How do you enjoy the quality coffee or tea that you love when you only have solar power? Are there solar coffee makers on the market? How much power does it actually take to make coffee on the go?
Many would agree the most important start to the day is that first cup of coffee or tea. We start each workday this way. It’s the best complement to our weekend breakfast or afternoon, and it’s a perfect luxury to enjoy on vacation. But what if you don’t always have easy access to power when you’re in the RV, on the boat, at the cabin, the beach, or at camp? Campfires are sometimes not allowed at campsites, especially at national parks. Instead of foregoing it on vacation, treat yourself to a morning brew by the power of the sun.
There are three very simple ways to brew a perfect coffee with solar power and depending on your distinct situation, you may lean more toward one than the other. We break down the three easiest ways to make solar coffee while on your adventure, including instructions, tips, and top reviews for some of the most popular solar equipment to help you make coffee and tea.
Method #1: Solar Powered Coffee Makers
One simple way to make coffee or tea on the go, with the power of the sun, is to invest in a solar coffee maker. (And if you’re looking to make more than just coffee, take a look at our favorite solar cookers or solar grills.) This option is perfect for coffee lovers on rugged outdoor adventures, especially when lighting a fire isn’t an option. Take one of these with you for camping, hiking, beach days, or pack it as part of your emergency preparedness kit.
Solar coffee makers use an evacuated tube (or vacuum tube) combined with sunpower to boil water for coffee, tea, dehydrated meals, or whatever your need for hot water. Atmosphere has been removed from the tube so that water will boil faster and more efficiently when combined with concentrated sun rays.
The evacuated tube has an opening in order to add usually about a liter of water, and the items you intend to boil, like coffee, tea, rice, oatmeal, etc. The tube sits on a rack or a mount designed to hold the tube in direct sunlight and concentrate rays with reflective technology. In about 10 minutes, your water will be boiling hot. When you’re ready, you can pour this water over your coffee, tea, or dehydrated food and packaged noodles. Clean up is generally quick and simple, and the unit isn’t much bulkier than a typical thermos you might use for coffee anyway.
An evacuated tube water boiler is easily found online, but many of these are used as heating elements to home heating or water heating. For food-grade use, it’s a bit harder to find a convenient product. To help, we’ve compiled the two most popular options featured in 2020’s top reviews.
Method #2: Sun Ovens
Another way to make boiled water for coffee and other foods and drinks, is to heat water with a sun oven. A sun oven offers the flexibility of cooking other foods easily with the power of the sun, in addition to water. (To transport your food to your off-the-grid site you may want to consider investing in a solar refrigerator.) Depending on your needs, this might be the better option for you, especially if you want to cut down on the amount of gear you’re carrying. In many cases a solar oven does not use the evacuated tube method of heating and thus, it can take up to an hour to heat water to boiling point sometimes. However, this largely depends on the weather and items being heated.
If you purchase a solar oven, it’s a good idea to test it out in your own backyard before setting out for adventure with it. This will give you a better idea of the amount of time it takes to cook certain foods or boil water, plus it will give you practice on how to best set and monitor your oven for the most efficient cook.
Instead of an evacuated tube method of heating, a solar oven traps photons from the sun and uses this to make heat instead of electricity. The heat is concentrated on the food and in a short time, an entire meal for several people can be prepared. Solar ovens are very affordable and safe and can be used to cook in places like national parks and beaches where lighting a fire is not always permitted.
There are many options when it comes to solar ovens and solar cookers (or even solar grills). If you’re thinking of getting a solar cooker, consider its portability, especially if your journey is on foot. Above all, make sure you get a cooker that’s capable of reaching boiling point for water, or else you’ll be able to make everything except coffee. Below, we offer a 2020 top review of the very best solar oven that can also make your coffee.
Method #3: Solar Bank + Coffeemaker
Perhaps the most versatile solution for an outdoor adventurer or off-grid enthusiast is to use a solar powered energy bank to run a coffee maker appliance. In the last two methods, it was thermal energy heating the water for coffee. In this method, solar energy is collected and converted to electric energy and stored in a rechargeable battery. In the case of making coffee, you’d connect your coffee maker appliance to your portable solar bank for power.
All of the solar banks in our reviews below are portable, though the degree of portability ranges. You’ll find options from as small as a cell phone, to an 8-lb generator. This method of solar energy use takes a little forethought and planning and exactly how you do it depends on a few particulars about your adventures. This method, however, will offer the most flexibility and versatility, allowing you to use the bank for a variety of other electricity-based uses beyond making coffee.
Consider the following criteria below and follow our pro tips for making coffee with solar energy.
Plus, we’ve gathered 2020’s top reviews for solar banks and generators so you can make coffee with free, sustainable, energy no matter where you are or how much sun is shining.
Pro Tips for Making Coffee with Solar Power
Where will you be?
The first, and probably most important, consideration you should make is where you’ll be when you expect to use your solar coffee maker. If you want solar coffee everyday for the morning commute, you might consider something like a single-serve, all-in-one, coffee maker thermos that can plug into your car via lighter port or your solar bank via USB. If your coffeemaker will be a bit more stationary, like at home or in an RV or boat, you might opt for a more usual coffee maker. If you’re trying to make coffee in remote areas of wilderness, you’ll need a very lightweight coffee-maker thermos and a lightweight solar power bank. As you continue to narrow down the specifications you’ll require, always keep in mind where you’ll be and how portable your equipment needs to be.
How rugged is your coffee?
Consider whether you’ll be making coffee in an RV or at the top of a mountain peak. If your equipment is going to get used at every remote campsite, the durability and weather-resistance needs will be different than at-home, everyday use. You’ll also want to consider waterproof ratings, and shock-resistance.
How many watts does it take to run your coffee maker?
Wherever you’ll be, and whichever coffee-making equipment you plan to use, you’ll want to know how many watts it takes to power it. You wouldn’t want to get stuck with all the equipment you think you need, only to find your solar bank doesn’t produce enough power to run it. A typical home appliance coffee maker is anywhere between 300 and 1500 watts but the average is about 800 watts. When using a solar bank to power your appliance, you’ll do best with a low-watt appliance.
When you’re looking for a solar coffee machine, it usually tells you in watts how much power the appliance uses. But when you’re looking for solar banks, its power is most often expressed as mAh, or milliamps per hour. To make sure the bank gives you enough power, there’s an easy trick to remember; add two zeros to the end of the wattage and that’s what you’ll need for mAh.
For example, if your appliance or device uses 800 watts, you’ll be safe with a bank that offers 80,000mAh or higher. A bank with a capacity just a bit over 80,000mAh would be best; 100,000mAh would be a good choice. Also keep in mind that mAh is a measurement for running power to a device or appliance continuously for an hour or more. A coffee maker will only take about 10 minutes to brew coffee, so you won’t need to use the full capacity of your bank.
Will you need an adapter?
Sometimes when you’re using a portable solar bank with an appliance like a coffee maker, you’ll need an adapter that allows you to plug a USB into your bank and also use the typical two-pronged cord of the appliance. In some cases, portable coffee makers already come with a USB-compatible cord. It’s not uncommon for cell phones to come with these kinds of adapters so it’s very likely you already have one or two hanging around. If not, you can get them at most general stores for less than $10.
What kind of capacity will you need from your solar bank?
Consider carefully how many devices and appliances you plan to power with your solar bank. How many people will be using it? How many ports does it have? And of course, when considering what kind of capacity you’ll need, also plan for the length of time it takes to recharge the bank with solar power.
Will your devices and appliances be safe from overcharge and discharge?
One of the most important features to make sure your solar bank includes is overcharge and discharge protection. This will protect the battery of your solar bank and the items you power with it, extending the overall lifetime of everything.
Best Solar Power Banks for Making Coffee – Top Reviews of 2020
Below, we’ve compiled the best solar banks to use on the go for making coffee with your favorite coffee maker, or charging your phone or GPS system. Because the goal is brewing an ultimate cup of coffee, we’ve chosen high-capacity banks that offer a high enough mAh to handle a typical coffee maker. We’ve selected 3 models that represent different degrees of portability. One unit is about the size of a cell phone and can clip onto the outside of a backpack. One is still very portable but it’s just a bit larger than the average tablet. It packs away or can be hung from the back of a hiking pack. The last is perfect for individuals building off-grid solutions, or adding power to RVs, boats, stationary campsites, or cabins. Check out 2020’s reviews below of the best solar power banks to use for running a coffee maker. Or, if you’re looking for something completely different, check out our best solar dehydrators.
Survival Solar Kettle from Contemporary Energy
When you want to brew a cup of coffee sustainably while exploring the wilds or living off-grid, this solar coffee maker by Contemporary Energy is hands-down the best you can find. This two-in-one flask can hold your beverage just like a regular thermos and it can bring water to boiling point for coffee, tea, noodles and grains, boiled eggs; even boil water to purify for drinking. This compact but highly functional model makes it perfect for campers and hikers, or any emergency preparedness kit.
The kettle consists of two glass tubes designed to capture solar energy and warm up the contents of the flask. A convenient temperature gauge located on the cap will let you know whether the water is boiling or not, and it usually takes under twenty minutes to brew coffee. Innovative design allows you to protect the central glass tubes when the coffee’s ready or when not in use, by simply closing the protective wings.
This solar coffee maker has a capacity of approximately three cups and comes with a 24-month limited warranty. It’s also available in blue. This item is lightweight, durable, and shock-resistant.
- Very compact and highly functional
- Lightweight and shock-resistant
- Makes about 3 cups of coffee at one time
- Perfect for camping or emergency prep
- Have to wait until daylight for coffee On the expensive side
Solar Coffeemaker Kettle Cup from Marsrock
At first glance, the MarsRock Stainless Vacuum Solar Kettle looks like a regular thermos flask. But there’s much more to it than keeping your beverage warm for a few hours. This thermos doubles as a solar coffee maker using the same evacuated tube technology as most solar kettles. Besides coffee, you can use the hot water to make foods like instant noodles and dehydrated meals. Easy to carry and rugged, this is a great option for camping, tailgating, or general adventure.
- Easy to carry, durable
- May take a little longer to boil water than similar models
Solar Cooker and Water Boiler from GoSun
The GoSun Go solar cooker is the most portable of all the GoSun cookers and it’s still powerful enough to cook food in as little as 20 minutes. Best of all, this model not only comes with a tray to cook solid foods quickly, but it also comes with an evacuated tube that can be used to efficiently and effectively boil water faster than typical cookers that don’t use an evacuated tube.
Use this solar cooker and boiler to bake, roast, steam, and even boil with the capability of reaching temperatures of up to 550-degrees F (288-degrees C). This unit is stainless steel and cleans up and packs up simply and quickly. The GoSun Go includes a cooking tray, an evacuated tube, silicone pans, a cooker mount, a cleaning brush, and a cookbook for tons of great ideas for foods to cook with your new equipment.
This solar cooker and water boiler zips closed in a durable hardshell case that weighs under 2lbs altogether. Most meals can be cooked in about 30 minutes and water can be boiled in about 10 minutes. This is an excellent way to cook food without flame, and without any need for power except for the free power of the sun.
- Highly durable build and case for easy portability
- Reaches 550-degrees F for baking and roasting foods
- Includes evacuated tube for boiling water
- A bit expensive if coffee is your primary concern
- Capacity for water and food is on the small side
800,000mAh Solar Power Bank from FidgetFidget
This solar bank from FidgetFidget offers a whopping 800,000mAh of power for you to charge and run items via solar power. Even a standard coffee maker could be powered by this bank for long enough to brew coffee and still be able to charge your phone, GPS, or other electronic lights or devices.
This model is about the size and weight of an average tablet device. On one side, you’ll find high-capacity solar panel cells that collect the sun’s rays to store for power. To charge the bank, leave the panels sitting in direct sunlight for 5-6 hours. For best results, don’t charge items from this bank while the bank itself is charging.
- 800,000 mAh
- Powerful enough to run the average standard coffee maker
- Easily packed and carried
- Multiple outputs
- On the expensive side
- Will likely need a USB adapter for two-pronged appliances
300,000mAh Solar Bank from RightChoice
This 300,000mAh bank from RightChoice is an excellent option for the most mobile adventurers that carry their own packs. Though it’s high capacity gives you the ability to charge and run devices and small appliances, it’s only about the size of a cell phone. It’s compact size and lightweight design make this perfect for campers, hikers, and even everyday commuters who need some extra power through the day. This model is also waterproof and shock-resistant so it won’t be damaged from rugged use. Clip this solar panel from a belt or pocket or hang it from your pack with a carabiner. If you’re using a low-watt coffee making device, this will be a perfect power source for you.
- High capacity, 300,000 mAh
- Very portable, waterproof, shock-resistant
- Can be clipped or hung from packs for charging while hiking
- Slow charge time to fill bank; 10 hours
- Recommended to charge via wall outlet electricity for the first time
- May not reach full capacity
Solar Generator from Kyng Power
If carrying your own gear on foot isn’t so much a concern for you, and instead you’ll be setting up solar power at the campsite, cabin, or RV, then this unit from Kyng Power is your best bet. This is a solar power bank generator that offers the highest capacity use of any item on our list. This is an excellent resource for regular use with devices and appliances of a wide variety. This unit will power laptops, televisions and even small scooters, so it can definitely offer enough power to brew your coffee.
This generator comes ready and equipped to support a number of different outlets and it’s still very portable at a convenient 8lbs. However, you’ll want to keep in mind a bank/generator such as this doesn’t come with solar panels included, but you’ll be able to easily connect any portable panel you have, or find one to complete your solar power travel system.
- 500w continuous; 1000w peak output
- Excellent option for RVs, boats, cabins, and camp sites
- Equips you to charge and run devices and appliances well beyond a coffee maker
- 18-month free replacement warranty
- On the expensive side
- Solar panel sold separately