We’re all big on traveling here at Tools & Toys. We’re also big on quality coffee. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive, despite what many think. You just have to be willing to pack an extra bag.
Below is our buying guide for assembling an awesome travel coffee kit.
You could grind some coffee beans before your trip and hope they stay fresh throughout, but this would be the wrong move. Instead, grind them fresh with the Porlex JP-30 manual grinder (or its mini counterpart). It has a capacity for 30g of coffee (which will brew you about two cups’ worth of joe) and can also grind anywhere between espresso and French press.
Not only is the build quality of this grinder superb, but it can actually stow inside an AeroPress for easy stowage in your travel bag. You know it’s great for traveling when sailors recommend it for grinding coffee at sea.
What can we say about the AeroPress that hasn’t been said already? It’s portable, inexpensive, and makes a heckuva cup of coffee. It’s also versatile — you can use fine or coarse grinds with it, and brew it right-side-up or inverted for all sorts of combinations of different types of brews — and extremely easy to clean up. ‘Nuff said.
If you also want to put the Aeropress plunger’s open interior to good use while traveling, you can store coffee beans and paper filters in that space and keep it all sealed up with the Aeropress Travel Cap + Brewing Grip ($10) from Able Brewing Co.
We like brewing with the AeroPress using the “inverted” method, which we’ve detailed here. When brewing this way, it is possible to roughly measure coffee into the cylinder without weighing it on a scale first; for example, if the plunger is even with the “4” circle, fill the coffee to the “3” circle above it.
But, if you’re persnickety about getting it absolutely right, right down to the 0.1th gram, you can’t go wrong with the Fast Weigh pocket scale. It’s super compact and powered by a couple of AAA batteries. The included cover even doubles as a tray for holding beans while you’re weighing them.
You’ve gotta have something to brew into and drink from, right? Well, these handsome coffee mugs — designed for camping use and more than tough enough for our kit (don’t microwave them though) — are forged at a 100-year-old factory in Poland using World War II-era machinery, and are made from top-quality enamel-coated steel. The rim and the handle, which are the two spots that receive the most abuse, are reinforced with a double dipping of enamel.
- Once you’ve brewed coffee into one of these mugs, if you need to take it elsewhere or simply need it to stay hot for a long time, you can always pour it into a Zojirushi stainless steel mug. (Brewing directly into the Zojirushi from an AeroPress is a difficult proposition, or else it would’ve been our main mug pick.)
Let’s talk about the bulkiest item of our kit: a kettle. Now, you could try to source hot water from places you travel to — whether it’s from a hot water dispenser, heated up in a microwave, or even run through a cheapy hotel room coffee maker (we advist against this option because the water will taste terrible) — but we find that having a decent kettle on hand is worth the additional packing cost.
Our recommendation is the Proctor Silex 1-liter electric kettle. It can boil a few cups’ worth of water in about 5–7 minutes, so it works well if you’ve got a travel companion or two to brew for, or if you want to make some oatmeal alongside your coffee. The short power cable disconnects when it’s time to pour, which is nice.
Note: Keep in mind that, while the handle stays cool, the sides do get hot. Handle the kettle carefully.