Travel Coffee Makers: Best Portable Coffee Makers [For Nomads]
- The Importance Of Choosing The Right Travel Coffee Maker
- What You Need To Brew Coffee On The Go
- The 9 Best Travel Coffee Makers Of 2019
- THE VERDICT: What's The Best Travel Coffee Maker?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Finding a good cup of coffee can be a struggle when traveling. If you need your coffee just the way you like it, why not make it yourself? There are plenty of convenient ways to make your morning coffee on the road.
With so many options, choosing the best travel coffee maker might seem difficult. Bear with me and you’ll be sure to find the perfect one!
The Importance Of Choosing The Right Travel Coffee Maker
You only want the best when choosing a coffee maker for your home... And the same rule applies to your road trip coffee maker. To make sure you’re getting a coffee maker that suits your needs, ask yourself a few questions first. Be honest.
What Type Of Coffee Do I Prefer?
If you could only choose one type of coffee to have for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
"Coffee is the common man's gold, and like gold, it brings to every person the feeling of luxury and nobility." - Sheikh Abd al-Kadir, "In Praise of Coffee" (1587)
Your coffee preference is the starting point of your search for the perfect portable coffee maker.
How Much Space Do I Have?
Lack of space is a common reality among travelers, especially frequent flyers. Even the most hardcore coffee lovers would prioritize a change of clothes over Kalita Wave accessories.
Weight is also something to consider. If you’re looking for something to take with you on flights or camping trips, you want to make sure it’s light enough to carry.
Power Or Powerless?
Are you an urban traveler, or will you be making coffee on a campsite under the open skies? Some coffee makers require electricity; others don’t.
What Else Will I Need?
How many accessories are required to produce a satisfying cup of coffee using your brewing method? Coffee filters, coffee beans, grinders, measuring cups and the like add weight and cost. Do you want something simpler, or does everything have to be just like at home? The coffee maker will be just one part of your travel coffee kit.
What You Need To Brew Coffee On The Go
Given the large range of portable coffee makers on the market, you might also need some other coffee gear. Whatever coffee maker you choose, you’ll at least need three very basic things. Let’s consider them:
A Way To Grind Coffee Beans
Many coffee drinkers prefer grinding their coffee beans right before brewing, and that’s doable on the go, as well. No, you don’t need to bring an electric grinder with you, a hand grinder works best for portability reasons. With a light hand grinder like the Hario Mini Mill, you don’t need to settle for stale grounds just because you’re traveling.
Of course, pre-ground beans can also be a practical option. However, it is important to make sure you’re storing your grounds properly.
Although most travel coffee makers require no electricity, you need a way to boil water. For urban travellers, light travel kettles are a practical option. On more outdoorsy adventures, you can boil water on an open fire as long as you have a vessel.
For car drivers, an immersion boiler can work a treat.
A Travel Mug
Once you’ve brewed your coffee, you need a way to keep it nice and hot! A good travel mug is an essential part of any traveler’s coffee kit. There are plenty to choose from, but these are the current favourites.
The 9 Best Travel Coffee Makers Of 2019
Now that you’ve narrowed down your preferences, it should be straightforward enough to find a portable coffee maker you’ll be happy with. To make the choice even easier, I’ve compiled a list of the best options on the market.
|Aeropress||CHECK PRICE →|
|Minipresso GR Hand Espresso Machine||CHECK PRICE →|
|Nomad Portable Espresso Maker||CHECK PRICE →|
|Presto Single Cup Coffee Maker||CHECK PRICE →|
|Handpresso||CHECK PRICE →|
|Bodum Travel Press||CHECK PRICE →|
|Primula Single Serve Coffee Brew Buddy||CHECK PRICE →|
|GSI Collapsible Java Drip||CHECK PRICE →|
|Kalita Wave Pour Over Dripper||CHECK PRICE →|
Since its creation in 2005, the Aeropress has become one of the most popular brewers. What’s especially great: it’s well suited for using both at home and when traveling. It also makes an amazing single serve coffee maker (more of those here).
"Check any camping coffee-lover’s backpack, and you’re likely to see an AeroPress inside.." - Smarter Travel
The Aeropress is versatile. It’s fast, taking about a minute to brew. You can also use the inverted Aeropress method, which is slightly slower but produces a better cup, according to many connoisseurs. Although it’s easy to tweak the strength of your Aeropress brew according to your preferences, it’s especially well suited for making strong, espresso-like coffee. You can even make cold brew with it.
The Aeropress also scores high in portability, as it weighs very little and is quick to clean. It is often sold together with a tote bag, so it’s instantly ready to travel the world with you.
What else you’ll need: Aeropress microfilters (but you can get these from most coffee shops).
- Great for making espresso-style coffee
- Easy to carry and clean
- Only makes one cup at a time
- There are lots of parts (which can be easily lost and hard to buy separately)
- Requires special filters
The Minipresso GR is a small device designed to produce one shot of espresso at a time. It requires no external power and is operated by hand. Despite its size, the Minipresso GR is capable of pumping hot water to a pressure of 8 bars, the same as many full-size machines.
The Minipresso GR, however, isn’t the most sturdily made tool: in intense use, its pump might start leaking. You need to handle it delicately and be careful not to tamp the coffee grounds too heavily.
It may well be the most compact espresso brewer in existence - if you’re an espresso fan on the go, the Minipresso GR is a very well designed choice.
- Inexpensive and readily available
- Extremely light and portable
- Requires no electricity
- Only suitable for making espresso shots
- Malfunction is common in heavy use
- Not the most affordable choice
The Nomad is another take on the portable espresso maker. It has a unique and eye-catching design, with bold geometric lines. It is expertly engineered, containing everything you need to brew a cup of espresso. It doesn’t require electricity and produces pressure levels of 8-10 bars, the same as any full-size machine.
As a special feature, the Nomad has a built-in “True Crema Valve” or TCV. This enables the device to produce an excellent cup of espresso without tamping. It also makes the brewing process more forgiving, meaning you can get a balanced cup even from older or less evenly ground beans - useful on the go.
On the downside, the complicated construction means the Nomad is difficult to clean. If you want to brew several shots of espresso, you might need spare filter sets. It’s also on the expensive side, rivaling some full-size machines in price.
What else you’ll need: Spare filter sets, in case you don’t have running water and want to use it repeatedly.
- Well-designed, with high brewing pressure
- Special valve makes it easy to brew consistent espresso
- Doesn’t require any electricity
- Difficult to clean on the go
- Too small to fit larger mugs below it
The Presto Myjo is basically the little brother of larger Keurigs.
The coffee maker is designed for people who use single-cup machines like Keurig while being more portable and affordable.
It’s designed to be used with Keurig cups. Although you can also use regular ground coffee to fill the basket, it might get messy.
WHAT ELSE YOU’LL NEED: ESE pods, although you can also use regular espresso grounds
- Handy option for those who prefer K-Cup coffee at home
- Easy to use
- Doesn’t have much to offer for people who don’t use K-Cups
- Not the most durable option
- Messy to use with regular coffee
The Handpresso Wild is a “hybrid” coffee maker, meaning it’s been designed for use with either loose espresso grounds or pre-made ESE espresso pods. The Handpresso works by driving hot water through coffee grounds with air pressure manually exerted by the user.
Compared to many other portable espresso machines, the Handpresso is quite complicated to use. The espresso it produces is also considered weak compared to competitors. Find a super complete review of this portable espresso machine here.
WHAT ELSE YOU’LL NEED: ESE pods, although you can also use regular espresso grounds.
- Looks stylish
- Lets you make espresso without electricity
- Produces up to 16 bars of pressure
- Espresso is on the weak side
- Easy to burn yourself when brewing
The Bodum Travel Press is basically a portable French press. It is constructed from double-walled, insulated stainless steel, scoring high for both durability and heat retention.
You can use the Bodum travel press for both preparing and storing your coffee. First, you just brew the coffee as you would with a regular French press coffee maker. After pressing the plunger down, screw on the lid and you’re all set! The lid is slightly leaky though, so don’t keep it in your bag with other stuff.
The Bodum travel press is a neat option for cafetière fans. And you can make cold brew coffee in it. The only downsides are that it’s hard to avoid grounds in your coffee, and it can turn bitter if not drunk soon after brewing.
- Makes a smooth cup of French press
- Easy enough to clean
- Keeps coffee warm for a few hours
- The plunger stops grounds from getting in your mouth
- If not drunk soon, coffee can over-extract and turn bitter
- Lid is not leak-free
The Primula is yet another easy way to brew coffee on the go. Just fill the mesh basket with your favorite coffee, add hot water, and wait for a few minutes.
With the Primula, you’re basically brewing coffee as you make tea with a teabag. It produces a consistent cup of coffee - not the most amazing in flavor, but much better than instant.
While you might not be getting as much out of your beans as you would with an Aeropress or a Kalita Wave, it doesn’t get much easier than this.
- Extremely easy to use
- Light to carry
- Very affordable
- Doesn’t produce the deepest flavor
- The Primula disc is hot to handle after brewing
- Cleaning the mesh filter without running water can be difficult
The GSI Outdoors Collapsible Java drip is only rivaled by the Primula in terms of lightness. Weighing less than 5 ounces, the GSI Java drip is a good option for backpackers or air travelers with limited space. Made from silicone, it’s also very affordable.
It’s easy to brew with the GSI Java drip: fill the filter with coffee, place over a coffee mug and pour hot water over it. It’s like an ultra-light, outdoorsy version of the V60.
On the downside, it doesn’t produce the deepest flavor. It’s a cheap and cheerful option but does lose out to top competitors. Sure beats instant coffee, though!
- Very portable
- Cheap and cheerful silicone design
- Can be used to brew larger amounts of coffee
- Produces a weak brew
- Looks cheap
- Still larger and heavier than the Primula
The Kalita Wave is an extremely popular pour-over coffee maker. With the Kalita, you don’t need electricity, but you do need quite a lot of kit: filters and a kettle at the very least. At the price of dragging this equipment around, you can make delicious coffee wherever you are.
If you’ve got the room for it, why not take the best when you’re traveling?
It’s a super forgiving pour over coffee maker to brew with - so no need to put your hair into a man bun and wear frameless hipster glasses while brewing. You’ll pick it up after one or two attempts.
What else you’ll need: Filters (standard filters work fine) and a kettle (you don’t need a gooseneck kettle for the wave).
- Our top pick for pour-overs
- Full control of how you brew
- Doesn’t need electricity
- Takes up lots of space
- Needs a lot of kit
- Not the most affordable option
THE VERDICT: What's The Best Travel Coffee Maker?
The overall winner of this roundup: the Aeropress coffee maker.
The Aeropress scores high for its versatility - you can use it to make strong, espresso-like coffee and a more mellow cup.
It has clearly been designed with portability in mind and is convenient to carry, use and clean. It is also an affordable and durable choice.
Best For Espresso
When it comes to espresso on the go, the Minipresso GR is your best bet. Although it is small, it packs a heavy punch: of all the espresso makers reviewed, it produces the most intense cup.
It’s also ultra-light and easy to use.
Best For Filter Coffee
For filter coffee, the Kalita Wave wins purely for the excellent quality of coffee it can produce. However, it is obviously not the most portable option. If you travel light, the Aeropress is also the best option for making filter coffee.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you make coffee while traveling?
How you make coffee while traveling depends on where, and how, you're going (and staying). If you're in a hotel and can't bear the thought of using a stale, prepackaged packet of beans of unknown origin, you can brew coffee as long as you have some way of heating water - even if it's the hotel room's coffee maker. If your room has a kitchenette with a stove, you have more options. If you're camping or backpacking, it's tough to go wrong with our top pick - Aeropress.
How do you make good coffee in a hotel room?
You can make good coffee in a hotel room in one of two ways. First, brew in the hotel room's coffee machine, but provide your own ground coffee and paper filters. (If you do, be sure to clean the coffee maker thoroughly, especially the filter basket, which is probably heavily layered with burned-on coffee residue. Nobody wants to drink that.)
Second, use the hotel coffee pot to heat water and then make coffee in your own travel brewer. This works with a travel coffee press or pour over brewer. Either way, you can find great coffee and brew it up in minutes. (Don't miss out on exploring local coffee options when you travel!)
How do you travel with coffee?
The best way to travel with coffee is to be prepared. Get yourself a small, portable coffee maker that does not require electricity. You will also need a coffee storage container, and a way to boil water. Depending on your coffee maker you may also need a filter.