Over the last few years, we’ve worked towards learning how to make the best coffee we can at home. Because we travel so much, though, we often find ourselves needing a portable travel coffee maker. In this post, we share our ideas on how to find the best coffee maker for travel.
Why Buy A Coffee Maker For Travel
We spend a lot of time traveling around Italy and Spain, two countries with a rich coffee tradition. But, even the best espresso in the morning in Italy is often not enough to cut it for a coffee addict.
First, we work on the road. This means neither of us can function without our morning cup of joe. And, oftentimes, we don’t want to leave the hotel or the apartment rental to get our fix.
The Best Travel Coffee Maker For 2020
Most of our recommendations for the best coffee maker for travel can be purchased on Amazon. We like using Amazon for a few reasons. First, they have an amazing selection of coffee products and accessories all in one spot.
Second, we try to recommend products that are part of Amazon Prime, which provides purchasers with free and often super-fast delivery. (Get 30 days of Prime free here.) That said, we do also offer the opportunity to buy directly from the manufacturer.
We have included all of our full reviews below, but if you are short on time, feel free to use the table below to find what you are looking for.
How To Choose A Coffee Maker For Travel
In this post, it is hard for us to say that one portable coffee maker is the absolute, 100% best one. We’ve used a variety of travel coffee makers on the road. Some we’ve liked more than others. In the end, you will want to purchase the best travel coffee maker based on your style of travel.
Eric and I don’t need a camping coffee maker. Nor are we backpackers. For us, we generally end up staying somewhere that has access to hot, filtered water. We are never far from a supermarket for supplies.
For your travel needs, you might need something more. That’s why I will walk through various styles of travel coffee pots, presses, and devices, so you can choose which one is right for you.
Some of the options are portable filters, small one-cup coffee machines, handheld espresso makers, french presses, and more. We will cover them all! And, a travel coffee maker makes a great gift for the traveling coffee lover in your life.
Travel Coffee Machine Pro Tip
It’s great to have consistently good coffee on the road and it can help save money. It can also reduce plastic consumption from purchasing takeaway coffee with plastic lids. This is a big problem in many Asian countries. No matter how many times you try to say no plastic, there is often some hidden in your order. After all, every little bit helps.
Types Of Coffee Makers For Travel
There are a variety of ways to brew coffee on the go. Here are some of the most popular. And I am including some of the things to consider when deciding if that type of coffee maker is best for you. Later, we include recommendations and reviews for specific types of coffee makers for travel.
Pour-Over Coffee Makers
Our American friend living in Malaysia first introduced us to pour over coffee years ago. It’s one of the easiest options for a small travel coffee maker. It is also one of the cheapest.
We’ve traveled with a pour-over coffee maker. It requires hot water, filters, and a coffee cup. It also can be a little messy when you try to make it while super tired or jet-lagged. Trust me, Eric found that out the hard way.
During some of our trips to Asia, none of our apartment rentals had a coffee maker. Needing coffee to start the day, Eric and I found ourselves in a department store in Bangkok, once again looking for a pour-over. That means we now own several of these.
Espresso Travel Makers
To make espresso, hot water is forced through finely-ground coffee beans. Only a small amount of water is needed. There are options for a portable espresso maker, but they do tend to be more expensive than some of the other options.
Immersion Coffee Makers
In an immersion coffee maker, ground coffee is submerged in hot water. This is the type of coffee making process used by a French press or an Aeropress. This can also be pretty economical. Unfortunately, we’ve learned the hard way that this type of coffee maker can end up with coffee grinds or grit at bottom of the cup.
Stovetop Italian Coffee Makers
Stovetop coffee makers are easy to use, make great espresso-style coffee, and last for a really long time. It is common to find these nifty, traditional coffee makers in most kitchens in Italy. But because they are pretty compact they make great travel coffee makers when staying at a rental apartment or holiday home.
See our reviews of the Best Italian Stovetop Coffee Makers.
Other Travel Coffee Maker Accessories
So far this list includes what you need at the bare minimum to make coffee. Obviously, you need quality coffee beans. Some of these coffee makers require a paper filter. For die-hard coffee addicts, perhaps you want to travel with a manual coffee grinder to fresh grind your coffee or espresso beans.
Reviews Of The Best Coffee Makers For Travel
Here I share our recommendations for the best coffee makers for travelers while taking into consideration all of the issues above. Eric and I have experience with a variety of these types of travel coffee makers. In some cases, we’ve gotten feedback from other travelers on which products they prefer.
The AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker is one of the most popular portable coffee maker options. This type of coffee maker works when renting an apartment or house. It also works great when camping, backpacking, or in a hotel room. Many people even make coffee at home using an AeroPress too. It’s best for making one cup at a time, two tops.
The AeroPress is made from durable plastic so it is lightweight. It’s easy to use, only requiring a couple of steps to make a cup of coffee while traveling. It’s very easy to clean – just rinse off and move on. This version comes with a tote bag making it the best AeroPress coffee maker for travel.
How Does The AeroPress Work?
The AeroPress uses immersion brewing, sort of like an air press coffee maker. You can control how hot the water is, how long the grinds steep, and how much water you use for the amount of ground coffee. Unlike other immersion brewing methods, you can use fine paper filters in an AeroPress to eliminate the excess grinds that result from other immersion coffee makers.
As an alternative to paper filters, you can also find reusable metal filters too. This makes traveling with an AeroPress even easier. The only thing needed in addition to this kit is the coffee mug and paper filters.
Why We Link The AeroPress Coffee
- Brews one to three cups
- Brew time is one minute
- Includes travel bag, AeroPress
Learn more about how AeroPress Works here:
The Best Portable Coffee Press
There are a few options when it comes to coffee presses. Although people rave about AeroPress there are other options that might be better for people depending on their travel needs. These coffee makers work for folks who might normally use a class French Press, which is a little too big to travel with. Here are a few recommendations for some of the best travel coffee press products on the market.
The KOHIPRESS Portable French Press Coffee Maker uses a full immersion steeping process, just like an AeroPress, with a pressurized plunger press. This process produces a rich and delicious cup of coffee.
Even better for travel, the KOHIPRESS uses a fine stainless steel mesh filter. This means no need to travel with paper filters, something that Eric especially dislikes. Unlike the AeroPress, the KOHIPRESS makes coffee into an insulated mug. The mug does an amazing job of keeping drinks both hot and cold. This feature eliminates the need to find a coffee mug when traveling, making it a great option for camping and outdoor use. It’s easy to clean, just rinse and go.
The Best Portable Espresso Maker – Bialetti
The Bialetti Moka Express is the most classic Italian coffee maker out there and it has been since 1933. This is the travel coffee maker we most often carry with us when traveling for more than a month. It comes in many size options but we recommend nothing larger than the 3 cups for travel. This allows for easy storage in your luggage even if it means you have to brew coffee a second time.
It works on both gas and electric stoves and its unique octagon shape means heat distributes evenly. They are easy to clean, just rinse and dry. This is the best small travel coffee maker if you are staying in an apartment or holiday rental or hotel with a kitchenette. It’s our recommendation for one of the best manual travel espresso makers.
A word of caution. Moka Express doesn’t always work on an induction cooktop. Over the years we’ve rented Airbnbs equipped with induction cooktops. Unfortunately, the light weight of our Moka Express didn’t work on the induction cooktop. An induction cooktop needs a certain amount of weight for the unit to function. Our small, 3-cup model just won’t work. Much to Eric’s frustration.
Why We Like The Bialetti Moka Express
- Available in one cup, three cup, and larger
- Brew time is less than five minutes
- Easy to clean and travel with
- Doesn’t require filters, but does need a stovetop
The Best Pour Over Coffee Makers For Travel
This is usually Eric’s preferred method of making coffee when traveling, except when he’s not exactly awake. There are a few ways to make coffee portable by using some sort of pour over method. At its most basic, coffee is placed inside the coffee maker or a filter within the coffee maker.
Next, hot water is poured over and drips into a container or a coffee mug underneath. It reminds me of how the Vietnamese make coffee. It takes patience to wait for the coffee to drip and brew, but it can be worth it.
It really is one of the most simple ways to make coffee while traveling. If you ask Eric, while it is one of the more easy ways to make coffee, the results can vary based on water and coffee quality There are a variety of ways to do this, though. Here are a few of our recommendations.
The Kuissential SlickDrip is one of the easiest ways to travel and make coffee. This silicone pour over coffee filter collapses to be less than one inch thick. Because it is made of silicone, and not plastic, it doesn’t pass on the plastic taste to the coffee. It is easily cleaned and is dishwasher safe. You must purchase #2 or #4 paper coffee filters separately, but otherwise, it’s a breeze to use. It only makes one cup at a time. It only weighs 4.8 ounces.
The Coffee Gator On The Go Coffee Maker And Mug is a travel coffee brewer system. Just add the stainless steel mesh filter on top of the mug. Add ground coffee, and pour the hot water over the brewer. The coffee drips into the travel mug. The travel mug is also insulated so it keeps the coffee hot longer.
It also comes in a variety of colors including silver, orange, and even pink. This makes it a great coffee gift too! Our Top Pick For The Best Travel Coffee Maker because it is easy to use, compact, and doesn’t need paper filters. It keeps coffee hot too!
The Melitta Ready Set Joe Portable Coffee Maker And Mug is a little larger than the other options. It’s made by Melitta, one of the top coffee accessory producers. This takes the classic pour-over travel coffee filter and combines it with an insulated travel mug for an all-in-one system.
The Best Battery Operated Coffee Maker For Travel
This is yet another option for how to travel with coffee. Most of the options we’ve included in our list are relatively manual coffee makers. They are using either gravity or a little elbow grease to brew a pot. As I’ve mentioned, these are the types of coffee makers we travel with and prefer.
There are however electric coffee makers that work with battery power. These battery powered coffee makers are great not only for travel but for camping and other outdoor activities too because you don’t need electricity.
Cold Brew Coffee Maker – Portable Cold Brew
This is a portable coffee machine for the real die-hard cold brew coffee drinkers. Just fill the mesh filter, add water, and leave it to steep for 12 hours. It uses a built-in fine mesh filter so you don’t have grinds in your cup of coffee. And it does all of this while being entirely portable. It comes with a coffee on the go spill-proof mug. The insulated coffee mug keeps the coffee cold for hours.
- Brew time is 12 hours, which is a long time of course, but for coffee drinkers who love cold brew, it can be set at night and be waiting in the morning.
- Can add ice or milk directly to the carafe once ready
- Comes in black, silver, white, and copper colors
Things To Consider Before Purchasing A Mobile Coffee Maker
Traveling is stressful. Believe me. Eric and I have been on and off the road for over a decade and with so many moving parts, it takes it toll. That said, to make selecting a mobile coffee maker a little bit easier, there are a handful of things to consider when determining which is the best travel coffee maker for you.
First, consider brew time. We often aren’t in too much of a rush, so this isn’t much of an issue. But Eric loves his coffee first thing and doesn’t want to wait around. The coffee makers on this list can take as little as 30 seconds or as much as five minutes.
You are probably asking yourself, “well, what about the taste?” It’s been our experience with both a standard pour over coffee maker and a Moka Express, that taste comes down to the quality of the coffee you are using not brew time.
While Eric and I love our coffee, we are not about to break the bank when it comes to coffee we buy. When we arrive in a new destination, we visit the local supermarket to stock up on basics, including coffee. As a rule of thumb, we don’t buy the store brand of coffee. If you are traveling in Europe, look for coffee, look for Lavazza. They are one of the biggest coffee makers in Europe and provide a quality coffee for a reasonable price.
Think about the size of the coffee maker. Is a single cup enough? A single shot of espresso? Or, would you be lost (and asleep) without a full cup of coffee? That said, anything that makes a lot of coffee will also be bigger and harder to travel with.
As I mentioned before, we travel with a 3-cup Moka Express. We also use it at home for a little late morning pick me up. However, Eric and I like a big cup of coffee first thing in the morning. While it’s the perfect size to fit in our luggage, it doesn’t exactly provide us with the volume of coffee we are used to at home.
If you are in an Airbnb, house keeping isn’t coming every morning to clean up after you. It’s important to think about how easy these travel coffee makers are to clean up. Is it enough to just toss the used grinds, rinse everything off in water, and move on? Is it okay to place it in the dishwasher or is it hand wash only, like a stove-top coffee maker? All little things to consider. Our experiences says, the easier the better.
Does the coffee maker come with a case or bag to place everything in for ease? This is less of an issue when you are traveling versus hiking or camping. However, even in hotel rooms, it might be difficult to fully wash some of these models. It’s one of the reason why we prefer a pour over model. They are super easy to clean, dry, and pack.
Power Or Manual
The last thing is to consider whether the coffee maker is battery-powered, electric, manual, or stovetop. If it is electric, consider whether you need a travel coffee maker that is dual voltage for international travel.
Simply using a travel adapter isn’t sufficient here. Minimally, a converter is needed, but a dual voltage coffee maker is better. We love traveling with our stovetop coffee maker, but obviously, this only works when we are renting an apartment with a kitchen.
Honestly, this is why it might be necessary to have a few different options for travel coffee makers at home. Then, you can switch it up based on the trip you are taking.
Learn more about how to choose the best drinks and food for a road trip.
For campers or backpackers, it’s often a struggle to find the one thing that is required for quality coffee making on the road – hot water. This can bring its own difficulties.
For us, particularly when traveling in Europe or Asia, hot water is always readily available. This more often than not comes from a hot water kettle in the hotel room or apartment. Depending on where we are, we might just use tap water, but I try to use filtered water whenever possible.
Many hotels today have Keurig or pod-style machines. I know there is a way to make hot water this way, but it is really not all that practical. In this case, I often have no problem having hot water brought to the room or asking for it at the bar.
For travelers who don’t have regular access to hot water, think about buying a small travel kettle. The two best travel kettles are the Petmoko Portable Electric Kettle and Bonavita Bona Voyage 0.5-Liter Electric Travel Kettle.
Another option is to use a small immersion heater. These are essentially like a heat stick that you put into regular water to warm it. It uses less space than a travel kettle.
Looking for the perfect kettle for home? Check out our reviews of the Best Gooseneck Kettles.
FAQs – How To Make Coffee When Traveling
The best way to guarantee great coffee when on the road is to make it yourself. Yes, it requires planning ahead, but there are a lot of options for different types of coffee brewing systems perfect for the road. It’s also important to have good quality hot water to use in any coffee maker you take with you.
Some people have come up with creative ways to make coffee in a hotel room with a Keurig system, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The absolute easiest way is to use a pour over system. That way you only need to rely on using the hotel room’s kettle.