The old obsession with making coffee in the car

Rarely have the worlds of automotive and gastronomy crossed paths.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
18 September 2023 Monday 10:32
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The old obsession with making coffee in the car

Rarely have the worlds of automotive and gastronomy crossed paths. One of those rare moments was in 1959, when the German manufacturer Hertella saw fit to design a coffee maker that could be installed in the Volkswagen Beetle.

They called it Hertella-Auto Kaffeemaschine and it could be easily installed on the dashboard of the famous Beetle using a simple clamp and for 65 German marks (€33.23 – the car, at that time, cost about €1,937.80). It connected to the cigarette lighter button and had an aesthetic silver teapot design, with the capacity to hold a cup of coffee in its structure. Those at Hertella thought of everything: they designed the cup ad hoc, placing a magnetic base that magnetized with the coffee maker, making it resistant to braking and steering.

Although perhaps it is a little dangerous because it can distract us from driving, having a freshly brewed coffee, with the car full of its aroma, seems like a great idea. Because the Hertella-Auto Kaffeemaschine worked just like a modern V60: the coffee was placed in a portafilter and the water infused the ground coffee. Using the same system, advertisements from the time explain that you could even make tea, lemon infusion, or that it could be used to keep a broth or alcoholic drink warm.

The idea did not catch on with consumers, Hertella no longer manufactured coffee makers for cars and the invention soon fell into oblivion. To date, only one copy of the coffee maker has been located, which belongs to David Hord, as reported by The Drive.

However, 10 years ago, the car manufacturer Fiat regained its enthusiasm for offering hot coffee to the drivers of its Fiat 500L. Would the Italian passion for coffee be the one that would incorporate coffee machines once and for all and massively in all cars in the world?

At Fiat they also took care of the details: they chose a coffee machine from the well-known Lavazza coffee brand, which included a complete set of cups, spoons and even a sugar bowl. In this case, the coffee maker was an espresso machine, with its corresponding bars of pressure, which works with capsules and was portable, which fit perfectly in the glove compartment between the seats, where it took the necessary power to operate. In the same way, the Handpresso company has been developing different solutions to make coffee on the go, with capsule or ground coffee models designed to be used in the car, in the cigarette lighter, or outdoors, equipped with a battery. which can be charged via USB. It even has a range designed for use at sea.

Of course, the Italian received harsh criticism for encouraging drivers to be distracted, to which she replied that it was obvious that the coffee maker should only be used while the car was parked.

Although none of these gadgets really catch on, designers never tire of creating alternatives so that we can have a coffee on wheels. The Outin portable coffee maker allows you to enjoy an espresso in the car or on the bike (an intrepid cyclist mounted the machine on the front fork of his wheel), and works in a similar way to the Lavazza coffee maker, but without capsules: the Outin uses ground coffee to the consumer's taste.

In a simpler way and without the need for equipment, soluble coffee is the quick and effective option to have a coffee with the help of a little hot water. However, its flavor does not usually captivate anyone. From there, Nomad Coffee has taken another step: creating an instant specialty coffee, as Iker Morán recently told Comer La Vanguardia.