When you travel a lot or enjoy camping and hiking, you accept that you’re going to have to go without a few home comforts: your own bed, shower, etc. But you needn’t go without that stalwart of your morning routine (or several times during the day) – your coffee.
With a portable coffee maker in your bag, you can enjoy the sweet nectar even when you’re in the wild or on the road.
So, the only question is which portable coffee maker should you buy?
There are a lot of options out there and even more confusing technical details and jargon. To help, we’ve put together this guide so you can pick the one that will help you live your best, fully caffeinated, life.
- 1 Our Top Picks for Portable Coffee Makers
- 2 Travel Coffee Makers: Comparison Table
- 3 Why Invest in a Portable Coffee Maker?
- 4 What Type of Coffee Do You Want to Make?
- 5 Other considerations when buying a portable coffee maker
- 6 12 Best Portable Coffee Makers for a Hot Drink on the Go
- 6.1 Espresso Makers
- 6.2 Portable Drip / Pour Over Coffee Makers
- 6.3 Travel Press: French Press Coffee Makers
- 6.4 Need more gear recommendations? Read our guides
Our Top Picks for Portable Coffee Makers
- Best Overall: AeroPress Go
- Best for Espresso: Wacaco Nanopresso
- Best for Drip Coffee: Thang Long Coffee Press
- Best for Pour Over: Primula Coffee Brew Buddy
- Best for French Press: BruTrek OVRLNDR
Travel Coffee Makers: Comparison Table
|Wacaco Nanopresso||$$$||6.14 x 2.8 x 2.44 inches|
|Staresso||$$$||2.75 x 2.75 x 9.64 inches|
|Bialetti Moka Express (1-Cup)||$$||5.11 x 5.51 x 3.15 inches|
|Cafflano Kompresso||$$$||7.3 x 3.1 x 4.1 inches|
|Primula Coffee Brew Buddy||$||4.1 x 4.1 x 1.6 inches|
|Thang Long||$||5.8 x 4.7 x 3.3 inches|
|Kalita Wave||$$||4 x 4.4 x 2.5 inches|
|Wolecok Collapsible Dripper||$||4.69 x 4.29 x 0.79 inches|
|Bodum Travel Press||$$||9.1 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches|
|BruTrek OVRLNDR French Press||$$$||9.75 x 3.75 x 3.75 inches|
|Stanley Classic Travel Press||$$||10.3 x 5.06 x 5.06 inches|
|AeroPress Go||$$||5.3 x 3.9 x 3.9 inches|
Why Invest in a Portable Coffee Maker?
Do you find yourself craving coffee whilst camping? Or halfway round your hike? Or when you’re staying in a beach hut, preparing for your next adventure?
If you said yes to any of these, then a portable coffee maker is exactly what you need. It’s a little touch of luxury that you no longer have to go without.
No more searching for a café, with dubious quality coffee; making instant coffee *shudders*; or, heaven forbid, having to go without!
There is also a money saving element:
If you can make your own delicious coffee each morning, you can save a few dollars every day. It may not seem like much, but over time, it all adds up. So, very quickly you’ll find that you’ve saved a lot more money than you paid for the travel coffee maker – adding to your adventure budget.
Plus, you can always use your device at home too!
What Type of Coffee Do You Want to Make?
This is probably the most important question you’ll need to answer:
The best portable coffee maker for you will vary depending on the type of coffee you like to make.
Generally speaking, the biggest and most expensive of the portable coffee makers are the espresso makers.
You need to generate at least 9 BAR of pressure to get “true espresso”. And to do this, you need some clever technology and/or some fairly big equipment.
The good news is that there are some really amazing options out there. This includes ones that work with Nespresso capsules meaning you don’t need to worry about grinding coffee or carrying ground coffee with you.
Pour Over or Drip Coffee
Pour over coffee is one of the preferred methods of the modern Barista. It allows you to get all the nuance of flavors from your delicious coffee without the need to create huge amounts of pressure.
To make pour over, you need a coarser grind than for espresso. Plus, it takes slightly longer to brew. But the portable options tend to be smaller and cheaper than espresso makers.
Drip coffee is similar to pour over. However, you tend to pour all the water into the filter and wait for the coffee to drip through. This is instead of manually controlling the speed with which the water is poured through the grounds.
Overall, drip coffee is less labor intensive. It’s also simpler for camping or hiking where it’s less than ideal to hold your coffee maker steady while you slowly pour hot water.
The simplest method for making coffee on the go is French press which requires the coarsest grind of beans.
A French press can be the perfect space saver as they tend to be a combined travel coffee maker and travel cup.
If you’re looking for simple coffee on the go where you just add hot water, then this is the way to do it:
Steep for four minutes, plunge, and your delicious French press coffee is in your handy travel mug ready for you to face the next part of your adventure.
Other considerations when buying a portable coffee maker
So, now you’ve worked out the type of coffee maker you need, there are a few more things to consider:
You’ll want to check the required heat source, size, price, and type of coffee grounds the devices need.
When making coffee on the go, you still need to find a way to heat the water, unless you have the patience to wait for cold brew.
So will you use a campfire, RV stove, kettle or hostel kitchen? If you’re hankering for coffee on the move, your heat source can even come from a prepacked thermos of hot water to enjoy a cup while soaking in the view.
Consider the conditions in which you’ll be making coffee the most, to determine the portable coffee maker that’s most practical for your uses.
There are a few that need to be placed directly onto a heat source, however, most work with just hot water.
Size and Dimensions
Size really does matter.
Whether your coffee maker needs to fit in a suitcase with clothes for a 3 month trip, in your backpack with camping supplies, or in your RV cupboard, space is prime real estate for adventurers on the go.
All these portable coffee makers were made to be as compact as possible, but it’s still worth checking out the dimensions to ensure you can make space for it.
How Much Coffee are you Making?
Espresso for one? Or a big pot for the whole group?
You don’t want to be making multiple batches of coffee first thing in the morning. Nor do you want to carry around huge quantities of hot water on a hike. So getting the right sized portable coffee maker for your needs is key.
Grinding Coffee Beans
If you want the best possible coffee on your adventures, you need freshly ground coffee beans.
Luckily, there are plenty of portable coffee grinders out there too. Together, you have a match made in heaven.
But, if grinding beans isn’t for you, there are options that use capsules. Or, you can pack some pre-ground coffee. The quality won’t be the same, but the convenience of having a hot cup of coffee with a view makes up for it.
12 Best Portable Coffee Makers for a Hot Drink on the Go
If you’re looking for the best portable coffee maker, here’s a complete round up of 12 options to make a hot cup of joe no matter where you are in the world.
These travel espresso makers are top notch when it comes to making this small, strong beverage.
Dimensions: 6.14 x 2.8 x 2.44 in
Pros: 18 BAR pressure for exceptional extraction | Easy to use | Can buy add-on to use coffee capsules
Cons: Time consuming to create more than 1 cup | Cleaning tricky while travelling | Expensive
This is the gold standard in making espresso on the go.
The Wacaco Nanopresso is a small and light portable espresso maker. Plus, it can generate a truly staggering 18 BAR pressure which is higher than many at home espresso machines can manage.
To use the device, you start by measuring your coffee grounds and then manually pumping up the pressure. While it takes a little bit of effort, you can’t argue with the results.
With this in your bag, you can have espresso as good as any coffee shop, from anywhere.
Dimensions: 2.75 x 2.75 x 9.64 in
Pros: Excellent build quality | Froths milk | Consistent extraction
Cons: Small tamper | Noisy | Glass not ideal for traveling
The Staresso is another excellent portable espresso machine with the added bonus of being able to froth some milk in addition to pulling your espresso shot.
This is the ideal solution for anyone looking for a macchiato or latte to start your day, or at any other point for that matter.
The espresso isn’t quite as good as the Wacaco Nanopresso or Cafflano Kompresso, but if having foamed milk on your adventures is a must for you, this is the one.
Dimensions: 5.11 x 5.51 x 3.15 in (1 cup model)
Weight: 0.71lb (1 cup model)
Pros: Built to last a lifetime | Available in different sizes | Works on any stove
Cons: Needs a direct heat source | Doesn’t make “true” espresso | Cup sizes are small
Bialetti are the creators of the original stovetop espresso maker.
Created in Italy in the 1930s, the Moka pot has withstood the test of time. Today, it is an iconic piece of coffee history.
By modern standards, it doesn’t make what we now consider “true espresso”, which requires at least 9 BAR pressure. But you can still make rich, full-bodied, delicious coffee with ease.
If you need to make coffee for a group, the larger Moka pots are ideal.
A friend of ours used theirs every morning on their 11 weeks camping and overlanding trip through Africa. This is where these coffee makers can really shine.
Dimensions: 7.3 x 3.1 x 4.1 in
Pros: Durable | Can make hot or cold espresso
Cons: Need to preheat to get the perfect shot | Takes up to 8 mins per shot | Doesn’t feel premium
The Cafflano Kompresso is the brainchild of a Korean engineer who was sick of paying too much for his morning espresso.
This is one for the coffee artisan.
It takes practice to “dial in” your perfect espresso each time. So, a desire to experiment and patience are a must. The pay off, however, is excellent with a quality espresso anywhere within your reach.
Overall, this is a good option for an espresso maker which is small, light, and built to survive being thrown around in a backpack.
Portable Drip / Pour Over Coffee Makers
Drip or pour over coffee makers are a super practical option if you’re looking for a portable coffee maker that doesn’t take up much space. These contraptions are exceptionally lightweight and fairly simple, making them a wonder solution for wandering coffee lovers.
Dimensions: 4.1 x 4.1 x 1.6 in
Pros: Very small and light | Reusable filter | Consistent
Cons: Only for 1 cup | Need to lift out whilst brewing to avoid steeping | Narrow gap to pour water into
If you’re dreaming of coffee on the go but already have a full backpack, then the Primula Brew Buddy is the one for you.
No matter how full your bag is, you’ll still be able to find a place for this little wonder.
The reusable filter means you don’t need to worry about leaving a trail of spent coffee filters in your wake. And it’s so easy to use – no level of sleep deprivation or hangover will make it too complex for you.
The only downside is that you need to be careful to lift the Brew Buddy out your mug as it fills. If you don’t, you will end up steeping the grounds and over-extracting your brew.
It’s really only useful for a single cup at a time, but since it’s so cheap and compact, you and your travel buddy can both carry one if necessary. This is a superb gadget for those on the go.
Dimensions: 5.8 x 4.7 x 3.3 in
Pros: Lifetime warranty | Also makes iced coffee | Reusable filter
Cons: Process requires practice | Only makes 1 cup | Very specific style of coffee
If you’re fortunate enough to have visited Vietnam, there is a very high chance you’ve fallen in love with their crazy strong, sweet coffee.
The Vietnamese coffee press is a relatively small and inexpensive kit. Using it allows you to bring this specific style of coffee with you wherever you go.
The design is simple, it’s basically unbreakable, small and lightweight – all excellent features in a portable coffee maker.
Getting your coffee just right may take you a few tries, but the combination of steeping and drip brew methods means insanely strong Vietnamese style coffee is right at your fingertips.
Dimensions: 4 x 4 x 2.5 in
Pros: Easy to use | Pour over method creates great tasting brew | Small and lightweight
Cons: Requires paper filters | Requires attention | Little margin for error in grind size
Pour over is one of the best ways to experience the different flavors of single origin coffees. Correctly done, the extraction brings out the subtlety in even light or medium roast beans.
It does, however, require you to pay attention to what you’re doing and have the right size of ground coffee for the job.
The Kalita works well as a pour over for beginners and makes a slightly more intense cup than most.
Do keep in mind that it requires paper filters, which can be easy to ruin if your bag gets caught in a sudden downpour. Plus the extra waste may be impractical for eco-conscious travelers.
But if you want your favorite pour over brew on your next hike, the Kalita is an easy and inexpensive way to achieve this.
Dimensions: 4.69 x 4.29 x 0.79 in
Pros: Extremely small and lightweight | Silicone is nearly unbreakable | Simple to use
Cons: Requires paper filters | Doesn’t make as good a cup as other pour over brewers
Another great choice for the extremely space and weight conscious coffee lover:
The Wolecok Collapsible is flexible due to the silicon design and can be packed flat, so you will always be able to find space for it in your backpack. Or, simply attach it to the outside with a carabiner.
You will need to buy paper filters separately and the trade off with silicon is the resultant pour over coffee won’t be as delicious as alternatives. This is because air is unable to travel between the filter and the silicone cone the way it can in stainless steel models.
But it is very cheap and extremely portable. You can easily carry it just in case you fancy a coffee at some point without worrying about wasted space.
Travel Press: French Press Coffee Makers
You can’t go wrong with the classic French press and these portable choices make enjoying a warm cup of coffee easier than ever.
Dimensions: 9.1 x 3.5 x 3.5 in
Pros: Can be used for coffee or tea | Combined coffee maker and travel mug
Cons: Coffee over extracts if left too long | Only suitable for 1 person
Bodum’s travel press is a well-executed celebration of simplicity in design.
By combining the French press and travel mug, you can save on space. Plus, your coffee stays hot for hours – although it will slowly over extract and become bitter if you don’t remove the grinds.
If you leave it in the fridge overnight, you can make cold brew coffee. Or, you can use it to make loose leaf tea.
It also has 2 lids, allowing you to use it as just a travel mug if you want a takeaway coffee.
Whilst the Bodum travel press isn’t perfect, it does offer good value and does the job well.
Dimensions: 9.75 x 3.75 x 3.75 in
Pros: Insulated container keeps coffee warm | Removable base plate for easy cleaning | 28oz capacity
Cons: Relatively bulky | Not ideal for one person
The OVRLNDR is a very solidly built portable French press, specifically designed for campers.
The bottom is removable, making it very easy to clean the grounds. And it can also be used as a travel mug or doled out into separate cups.
Overall, this is a superbly designed piece of kit if you have the extra space for it.
It also comes in 4 different colors so you can match it to the rest of your camping gear.
Maybe less useful for the space conscious backpacker but if you love your French press coffee and you can sacrifice a couple of t-shirts, it’ll be worth it.
Dimensions: 10.3 x 5.06 x 5.06 in
Pros: Fine mesh sieve | Superb insulation | Easy to clean
Cons: Heavy | Too big for a lot of cup-holders | Old-fashioned design
Stanley are giants of the camping gear industry. They’ve been making superb quality products for a long time now.
Their Travel Press is no different with unbelievably good insulation, keeping your coffee hot for 4 hours thanks to the great build quality.
It’s really designed for the camper with some space though:
It’s big and chunky, awkward to fit in cup-holders or side pockets of backpacks and it’s very heavy compared to other options. If you like the classic design and aren’t worried about space though, you can’t argue with the quality.
Dimensions: 5.3 x 3.9 x 3.9 in
Pros: Superb quality coffee | Packs away very small | Simple to use
Cons: Needs paper filters | Only makes 8oz coffee
The coffee aficionado’s favorite portable coffee maker: The AeroPress.
The AeroPress is a cult icon – there is even a global competition to find who can coax the best coffee out of the simple device. Head over to YouTube and you will discover a truly astonishing number of different techniques demonstrated.
You can’t argue with the quality of coffee produced or that it is very simple to use.
The Go is slightly smaller than the original – 8oz vs 10oz, and it packs up inside the travel cup for convenience. So, for us, it is the better portable coffee maker option.
You do need a paper filter for each coffee which isn’t great for sustainability, but you get 350 of them with the coffee maker. There’s also a built in filter holder which can store up to 20 at a time.
If you feel the Go is too small, you can grab the original AeroPress for nearly the same price.
Now you have the options laid out, which portable coffee maker will you be taking on your next adventure?
Enjoying espresso on a mountain top or having that first sip of aromatic French press on the beach is truly joyous and something that every coffee drinker should aim for. Coffee can be overly complex but hopefully, we’ve laid out the best options in simple terms so you can get on with the important bit: enjoying coffee wherever you want!
Need more gear recommendations? Read our guides
- The Epic Guide to the Best Travel Water Bottles
- Ultimate Guide to the Best Travel Cameras (2021)
- Definitive Guide: 15 Best Hiking Sandals of 2021