Coffee on the Run

It is summer and time for camping, nature outings and travel. In the past, leaving home has meant giving up a great cup of coffee in the morning. Ambiance is everything in terms of coffee enjoyment. Sipping a great hot coffee on a cool morning in Yellowstone is a peak lifetime experience.
But how are you going to get a good cup of coffee when you are on the road? Hotel coffee tastes bitter and sour. The Mr. Coffee brewer in the room is heating tap water at 160 degrees. (We quit using the brewer in the room to heat water when a visitor told us that flight attendants use the carafes to wash their panties.) The Starbucks in the lobby is putting out burned coffee hoping you will switch to a flavored drink.
Fortunately, today you can make a lightweight coffee survival kit to take with you on the road.
Survival Kit
First thing you need is a coffee survival essentials list:
  • Fresh high quality coffee beans
  • Grinder
  • Brewer
  • Water heater
  • Coffee Measure
You don’t need to pack things you can always get while traveling:
  • Bottled or filtered water
  • Coffee cups
Ground Coffee: If it is a short trip, you can grind the coffee and put it in small zip lock bags. On a short trip if you keep the bags closed there is minimal flavor loss. The tradeoff is that you don’t have to pack a grinder.
Water Heater: Immersion heaters are cheap and do a great job of heating small amounts of water. Pour water into a 6 ounce coffee cup (most hotel cups are 6 ounces), put the immersion heater into the cup, plug it in and wait for the water to boil. Unplug the heater, leave it in the cup for 30 seconds then remove the heater and use the water to brew. (If the heater is out of the water while it is hot, it will short out.)
Most travel stores sell an immersion heater kit with a set of foreign plugs, Amazon has over 25 different immersion water heaters with prices ranging from $8 to $29.
Coffee Measure: You need to measure the coffee grounds. Since you are bringing your own coffee, you can weigh out 11 grams of coffee for a six-ounce cup, pour it into a coffee scoop, mark it, and take the scoop instead of a scale. You could also leave the scoop behind by dividing 11 grams of ground coffee into Ziplock sandwich bags.
Brewer: There is a choice of brewers. The AeroPress is a great travel brewer. It is plastic and lightweight. It makes a concentrated brew that you can cut by adding more hot water. They sell for around $30, so if it breaks or is stolen you can replace it.
The other choice is a manual pour over collapsible silicon filer cone. They are the smallest and least expensive brewers. A collapsible silicon filter cone and some paper filters are light weight and don’t take up much room. Put the cone with a paper filter over a coffee cup and pour the hot water over the grounds. Remember to stretch out the extraction by pulsing the water into the filter for about 3 to 4 minutes.
Grinder: For longer trips there are a number of all metal manual conical burr grinders on the market. They are small and easy to use. Amazon carries 5 different manual conical burr grinders for $15 to $25 dollars each.
If you lose your Travel Survival Kit, it is also possible to put coffee grounds in a sock and pour in hot water. However, it is messy, and you wind up with one brown sock.
Even on vacation starting the day with a great cup of coffee makes a difference. It is a little work to create a Travel Survival Kit but when you have that great cup in the morning you will agree it is worth it.
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