September 3, 2015

Coffee To-Go: The Ultimate Travel Set-Up


For those who often live out of a suitcase, whether through choice or business, that perfect cup of coffee is often out of reach. You may have to resort to the less-than-stellar hotel brew or attempt tracking down the closest third wave shop (not always easy, especially with language barriers). Or you may be one of those ambitious people who tries to bring their entire set-up, sacrificing precious luggage space to do so.

SEE ALSO: Coffee at Music Festivals: Perfect Daily Grind’s Survival Guide

Travellers, rejoice! We have good news for you: those days are gone. We’ve done some experimenting and come up with the ultimate, compact, high-quality travel kit so you can have both good-quality coffee and luggage space.

Read on for your three must-have pieces of equipment and the one recipe that will make your travelling life so much better.

Brew Method:

The AeroPress has received global attention since its inception: it can be found in third wave shops all around the world and the manufacturer now hosts its own annual barista championship. The small, collapsible brew method has amazed enthusiasts with its simultaneous ease of use and simplicity of design.

So why is it perfect for travelling? Made from three separate pieces, the AeroPress can easily be disassembled for cleaning and storage. Its collapsible design also makes for the perfect travel brew method: just insert the plunger all the way and store the necessary amount of filters in the cap provided. 

aeropress coffee in preparation

 The AeroPress: a full immersion brew method. Credit: Pål-Kristian Hamre


For the most efficient portable set-up, your grinder should be roughly 6 cm in diameter; this way, the grinder can fit inside of the AeroPress, which has a diameter of 6.4 cm. It should also have a removable crank arm, in order to conserve space.

The Porlex mini hand grinder fits (literally) this criteria and is generally found to work well—although we’re certainly not saying it’s the only grinder worth considering! On this specific grinder, the grind setting is operated by a white nut; the tighter the setting, the finer the granules. It also has a rubber sleeve with a convenient slot for the crank arm.

Porlex mini hand grinder

The Porlex mini hand grinder when fully disassembled. Credit: Dennis Tang


If you don’t have access to hot water or a stove top, then any kettle that provides a consistent pour will do. A diameter larger than that of the AeroPress would increase the portability of the set-up, since the AeroPress would then be able to fit inside. If there’s still room inside the kettle after the AeroPress plus grinder combination has been inserted, we recommend filling the extra space with beans and filters.

Bonvita’s Bonavoyage is a great portable option (although again, not the only one). It has a variable temperature heating system and an automatic shut-off switch. It’s compact but its 0.5 litre interior also fits the AeroPress plus grinder combination mentioned above, thanks to the removable lid. And, for international travelers, Bonavita offers the same kettle but with a dual voltage system. As long as the correct adapter is used, this kettle can travel anywhere. 

Bonavita’s Bonavoyage kettle

Bonavita’s Bonavoyage: a great portable option. Credit:


The brew I’m recommending uses the inverted method, courtesy of Markus Reuter over at Third Wave Wichteln. 

Third Wave Wichteln coffee


1. Pre-heat the AeroPress so that the water remains at the best temperature throughout the brew.

2. Add the filter to the brewer cap and wet it to eliminate any papery taste.

3. Grind the coffee. You want a coarseness similar to that of a drip grind; for the Porlex, this means 7 “clicks” coarser than the tightest setting.

4. Insert the plunger 1 cm into the brewer and place it so that the opening of the brewer is facing up.

5. Add coffee grounds to the brewer.


1. Start a timer, and then pour 240 ml of water into the brewer over 40 seconds.

2. Stir gently 2 times across (North-South-East-West).

3. Screw on the cap and filter to insulate the brewer.

4. Allow the coffee to steep until the 3 minute mark.


1. Flip the Aeropress and let the water settle for 30 seconds.

2. Press the plunger over another 30 seconds into your desired cup, finishing at 4 minutes.

aeropress coffee in preparation

 The inverted method in action.  Credit: Ferrous Büller

Nothing beats the feeling of visiting a new place for the first time—but nothing’s worse than forgoing good coffee for days on end. This brew method allows for the ultimate coffee-while-traveling experience. Just assemble the equipment as described, toss in your favorite set of scales and coffee, and you’re ready to get going. Just one quick warning: we’ve been told that airport security will throw a fit when this combination passes through the scanner. At least it will make for a good story, and even better coffee.

Edited by T. Newton.

Feature Photo Credit: Gavin Pugh

Perfect Daily Grind.