Making Great Travel Coffee

I’m guessing that you love great coffee. That’s fine at home, but what about when you travel? I have some good news for you. When you travel, you don’t have to give up your love for great coffee. All you need are a few travel-tools and we'll show you how making great travel coffee is pretty easy.

American Vacation Coffee

When you're traveling within the US, your options for good coffee are pretty bad. You can drink the coffee in the hotel, restaurant, or nearby coffee shop. The problem is all of those businesses by the cheapest coffee they can find. Even in 5 star hotels and restaurants. They buy their industrial coffee from companies like:

  • Charbucks
  • Kirkland (Costco)
  • Maxwell House
  • Folgers
  • Nescafe
  • Yuban
  • Etc.

Why do these industrial coffee companies sell such bad coffee? It's because they buy crappy cheap beans, roast the snot out of them, and let them sit in warehouses or on store shelves for months if not years. No wonder their coffee is so bad.

espresso gone wrong
PanAm Coffee

International Travel Coffee

If you're traveling internationally, your chances of finding decent coffee are better, not great, but certainly better. This is especially true if you're traveling to countries that grow coffee. Why is their coffee better? Because the coffee you buy in the hotel or back-street restaurant was roasted a few days ago.

The fresher the roasted beans the better the coffee. Most companies haven't a clue how to package their coffee to keep it fresh. And when you're in Costa Rica, you drink coffee grown in Costa Rica, and roasted a few days ago. That's what makes their coffee taste so good.

How To Make Your Own Travel Coffee

Obviously, you have a choice. You can either endure bad coffee or bring your own. Below, I'm going to give to you some tips on how to bring your own. I'll also tell you both the wrong way to bring your own, via my personal experience, and I'm going to tell you the right or easy way to bring your own. We'll talk about:

  1. What beans to bring
  2. How be store and cary your beans
  3. What small and light grinder to bring
  4. The right small and light brewer to bring
  5. What mug to bring
  6. How to pack it all in a very small space
travel coffee
Costa Rica Tarrazu La Pastora

What Beans To Bring

Alisha and I love coffee that's smooth as silk with no bitterness and certainly not burnt. Unfortunately, finding such coffee proved to be almost impossible. So, we started our own coffee roasting company, just so we had an almost unlimited supply of the best coffee that money could buy.

Over the years, we've found the very smoothest and best tasting coffee consistently comes from the Tarrazu Region of Costa Rica. Each year, we taste test beans from about two dozen different growers from this region. Picking the very best bean from this already very select group of growers, we then buy enough beans to last us and our customers for a full year.

Coffee Brewer

One of my absolute favorite coffee brewing systems is the AeroPress. It's much like a French Press but smaller, lighter, and produces even smoother coffee than the French Press. It's also made of plastic, so it won't break. Additionally, it costs only $40.

Best of all, the AeroPress is made entirely here in the USA by free Americans. The next best thing is that using the AeroPress is almost fool proof. Anyone can make awesome coffee with it.

AeroPress Accessories

Coffee Grinder

For traveling, I highly recommend the JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder. The downside is that it's made by slave labor in Communist China. It grinds me to recommend this commie grinder, but there is no Made In USA alternative.

That being said, this is one kick-butt grinder and it costs only $40. It also has one unique feature. It was designed to fit exactly inside the plunger of the JavaPress brewer, thus saving space in your luggage. I hate to admit that I really like this commie grinder, especially for traveling.

Hot Water

The bad news is there's no easy way to bring your own water heating device. The good news is that finding hot water while traveling is pretty easy. Almost every hotel in America has a commercial brewing system similar to the picture to the right. See that red spigot on the top left of the Bunn brewer. These hot water spigots are almost ubiquitous in hotels and motels in the US.

A second option is a drip coffee machine in most hotel rooms. Toss you water in the coffee machine, turn it on, don't put coffee in the machine, and out comes hot water. OK, there's another option. Put your own ground coffee into this drip coffee machine. I have never done this, but it's certainly an option.

Hotel Coffee Maker
Travel Coffee Mug

Coffee Mug

When using the AeroPress, you need a sturdy mug. Do not try using this method with a styrofoam cup. You'll crush the cup and have coffee everywhere. My go-to cup at home is the BurnOut Mug (Made In USA). Unfortunately for traveling, because you can't get the AeroPress to fit on top of the BurnOut Mug, this is not an option.

Again, I'm sad to say that the commies at Yeti insist on having their products made by slave labor in Communist China. Unfortunately, this mug is sturdy and easily fits the AeroPress. For traveling the Yeti Mug works well.

Putting It All Together

It is time to pack for your trip. You should now have on hand:

  1. If you're going to be traveling only a few days, then you can put your Costa Rican coffee beans into a ZipLoc bag, make sure you include the oxygen absorber that's in your Lake City Coffee pouch; figure 1/4 cup of beans per 12 ounce cup of coffee. Always take more beans than you think you'll use. If you're leaving for a week or more, just leave the coffee beans in our triple sealed Lake City Coffee pouch with oxygen absorber.
  2. Assemble your AeroPress brewer with the plunger pushed completely into the base, the plastic screen screwed into the base, and the stir stick set aside
  3. Put enough AeroPress paper filters into the coffee ZipLoc bag or Lake City Coffee air-tight pouch.
  4. Push the JavaPress grinder into the AeroPress plunger.
  5. Take the lid off of your Yeti mug and put the coffee ZipLoc bag into the mug and put the lid on.
  6. Get yourself a small (6x10") stuff sack and put everything in the sack. Don't forget the grinder's handle and the AeroPress's stir stick. You'll need both.
Travel Coffee
How to cold brew coffee

Option 2 - Cold Brew

I guess this option depends on what you mean by travel. If you're on a road trip or car camping, I always go with cold-brew. It's super simple. Just put your premade coffee in an ice chest and you're ready to roll.

Not only is this travel coffee option super simple, you can also bring cream in your ice chest. Actually, I don't even bother with that. If I want cream, I put it in the cold-brew and my coffee is always ready to just grab and drink.

Now if you like your coffee hot, then just bring your cold-brew and heat it up.

Lake City Coffee

At Lake City Coffee, Alisha and I (Russell) are kind of like Rebels With A Cause. We're obsessed with super smooth coffee that has a well balanced flavor profile. We get that by being super picky in selecting one single bean that represents the very best coffee bean from the Terrazu region of Costa Rica.

We're also obsessed with teaching our customers, many of which are now friends, how to make the best home brewed coffee on the planet. Many people say that our customer support is second to none. That's sad, because every business should simply treat their customers like family. It's pretty simple.

So, if you're looking for great coffee and fun people to work with, then you're going to truly enjoy working with Alisha and I.

Russell and Alisha Volz
Flavored Coffee


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