If you love coffee like I do, you probably have been delighted but also been disappointed one too many times by what you have been served while traveling. After tolerating weak hotel room-grade coffee to super strong, tar-like Vietnamese coffee for far too long, I have decided that life is too short to drink a less than perfect cup of coffee first thing in the morning, every morning.
I have always loved the full-bodied coffee that comes from a French Press. It’s just not practical for travel purposes. If you feel the same way, I think you will appreciate my Travel Coffee Kit, made up of an AeroPress coffee maker, a reusable filter, a hand mill and my trusty and beautiful Snow Peak mug. I will also share with you my foolproof and simple AeroPress recipe. It truly is the best way to make great coffee while traveling.
Enjoy a bit of “home” and a daily ritual with this Travel Coffee Kit wherever you happen to find yourself in the world.
Why A Travel Coffee Kit is Necessary
There are several reasons why a proper Travel Coffee Kit is a must for travelers and nomads, in order to avoid the following scenarios:
Like many of you, I dread having to get ready to get out the door first thing in the morning (before I even have my coffee!) to hunt down coffee and breakfast, hoping that the coffee from a random café that happens to be nearby is to my liking.
I am a coffee lover at heart. I also like to keep things simple. An Americano or a French Press coffee makes me happy. I don’t do well with instant crystallized coffee, Keurig K-Cup (shudder), or super-strong Vietnamese coffee (#sorrynotsorry).
There is also the questionable cleanliness of the coffee machine and quality of coffee in your hotel room. Need I say more?
Instead, with a Travel Coffee Kit, you can enjoy the following benefits:
You love trying different coffee beans and visiting different cafes around the world. You can bring “home” fresh coffee beans and enjoy it first thing in the morning the next few days or the next stage of your travels. No more hunting for a good coffee first thing in the morning.
A Travel Coffee Kit ensures a consistent brewing method. If you love trying different coffee beans from around the world as you travel, you can compare coffee beans fairly knowing every cup has been brewed using the same equipment and method.
It’s a nice daily ritual that I can recreate at any time of the day.
When you are on the move a lot without the usual comforts of home, having a few pieces of simple and portable coffee-making equipment can make you feel like wherever you are IS home. That’s a nice feeling.
Travel Coffee Kit Recommendations
It is important that a great Travel Coffee Kit is compact, well designed and is durable for everyday use, especially while traveling. I am pleased that even after months of daily use, the Travel Coffee Kit that I have chosen has held up quite well in terms of quality and durability. If I have a less than perfect cup of coffee, I am quite certain that it is the coffee bean that is not to my taste, rather than me having to question the brewing method or equipment.
Aerobie AeroPress Coffee Maker
Simple to use and clean and easy to transport, the AeroPress uses a press method, similar to a French Press. Not surprisingly, the end result is a very appealing, full-bodied coffee experience similar to that of a French Press coffee.
Here are the many reasons why the AeroPress is the hero of this Travel Coffee Kit and why I love it:
- Makes a great tasting cup of coffee. If you love the taste of French Press coffee, you would love the taste of an AeroPress coffee.
- Easy to use and brew. Cleaning involves “popping” the resulting coffee grinds right into the trash or garden compost, followed by a quick rinse.
- Durable material. No breakable glass!
- Fast brew time. My foolproof AeroPress recipe takes about 90 seconds to brew a great tasting cup of coffee.
- Comes with its own travel bag that is large enough to fit EVERYTHING recommended in this kit.
- I am also able to fit a half pound of coffee beans in the bag. Talk about handy and space saving!
- Comes with a handy measuring spoon. One spoonful of beans equates to one cup of coffee.
- No need to travel with or use an electronic scale unlike other brewing methods such as pour-over or French press.
- Comes with a handy stirring paddle as well.
- Comes with a funnel to help guide the coffee grinds into the AeroPress with no wastage. BUT, if you use the recommended hand mill below, the funnel is actually not necessary, which means you have one less thing to carry!
If you love the taste of French Press coffee, you would love the taste of an AeroPress coffee.
Disk Coffee Filter
I don’t love the idea of single-use, disposable filters or using something that I need to replenish, which is highly inconvenient when traveling. After reviewing several options, I bit the bullet and opted for the Able Brewing Disk Fine Coffee Filter. It fits within the AeroPress filter cap perfectly and allows for the extraction of the oils within the coffee beans. I love the resulting full-bodied mouthfeel of the coffee that I make. It is also easy to clean and to transport. Best of all, no disposable paper filters to throw away or to buy!
Coffee Grinder / Hand Mill
I don’t buy ground coffee and since you’re reading this article, I’m certain you don’t as well, for obvious reasons (I mean, when was it ground to begin with?). There’s nothing that beats the aroma and taste of freshly ground coffee beans. When trying to minimize and simplify the Travel Coffee Kit, a conical burr hand mill rather than an electric burr grinder is a must.
One could certainly opt for the very reliable Hario Ceramic Mill Slim Plus and Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder for hand milling but I wanted to find one that fits the shaft of AeroPress perfectly and ended up with the JavaPress Manual Coffee Grinder for that reason.
After using it several months, I am quite happy with the result. You can adjust the coarseness of the grind with this mill. In fact, there are 18 different click settings to accommodate a variety of brewing methods. For AeroPress, however, I recommend a coarseness level until it matches that of coarse table salt. Just drop in a few beans at a time and test the coarseness settings until you get it right. Once you do, you can just leave it.
Snow Peak Mug and Lid
Love, love, love this mug. This stylish, made-in-Japan double-walled titanium mug is dependable, durable and fits the volume of one AeroPress perfectly. And with the lid, it makes for a travel-friendly option that fits well in the hand. Best of all, it fits within the AeroPress kit bag with everything else!
Kettle and Water
Both a kettle and water are not technically part of this kit but they are certainly integral for getting a great tasting coffee. Most of us have access to a kettle in our hotel accommodation or Airbnb apartment. It is certainly not necessary to travel the world with your own kettle with this brewing method.
Having clean, filtered water to brew great tasting coffee is a must, of course. Generally speaking, I wouldn’t use ordinary tap water but insist on clean, filtered water as the foundation for a great cup of coffee.
Everything Fits In One Bag
As you can see, everything in the kit fits within the bag that comes with the AeroPress. This was a deliberate, conscious decision to make everything fit in one bag, which makes for easy packing!
The hand mill fits into AeroPress. And in turn, the mug fits over the hand mill. Everything stacks together neatly and fit in the original travel bag that came with AeroPress. There is nothing extra to buy, other than great tasting coffee beans from around the world, of course.
Unlike using the pour over method, there is no need to travel with or replenish cone filters (disposable ones or a bulky reusable metal one) or carry a gooseneck kettle like this Bonavita model.
Side note: the kit bag usually fits a ½ pound of coffee beans as well even with all the equipment, which makes for convenient packing!
Foolproof AeroPress Recipe for Great Tasting Coffee
Being lightweight, portable and not breakable are all important attributes, but none is as important as delivering a great cup of coffee. This foolproof yet simple AeroPress recipe is easy to follow and to adjust, when necessary.
- Bring some clean, filtered water to boil in the kettle.
- Measure one spoonful of coffee beans and pour into hand mill.
- Grind the coffee beans until done. Your arm may get sore at first but the end result is worth it!
- Push the plunger into the shaft of the AeroPress but only just barely, just enough for the rubber portion of the plunger to be inserted into the shaft of the AeroPress. Turn it upside down.
- Pour the coffee grinds into the shaft of the AeroPress.
- Pour the hot water from the kettle into the shaft of the AeroPress. Start timer.
- At the 45 second mark, use the paddle to stir the coffee slurry (hot water and coffee) carefully. Don’t spill!
- Pour a little hot water over the filter to warm it up while it’s in the black filter cap. Securely screw the black cap onto the shaft of the AeroPress.
- At the 80 second mark, gently and carefully overturn the AeroPress and place it over the mug.
- At the 90 second mark, slowly plunge the AeroPress, pressing the coffee against the filter into the mug. Be patient and plunge at a steady speed. If you do it too forcefully, you might force the coffee to come out from the sides, rather than through the filter.
- When done, pat yourself on the back for a job well done and savor your first sips.
- Clean up is easy. Unscrew the black filter cap and press the plunger further to pop out the coffee grinds into a trash can or garden compost and rinse. Voila!
The overall brew time is 90 seconds for most coffee beans I enjoy, which are generally medium roast. Depending on the specific bean and roaster, sometimes I may adjust the brew time for a stronger or lighter brew. Simply adjust the brew time to fit your taste.
That’s it! Enjoy a bit of “home” and a daily ritual with this Travel Coffee Kit wherever you happen to find yourself in the world.