The coffee traveler: Trailside / Road Warrior brewing kit.


Morning coffee payoff

As we all know, fresh and wonderful coffee makes any morning better, but there is a special appreciation for a fine cup in places where it would seem the most difficult to produce it.  A remote campsite in the wilderness, or a hotel room (with its powdered coffee packet, ugh!) both raise the appreciation level of being able to produce a “no compromise” coffee morning.  Below, we’re going to give you ideas of what we like, along with links to the Amazon listings for more detail.

All coffee brewing can be broken down into three components, heating water, grinding coffee, and brewing coffee. Our travel kit components are exactly the same for either mode of travel, except for the method of heating water.  Usually we keep all components on hand, because it’s easy to do, and you never know what the road/trail will present.

So, we’ll start with heating the water.  Your water should be just off-boil when you present it to your ground coffee, and how you get it there really doesn’t matter.  If you have a microwave in your hotel room, you’re set.  In a pinch, you could use the little mini-pot that a lot of rooms have just to produce hot water, but not to brew (however, I’m pretty sure the water coming out of those is not quite as hot as you would like).

In any case, if you have access to an electrical outlet, it pays to toss an immersion water heater in your pack, similar to the one below, for about $14.  You might want to consider buying two of these because if you ever plug one in without first putting the coil into water, it goes zzzzt!, and it’s gone forever.  And that’s your only rule in using one.  Otherwise just put it in your cup of water, plug it in and wait for your water to boil.


Trailside, your options for heating water are endless, and depend on your own camping style.  Our ultra-light backpacking days are behind us, so we just pack one of these little propane stoves in the car, for about $25.  It is a little bulky, but it sits on a table just fine, has a stable burner, and uses little propane bottles available about anywhere.  Even if you are hotel traveling, with one of these in your trunk you can pull off on a side road or park and brew some outstanding coffee whenever you want.


For grinding we use a small hand grinder, even if we have access to an outlet.  You can use a little electric blade grinder if you want to, but it’s a little heavy for a suitcase, and the hand grinder will always work whether you have electricity or not.  Here is the one that works for us – at about $23:


For brewing, we always include the tried and true “#4 pour-over cup” for under $7.  With these little jewels, you can make two cups of coffee at the same time, and whether you’re doing a two cup power-up for yourself, or making a cup for a friend, this is perhaps the best, cheapest way to make wonderful coffee that there is (for more on pour-over brewing  check over here).


Make sure you have some #4 filters, similar to these, at about $4 for a hundred.


The other brewing option that we like is the aeropress, which can give you an “espresso like” cup, and gives you complete control over steeping time.  At about $32.  This is a fantastic little coffee brewer and there are tons of You Tube videos and blogs on how to use one.


So, adding up the numbers we get a very respectable travel coffee kit for under $40 up to about $80 if you need to buy the stove, and want to go the aeropress route.

By the way, there’s nothing that says you can’t use these same set-ups at home.  Brewing with any of these kits will beat, hands down, any expensive, froufrou coffee appliance that you can buy.  And if your electricity ever goes out, your coffee kit will get you through until the lights come back on.

Happy trails!




“Brewing wonderful coffee isn’t that complicated, it just seems that many people want to make it so.”

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