According to the Buddha, it is better to travel well than to arrive. And it goes without saying that for coffeephiles, travelling well involves plenty of coffee.
Wherever your latest road trip or travel adventure takes you, you need to be sure of a regular caffeine fix along the way. And whilst you might want to make a quick coffee on the road, you definitely don’t want instant. Blurgh! Hence the need to seek out the best portable coffee makers …
Quick Look … Our Top 4 Travel Coffee Makers
Wild Hybrid Handpresso Portable Espresso Maker
Bialetti Moka Express Coffee Maker
GSI Outdoors Collapsible Silicone Java Drip Coffee Maker
Of course with the massive rise in independent cafes and multinational coffee chains it has got easier to grab a great coffee on the go in most places. And who doesn’t love to indulge occasionally in a dose of cafe culture?
However, there is absolutely nothing better than having the right kit to brew your own coffee. Why? Because it means complete freedom. Perfect coffee on tap in the middle of anywhere. Morning, noon or night. And often accompanied by the best views in the world. In addition, you will save yourself a small fortune.
Furthermore, brewing up with a travel coffee maker does not mean you have to compromise. Because, as luck would have it, the best portable coffee makers are capable of satisfying the cravings of the most demanding coffee aficionados. In fact, the travel coffee maker we use is light, fast, portable, needs no external power, and is rated by many as the best coffee maker in the world. Period.
So, fellow coffeephiles, we shall begin with our 4 favourite mobile coffee makers, then look at some alternatives and additions you might also consider.
Best Portable Coffee Maker?
The travel coffee maker we are using right now on our campervan road trips is the Aerobie Aeropress. The Aeropress is an innovative coffee making device that you will find repeatedly on almost every ‘best coffee maker’ list – at home or away. It is quite simply a unique and simple way of making truly excellent coffee.
However, we digress. The Aerobie Aeropress is a small, light and very portable coffee maker. The coffee maker itself is literally two polycarbonate tubes, one of which has a rubber seal and fits inside the other. It comes with a year’s supply of paper micro filters (depending on your consumption levels obviously), coffee scoop, coffee stirrer and micro filter holder. The whole caboodle packs up very neatly. All you need to supply is some finely ground espresso coffee, hot (not boiling) water, and standard-sized coffee mugs.
To brew, you simply: decide how many cups you want to make; open up the tubes to the appropriate length; scoop in the coffee; top up with hot water; stir; insert the filter into the cap; wait a very short while; invert the whole thing; and then press the coffee into the awaiting cups. Disposing of the grounds is quick and easy – you just unscrew the cap, and push them out into a bin. Because the grounds are compacted they pop out in one go, there is very little mess.
The packs of filer papers last for ages and are cheap to replace, but you could also consider buying the stainless steel re-usable filter. Many people think it improves the flavour, though we haven’t tried it yet.
So there you have it. Simple. Reliable. And low-tech. Result: absolutely first rate coffee in very little time. Every time.
The Aeropress itself weighs 178 g and together with the accessories weighs 362 g.
14 Reasons Why We Think Aeropress Is One Of The Best Portable Coffee Makers
- Makes good coffee every time
- Easy to use
- No mess – the grounds are easily dealt with
- Excellent single cup coffee maker – however can easily make coffee for 2 or 3 people at once
- Light and portable – Aeropress weighs 178 g, and together with accessories weighs 362 g
- Simple and low-tech – nothing to go wrong
- Cool functional design, well made
- You can buy the Aeropress with a Tote Storage Bag which makes it a superb travel coffee maker
- You do not need boiling water, so can make fab coffee with hot water from a flask
- Did we say it is ridiculously cheap? Less than the price of a handful of Starbucks’ take outs, it will pay for itself in about 3 days
- So good you will want to use it at home as well as on the go
- Perfect for the tiniest kitchens and studio apartments – which is why it is one of our 15 essentials for a small kitchen
- Perfect for a student wanting regular caffeine fixes on a tight budget
Aeropress – What’s Not To Like?
- Not the smallest travel coffee maker on the market
- Multiple pieces to keep track of (hence our recommendation to buy the one with the storage bag)
Best Travel Espresso Maker?
Although we have just praised the Aeropress at length – and love it to bits – for many there is no substitute for the hit of an espresso. And that brings us to our favourite portable espresso maker, the Handpresso from Wild Hybrid.
Now we have owned a Handpresso for years, and it was probably THE most used (and abused) gadget in our camper van kitchen until earlier this year when it finally refused to pump up to pressure any longer. So currently it is sitting at home waiting for new gaskets and some TLC to bring it back to life …
Meanwhile, where to begin with the Handpresso? This beautiful piece of kit is breathtaking in its superb design, and makes the most fabulous espresso coffee very easily. You simply pump it up to pressure with a bike-pump mechanism, insert an ESE coffee pod, top up with hot water, then hold the portable espresso machine over your cup and press the button to release the pressure and stream out the coffee. There is no mess at all, you are left with a coffee pod to dispose of and one cup of truly excellent espresso complete with crema. (NB you can also use standard ground coffee … slightly more mess but easier and cheaper to get hold of on the road).
You can get a 12v version to save the effort of pumping by hand, and if you had to make a full round of coffees then you might be very glad of that. But there is something very satisfying about the off-grid nature of the manually operated version and it means you can use it right out in the wilds.
The Handpresso weighs in at 486 g.
9 Reasons Why Handpresso Is The Best Portable Espresso Maker
- Makes an excellent espresso due to 16 bar pressure
- No external power required with hand-operated model so use it anywhere off-grid
- Beautifully designed, rugged and well made
- Completely mess-free when you use ESE pods
- The Outdoor Set gives you the complete travel coffee maker in one zip-up bag
- Simple and self-contained one-piece gadget
- Fantastic talking point – the kind of gadget your like-minded friends will immediately want to rush out and buy
- Probably the best single cup coffee maker on the market
- Also available in a 12v version which would be great for car or motorhome
Handpresso – What’s Not To Like?
- More expensive than alternatives – though in our opinion absolutely worth every penny and it will save you a fortune on cafe bills
- Great for 1 person, nice for 2, but the hand operated version gets a bit fatiguing if you have to make more, as has to be pumped up again for each cup
- Although not bulky, it’s heavier than the Aeropress (weighs 462 g)
Best Campervan Coffee Maker?
To be honest, I hadn’t considered a Bialetti Moka Express Coffee Maker for my motorhome, until I was chatting with a VW Campervan-owning friend. New to the campervan experience, she had instinctively packed her Bialetti, along with a low-tech stove top milk frother. So did you know, the Bialetti aluminium espresso maker is he best-selling in the world with over 300 million products sold? It is a design classic that’s exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. A perfect synthesis of design, function and quality. Suitable for all types of cookers (except induction), and perfect for blinging up your campervan. Along with the milk frother you can make a jolly-fine cappuccino.
6 Reasons Why the Bialetti is the Best Campervan Coffee Maker
- Makes really excellent coffee (of course)
- Looks totally cool – a design classic
- Robust and high quality
- Quick and easy to use
- You almost feel Italian
- Will last years
Bialetti – What’s Not To Like?
- Slightly more messy to dispose of grains than the other options reviewed here
- Not so portable – definitely for motorhome or campervan use rather than camping
Best Camping Coffee Maker?
If you have the room and weight capacity to spare, then either the Aeropress or the Handpresso are both excellent camping coffee makers. However, if you are cycle-touring, hiking, backpacking, or otherwise seriously challenged for space, then the most compact and transportable option is a collapsible coffee dripper. This type of camping coffee maker is about as small as it gets. It also happens to be the cheapest.
There are many on the market but we picked out the one from GSI because it has a lid and so is easier to pack after use, and slides easily into a rucsack. All you need to make fresh coffee with this portable filter cone are: hot water; ground coffee; paper filters (or a reusable stainless one) and a mug.
The GSI Coffee Filter is designed to hold a no. 4 filter, so you can make anything between 1 cup and 12 cups of coffee at camp – very versatile.
6 Reasons Why The GSI Collapsible Java Drip Is One Of The Best Camping Coffee Makers
- Cheap to buy, easy to use
- Lightweight (136 g)
- Great option for tent camping, touring and festivals
- Collapsible silicone design expands from just 1-inch high, 5.6-Inch diameter disc to a sturdy, full height drip cone
- Unique, fit-ring design centres the drip cone over a mug or wide mouth water bottles for stable spill-free brewing
- Snap-on lid keeps it clean and easy to pack
The GSI Collapsible Java Drip – What’s Not To Like?
- This method of brewing fresh coffee is a little bit slow
- A tad messy with loose coffee grounds to dispose of
Coffee On The Go: More Travel Coffee Maker Options
The small travel coffee maker market offers lots of choice … we picked the top 4 we have tried and tested above, but here are some more very well-reviewed options that might suit your taste/budget/circumstances better.
Minipresso Portable Espresso Maker
- The Minipresso is even more mess-free compared to Handpresso
- Compatible with Nespresso pods
- Compact, solid, hand-powered portable coffee machine for great espresso on the go
- Simple to fill and operate
- Built-in espresso cup and scoop – self-contained unit
- Holds up to 7g of coffee; Water capacity of 70ml ; 8 bar pressure
- Dimensions: 17.5cm x 7cm x 6 cm; Weight: 360 grams
Bodum Travel Press Set Coffee Maker
- The Bodum Travel Press is an inexpensive all-in-one coffee press in insulated cup
- Easily enjoy a single-serving of French press coffee or loose leaf tea on the go
- The silicone and mesh filter reduces sediment
- To use: simply add 3-4 tablespoons coarse ground coffee, preferred milk and sweetener, and hot water to the mug. Stir the contents and replace the lid with plunger up and go. After 4 minutes press down the plunger and enjoy.
- The stainless steel double wall design with a vacuum seal maintains the heat for hours while remaining cool to the touch.
- Portable and keeps coffee warm for ages
Presto MyJo Single Cup Coffee Maker
- The Presto MyJo is a convenient single cup coffee maker
- Compact design means you can take it anywhere – home, work, school, travel or camping
- Fill reservoir with hot water from a kettle or place filled reservoir in a microwave and heat
- Easy to use. Assemble the MyJo, place a K-Cup pack in base, or use the refillable MyJo cup, attach the water reservoir
- Place the assembled coffee maker on top of your favorite coffee mug or cup and pump water through to brew coffee
Coffee Gator All-in-One Coffeemaker
- The Coffee Gator lets you make, then take, hot, fresh coffee wherever you go.
- You just pop on the stainless steel mesh filter add ground coffee then pour over water to make hand drip coffee directly into your travel cup
- Keeps your coffee hotter for longer
- No need for paper filters
- Manual hand drip method unlocks the full spectrum of flavours and aromas
JetBoil Zip Cooking System With Lightweight Coffee Press
- The JetBoil is a combined gas stove and insulated cup. Great choice for campers and hikers. Also perfect for making coffee in the car as you can boil up water on the spot rather than rely on a flask or travel kettle
- 0.8 Liter FluxRing® cooking cup with insulating cozy
- Adjustable burner
- Match ignition
- Drink-through lid with pour spout & strainer
- Bottom cover doubles as a measuring cup and bowl
- Team up with the JetBoil Lightweight Coffee Press for fresh brewed coffee on the go
Travel Coffee Accessories
Portable Coffee Grinder
When we are not feeling too lazy, we use a portable burr coffee grinder with the Aeropress to make truly top-notch coffee. It is a really high quality coffee grinder which is small enough to be portable. Really lovely to use, it has a nice long lever to make grinding easy, and looks really cool and sleek. Would be good accessory with any of the coffee makers listed above except for the Handpresso (uses ESE pods).
- Forged steel grinding mechanism allowing for an exceptional grind from course to fine
- Maintains a consistent uniform grind from coarse to powder – degree of grinding is easily adjusted
- Rotary axis is double ball bearing for lighter grinding
- Hardened, high grade steel maintains optimum cutting edges – coffee beans are ground gently; aroma and nutrients remain
- Comes with cotton bag, perfect for travellers
Finally, it’s nice to be able to make a coffee then wander to the perfect spot to drink it. So an insulated travel mug would really allow you to get off the beaten track with your freshly home-brewed cup still piping hot. Again there are many available, but we love the style of the Contigo Travel Mugs, and they are consistently well reviewed. Look for the Contigo West Loop Autoseal:
- Available in lots of different colours
- Autoseal Technology. Press to sip. Release to seal
- Constructed with a double wall and stainless steel inside and out for maximum performance
- One handed operation for on-the-go drinking
- Spill and leaf proof
- Lid is top rack dishwasher safe
- Sleek design fits most car cup holders for travel
Coffee Scoop and Clip
The combined coffee scoop and clip is a genius little invention, and absolute perfect for your travel coffee kit. The scoop doubles up as a clip to seal up the coffee bag. Thus performing two functions in one neat little package. there are lots available, we love this beechwood version.
And Finally …
So, with the right kit to hand it is really easy and enjoyable to brew your own coffee wherever you are. Hopefully whatever your budget and space limitiations, we have helped you find the perfect portable coffee maker. Do let us know if you find a portable coffee making essential that we have overlooked.
Now go forth, and measure out your life with coffee spoons.