best rv coffee maker

11 Best Coffee Makers For RV To Perfect Your Trip

For so many of us, it can be pretty hard to start the day without a dose of coffee. Even if you don’t really need all that caffeine, slowly sipping a hot cup of freshly brewed coffee while watching the sun rising over the vast landscape can be a ritual that makes your long trips on the road so much more wholesome.

And fresh coffee doesn’t have to be a luxury when you’re roaming the world in your travel trailer, as now you can get the best coffee maker for RV among a vast selection for an insignificant investment.

RV coffee makers have come a long way to embrace all different schools of coffee making, from the traditional drip and pour over style to the convenient pod machine. There’s such an overwhelming variety in terms of coffee maker types and features.

To help you buy one that suits your needs without all the headache, here’s our handpicked 10 best coffee maker for travel that would be perfect for many camping requirements, taste preferences and budgets.

Also check out important buying criteria, as this product might be simple enough, but there is more to a good coffee maker than you would think. You will also find handy maintenance tips at the end of this review. 

best coffee maker for rv
Photo: Suprahai / Getty Images

Quick Recommendations

Reviews of 11 Best Coffee Makers For RV

This list of the 10 best RV coffee makers include different types of coffee makers, as well as a wide range of capacity, price points and convenient features to suit different taste preferences, coffee drinking style, camping needs and budgets. There is something for every camper, no matter what your top priorities are. 

If you’re not quite familiar with the different types of coffee makers and what to look for in your ideal machine, skip to the next two sections. A coffee maker is not as technically complex as a battery charger, but there are more to it than you might think, if you’re looking for a good balance between taste, price and functionality. 

1. Best Affordable Pod Coffee Maker: Keurig K-Classic K-Cup Pod Single Serve Coffee Maker 

Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker K-Cup Pod, Single Serve, Programmable

Specifications:

  • Type: single serve electric pod coffee maker
  • Capacity: 48 ounce or 6 cups
  • Features: 1-minute brew time, 3 brew sizes – 6, 8 or 10 ounces, 2 hour automatic shut off
  • Weight: 10.6 pounds

Why we love it:

There’s another more high-end single serve pod coffee maker later in this list, but if you want something affordable and convenient that can still give you good coffee, check out this best selling K-Classic K-Cup Pod Single Serve Coffee Maker from Keurig, a household favorite. 

There are many good reasons why this classic drip coffee maker got a near perfect 4.7 stars rating on Amazon from some 90,000 happy buyers and continues to be a popular choice for different camping requirements, given very fierce competition in this market. All in all, it is a long lasting, user-friendly, low maintenance and versatile coffee maker that can suit different needs. 

It has a decent 6 cup capacity, which is enough for several drinkers, and a super fast one-minute brewing time so the busy campers can get breakfast ready in no time. There are three brew sizes: 6, 8 or 10 ounces. 

Furthermore, this versatile pod coffee maker gives you the option to choose from hundreds of K-Cup pod varieties from all of the brands you love, including Green Mountain Coffee, Starbucks, and Lipton, to enjoy a variety of hot drinks, including coffee, tea, hot cocoa and more. As such, if you travel with a big family and each person has a different preference, this handy little machine will keep everyone satisfied. In comparison with other offerings in this list, this is not the most compact unit, but it is lightweight, and the all-black design makes it blend in with other kitchen gadgets you may have. 

2. Best Battery Operated Coffee Maker For Boondockers: Makita ADCM501Z Outdoor Adventure™ 18V LXT® Coffee Maker

Makita ADCM501Z Outdoor Adventure™ 18V LXT® Coffee Maker

Specifications:

  • Type: single serve battery operated drip coffee maker 
  • Capacity: 5 ounces
  • Features: handle, permanent filter, Boil Dry protection
  • Weight: 3 pounds

Why we love it:

This is perhaps the most unique offering in this list, or in the entire market for electric drip coffee makers: the Makita ADCM501Z Outdoor Adventure™ 18V LXT® Coffee Maker operates on 12 volt lithium ion batteries. For its limited 5 ounce capacity, this machine is on the expensive side, especially when Makita sells the batteries and the charger separately, which you should get to ensure a longer service life from this coffee maker. One charge can make three servings. 

Despite the small capacity, there are so many things to love about this super lightweight, and compact coffee maker. For me, the battery operated feature alone is worth the money, as it makes this machine just perfect for the lone traveler who likes to boondock in more remote locations to enjoy unspoilt nature. 

Other features that I absolutely adore include the handle for portability, the permanent filter so that you won’t need to stock up on single-use paper filters, and the Boil Dry protection that automatically turns the unit off when it detects that there’s not enough water. You also have the option to use loose coffee grounds or single-serve packs and pods. 

This is a less popular product since it costs quite a bit for a small capacity, especially when you add the price of batteries and the charger on top, but I think it’s the best coffee maker for an RV boondocker out there and all in all is totally worth its price.

3. Best Pod Coffee Maker Ever: Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine by Breville + Aeroccino Milk Frother

Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine

Specifications:

  • Type: single serve electric pod coffee maker
  • Capacity: 40 oz reservoir
  • Features: 4 cup sizes (1.35 oz, 2.7 oz, 5 oz, 7.7 oz), 9 minute automatic shutoff, Centrifusion extraction technology
  • Weight: 9.8 pounds

Why we love it:

If you’re an avid coffee drinker and are willing to spend over $200 for the absolute best electric pod coffee machine, it would be pretty hard to get one that’s more perfect than the legendary Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine by Breville. This is a long standing best selling coffee machine for both use in the homes as well as home on wheels. 

We all know that buyers tend to be more forgiving towards a cheap product while they would be more critical towards an expensive product, as expectations are higher. And given the abundance of budget-friendly offerings on the market for coffee machines, it’s extra impressive that the Nespresso managed to get a near perfect 4.7 stars Amazon rating from over 10,000 satisfied buyers. 

I highly recommend the bundle that comes with Breville’s much loved Aeroccino milk frother. You can totally get the Nespresso alone and pair it with a more budget friendly milk frother, but really, if you’re already getting the best in class pod coffee machine, you should invest in the best milk frother as well. The Aeroccino will give you perfectly smooth hot or cold milk froth for any coffee recipes. 

What truly makes the Nespresso Vertuo a legend is Breville’s patented Centrifusion extraction technology. It reads barcode on the rim of compatible single-serve capsules and automatically sets the optimal brewing parameters to deliver the best in-cup results including the perfect crema for large coffee cup sizes. 

While coffee snobs, myself included, might be skeptical at first about taste, you will be amazed at how flavorful and full-bodied the produced coffee can be. It’s really the closest you can get to the traditional drip and pour-over coffee, since Breville’s advanced technology is effective at mimicking the pouring motion of baristas when making pour-over coffee. 

Not only that, the Nespresso deserves its reputation as a high performance machine, with unmatched heat up time of only 15-20 seconds and the practical energy-saving automatic shutoff after 9 minutes of inactivity, which further ensures that your coffee will taste its best without turning bitter. 

You can choose from four different cup sizes at the touch of a button: Espresso 1.35 oz, Double Espresso 2.7 oz, Gran Lungo 5 oz, and Coffee 7.7 oz. It will automatically eject capsules after brewing and can hold up to 17 used capsules. 

Each machine includes a complimentary welcome set with a range of Nespresso Vertuo capsules with unique aroma profiles.  Whether you like your coffee bold or mild, strictly coffee or with fun flavors, there’s a blend for you among Nespresso’s 30 plus permanent capsules as well as special seasonal and Limited Edition flavors. 

4. Best Percolator: COLETTI Bozeman Camping Percolator Coffee Pot 

COLETTI Bozeman Camping Coffee Pot – Percolator Coffee Pot

Specifications:

  • Type: percolator
  • Capacity: 9 cups
  • Features: hardwood handle, construction grade stainless steel, heat-toughened glass top

Why we love it:

If you like the simplicity and versatility of the good old coffee kettle, be sure to check out the COLETTI Bozeman Camping Percolator. This veteran owned product will be the last coffee pot you will ever need. Spend less than $50 for one and it will last you decades, if not a lifetime. It’s one of the best coffee maker for RV in this category in terms of durability, thanks to its use of hard wearing and low-maintenance construction grade stainless steel.

What I also appreciate about this rugged coffee pot made from construction grade stainless steel is that it’s not only built to last, but it’s downright the best looking percolator out there, with a classy hardwood handle and heat-toughened glass top that lets you peak in to see how your coffee’s brewing. 

This kettle’s 9 cups capacity is sufficient for up to five travelers, and it works with not just gas stovetop but is also compatible with induction stovetop. It looks good, is large but easy to handle and wash, and is built to last. 

I also love how this coffee pot includes a pack of medical grade filters. These are not required for operation, but they keep finely-ground beans out of the brew, which is a typical shortcoming of percolators. 

5. Best French Press: Secura Stainless Steel Insulated French Press Coffee Maker  

Secura French Press Coffee Maker

Specifications:

  • Type: French press 
  • Capacity: 12 oz, 17 oz, 34 oz, 50 oz 
  • Features: 18/10 stainless steel, 3-layer stainless steel filter and screen, all parts are dishwasher safe 

Why we love it:

I know many coffee drinkers that prefer to be able to see how their coffee is steeping with a glass French press, but if you’re not so inclined, then the stainless steel insulated French press from Secura will be your new best friend on many camping trips to come. It offers four varieties in terms of capacity: 12, 17, 34 and 50 ounces, or 1.5, 2.2, 4.25 and 6.25 cups, respectively.

This is a sleek looking and durable coffee maker that’s made from high quality 18/10 stainless steel that’s hard wearing and easy to clean. A good news for the busy campers who have a lot of dishes to wash at a time is that all parts are machine washable. Other handy features include the cool touch handle and knob lid for comfortable and safe pouring. The mess free pouring spout also receives a lot of praise. 

In addition, the two things I like most about this simple, no-nonsense French press are firstly its excellent insulation that will keep your coffee nice and hot for longer, and secondly the superior 3-layer stainless steel filter and filter screen that can trap coffee grounds at the bottom, so none will find its way into your sips. All in all, this is a durable, versatile and easy to maintain coffee maker for those who might want to make coffee more than once per day. 

6. Best Under Cabinet Coffee Maker: Hamilton Beach 12 Cups Programmable Drip Coffee Maker

Hamilton Beach Programmable Coffee Maker, 12 Cups

Specifications:

  • Type: electric drip coffee maker
  • Capacity: 12 cups
  • Features: front access water tank, swing out brew basket, timer, 2 hour auto shut off, pause function, 3 brew options
  • Weight: 5 pounds

Why we love it:

If you need an RV under cabinet coffee maker to maximize your kitchen counter space, the Hamilton Beach 12 Cups Programmable Coffee Maker will be an affordable, easy to use and maintain, and high capacity model that can make enough hot coffee for the whole family. What’s special about this model is the front access for easy filling fills the water tank from the front of the machine, which means you can keep the coffee maker under the cabinet when in use.

Another feature that I love is the swing out brew basket, which is easier to fill and keep clean than a top load basket. In addition, the programmable timer sets your brew time and strength in advance, so you can wake up with coffee ready in the morning. Other handy features include the automatic pause & serve function that lets you pour yourself the first cup fast while coffee is still brewing with no mess, and the 2 hour automatic shut off will give you a peace of mind.

There are three brewing options for you to select your desired brew strength. As for maintenance, this all-around convenient coffee maker gives you cleaning reminders to let you know when it’s time to run the self-cleaning cycle. All in all, this is a well-rounded, versatile, long lasting and reasonably priced coffee machine that you can keep in a cabinet to not take up valuable kitchen counter space. 

7. Best High Capacity Coffee Maker: Black+Decker CM1160B 12-Cup Programmable Drip Coffee Maker

Black+Decker CM1160B 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker

Specifications:

  • Type: electric drip coffee maker 
  • Capacity: 7.5 cups or 60 ounces
  • Features: Digital display, front-facing water window, two-hour auto-shutoff
  • Weight: 4.4 pounds

Why we love it:

Within the category of electric coffee makers, the Black + Decker CM1160B Programmable Coffee Maker stands out as a long-standing bestseller with 4.6 stars rating on Amazon from over 32,000 happy buyers. If you prioritize convenience and the ease of making a lot of coffee a few times a day, this is what you need. 

All in all, this electric coffee maker is designed with user’s convenience in mind. The user-friendly digital display and command buttons allow you to monitor the brewing process and program it the night before to wake up with freshly brewed coffee the next morning. The front-facing water window makes it easy to control the amount of water added. In addition, it also lets you pour your first cup of coffee before the brewing cycle ends. 

This no-nonsense electric coffee maker is not only easy to use but also to maintain: the brew basket is dishwasher-safe. So if you’re a busy camper who travels with kids, for instance, this coffee maker would save you a lot of time preparing breakfast every morning.

8. Best Electric Coffee Maker For Two: Cuisinart 4 Cup Electric Drip Coffee Maker With Stainless-Steel Carafe 

Cuisinart 4 Cup w/Stainless-Steel Carafe Coffeemaker

Specifications:

  • Type: electric drip coffee maker
  • Capacity: 4 cups
  • Features: pause function, 30-minute automatic shut off
  • Weight: 3.25 pounds

Why we love it:

At first, it took me some time to wrap my head around this Cuisinart electric drip coffee machine, since it comes with a stainless steel carafe instead of the common glass carafes. But then, the more my partner and I used it, the more we fell in love with it.

Firstly, it is one of the most lightweight, compact and neat looking electric drip coffee machines out there, and at a very reasonable price. Since it’s so compact, we kept it on our RV kitchen counter, and my girlfriend likes how its minimal black and stainless steel design blends right into her other kitchen tools and gadgets. In addition, the 4 cup capacity is just right for two people.

This coffee maker is quite unassuming at first glance, but you will come to notice and appreciate its solid construction and attention to details in terms of design and features. The stainless steel carafe has a comfortable handle and a dripless pour spout to make serving flavorful coffee easy. It also comes with handy features, including the Brew Pause function that lets you sneak a cup mid-cycle.

The feature that I’m most grateful for is a worry-free 30-minute automatic shutoff. For me, this is so much more practical than the standard 2-hour shutoff you typically see on the market, since any leftover coffee would still turn bitter after 2 hours.

9. Best Affordable Pod Coffee Maker #2: Mueller Ultimate Single Serve Pod Coffee Maker

Mueller Ultimate Single Serve Coffee Maker, Personal Coffee Brewer Machine for Single Cup Pods

Specifications:

  • Type: single serve electric pod coffee maker
  • Capacity: 1 cup
  • Features: 10 ounce water tank, 3 minute brew time, auto shutoff
  • Weight: 3.47 pounds

Why we love it:

If you’re a lone traveler who prioritizes a convenient and compact pod coffee maker, look no further than this little machine from Austrian maker Mueller. In comparison, it’s much more lightweight and compact than our number one pick by Keurig, you can keep it on your RV kitchen counter top without it becoming too crowded. 

The tradeoff is that the previous pod coffee maker from Keurig employs a faster brew time at only one minute, while this unit takes three minutes to make one serving. The difference is really not much though, and this is all in all an affordable, durable, fully functional and easy to maintain coffee machine that’s perfect for many camping needs. 

10. Best Over-Stove Drip Coffee Maker For Boondockers: Coleman Camping Drip Coffee Maker

Coleman Camping Over-Stove Drip Coffee Maker

Specifications:

  • Type: over-stove drip coffee maker
  • Capacity: 10 cups
  • Features: universal fit steel base, removable swing-out filter basket, Pause ‘N Serve function
  • Weight: 6.6 pounds

Why we love it:

Here’s a pretty unique offering, perfect for boondockers who have a propane burner for cooking. This Coleman Camping Coffee Maker is a drip unit. What makes it unique is that it’s not electric but operates over the stove. It comes with a heavy duty steel base that universally fits over most two- and three-burner stoves for camping.

It’s quite lightweight but has a large 10 cup capacity that’s sufficient for the whole gang. All in all, this is a heavy duty and easy to use coffee maker for boondockers who want a drip coffee maker. Handy features include a removable swing-out filter basket and Pause ‘N Serve function that lets you pour a cup mid-cycle. On the downside, this being a stove-top unit means that you will need to keep an eye on the fire to avoid overboiling your coffee on high heat for too long, which would give you bitter and flat coffee. 

11. Farberware 47053 Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator

Farberware 50124 Classic Yosemite Stainless Steel Coffee Percolator

Specifications:

  • Type: percolator
  • Capacity: 8 cups and 12 cups
  • Features: permanent filter basket, dishwasher safe

Why we love it:

The Yosemite 8 Cup Coffee Percolator from Farberware is another long lasting and fully dishwasher safe coffee kettle with a large capacity for the busy campers who want to make coffee for many people at a time and several times a day. There are two options, 8 cups and 12 cups.

Although this Farberware kettle does not look as classy and expensive as the other option in this list (as you would expect from Farberware though), it is made from heavy duty stainless steel and a non-reactive interior that keeps water from absorbing undesirable odors and tastes. Handy features include the permanent filter basket, a mess-free spout, and ergonomic handle for easy pouring. 

Type of RV Coffee Makers

Hand Coffee Makers

1. Drip Coffee Makers

If you travel alone and need a small space saver coffee maker for RV, a drip or a pour-over coffee maker would be an excellent choice. This is especially so if your number one priority is to enjoy all the complex layers of coffee flavor and aroma. A drip coffee maker is essentially a filter that you put on top of a mug or carafe, scoop coffee ground in, then pour hot water over, cover with the lid, and the water filters through the coffee grounds and drips down to the container below. 

In this way, a drip coffee maker in essence works the same way as a pour-over coffee maker. One of the major differences is that before pouring water into a drip coffee maker, there’s a round press with tiny holes that you will need to fasten into the screw inside the unit to press down on the coffee ground. This way, any water that you pour over will seep into the coffee ground more slowly for gradual extraction. The more packed the coffee ground is, the more slowly water will drain through. 

There are many good reasons why this good old fashioned coffee maker is still widely used and preferred even when there are highly advanced electric coffee makers. Firstly, it involves a simple extraction process that requires no skill from the drinker, that is you just pour water over in one go then cover the lid and let it work itself, yet you get coffee that both tastes and smells rich. Secondly, the drip method allows you to customize the water temperature, thus controlling how hot and how strong your coffee is.

As for the downside, this is the method that takes the most time to produce one single serving of coffee, so it’s only suitable for those who like to take their time with their coffee and indulge in the peaceful moments in the morning. And due to a drip coffee maker’s limited capacity, you will need one of these for each drinker. 

2. Pour-Over 

As above, a pour-over and a drip coffee maker are quite similar. The difference is firstly the shape: a drip style is cylindrical with a lid, while a pour-over is cone-shaped. Secondly, you would scoop coffee ground right into a drip coffee maker, while with a pour-over, you would scoop the coffee ground into a paper filter first then place it into the pour-cover cone.

The main difference though is that with a pour-over, you will need some skills and knowledge in the motions and speed of pouring to control how and how fast water will go through the coffee grounds. Your technique will directly decide the kind of taste, strength and texture you want. 

Meanwhile, with a drip, you play a much less active role: you would only be able to roughly impact how fast the extraction will be with how densely you press the coffee ground. Do note that pour-over coffee is generally not as strong as drip coffee, as no matter how you press the coffee ground, drip coffee in any case would have considerably more time to penetrate the ground coffee.

As such, a pour-over coffee is thus more sophisticated than a drip coffee and gives you more room to suit your specific personal preferences. Most avid coffee drinkers would vote that a pour-over produces a more vibrant taste and gives you more room to customize not just the flavor but also the texture. However, this also means that pour-over coffee makers are suitable for a more niche group of drinkers who don’t simply want great tasting coffee but importantly think of the process of making coffee as a hobby, a lifestyle, a craft to be enjoyed. 

3. French Press 

If you want something simple that does not require any skills like a pour-over but takes less time to produce a serving than a drip coffee maker, consider a French press. This type looks like a large glass mug and has a convenient built-in trap for the coffee grounds. 

The process is simple. Just scoop some medium grounds into the bottom of the container, pour hot water over, then stir a few times. Screw in the lid but push the plunger only to the water’s surface. Let the water saturate the grounds for as long as you wish (but for French press a longer steeping time or about 5 minutes is needed), then slowly push the plunger to the bottom to trap in the grounds. 

This mechanism also allows you to easily customize the water temperature as well as how strong you want your coffee to be. However, in terms of flavor and aroma, French press coffee is not as rich and strong as drip coffee, and is not as vibrant as pour-over coffee. Many avid coffee drinkers comment that with a French press, if you don’t steep the coffee grounds long enough, your coffee will be tasteless, but the long steeping time will develop bitterness and high acidity.

4. Percolators

This is essentially what you can call a RV coffee pot or stove-top kettle, another style of old school coffee brewing that has been around for decades. They are put on a direct heat source, a propane burner or even a campfire cooking grate, and rely on boiling water rising to a receptacle filled with coffee grounds. 

The major advantages are simplicity, large capacity and versatility. These are designed to produce at least 8 cups or so. You fill it with water, add grounds, and place on the heat source. Such simplicity is why they are the original forebears of the so-called “cowboy coffee”. In addition, you can totally substitute coffee grounds for loose tea or chocolate powder to make a variety of hot drinks, since a percolator is essentially a kettle.

The downside is that when you put your percolator on such a direct heat source, it’s extremely easy to boil your coffee at too high a temperature, which means coffee will be overflowing. And since the water is too hot, your coffee will taste somewhat bitter without that naturally sweet and creamy “crema” notes, since the water is too hot. Another common complaint is that sometimes these will let coffee grounds get into the coffee.

coffee pot for RV camping
Photo: NuriaE / Getty Images

5. AeroPress 

If you like the ease of using a French press but don’t like the taste, check out its cousin, the patented AeroPress coffee makers, an improvement on the French press. The AeroPress uses a rapid, total immersion brewing process that only takes about a minute to reduce the coffee’s acidity and produce smooth, full flavored coffee without the bitterness. 

The AeroPress is thus similar to the pour-over style in the way that they use a quick extraction to make not too strong but flavorful coffee. The difference is that while pour-over coffee puts the emphasis on controlling the pour, while the AeroPress focuses on brew time. 

One major advantage of this type of advanced device is that it can make a variety of hot coffee as well as cold brews in no time. An AeroPress makes 1 to 3 cups of espresso per cycle in a mere minute, or 1 to 3 cups of cold brew coffee in only about two minutes. 

This cold brewing capability means you can still enjoy a delicious cup of coffee even without access to hot water. Such versatility and fast brewing time while still ensuring taste makes the AeroPress ideal for those busy campers who want to quickly make coffee for more than one person at a time, and more than once a day. 

6. Single-Serve Hand Coffee Makers

The market for hand operated coffee makers has come a long way, and now campers who seek both flavorful coffee and convenience can choose among a selection of single-serve manual coffee makers. 

Just scoop ground coffee to the filter basket, then apply slight pressure to level the ground. Add hot water into the water tank and unlock the semi-automatic piston from its travel position. Now the fun part: just pump a few times to pressurize and control the amount of extracted espresso. 

These little handy devices can make one serving for a lone traveler, with a ground capacity of under 10g and a water capacity of around 75ml. 

While they don’t give you coffee as rich, vibrant and nuanced as a pour-over or a drip coffee maker would, thousands of buyers on Amazon alone, including myself, were taken by surprise by the flavorful and aromatic coffee that these hand operated single servers make. 

Electric Coffee Makers

1. Electric Drip Coffee Makers

The electric version of the good old drip coffee makers makes it easier to brew drip coffee more frequently thanks to the filters being disposable. You put grounds in a porous coffee filter and pour hot water over it. A hot plate under the carafe keeps it warm for as long as you want, but too long and the coffee will of course turn bitter.

Most coffee makers of this type typically come with a handy automatic timer. The night before, you can set the precise time you want your machine to turn on the next morning, so that you wake up to coffee freshly brewed and waiting to be sipped, no waiting time lost. 

In terms of control, you can dial in your desired ratio of grounds and water to adjust the strength of the brew. Electric drip coffee makers are convenient and affordable, making them popular with the busy and less picky drinkers. As for taste, the coffee they produce is generally quite bland and flat, even if you use high quality coffee ground.

2. Electric Single-serve Pod Coffee Makers

The super convenient RV espresso machine requires small prepared pods or cups of grounds that you buy separately. These pods offer a wide variety of flavors, from chocolate to hazelnut to spice.

Just put the pod into a receptacle in the machine and hot water will be injected through it to extract one serving of coffee in no time. Many models of the type are programmable so that you can wake up to freshly brewed coffee, or give you options to make different drinks using chocolate powder, loose tea or tea bags. 

Another upside is these machines are much more lightweight and compact than the electric drip machines. The downside to electric pod coffee makers is that they require an inverter, and pod coffee is more expensive than ground coffee when you consider the cost of one serving. 

rv espresso machine
Photo: EyeEm / Getty Images

What To Look For In An RV Coffee Maker

Brewing Temperature

A crucial buying criteria for coffee makers that is often overlooked is brewing temperature. Just like tea, the water temperature plays a huge, huge role in the final taste. Even if you use the best grades of loose tea leaves and coffee beans, they will be ruined if you use water that’s either too hot or not hot enough. Not hot enough water would not be able to extract all the flavor and aroma, but too hot and it will “burn” the tea leaves and the coffee ground, leaving a flat, boring drink with bitter notes. 

The optimal brew temperature for coffee is 95°C or 203°F, which is just below the boiling point for water, at 100°C or 212 °F. And of course there are many times when a product does not deliver its marketing claims. So if you’re opting for an electric coffee maker and want to make sure, look for a machine certified by a governing authority, like the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) in the United States. Certified models are tested to ensure this optimal brewing temperature. 

Also, you might think that the difference between 95°C and 100°C is not much, but this sub-boiling temperature will generally make these coffee makers less likely to burn out in the long run. SCA certified electric coffee makers tend to cost a bit more, but they are worth it, both in terms of taste and lifespan. 

Extraction Methods

Optimal extraction of flavor, aroma and coffee crema requires even and thorough saturation of the coffee ground, which requires a larger, more efficient brew head.

Bloom & pulse: These expensive machines can imitate how baristas make a pour over coffee. The pulse brew adds layers of flavor and nuances, while the bloom allows the CO2 in the coffee to degass.

Capacity

The capacity of a coffee maker is measured in cups. If you are an avid coffee drinker for whom taste is the number one priority, sometimes you will have to make a trade off with regards to the coffee maker’s capacity and preparation time. For instance, if you travel alone and have leisure time in the morning to take things slow, a traditional single-serve drip coffee maker or a pour over style might be an excellent option, as they would offer all the complex layers of flavor and aroma that the coffee beans have to offer. 

However, if you need to make coffee for two or more people at a time, and need to make it quick, a drip or pour over would take too long to produce too little. You will need a big enough stove-top percolator, which typically has a capacity of at least 5 to 8 cups, or an electric coffee machine that is capable of up to 12 cups in most cases. 

Price

For clarity’s sake, let’s say an expensive coffee maker for camper is one that costs more than $200, and is certified by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), but the latter is not strictly required. 

A $400 coffee maker might not be considerably better than a $300 machine, but all in all, when compared to models under $200, the ones that cost over $200 generally give you better tasting coffee. This is all because they offer more optimal brewing temperature, a larger brew head that allows for more thorough saturation of the coffee ground, and a bloom and pulse extraction method that imitates the pour over style. Thanks to these elements, they can achieve better tasting coffee with rich flavor and aroma, and nuanced notes of coffee crema. 

RV Coffee Makers Maintenance

Descaling 

Water contains an array of minerals, including iron, calcium, and magnesium. These minerals pass through your coffee maker and over time will accumulate on the heating element as limescale. This mineral buildup will make your coffee taste bland and tepid. 

Note that you might get “hard” water or water high in concentration of minerals at your campgrounds, which will leave a brownish stain on white dishes and other surfaces. Hard water would be extra damaging to your coffee maker. 

If you start to notice that your coffee is tasting different in a bad way, maybe it’s time to “descale” any limescale. Another telltale sign is that your coffee won’t be as hot, since a clogged heating element will not heat up water properly. And this is the reason for bland tasting coffee, as water below the optimal brewing temperature of 203 °F cannot effectively extract the full flavor and aroma from ground coffee beans.

To descale travel trailer coffee makers, you’ll need to disassemble the heating elements to deep clean them. Check your manual, as these components are hidden away. If you do this regularly, soapy water is usually sufficient, but if you haven’t cleaned your coffee maker in a while, warm diluted white vinegar would be more effective at getting rid of stubborn buildups.

In addition to ensuring that you get great tasting coffee, regular descaling is also crucial for maximizing the lifespan of your RV coffee maker. If your machine is clogged with mineral buildup, this can impede water flow, cause leaks or make your machine stop working altogether. 

Regular Cleaning 

Like most seeds, coffee beans contain a lot of “crema” or oil. Over time, no matter how high-quality your coffee machine is or what kind of coffee beans you get, coffee oil will accumulate and form a brown layer of residue inside of your machine. This is unavoidable, and it can clog up and make the machine stop working in more extreme cases. At the very least, this buildup will impart a rancid, acrid smell to your coffee. Your coffee will begin to taste bitter and tepid, and will no longer smell fresh. 

So to make sure that you always get to drink the best coffee as well as to make your coffee maker last longer, there’s no other way to avoid this oil buildup other than regular cleaning. In particular, you will need to deep clean those components that come into direct contact with coffee grounds, namely the carafe, brew chambers, grinder burrs, and portafilter baskets.

If you use your coffee machine daily, it’s best to rinse weekly, or at least deep clean it once a month as follows: 

  • Make sure you get rid of old coffee grounds.
  • Scrub all removable parts with hot soapy water, including the coffee filter and water filter.
  • For deep cleaning, use vinegar. Vinegar will also effectively deodorize and kill bacteria as well as any mold that you might not see. Fill the water tank with a diluted solution of one part white vinegar and one part water. Set your coffee maker to a drip cycle and let the vinegar solution sit for a while to penetrate stubborn residue. 
  • If needed, repeat.
  • Once you can see that the water tank is clean, fill it with clean water and run the machine through a drip cycle a few times until you can no longer detect that vinegar smell. 
  • Once in a while, wipe down the exterior with cleaning spray or hot soapy water.
coffee maker for camper
Photo: Peter Buchacher / 500px

Storage

If you need to store your coffee maker away, always put it in a dry place where the temperature doesn’t drop below freezing, as extreme cold might damage the unit if there’s still water left in the removable water tank. If you’re only putting it away for a short while, you just need to let it stand upright to avoid water leakage from the inner tank. 

However, if you’re not using your coffee maker for more than 2 weeks or so, it’s very important to empty the removable water tank to avoid mold growth and freezing. More expensive coffee makers often have an easy mechanism for draining, like a drain plug. Otherwise, you might need to disassemble the unit to empty the water reservoir. 

RV Coffee Makers FAQs

Who makes the best coffee makers for RV? 

The most prestigious brands with many tried and tested coffee makers on the market include Coleman, Black + Decker, Keurig, Hamilton Beach, Coleman, Nespresso, Braun, Ninja, Bunn, Cuisinart, Mr Coffee, Eurolux. 

Are expensive RV coffee makers worth it?

For clarity’s sake, let’s say the upper end of the price spectrum are coffee makers that cost over $200. In general, more expensive models have better extraction capabilities to deliver full flavor, rich aroma and nuanced coffee crema. 

These include an optimal brew temperature, that is 95°C or 203°F (just below the boiling point for water), a larger, more efficient brew head that allows for more even and thorough saturation of the coffee ground, and lastly, the way they can imitate how baristas make a pour over coffee.

This is referred to as the “bloom and pulse” brewing method: the bloom allows the CO2 in the coffee to degass for better flavor, while the pulse further adds layers of nuanced coffee notes. 

Can RV coffee makers make tea also?

Many coffee makers on the market can in fact make a variety of tea in addition to coffee, and understandably so, as they can heat up water. But always double check the product description or the online manual to see if a certain coffee maker can conveniently make tea as well. 

How long does a coffee maker last?

Most average RV coffee makers can last up to 5 years, while many of the more expensive models can last up to 10 years, given proper use as well as regular cleaning and descaling.

How often should I clean my coffee maker?

If you use your coffee maker every day, it’s best to rinse it weekly. If this is not possible, as a minimum, perform a deep clean at least once a month, plus ideally another quick rinse during the month to remove mineral buildup and coffee oil residue. 

Can I run white vinegar through my coffee maker to clean it?

Sure you can. Diluted white vinegar has long been a safe yet effective cleaning and deodorizing solution in the kitchen.

While hot soapy water is usually sufficient if you clean your coffee maker regularly, once the mineral and oil buildup have accumulated and form a stubborn layer, you should use hot diluted white vinegar solution of equal parts water and vinegar to get rid of it.

Remember to let the solution sit for a while to really penetrate and loosen the buildups before you proceed with scrubbing.

How long can a coffee maker stay on?

You should remove your coffee pot from the stove or turn the heating element on your coffee maker off as soon as the brewing process completes for the best flavor and aroma, as coffee will start to turn bitter if left on high heat for too long. 

How many amps does a 12 volt coffee maker use?

Since they are made for camping applications where electricity is generally scarce, a 12V coffee maker for RV is limited to 20 amps.

How many watts does an RV coffee maker use?

An electric coffee maker can consume anywhere between 500 and 1200 watts. A small RV coffee maker or a medium size electric coffee maker, that is one with a capacity of around 5 cups, typically uses 550 to 900 watts, while larger coffee makers consume around 750 to 1200 watts. Many smarter models will automatically shut down after an hour or so to save energy. 

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