What do you need for a perfect to-go cup of coffee?

Vacation season is in full swing, and for coffee fans, it’s essential to stay caffeinated while traveling. While there are more than enough cafés and coffeehouses scattered across America to find a cup on the road, some coffee lovers prefer keeping their routines and saving a few bucks.

There are plenty of ways to produce a cup of coffee while traveling. All it takes is the right amount of preparation, equipment and knowledge. So whether you camp in the forest or stay at the Four Seasons, there’s a travel coffee solution that fits your needs.

What you need to make coffee while traveling

The first two things you’ll need are simply coffee and water. Once you have these primary ingredients, the rest depends on your travel situation. If you’re flying to an exciting destination, chances are you’ll have plenty of choices between hotel lobbies and local cafés. On the other hand, if you’re road-tripping, spending some time at a secluded Airbnb or camping on the side of a mountain, you might be better serving the coffee yourself.

Coffee and water

Stumptown Coffee Roasters Organic Bag Flavor Notes of Jam and Toffee

As far as coffee is concerned, you can buy whole beans or your favorite pre-ground blend, depending on your personal preference. For those who enjoy a hands-on approach, a simple manual coffee grinder is all you need to make those whole aromatic beans into a delicious cup. If you’re not so picky about your source of caffeine, instant coffee makes the entire task as quick as possible. Just don’t expect the same quality of flavor as the fresh stuff.

CRYSTAL GEYSER SINCE 1977 Purified Water 1 Gallon

If you’re going to be outdoors, sourcing clean water is another task altogether, so for the sake of your coffee and hydration, it may be a good idea to procure some purified water in a large volume. If you trust the tap water near your destination, you can fill a large jug with a built-in filter to make everything a bit easier and eco-friendly.

Heating element

Amazon Basics Portable Outdoor Folding Campfire Grill

Once you have your coffee and water set, the next thing you need is to make the water hot enough to brew and properly extract your coffee. If you’re planning on sleeping beside a campfire, a portable campfire grill top can convert your open flame into a DIY stove. Another good option is a gas-fueled portable stove that might be a better option than a wild campfire. If you’re going to be spending your coffee time indoors, on the other hand, a solid electric kettle will enable several brew methods like French press and pour-over.


GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Steel Percolator Coffee Pot

If you’ve decided to try your hand at “Cowboy coffee,” a simple stainless steel percolator pot will produce a robust brew over the open flame of a campfire. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t make yourself a nuanced single cup of pour-over coffee in the middle of the woods. Although it lacks the precision gooseneck spout, your percolator can double as a pour-over kettle. Just bring some filtered water to a boil, remove it from the campfire grill and let it cool by 1 or 2 degrees. If you have the room, you can pack an all-in-one dripper with a built-in metal mesh filter, or to save some space, try a travel pour-over stand and a reusable cloth filter.

AeroPress Go Portable Travel Coffee Press

For those travelers sleeping indoors, you can still make your own delicious coffee no matter where you stay. One of the most popular portable coffee makers is the AeroPress, an all-in-one brewer that’s part pour-over, part French press. If you have ground coffee and clean hot water, you can use an AeroPress anywhere. They include reusable filters, and some models even have a mug that doubles as a carrying case. 

Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker

Of course, there are ways to satisfy your daily craving for espresso or flavored coffee by packing a small, portable pod-based coffee maker like the Keurig K-Mini. If you have space to bring it and access to an electrical outlet, your only limitation is the variety of K-Cups you bring along. If you want to stick with the fresh coffee, Wacaco’s Minipresso GR is an innovative manual espresso maker that you have to use to believe. If you want to beat the heat, Takeya’s cold brew maker is portable and easy to use, as long as you have the space to pack and store. 


Enamel Camping Mug Set of 6

Your choices are nearly limitless depending on how you want to drink your vacation joe. This set of enamel camping mugs is perfect for the fireside morning brew, and the camping-themed graphics are not too kitschy, either. If you prefer something that looks a bit classier, ceramic travel mugs are attractive and valuable. Also, if you like your coffee light, sweet or flavored, make sure to pack some single-serve creamers in your favorite flavors.

Bodum Travel Press

There are plenty of other accessories and gadgets that can make your travel coffee experience easier. If you want to combine your manual coffee maker and travel mug, Bodum’s Travel Press and Zyliss HotMug are great for pulling double-duty. If you’re looking for a cleaner cup, Coffee Gator makes a travel pour-over mug that holds up to 20 ounces. Are you bringing along a Keurig Mini? There’s a travel case for that, as well. A cup of coffee isn’t complete without some milk foam. You can use a travel milk frother, although it won’t heat the milk as it foams. If you have access to electricity, use a portable steamer to enjoy a cappuccino in the comfort of your hotel room.

Whether you’re roughing it in the woods or relaxing in luxury, there are enough ways to enjoy your favorite cup of coffee, no matter your destination.


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Matt Fleming writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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