost spill proof and their vacuum seal keeps drinks at just the right temperature.
  • French Press – Another great way to use the water boiled with the Spardar is to pour it into a French Press. This French Press Travel Mug from Bodum is made for the open road!

Final Thoughts

How To Make Hot Water While Car Camping

The Spardar 12-Volt car kettle has been just what I was looking for when I started spending nights in the back of my 4Runner. I hope with this post, you can find some coffee options that work great for you! Remember to find something that works with your power supply and can keep up with your demand. Find some good spill-proof containers and the rest is smooth sailing, Bon Voyage!

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