Monday, April 30, 2012

12-Volt Coffee and Other Thoughts

The Travl-Mate dual voltage Coffee Maker by Empire
at home on the table in my Volkswagen Camper.
Sure, there are 12-volt coffee makers out there. RoadPro, for example. But for my money, for space and convenience and flexibility, it is hard to beat the vintage Travl-Mate 12/120 volt Coffemaker by Empire. You can still find them on eBay. Sometimes in mint condition.

What makes them more flexible than the RoadPro, for example, is this percolator type coffee maker has two heating elements—one fro12-volt and one for 120-volt current.

It is more efficient on 120, taking only about 12 minutes to brew a full pot of coffee, while jusing 12-volt juice takes about 45 minutes.

Still it's a nice option to have when you are away from shore power or your inverter doesn't handle 435 watts.

How does it do this? The coffee maker comes with a 12-volt adapter that fits onto the end plug. This adapter feeds 12-volt power to a third line in the cord going to the 12-volt heat unit.

Sunday being a beautiful morning, sun saturating my solar panel, I decided to go 12-volt just for the fun of it. Sure, it took a little longer. But as they here in Truth or Consequences: Nothing To Do and All Day to Do It. So lets sit back and enjoy. Read. Surf the Net. Slowly, ever so slowly the little machine begins making little gurgling noises. A whiff or two now of steam. Then the almost sensuous pulse as percolation begins.

Piping hot fresh 12-volt coffee.
Then 45 minutes later exactly, it kicks off.  An piping hot 12-volt coffee is ready to pour from the spout.
(A note about percolators. They work best with a coarser grind. Hard to find now except in stores that let you grind your own beans and set the grind.)


I've had a few inquiries lately about what living in a bus or a van is really like, and there has been much discussion of the subject among the folks at VanDwellers@yahoogroups.

To someone who has not done this I'm sure it seems romantic. Live in a van or a bus and escape the system, travel the open highways, see the sights, meet people.

Clouds over trees, Chinqua Penn, NC. 
Photo by Patricia Madden
In part this is true. But it is not an easy life. Nor is it inexpensive, especially with today's gas prices. New Mexico, where I am now, is one of the few places you can find inexpensive state parks, BLM land that allows free camping, and modestly priced RV parks.

Even so there is food, entertainment, laundry etc. And maintenance and repairs.

Yet it is freedom. Freedom to explore life absent another's definition.

To see the sunrises and sunsets on your own, and to be your own man or woman.

And that I believe is why my coffee tastes so good!


  1. Really nice to see you this morning John! You sure do fit right in here in our little corner of the universe. I hope you make the Deli a regular stop on M-W-F mornings. I like your little coffee pot....

    1. Thank you, Brian. That is mighty gracious of you, but then I expect no less. Mondays and Fridays I can make.


  2. With coffee in the morning all things are possible.

    1. Truly a miracle beverage !!

      Thank you,


  3. I like your coffee pot too! and yes.. with coffee in the morning.... all things are possible.

    Nice post, John... living in one's van is a gamut of experiences and emotions....

    but ... free - except for gas dammit

    1. Hi Carolyn,

      Still thinking of making it to Truth or Consequences?

      It's starting to heat up in the desert now but the nights are still nice and cool. Enjoy your travels in spite of the cost of gas!



  4. i heard them type of coffee makers are bad for u

  5. Funny, although romantic is wonderful, it isn't usually easy. But it's almost always worth it, isn't it?

    I'm in a fully equipped 24-foot motor home and I find living like this romantic. The good things I really appreciate, the bad things I just try to fix. One of the good things is my small Keurig single cup coffee maker. It makes the best coffee! If I can't run the generator, I have coffee bags (like tea bags), not too bad, and instant coffee (pretty bad) that I can make using the gas stove. :)

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