Note from Margaret: It’s a pleasure to bring you this post from guest contributor, Kieran MacRae! Kieran is based in Scotland, and he writes about coffee at Above Average Coffee. Visit his site at https://aboveaveragecoffee.com
Travelling is one of the great life journeys that you should not pass up if life offers it to you.
Finding great coffee while travelling can be a real headache. You’re in a new area, you don’t know which coffee shops are the best. You might not even be able to find a coffee shop in the first place.
It quickly boils down to the fact that making coffee yourself is the best, and most reliable way to enjoy a great cup day in and day out.
Making coffee isn’t always so straightforward. It takes equipment, and you need to take that equipment with you.
Luckily for you, there are ways and means. Some coffee gadgets are particularly suited to travel from being compact, portable, and simple to use; which is an absolute must when you’re carrying all of your belongings on your back.
Just like the Lume rechargeable travel burr grinder and camp light, a strange little device!
Boil Your Water
If you’re using an all-in-one coffee maker, such as a Moka Pot, then heat is the only thing you need to improvise while on the go. How you heat it up will completely depend on how you’re travelling too.
For example, if you’re staying in hotels, you might have a handy little electric kettle in your room and the hot water problem is solved. On the other hand, if you’re out camping you might only have an open fire to go on; although most campers bring a little gas stove.
If you’re travelling in a camper van or a converted van of course you have more options for coffee makers.
Remember, the perfect temperature for brewing coffee is between 195°F and 205°F.
The 5 Best Ways To Make Great Coffee While Travelling
The AeroPress is a new gadget to the coffee-brewing world. Many describe it, oddly, as a giant syringe but you can absolutely see why.
The AeroPress is made of a plastic cylinder with a plunger blocking one end and the paper coffee filter at the other.
It’s no larger that any small Tupperware sandwich box that you would already carry while travelling. It’s an easy option to just pop in your backpack and take on the go.
AeroPress coffee holds a unique middleground between French Press and pour over (or drip) coffee. The coffee grounds will brew immersed for four minutes, like with a French Press, but it uses a paper filter like drip and pour over methods.
So the brew you get has the lovely deep richness of a French Press, with the smooth texture of pour over.
To brew up some java with this little coffee-piston; start by pulling the plunger out most of the way, unscrewing the filter end, and sit it on a flat surface on the extended plunger.
Load it up with ground coffee, and pour in boiled water; similar to how you would with a French Press. Let it brew for about four minutes, then screw the filter tightly on top. Tip it over, so the plunger end is up and the filter is down, and sit it on top of your coffee chalice of choice. Now there’s nothing left to do but gently press that plunger down.
The AeroPress might be a new addition to the coffee-world, but it has quickly kicked up a storm. Why? Because it makes brilliant coffee of course.
2. V60 or Filter Cone
Now, a V60 is a type of filter cone, but not all filter cones are V60s. A bit of a not all fingers are thumbs situation.
Whether you’re using an actual V60, or a generic filter cone, they both work exactly the same way. They’re pour-over brew gadgets.
Pour over coffee is perfect for the perfectionist; it puts the control of the entire brew in your hands. You control how much coffee and water, how warm, and how fast (or slow) the water trickles over the grounds.
V60s and filter cones are a bit of a funny shape, but overall are not particularly large; so they’re perfectly portable. There are even pop-up models, similar to pop-up cups, that fold flat for even easier storage and portability.
They are super simple to use. You can even brew java for others too.
Just place your filter cone on top of a mug, or a larger jug if you’re brewing for more than one. Pop a paper filter in the cone, and load the filter with ground coffee. Pour freshly boiled water through the grounds and, voila, amazing freshly brewed coffee.
3. Moka Pot or Percolator Pot
Moka pots and percolator pots are darn similar, but also just different enough to make them very different things. Either way, they’re both stovetop coffee makers.
They come in a range of sizes. The smallest ones will easily fit in your backpack, so all you need is a heat source, which can be anything. Really, an open fire, gas stove, or even an induction hob if you’ve opted for a stainless steel version.
Both Moka pots and percolator pots work very similarly. You fill the bottom with water, and put ground coffee into a little cone-shaped metal basket. When the water boils, pressure builds up and the water is pushed up through the coffee.
They both make a lovely, strong, espresso-like coffee.
The difference between the Moka and percolator is; the moka pot has the brewed coffee spurt up into a top chamber and it’s done. On the other hand, the percolator pot lets the brewed coffee fall back down into the water chamber; so the coffee keeps cycling round, getting pushed through the coffee grounds until you take the pot off the heat.
The Moka pot is less tweak-able, but effortlessly and consistently makes great coffee. A percolator pot has a little more of an art to it because you need to make sure you take it off the heat and don’t over-brew it.
4. Travel French Press
A travel French Press puts your brew straight into your travel mug. Literally.
Travel French Presses are the clever combination of both a French Press and a travel mug. You brew your java in it as you would with any ordinary French Press, press the plunger down as usual. But wait, the lid has a drinking spout; you drink your coffee straight out of this gizmo.
Travel French Presses are perfect for freshly brewed coffee on the go. Especially if you were going to be taking a travel mug with you anyway. They sometimes even include a regular travel lid to swap out the plunger lid and turn it into just a travel mug.
It couldn’t be much simpler than this.
Fresh brewed coffee, just add water (and ground coffee of course).
5. Turkish Pot
The Turkish Pot has been brewing coffee long before the bean ever made its way to Europe. This ancient brewing technique makes some of the strongest, but unique, coffee you can get.
The Turkish Pot itself goes by a few different names, but it’s usually called a cezve. I’m not saying you need to buy a funny little pot for this though, you can use absolutely any little saucepan you come across!
Usually, the coffee is ground as finely as possible, but if you have a regular bag of pre-ground then plough on ahead with that. It’ll work out great too.
Begin by bringing just water to a simmer in your pan. When it boils, take it off the heat and add your ground coffee, sugar, a pinch of salt (really), and any spices you might want. Cinnamon goes great in it.
Now, you are going to repeat this next step twice. Sit your pot back on the heat and bring it to a boil, take it off the heat, and spoon out the bubbles. Bring it to a boil again, and spoon off the bubbles.
Lastly, take it off the heat, and leave it for around 3-4 minutes for the grounds to settle to the bottom. Gently pour your coffee into cups and serve.
This is one of the oldest ways in the world to brew coffee and really makes a strong, bold, brew. It’ll certainly wake you up in the morning.
So there we have it, the five best ways to whip up a brilliant coffee while on the road.
There is one more method which I feel could have made the list. That’s cowboy coffee, it’s quite similar to the Turkish Pot, but I left it out because it requires odd ingredients; egg shells for one.
All of these methods require minimal coffee gear, and what they do require are small, robust, and will surely fit in your backpack.
I’ve certainly been caught strapping my Moka pot to the outside of my backpack before. Can’t leave home without it.
For more coffee articles by Kieran, visit his blog at https://aboveaveragecoffee.com