For those with a minor coffee addiction, traveling can be a challenging time. Far from your home espresso machine or little cafe down the street with perfect lattes, the packets of instant in your hotel room just aren't going to cut it.
Luckily you don't need to try to fit your favorite barista in your carry-on to get something worth drinking on the road. Here are five travel-friendly coffee solutions to ensure you remain well-caffeinated no matter where your wanderings may take you.
You'll need some ground coffee to use most of these devices – either buy it like that, or pack a small grinder if you'd prefer to do it yourself. Also, be sure to purify the tap water first if you have any concerns about its quality.
One of the most well-known portable coffee makers is the AeroPress, a plastic chamber that uses air pressure to force coffee and water through a filter and into any reasonable-sized mug you have to hand. Put the water and coffee grinds in the cylinder, stir gently for ten seconds and then insert and gently press the plunger down for another 20-30 seconds.
It's a simple process that creates 1-4 cups of surprisingly-good coffee at a time, and is easily to clean. As with most travel coffee solutions, you'll need a filter – the Aeropress comes with a year's supply of paper filters, but you could also carry a reusable metal version instead.
Handpresso Wild Hybrid
The Handpresso is an interesting option, using a bicycle pump approach to generate 16 bar of pressure for an espresso-style coffee. As well as ground coffee, you can also use the company's “E.S.E” pods – especially useful for shorter trips, although do confirm you'll be able to take them on the plane with you.
It's more expensive than the other coffee makers listed here, but with a bit of practice the Handpresso lets you make probably the closest thing you'll get to a real espresso in your hotel room.
For a super-simple approach, consider the Coffee Sock. Resembling a small net (or, perhaps a sock), you just tip in the ground coffee, put the sock inside your mug and pour in the hot water. Wait 3-4 minutes, remove the sock and you've got a pretty decent cup of coffee. It's cheap and simple, but does require a bit of effort to rinse out and dry properly between uses.
GSI Outdoors Collapsible Java Drip
If you're traveling with friends or just need a lot of caffeine to get you started in the morning, the Collapsible Java Drip lets you create between one and 12 cups of coffee at once. It takes a basic drip approach, using standard filters (paper or otherwise) and ground coffee. Just sit the Java Drip over top of whatever vessels you have to hand and wait a few minutes while gravity does its thing.
Handily for travelers, the reservoir collapses flat when not in use so it takes up very little space, and the silicone is easy to clean.
Vietnamese Coffee Maker
One of the cheapest and easiest approaches is to carry a Vietnamese-style coffee maker with you. Basically a single-cup drip coffee machine, these tend to create a strong, smooth coffee – although they'll take a little while to do it. They take up almost no space or weight in a suitcase and don't need separate filters, but are a bit fiddly to clean between uses.
Look for stainless steel versions, as they'll withstand the inevitable knocks much better than softer aluminum models.