I’m no coffee addict. I don’t even drink coffee every day. But I do like to take my coffee traveling. I’ve done so a number of times and have discovered a few things that make journeying with coffee a bit simpler and easier. It can be a hassle to get everything ready if you don’t think about what you need beforehand, so I hope this article further prepares you for your next trip!
Up first, the checklist.
There are two things to consider with your water: the source and the heating. Is water available where you’re going? If not, grab some water bottles or fill up a larger container.
Secondly, what methods of heating with be available at your destination and on the way? A simple pan and stove is sufficient for heating water, but if you want to get a little fancier, Bonavita makes a very popular travel kettle’that I would recommend checking out. With either of these methods, wait a solid two minutes after boiling for the water to cool down to ideal brewing temperature.
Once you have your water and heat sources, move onto the coffee beans!
Here you have to make a choice: are you going to grind your beans while traveling or would you prefer pre-ground packages? A new startup called Perfect Coffee claims to have discovered the secret to keeping pre-ground coffee fresh for months and has received great feedback so far. I’ve tried their product myself, including ground coffee from Blue Bottle and Chromatic. A dedicated post on that is coming soon.
If you’re still interested in grinding your coffee fresh on the road (the method I recommend personally), then choose your beans and grinder! If you aren’t sure how to find excellent coffee beans, skim over my guide. I would say that the best travel grinder is undoubtedly the Hario Mini Mill. I’ve been a fan of this grinder for quite some time and take it everywhere when I travel. Read the complete review here! Of course you’re free to lug around a full-sized electric grinder if you’re too lazy for a hand grinder, but at a mere 11oz, the Mini Mill is a fantastic choice.
You’ve not got water, heat, beans, and a grinder ready to go. But how are you going to brew those beans?
For travel, I don’t recommend pour-over brew methods. Much of the time you need a special kettle to get the best results, increasing the number of items you need to take. You can take a french press, but getting the grounds out and cleaning them just isn’t all that convenient. My travel brew method of choice: the Aerobie Aeropress.
The Aeropress is a nifty brew method that takes up very little room, is extremely durable, and is easy to clean. Based on what I have seen, the Aeropress is the specialty coffee world’s favorite brew method for journeying away from home. You can take the Aeropress filters on your journey, they don’t take up much space at all, but investing in a reusable metal filter may be right up your alley. I highly recommend the Able Disk Fine if you would rather carry around a single metal filter rather than twenty paper ones.
Other Tips n Tricks
If your palette is a bit picky, feel free to bring along a small thermometer. They will hardly take up any space but can save your coffee from water too hot or cold for good brewing.
I typically weight out my desired amount of coffee beans (17g) before I leave and make a mental note of how full the hopper of the hand grinder appears, allowing me to repeat the process simply by sight. This keeps me from having to lug around my kitchen scale, but disables me from being very precise. If precision is a must, pocket scales are pretty inexpensive.
If the Aeropress just isn’t your thing, get out of specialty coffee. Just kidding. It’s understandable if you don’t prefer the Aeropress. No shame. The brew method I would choose next for travel would be the Clever Dripper. That device is very nifty and easy to manage. It takes up a bit more space, but is just as easy to clean.
Unfortunately I cannot speak highly of travel french presses. As much as I wish it wasn’t true, the coffee continues to slowly steep even after the grounds have been pressed to the bottom, producing an increasingly over-extracted cup over time. It’s not really my thing.
The Most Important Part
If there’s only one thing I could leave you with, it’s to have fun with your coffee brewing. It’s exciting to be precise and to know how to brew the best cup possible, but it’s not fun to be a snob about it. There’s no need to complain because you couldn’t take your finest equipment traveling. Enjoy it as it is, to the best of your ability.
Safe traveling, and happy brewing!