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12 Volt Car Coffee Making Systems

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I’m trying to put together the ultimate car camping coffee system for times when I can’t use my campstove. I’m looking at 12 volt coffee and espresso makers, and 12 volt immersion heaters to use with my usual drip filter system. I’m also rethinking my milk situation.

Has anyone tried the Velox 12 volt Coffeebreak espresso maker? It looks cool, but seems to be made of plastic. I’m worried the serving won’t be enough for two people.

I didn’t like any of the makers with a glass carafe, because, well, I’m camping and they’re breakable. Any experiences with the RoadPro system that brews into a stainless steel mug?

I’m leaning towards a 12 volt immersion heater, to boil water and then use my drip cone directly into mugs. Compact, cheap, straightforward. One web poster said they can take 20 minutes to boil water, though. Any experiences with these?

OK, lastly, the milk. I like clean camping, and a carton of 1/2 and 1/2 in the cooler with a dubious ice situation gets gross. I’ve found tiny little 3.6 oz cans of La Lechera sweetened condensed milk with pull tops, and also Nestle Nido dry whole milk as options. Any opinions on these?

Anyone else out there obsess over this little ritual?

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  1. Is the milk for your coffee? Land O Lakes has individual servings of shelf stable half and half called "Mini Moos". Or you could get the teeny bottles of Bailey's.....hey, it's vacation right?

    1. I like La Lechera. Do you mind that the coffee will be sweet or is that a plus for you?

      I was on a quest for a stable milk product for the times I forgot to buy milk at home. I did buy La Lechera, just because I like the taste, but the calorie count is high.

      What I have used is small cans of evaporated milk. They have the best milk taste.

      I've tried the shelf-stable boxes of milk, but I don't like the taste. The Safeway brand is the best of the milk cartons I tried. Don't like Horizon organic at all.

      I haven't tried the Nestle dried milk, but all of the dried milk I've used just doesn't taste that good in coffee ... I'm assuming that you mean just adding it dry to the coffee. Or did you want to re-constitute it.

      Have you considered getting one of those coolers that plug into the car? Then you could keep real milk in there.

      1. The lengths to which we go for our coffee... I'd use the ultra pasteurized Parmalait milk sold unrefrigerated in cartons-- you would have to refrigerate it once opened, but our supermarket sells the packages of 8 oz cartons. Sure beats coffee mate, instant milks, or those evaporated deals, unless you go for the very sweet condensed milk in a tin.

        1. Taste results from the OP:
          The La Lechera is DELicIOUS in a dessert-like Vietnamese coffee way. And I will be taking the Bailey's suggestion- Spiked coffee in the high desert, it's taking me away right now. (and NO, I'm not off to Burning Man)

          OK, and the full fat dry Nestle Nido did a respectable job when mixed with water in a jar & shaken first. Actually creamy. I can imagine typical powdered milks would be kind of sickly, but I'll endorse this one.

          I will try out the evaporated milk idea too, just for thoroughness- good idea.

          1. Ah. I had one of those 12v espresso makers that plugged into my car's cigarette lighter. My boyfriend had gotten it for me for a gift, as he'd experienced the joy of camping with me when there is no coffee in the morning. The reality of it was, though, it's not that I'm a bitch in the morning with no coffee; it's just that I hated his friends and they hated me back. He's an ex, now. But I digress.

            I used it once, I think. It was really, really hard to manage. It was hard to tell if it was even working. You'd plug it in and wait, and wait, and nothing; you'd try again and maybe get a dribble, you'd try again and nothing; finally it would pseudo-brew a shot. Meanwhile, the camp is filling with car exhaust making everyone else cranky. So -- eh. Cowboy coffee is much more novel and can be good when made right. But if you're smart -- ! -- you will hie thee to a Chinese grocery and buy the drip-top for making Vietnamese coffee, and take along some espresso grind and some sweetened condensed milk, and make the beverage that is a million times better than anything Starbucks could ever come up with, right into your favorite coffee mug. That's what I do, these days, and I am sunshine and kisses every morning when I camp.

            I also adore all my guy's friends, too, which helps.

            1. Thanks for the review of the 12v espresso maker. They just look so COOL and Italian, but I was having a hard time imagining a good shot coming out of a plastic device plugged into my dashboard. Sounds more angst inducing than sucking on instant coffee crystals! Yea, I've got a couple of the Vietnamese drippers, my dilemma is that I'm going camping in a place that forbids campstoves(!) and I've got to boil the water. Well, I'm sure I'll pull through!

              1. Theres an ebay site member i.d is THEnorthFACEuk . I have used their immersion heaters and they work great they have both mains version or 12 volts. I bought one of each and they took less than 5 minutes to boil water. The higher the wattage of the immersion heater the faster water will boil. I am about to purchase a 110 volt vesion now for trips overseas which they have just received in stock. Hope this helps.

                1. I use an Aeropress and an immersion heater when camping. The Aeropresses are indestructible, are easy to clean and makes an excellent coffee.

                  For milk - See if you can find condensed milk in tubes (sort of like toothpaste). It's rare (actually non-existent) where I'm from, but I have seen them in Australia, and in some Latin American stores in some states in the US. I prefer the taste of evaporated milk, however.

                  1. It would be easier to just get an inverter and then you can plug most anything into it.