If you’re a frequent traveler, you know the struggle of finding the perfect cup of coffee while you’re away from home. Hotel coffee can be pretty lackluster, often no more than brown, coffee-flavored water (so gross), and if you’re camping, well… There may be a Starbucks Coffee on almost every corner, but they’re not quite so common in remote locations…like the forest.
But just because you’re away from your usual coffee brewing kit doesn’t mean you have to deal with the absence of coffee. There’s a wide range of coffee makers for travel on the market, and we’re here to save the day by helping you find the best one for your life and travel style. No matter what type of coffee you’re after, from a simple cup of drip to a real espresso shot, there’s something for everyone, all bundled up in a travel-friendly package.
At A Glance: Our Top 5 Picks For Portable Coffee Maker
Quick Summary: The Best Portable Coffee Maker
|AEROPRESS COFFEE MAKER||Check on Amazon →|
|COFFEE GATOR POUR-OVER COFFEE MAKER||Check on Amazon →|
|COFFEE GATOR POUR-OVER COFFEE MUG||Check on Amazon →|
|STARESSO PORTABLE ESPRESSO MAKER||Check on Amazon →|
|KOHIPRESS PORTABLE FRENCH PRESS COFFEE MAKER||Check on Amazon →|
|BODUM TRAVEL TEA AND COFFEE PRESS||Check on Amazon →|
|WACACO MINIPRESSO GR||Check on Amazon →|
|BIALETTI MOKA EXPRESS||Check on Amazon →|
|PRESTO MYJO SINGLE CUP COFFEE MAKER||Check on Amazon →|
|PRIMULA COFFEE BREW BUDDY||Check on Amazon →|
Roasty Rankings: The Best Portable Coffee Makers
This buying guide has all the information a traveling coffee connoisseur needs to make a cup of coffee on the go. Check out all our favorites; we’re sure there’s a type of coffee maker here you’ll like.
AeroPress Coffee Maker
If you’re only going to read one suggestion on this list, it may as well be this one. It ticks a lot of boxes for the traveling coffee lover. Relatively compact and typically sold with a useful travel case, this nifty tool works well both in the home and on the road. Overall, it measures 4.8 by 4.5 by 11.8 inches, and it only weighs 6.4 ounces.
It makes great, clean-tasting coffee and espresso. After just one or two uses, the methods are easy to pick up, and clean-up is super easy. Plus, it’s a pretty affordable coffee maker, though you do have to make sure you purchase enough paper filters to last your entire trip or just purchase a reusable metal one.
Coffee Gator Pour-Over Coffee Maker
Use Coffee Gator’s pour-over coffee maker to channel your inner barista as you make your cups of coffee on the go. The coffee dripper is made from durable, heat-resistant, 100 percent BPA-free glass and has an insulated collar that keeps your hand cool though the coffee is hot.
There’s no need to pack paper filters in your luggage with one of these travel-size coffee makers, either; it’s equipped with a stainless steel reusable filter. Because there isn’t a paper filter stealing any of your java’s natural, flavor-filled oils, the contents of your coffee cup will be cleaner and smoother — and it’s better for the environment, too!
Coffee Gator Pour-Over Coffee Mug
And since we’re recommending portable options from Coffee Gator, we’ve got to introduce you to the brand’s pour-over coffee mug, too. Coffee drinkers who stay on the go, constantly heading off on camping trips or expeditions in dreamy cities, will appreciate the functionality of this travel mug. You brew and sip from the same container — the only other tools you’ll need are a kettle and something to heat your water.
To use the pour-over coffee mug, add a few scoops of your favorite coffee grounds into the stainless steel filter before slowly pouring hot water over the joe. Once the dripper has produced your coffee, remove the filter, grab your drink, and hit the road. Whether it stays in your hand during a long hike or is nestled in the cup holder while you head to your next destination, you can trust that the mug’s vacuum-layered stainless steel will keep your coffee hot for hours.
STARESSO Portable Espresso Maker
Just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean you have to give up your espresso habit! And no, we’re not suggesting you attempt to smuggle your Breville espresso machine into your carry-on. STARESSO’s portable espresso machine is a more practical option for brewing those fine coffee grinds into a decent shot of espresso while you’re away from home. And the best part is, the espresso-style coffee maker won’t take up too much room in your bag.
This portable espresso maker is compatible with both Nespresso pods and ground coffee. Thanks to the manual brewer’s patented pumping system (which uses between 15 and 20 bars of pressure), the fresh coffee it produces will have the thick layer of crema you expect to see atop cups of espresso. Cleaning this little brewer is simple, too; just give each of its parts a quick rinse with clean water, and you’re all set!
Kohipress Portable French Press Coffee Maker
One of our favorite things about a good French press is that you can use it to brew your coffee hot or cold, so if you’re among the ranks of coffee enthusiasts whose temperature preferences frequently change, keeping one of these bad boys on hand at all times isn’t a bad idea.
Kohipress’s portable French press is a pretty compact coffee maker, able to easily be tucked into a purse, backpack, or carry-on luggage without taking up too much room. The convenient little brewer uses vacuum insulation to keep your drink, whether hot or cold, at the perfect coffee temperature for hours. And, thanks to the flip-top drink spout atop the French press, you can sip a few ounces of coffee from the same tumbler in which it was brewed.
Bodum Travel Tea and Coffee Press
If you like the taste and mouthfeel of French press coffee but need the size and convenience of an Aeropress, the Bodum Travel Press is for you! The quality coffee maker boasts a reasonably compact design, measuring at 3.5 by 3.5 by 9.1 inches and weighing 14.4 ounces. Plus, it’s made with double-walled, insulated stainless steel, so you can trust that this brewer will keep your coffee warm and be durable enough to last a long time.
This travel press is a great option if you’re a coffee connoisseur who tends to drink your coffee pretty quickly. However, if you’re a slow sipper, this may not work for you, as the grounds can get over-extracted in the cup. And the lid can be a little leaky, so you probably shouldn’t stick this little coffee machine in your bag unless it’s empty.
Wacaco Minipresso GR
Can’t go without getting your morning shot of espresso? Try the MiniPresso GR from Wacaco. This hand-operated coffee brewing machine makes one shot at a time with eight bars of pressure, and with dimensions of 6.89 by 2.75 by 2.36 inches and a weight that’s less than a pound, the sleek machine is light and compact enough to fit in your bag without taking up too much space.
The Minipresso one of the best true espresso options for the on-the-go coffee fanatic. It even has different water tank capacities, so you can go from ristretto to lungo without a hitch! Unfortunately, this machine isn’t great for rough treks or super heavy use, so we recommend handling it with care and going easy on the tamping.
Bialetti Moka Express
If you need something that can handle a little wear and tear but still give you hot coffee that’s as rich and intense as a shot of espresso, go for a Moka pot. They make excellent travel coffee machines, as long as you can keep an eye on them.
This brewer needs direct heat or a stovetop to work, so it’s a great camping coffee maker as long as you have a grill or hot plate handy. This brewing method is pretty simple to master (check out our guide to Moka pot brewing here for tips and tricks), and clean-up is equally simple: just rinse all of the pot’s parts with clean water.
Though available in larger sizes to hold a more considerable volume of joe, this particular Moka pot from Bialetti is pretty tiny — just a bit bigger than Wacaco’s MiniPresso — and can only make about three double shots of joe at a time. If you need more than that, you’ll either have to purchase something bigger or let the pot cool down before brewing a second batch of the strong, espresso-like coffee.
Presto MyJo Single Cup Coffee Maker
What do you do if you’ve got a Keurig coffee brewer at home and you don’t want to buy a bag of whole or pre-ground coffee beans to take traveling with you? Why, you check out the Presto MyJo coffee maker, of course! Because it’s designed for use with K-Cups, this is a great and practical option for someone whose coffee supply is already entirely composed of coffee pods.
Die-hard coffee pod lovers will love this brewer’s compact design and affordable price tag but remember: it only brews one cup of coffee. That makes the amazing single-serve coffee maker super convenient if you’re traveling alone. But if you’ll be brewing for more than one person on your trip, you may be better off exploring other types of coffee makers, specifically those with greater brewing capacities.
Primula Coffee Brew Buddy
Next up is the Primula Coffee Brew Buddy. This single-serve bad boy has a 30-second brewing time, and with a diameter of a little more than four inches and weighing a little more than an ounce, it’s the smallest and lightest method of brewing on our list. You could even stash it in your back pocket if you wanted to! It’s not necessarily the most stylish option, but it’ll filter coffee for you just about whenever or wherever you need it.
Just set the Buddy on top of your mug, scoop your coffee grinds into the reusable mesh filter, and pour hot water over them. Let it steep until you’ve reached your desired coffee strength, then remove the Buddy and enjoy! If you thought the brewing process was simple, wait until it’s time to clean up; all you have to do is properly dispose of the grounds, then clean it — You can rinse it, but it’s dishwasher-friendly, too.
Ball Wide Mouth Mason Jar
Stay with us here. We know a mason jar isn’t exactly a common find on a list of best coffee makers, but it’s the perfect tool if you’re a fan of cold brew coffee. There are a couple of other styles of coffee makers on this list that can give you cold brew. However, this 64-ounce jar may be the best choice for the cold brew coffee purist.
A simple mason jar is great if you just want to brew a whole batch of the cold coffee to leave in the hotel fridge for the duration of your stay, and depending on your java needs and the amount of space you’ll have, you can grab just about any size jar that works. They all tend to be reasonably sturdy, inexpensive, easy to clean, and simple to use — just steep your ground coffee beans in cold water for 12 to 24 hours as you usually would then use a cheesecloth to strain out the grinds.
What to Look For
Both frequent flyers and road trip experts alike need their travel coffee makers to be as portable as possible, so when you’re shopping for a coffee maker to take with you on a trip, you must pay attention to both the product’s dimensions and weight.
Many people are quick to assume that a compact coffee maker is lightweight by default, but that’s not always the case. If the only time you’ll be carrying your tool is in the airport, you can get away with something a little heftier. However, if you are hiking and camping and need something that will stay in your pack, look for brewers made of something light, like durable silicone, and don’t require additional accessories.
Can you take a coffee maker in a carry-on?
If you’ll be jetting through the clear blue sky and don’t plan on checking a bag, you’ll be happy to know that you can pack a coffee or espresso maker in your carry-on, according to TSA guidelines. Just be mindful of the material the portable coffee maker is made of when you pack. if it’s delicate, you may want to pad it with something soft — like a sweater, scarf, a couple of t-shirts, or clean socks — to protect it from shatters or scratches if there’s turbulence.
Even if you won’t be flying, durability is still a significant factor for a portable coffee maker. Even if you know you’ll be gentle with your belongings, the bumps of the road might not be. If you can, avoid delicate glass contraptions and opt for something with plastic, silicone, or metal components.
If you typically travel alone or in a pair, having something that can only brew one or two cups of coffee at a time isn’t a big deal. On the other hand, if you tend to travel in herds, you either need to tell everyone to bring their own brewer, get something that brews pretty much a whole pot of coffee at once, or get a tool that can brew cups back-to-back. Plan ahead, or you might end up with a group of cranky, caffeine-craving campers.
Things to Consider
How are you heating?
A hotel hopper and a Jack Kerouac-wannabe will have completely different amenities and power sources available. So, one of the first things you’ll need to consider before buying a portable coffee maker is how you’re going to get that hot but not boiling water.
If you are in a hotel, you may have access to anything from a microwave to a stovetop, and even if neither of those things is provided, you can still bring your own electric kettle. If you’re in a car, you may be primarily relying on gas station hot water spouts, and if you’re a hiker or camper, a fire or a hot plate may be all you have on hand.
Where are you headed?
Your destination goes hand-in-hand with the heating consideration, as some options are better for some environments than others. Here are our recommendations:
For the Wilderness Chaser
If your travels mainly involve the great outdoors, you will probably need a camping coffee maker that’s simple, small, and durable. For that, we recommend checking out the Primula Coffee Brew Buddy.
To learn more about this particular subset of travel, check out our article on brewing coffee while camping here.
For the Hotel Regular
If your brewing kit is mostly going to hang out in a hotel room or Airbnb kitchen, both the Ball Wide Mouth Mason Jar and Coffee Gator Pour-Over coffee maker both make excellent choices for making a few ounces of coffee while you’re on the go.
How do you make good coffee in a hotel room?
If you’ll be staying in a hotel, you may be tempted to use the coffee maker that’s already in the room. If you do that, just be sure to clean it thoroughly first, and then run water through it before brewing actual coffee.
Those little hotel brewers will give you something decent enough to get you through the day, but if you want to be sure you’re enjoying truly excellent coffee while you’re away from home, your best bet is to bring a brewer and bag of beans of your own.
For the Road-Tripper
For those who spend most of their time hopping in and out of cars and gas stations, you’ll need something that fits snugly in your cupholder, so we recommend you reach for the Wacaco Minipresso GR or Bodum Travel Press.
Many of our recommended portable coffee makers work well in various travel situations, including the Presto MyJo and the Bialetti Moka Express.
Our top pick overall, the AeroPress coffee maker, also fits into this category. The travel case plus the durable, lightweight materials make this a dream to tote around or just leave at home. So if you’re looking for something that can do it all, whether you’re traveling or not, this is the tool for you.
What is your budget?
While most portable coffee makers are relatively affordable, we have included a pretty broad range of prices within that bracket. Ranging from less than 10 to nearly 50 dollars, it’s unlikely that you won’t be able to find something that you can fit into your budget.
However, you should keep in mind that there may be some additional costs to your tool of choice. Some require special filters, and you may also need specific coffee or a portable grinder. Make sure to account for these costs as well when you are budgeting for your new travel companion.
How will you clean the travel coffee brewer?
Last but certainly not least, when choosing a portable coffee maker, you’ll need to consider ease of cleaning and maintenance. Luckily, most of the brewers on our list can be cleaned by rinsing with clean water, but you’ll also need to consider coffee ground disposal, too.
Will there be running water or a dishwasher available, or will you need to bring an extra water bottle just for brewer cleaning? Can you simply toss the used grinds into a trash can, or will you need to bring a separate container to store them until you get back to civilization and can dispose of them properly?
Make the Most of Your Travel Brewer
Things to Do Before You Go
Before you go traveling with your new brewer, there are a few things you should take care of. First, you must learn how to use your coffee maker before you hit the road. Seriously. This is essential, even if you think the tool is super straightforward. It might take a few tries to get used to your new AeroPress, for example, or you may realize you would prefer a different pour-over. Something may even be defective, and trust us, that’s information you’ll need to know about before you’re dealing with travel stress.
Additionally, you need to decide whether you are pre-grinding, bringing a grinder, packing some pods, or buying coffee on the road. If you are pre-grinding beans before you leave, make sure you bring enough and that you have the grounds in an airtight container. For purists who only grind as they brew, you’ll have to make sure to research durable, portable coffee grinders to take with your properly sealed beans.
If you are using a portable pod brewer, make sure to bring enough pods for the whole trip unless you are positive you can get more along the way. We also recommend storing them in a rigid container, so they don’t get crushed or ripped.
If you will be brewing on the go, you need to make sure you have your expectations straight. While plenty of the suggestions here can brew some pretty top-notch coffee, you probably aren’t going to be able to fancy things up very much. So, if you exclusively drink lattes and other specialty drinks that require more than some sugar and milk, you might be better off swinging by a few coffee shops.
However, keep in mind that brewing your own coffee while traveling tends to save you some money. So, if frugality is your goal, try investing in one of the tools mentioned here for a more modest caffeine fix.
While You Are There…
As far as what to do while you’re traveling, our biggest tip is to avoid skipping out on cleaning. While it may seem like an annoyance to thoroughly rinse and dry your coffee maker after use, it’s worth it. Keeping your brewer clean will help the tool last longer while ensuring that you don’t get coffee stains all over the rest of your stuff.
Our overall recommendation would be the AeroPress because it can function in your home and in a variety of travel situations. Additionally, it can handle both espresso-like shots and more “traditional,” American-style brews.
Our favorite pick for those of you on an extra-tight budget is the Primula Brew Buddy because it’s just super easy and simple. Plus, even though it’s truly the perfect tool for camping, it’ll work no matter where you are.
And there you have it! Whether you are hitting the road or tearing through the sky, this list should help you find a way to make sure your coffee is right alongside you; just don’t forget to share it with a fellow traveler in need of perfect coffee on the go.