Travel Coffee Makers: Best Portable Coffee Makers [For Nomads]
- The Importance Of Choosing The Right Travel Coffee Maker For Your Needs
- What Else You'll Need To Brew On The Go
- 9 Of The Best Portable Coffee Makers Of 2019
- THE VERDICT: What's The Best Travel Coffee Maker?
Because there are 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 For Your Needs
To make sure you’re getting a coffee maker that suits your needs, you should ask yourself a few questions first. Be honest.
If you're not looking for a list of coffee maker, but you just want to know how to make coffee while camping, go here.
What Type Of Coffee Do I Prefer?
If you were stranded on an island and could only choose one type of coffee to have for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
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 travellers, especially among frequent flyers.
Even the most hardcore coffee lovers will probably want to prioritise a change of clothes over a full set of 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 traveller, or will you be making coffee on a campsite under the open skies? Some coffee makers require electricity, while others don’t.
What Else Will I Need?
How many accessories are required to produce a satisfying cup of coffee using your brewing method of choice?
Coffee filters, grinders, measurement cups and the like do add up in weight and cost.
Do you want to opt for something simpler or do everything like you would at home?
What Else You'll Need To Brew On The Go
By now, we’ve established that there is a large variety of portable coffee makers on the market.
Depending on the type, you’ll also need some other equipment.
Whatever your coffee maker of choice may be, you’ll at least need three very basic things. Let’s consider them:
Many coffee drinkers prefer grinding their beans freshly 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 travelling.
Of course, pre-ground beans can also be a practical option. However, it is important to make sure you’re storing them properly.
In a good container, grounds can last for at least a couple of weeks before going stale.
Although most portable 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 always 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 for any traveller’s coffee kit.
9 Of The Best Portable 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.
|The Aeropress||CHECK PRICE →|
|Minipresso GR Hand Espresso Machine||CHECK PRICE →|
|Uniterra Nomad Portable Espresso Maker||CHECK PRICE →|
|Presto Single Cup Coffee Maker||CHECK PRICE →|
|Handpresso Wild Hybrid||CHECK PRICE →|
|Bodum Travel Press||CHECK PRICE →|
|Primula Single Serve Coffee Buddy||CHECK PRICE →|
|GSI Collapsible Java Drip||CHECK PRICE →|
|Kalita Wave Pour Over Dripper||CHECK PRICE →|
#1 - The Aeropress
After its creation in 2005, the Aeropress has become one of the most popular brewing tools. What’s especially great is that it’s well suited for using both at home and when travelling.
The Aeropress is very versatile. It’s usually very fast, only 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.
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: 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 easily be lost and be difficult to buy separately)
- Requires special filters
The Minipresso GR Espresso maker is a small device designed to produce one shot of espresso at a time.
Despite its size, the Minipresso GR is capable of pumping hot water to a pressure of 8 bars, the same as many full-size espresso 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.
The MiniPresso requires no external power, and is simply operated by hand.
It may well be the most compact espresso machine 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.
The Nomad 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, same as any full-size espresso machine.
As a special feature, the Nomad has an in-built “True Crema Valve” or TCV. The TCV 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 on the go.
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 espresso 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 single cup is basically the little brother of larger Keurigs.
The coffee maker is designed for people who use single cup machines like Keurig at home, while being more portable and affordable.
It’s designed to be used with K-Cup single serve coffee packs. 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 grounds
#5 - The Handpresso
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 packs.
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 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.
The coffee maker 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.
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.
The only downsides are that it’s hard to avoid getting some grounds floating in your coffee, and it can turn bitter if not drank soon after brewing.
- Lets you make a smooth cup of French press coffee
- Easy enough to clean
- Keeps coffee warm for a few hours
- The plunger stop grounds from getting in your mouth
- If not drank soon, coffee can over-extract and turn bitter
- Lid is not leak-free
The Primula single serve coffee buddy is yet another easy way to brew coffee on the go. Just fill the mesh basket with your favourite 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 flavour, 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 rivalled by the Primula in terms of lightness.
Weighing less than 5 ounces, the GSI Java drip a good option for backpackers or air travellers with limited space.
Made from silicone, it’s also very affordable.
It’s easy to brew with the GSI Java drip: just fill the filter with coffee, place over a 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 flavour. Similar to the Primula, it’s a cheap and cheerful option, but does lose out in flavour to competitors like the Aeropress. 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
This is an option for when space isn’t an issue.
With the Kalita, you don’t need electricity, but you do need quite a lot of kit: filters and a gooseneck kettle at the very least.
At the price of dragging this equipment around, you can make delicious coffee wherever you are.
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. Read our full review of the Kalita Wave here.
What else you’ll need: Filters (standard filters work fine) and a normal kettle (you don’t NEED a pour over kettle for the wave)
- The Wave filter is one of the best pour-overs ever invented Element
- 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 is the Aeropress.
It scores high for its versatility - you can use it to make both 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.
The Aeropress is also an affordable and durable choice.
Best For Espresso
When it comes to espresso makers, 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.
For most travelers, the Aeropress is also the best option for making filter coffee.
If you are looking for a coffee maker for your RV, check this complete review.