In recent years, the tides have turned on so many aspects of the hotel experience. Hotel bars and restaurants can be unforgettable experiences, the humble hotel spa is now a destination in and of itself, and rooms and suites win design awards at properties around the world. But for one reason or another, the in-room coffee bar often still leaves much to be desired. Best-case scenario? A Nespresso machine. Worst case? We won’t even go there.
“As a fellow coffee fiend, I know the struggle of bad hotel coffee all too well,” says Nadine Gehrmann, coffee blogger and owner of a fair-trade coffee shop in Germany. “My top tip is to get yourself a portable coffee maker and to prioritize easy cleaning because nobody wants to deal with dirty equipment on the go.”
If you’re done with trying to choke down bad coffee on the road, we’ve got you covered. These coffee makers lead the pack when it comes to convenience, quality and durability. A portable and travel-friendly coffee maker is easy to pack in a carry-on bag, requiring access to just hot water, coffee and sometimes a filter, which means you’ll never be without your decent morning joe.
The AeroPress Original Coffee and Espresso Maker is going to be your best bet if you want something lightweight, reliable and easy to use while on the go. “I highly recommend the Aeropress due to its compact size and easy cleanup,” Gehrmann says. “It not only produces a delicious cup of coffee that can rival any coffee shop, but when combined with a handheld grinder, you can have freshly ground coffee wherever you are.”
In our testing, we loved the device for its extremely easy-to-use nature. It's also easy to clean in between uses, which is perfect for travelers who want to keep their coffee gear ready for a cuppa at any point in the day. However, we found it produces a final product more akin to a filter coffee than a true espresso.
If you're looking for a rich espresso, look no further than our pick for the best portable espresso maker, the Staresso Pro. In our testing, this device gave us the best results of any of the portable options we tried out. It's small in stature, as it comes in three parts and requires some assembly, perfect for sticking in your carry-on bag or backpack for any trip. Note that it takes some time to generate the pressure needed, but you'll be rewarded with a quality espresso at the end, and what's better than that?
The all-plastic Takeya Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker earned our top pick as the best cold brew and iced coffee maker to take on the road. The convenient machine can turn out an impressive 1.8 liters of cold brew, while the lightweight design is easy to throw into a weekender bag or carry-on without worrying about breakage. The pitcher will keep cold brew fresh and tasty in the fridge for up to two weeks, so you’ll only have to worry about preparing your coffee once or twice during your trip.
You could bring your Chemex Pour-Over on the road, but it'll be too delicate to throw into your backpack or carry-on. The Oxo Brew Pour-Over Coffee Maker, however, is a pretty good runner-up — in fact, we dubbed it the best pour-over coffee maker for beginners in our testing. The plastic pour-over coffee maker is perfect for beginners or those who are short on time while on the road. All you’ll need to do when operating this pour-over coffee maker is pop it over a standard-size coffee mug or to-go traveler, add your ground coffee, fill the water tank to your desired amount and watch patiently as your personal cup is brewed to perfection.
The Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker is one of the best options for those who prefer rugged outdoor adventures over comfortable hotel vacations. The portable coffee maker is no bigger than a standard flashlight and is pretty much just as durable. It also doesn’t require any batteries or electricity and is completely manually powered — the pumping system pulls full shots of hot espresso just with the help of your hands. The cylinder-shaped design is also extremely easy to clean so you won’t have to worry about too much maintenance while on the go.
This portable espresso maker is another stand-out option for those who opt for more adventure-focused travel and might not have the best setup to brew coffee in a kitchen or coffee bar area. The Staresso Classic Portable Espresso Machine (as opposed to the Staresso Pro, listed above) is particularly convenient and versatile thanks to its dual-purpose brewing method. The interior brewing system is compatible with both Nespresso pods and standard ground coffee, which gives you the option of bringing your own bag of coffee or opting for the convenience of a pod. The adjustable pressure also means you can choose between concentrated shots of espresso and lighter Americano-style drinks.
The Kuissential SlickDrip Collapsible Silicone Coffee Dripper might be the best option for coffee lovers who value the art of packing extremely light. The collapsible silicone coffee maker functions pretty similarly to a Chemex Pour-Over — all you have to do is add coffee, hot water and a filter, and position the device on top of a standard-size mug. The durable silicone material and folding design mean this can literally be thrown into the smallest side pocket of any bag without worrying about it breaking or taking up too much space — a win for travelers of all kinds.
The Bodum Travel Press was made for travelers short on time. It’s essentially a classic French press built right into a to-go travel mug, which means you can take the time to properly brew your coffee even if you’re rushing out your hotel room door. The vacuum-sealed, double-wall construction keeps hot beverages temperate for several hours at a time and the entire single-serve traveler is dishwasher-friendly for easy maintenance.
The Outin Mini is up there with the top choices for portable coffee makers. Yes, it’s a bit on the pricey side, but if you’re a serious coffee fiend, it’ll be worth the price. This option heats water in less than 4 minutes and provides easy and hands-free extraction so you won’t have to work up a sweat while making your morning coffee. It’s also compatible with both ground coffee and coffee capsules like Nespresso pods and Illy, which provides added convenience and more options to choose from. We also love the stylish look of this portable espresso machine, which comes in five color options.
In addition to the Nanopresso, Wacaco also offers a portable espresso maker in its range, dubbed the Picopresso. This is the more expensive of the Wacaco options out there, and as such, in our testing, we found that you can expect a quality espresso shot. However, we found that the Staresso Pro's design is generally better. This option is operated manually, so there's no electricity or batteries required, and it's super compact. It even comes with a travel case to avoid any damage while in transit.
At the end of the day, if you’re lucky enough to have a Nespresso machine in your room, you’ll probably want to skip the dusty paper cup and brew your morning coffee right into your travel mug. The Yeti Rambler Travel Mug earns our seal of approval for its dual-slider leakproof lid (a major bonus while traveling) and impressive hot and cold temperature retention. This travel mug also comes in a huge spectrum of fun colorways — from hot pink and orange to forest green and turquoise — to best suit your style.
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