Best New Things Living Aboard a Boat

Melitta Brewing Cones | The Best New Thing in the Boat

Friday, March 10, 2017S.V. CAMBRIA

We have a Sirius satellite radio aboard Cambria and I like to listen to MSNBC. Every single day. It drives David nuts (the whole point of cruising is to disconnect), but I’m addicted. And one of the programs I like a lot is “The Rachel Maddow Show”. Every now and then she does a segment called “The Best New Thing in the World” where she introduces something new that caught her attention. It can be a product, an idea or something somebody has done. And that inspired me to start a series of posts called “The Best NewThing in the Boat”. My first post was about our portable freezer and while I have to admit this item isn’t as sexy or life-changing, it truly is “The Best New Thing in the Boat” – a Melitta Pour-Over Thermal Coffee Maker.

The story starts a couple of years ago. We were getting ready for the upcoming season, and I decided I wanted to give up drinking Coke. I knew caffeine withdrawal was going to be difficult for me, so I needed to find a go-to drink with a little bite as an  alternative (I mainly drink water). Being married to a Brit means we always have a large supply of black tea lying around, but I don’t really like it. So, I decided coffee would be my new monkey.

I pulled out our French Press and got to work substituting one bad habit with another, but it was short-lived. When he was cleaning the press, David lost the bottom disc overboard. So, we either had to buy a replacement part, a new French Press, or look for another option. 

French Press

To be honest, we’ve never been big fans of the French Press despite some obvious benefits:

  • They don’t require a filter, which keeps trash to a minimum and makes provisioning easier.
  • The strength of the coffee can be adjusted by the steeping time.
  • Multiple cups can be brewed at the same time.
  • They can make espressos.
  • They make a good cup of coffee.
  • They don’t require pouring skills.
  • It’s possible to find French Presses that are unbreakable, thanks to stainless and plastic beakers.
But the coffee grounds can (and often do) slip through the filtering disc and end up in your mug. And they’re not as easy to clean as some other options. This was a big one for us and the primary reason we didn’t make coffee on a regular basis, despite the fact that we both enjoy drinking it (yes, laziness won out in the end). Clearly, it was time to try something new. 


A lot of cruisers love the AeroPress, a new type of coffee press that brews under pressure, so I started my search there. Again, they offer several benefits:

  • They’re plastic and won’t break.
  • They’re much easier to clean than a traditional French Press.
  • They use a filter so coffee grounds don’t seep into the brew.
  • They make really good coffee (by all accounts).
  • The brew time is only two minutes, thanks to the air-pressure element involved.
  • They’re versatile (you can use them to make lattes and espressos).
  • The units are small and portable.

But, and this is a big ‘but’, they take practice to get the coffee just right and only make eight ounces at a time (you have to top them up with hot water to fill a traditional mug). Another downside is they use special filters that can’t be found in most neighbourhood grocery stores. And they’re also fairly expensive, selling for $30 per unit. 

Pour-Over Coffee Makers

Still, the AeroPress sounded like a good alternative and I was just about to hit the order button when I noticed another option: The Melitta Ready, Set, Joe Brewing Cone. A little further research showed this was one of the easiest ways to make a freshly-brewed cup of coffee and the benefits were obvious:

  • For $2.49, I was able to find a Melitta cone at our local Albertsons, so they’re relatively inexpensive to use.
  • The coffee drips directly into a mug that sits underneath the cone, requiring little cleanup.
  • They use a standard size filter (#2) that keeps coffee grounds and oils out of the brew.
  • They’re easy to clean – just throw away the filters and rinse the cone with water.
  • They’re easy to use producing a consistently good cup of coffee.

Like the French Press and AeroPress, there are some negatives: They only brew one cup of coffee at a time. It takes about four minutes per cup. You lose the versatility of presses (pour-over units don’t make espressos). While the initial cost is low, there is the continuing expense of buying filters. And the filters lead to more waste and another item to provision.

I was going to be the only one drinking coffee, so we started with one single-cup cone. I tended to have my cup around 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon when I needed the caffeine boost the most. It smelled so good that David started to join in. Soon the ritual included homemade chocolate chip cookies or some other tasty treat and started to become a time of day we both looked forward to.

We picked up another cone so we could make two cups at the same time, but David would often mention how he wished he had a little more to drink. Santa must have heard his entreaties because that changed recently when we were gifted a Melitta Thermal Pour-Over Coffee Brewer for Christmas . . . and it’s the best new thing in the boat.

Okay, so it’s no portable freezer, something that literally changed the way we cruised and, at $32, it’s a more expensive option than a French Press or an AeroPress. But the stainless carafe holds 64 ounces (about 3.5 of our mugs), is double-walled for insulation and small enough to conveniently store aboard a boat (8” x 6” x 10”). So, now we can make several cups of freshly-brewed coffee any time of the day and keep it hot for hours, making life on the water a little easier and a lot nicer. 

What things have made your life easier and better on the water? We’d love to hear about them. Share your tips below in the comments section or join the conversation on our Facebook page. 

Photos from the Bodum, AeroPress and Melitta websites.

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  1. Fancy! I like that it brews a big batch. When we have guests, we use a stainless steel insulated french press. We like to have options in case there's a crisis and one method breaks! One of the best random things on our boat is a suction handle. We can use it as a handle to hold onto the hull while cleaning the bottom, or as an extra handhold in the boat. We use it alot!

    1. Your insulated French Press sounds similar in construction to our carafe. Like you said, it's nice to have options. We kept our single cones for days when we just want a cup, but it's sure nice to be able to make more whenever we want.

  2. We bought an electric coffee pot at Walmart/Target/who knows for around $30. It has a stainless insulated carafe so the coffee stays hot for hours. To make the coffee you open the top lid, put in the coffee, then pour in the water behind the filter basket. What makes this unit perfect for boating is the open filter basket on the top. When on the hook just heat your water on the stove and manually pour it in. When shore power is available, make it easy by just plugging it in. Best of both worlds! Furthermore, we bought a fine mesh metal filter basket so no disposable paper filters. We just love the thing! Bought one just like it for the RV.

    1. The best of both worlds, eh? We did something similar when we were in Kansas. I forgot to pack our Melitta cones, so we borrowed my sister's electric coffee maker. We didn't care for it as much as the pour-over method, so we just heated water on the stove and poured it through the filter setup. It worked out really well.

  3. Great research and article, Stephanie. If only I drank coffee. :-) We thought about a portable freezer back in the days but never went for it. What has made our life much easier, is not having a boat at all anymore. We could get used to it! (Although, Mark was checking Hans Christian boat prices recently. I have no idea why...) :-)

    1. I think not having a boat sounds pretty good right about now, lol. I'm sure my tune will change once the weather improves but lately it's been a lot of rain and wind. :-(