Have you ever been to a hotel with delectable coffee? Me neither.
Usually, you’re left with a little sachet of instant coffee or a questionable batch brew.
And don’t get me started on gas stations and airport cafés.
No, if you want good coffee while traveling, you will probably have to brew it yourself.
Luckily, it’s both easy and fun to brew your coffee on the road.
In this post, I’ll give you tips and tricks and share my favorite travel coffee kit.
Travel Coffee Kit Basics
Brewing coffee on the road is one of those small things where the effort-to-reward ratio is balanced in your favor. There’s something amazing about making a proper cup of coffee when you’re outside your comfort zone in a new location.
The basic travel coffee kit includes a brewing device and a small, portable manual coffee grinder.
Most people bring an AeroPress and a cheap manual grinder, but you can easily make the setup much more advanced. For instance, I’ll usually add a scale to the setup. And while we’re at it, why not an additional dripper for some extra flexibility?
In the following article, I’ll offer different devices from different categories. Then you can mix and match them as you see fit.
Remember, there are many types of travel. There’s a big difference between a road trip and flying somewhere with only hand luggage. With the first type of travel, your options are endless, while weight and size become a much bigger concern if you have a luggage weight limit of 7 kg.
There are many manual brewing gadgets that are suitable for bringing on a road trip or vacation abroad. However, here are my top picks.
The AeroPress is an all-time favorite for travel.
It’s compact, sturdy, easy to brew, and clean. You can use it in many different places and scenarios, whether it’s a hotel room or an airplane.
Personally, I prefer the AeroPress Go over the original version because it comes with a mug.
This travel mug looks basic, but it’s incredibly underrated for travel, where it can also work as a range server. Almost all hotels use these small white porcelain cups that are not very suitable to brew into. Especially not if you want to brew enough coffee for two people.
Check out my video here for a better explanation of how I use it.See more reviews
Munieq Tetra Drip
The Munieq Tetra Drip is probably the lightest coffee maker in the universe! It weighs between 12-40 grams depending on the size and material!
It folds into three flat parts, so it doesn’t take up much space in the suitcase.
Besides being collapsible, the Tetra Drip is a traditional pour-over dripper. It’s a simple gadget meant to be used with a cone-shaped paper filter.
Carefully pour hot water on the coffee; after a few minutes, the coffee is brewed.
I have brought the Tetra Drip with me on many trips, and I’m a big fan and supporter of its flavor profile.
It has a slower flow rate with less bypass than the Hario V60. This makes it easier to use. You don’t need to pour as carefully as you’d like with the other pour-over drippers.
It comes in both colorful plastic and stainless steel.See more reviews
Clever Coffee Dripper
It’s one of my favorites for both travel and at home. The brew is usually excellent, and it’s simple to use.
It’s a mix of a French press and a filter coffee maker. First, add grounds and water and let them steep for 3-4 minutes. Then you place the Clever on a mug or a pitcher, and the valve opens up. The coffee flows out through the paper filter.
The Clever comes in a small and large sizes – I’d probably go for the larger one. It has enough volume to serve two-three people.
This device has followed me on several backpacking trips without fail.See more reviews
Unless you’re planning to be brewing capsules or preground coffee, you’ll also need a grinder for your trip. Unless you’re travelling with a gigantic suitcase, it should be a manual grinder.
The 1Zpresso Q2 is a compact, lightweight grinder that is perfect for travel. It has a slim design and can fit inside an AeroPress, which is an attribute that many people appreciate.
It is made from top-grade aluminum, which makes it both light and durable.
It’s easy to disassemble completely for in-depth cleaning.
The Q2 has a burr size of 38mm and uses a simple and reliable adjustment mechanism.
The geometry of the burr is suitable for most coffee. With the new heptagonal burr upgrade, it can even work for espresso. The new burr offers a nuanced and clean cup and grinds faster than the previous pentagonal version.See more reviews
Timemore Slim Plus
Timemore Slim model is very suitable for travel. It doesn’t take up much space in the suitcase but will still perform well across a wide range of brewing methods.
The Timemore Slim has been on the market for a few years. But after the company upgraded it with the E&B burr set, it became much more attractive.
E&B stands for “espresso and brew burrs.” Previously, the Slim was available with either coated burs with espresso geometry or uncoated standard burrs.
The new burrs work better at both types of coffee than the previous ones.
You can check out my full review of this grinder here.
The Porlex Mini Grinder is a decent option if you want something portable and compact. In addition, it’s suitable for travel because it is so tiny that it fits easily in your backpack.
It works best for drip coffee, but it can also make espresso. Expect it to take ages to grind since the ceramic burrs are not the fastest.
The Porlex Mini is made from sturdy materials, but to be honest, it’s a bit outdated in 2022. Today most grinders rely on ball bearings and sport sharp steel burrs.
But the Porlex Mini does its job. It’s cheap and easy to use.
If you asked most people five years ago, this was the de facto “traveler’s choice” – alas, not today. It’s still okay for a trip, but I’d much rather travel with one of the other options in this article.See more reviews
There are some accessories that every traveler needs to consider. These include:
- Coffee filters are a no-brainer. However, it’s a good idea only to bring the amount you need for your trip. So do the math beforehand to get a rough estimate.
- Digital scale: It’s nice to have, but there is also a certain charm in eyeballing it when you’re on the road. On a recent trip, I brought the Weightman coffee scale, which many home espresso aficionados swear by.
- TDS meter: Traveling abroad, you most likely don’t know the water brands. For that reason, a TDS meter comes in handy.
- Coffee Beans: You should bring enough beans for the first days of your trip – and potentially the whole trip if you’re going off the grid without access to specialty roasters or well-stocked supermarkets.
What about portable espresso makers?
If you’re an espresso lover, you’re in luck. Today, there are several portable espresso options on the market. Some are pretty expensive, while others can be found for less than $150.
I’ve tried all kinds of them over the years, and I’m happy to say that a few stands out.
- The Wacaco Picopresso is capable of producing delicious shots. It’s easy to operate and lightweight compared to other portable espresso makers. Considering the price-to-quality ratio, it’s my top pick.
- The Cafflano Kompresso is another long-time favorite on the blog. It’s both cheaper and lighter than the Picopresso. However, I would say that the shot consistency and quality are slightly higher than its new diminutive rival from Wacaco.
So, should you bring coffee gear on your trip? The answer is, of course a resounding, yes!
However, you should remember that you will probably spend more time traveling than actually drinking coffee. That means you’ll need to pack less stuff.
Also, you should think twice before bringing heavy equipment. I have traveled with too many coffee items before. They weigh down luggage and slow you down. Realize that you most likely are just going to stick with one portable brewing method on the road. For instance, there’s no reason to bring both a Clever Dripper and an AeroPress; just pick either one.