The Ultimate Coffee Geek’s Travel Kit Guide: Taking Your Coffee Snobbery on the Road

Scoops Westside pourover by Caroline on Crack
Coffee by Caroline on Crack

Tastes so good when it hits your lips.

With the explosion of high-quality coffee places and roasters all over Los AngelesIntelligentsia, Handsome Coffee Roasters, LAMILLDripp and Brew Coffee Barthere’s bound to be a growing dependence and, let’s face it, addiction to that fine cup of Joe. For super picky coffee drinkers, workplace K-Cups and the regular drip just won’t do anymore.

Believe me, I understand. I am an admitted coffee snob. Here’s the basic coffee travel kit that I bring everywhere with me, from the office to the road. Affordable and simple, and great for those just starting out.

What I like about this setup is it’s so simple and all I need is hot water but I can pretty much make coffee wherever; and I do. Now if only someone invented a coffee travel bag so I wouldn’t have to lug this stuff around in my reusable Fresh & Easy shopping bag.

Since I was curious about taking my coffee obsession to the next level, I asked renowned coffee geeks 2010 U.S. and World Barista Champion Michael Phillips of Handsome Coffee and Scoops Westside proprietor Matt Kang (Mattatouille) for what traveling java junkies who want to be able to make their black gold anywhere can pack in their coffee travel kit, especially with the holidays coming up. (My mom and pop make horrible coffee. Horrible! Sorry, M&D!)

Coffee at Akasha by Caroline on Crack

Even restaurants, like Akasha, are getting in the pourover act.

The Handsome Coffee Geek Travel Kit

Michael started by telling me what’s in his own coffee travel kit.

“My standard super travel kit that goes on pretty much every flight with me (TSA friendly):

This allows for a super accurate nerd brew to be made at 3,500 feet and all fits into my Patagonia midsize shoulder bag [could he be talking about this Daily Grind bag? heh] with my laptop, notepad, books and other travel goods.  The thermos fits in the outside pouch designed for water bottles, the Porlux slides into the Aeropress, your towel and filters can cram into the mug, the scale and coffee are on their own.

“This can be budgeted by dropping items in the following order with the following consequences:

  1. Drop scale – you can use the Aeropress reasonably accurately without a scale but as your travel coffee ages and elevations/pressure changes it is difficult to really “nail it.”
  2. Drop mug – you can almost always find a paper cup that will work but you have to be careful (the whole method of the aeropress involves pressing down on the receptacle) and if you’re going to the effort of making a fresh cup, don’t you want to drink it out of something nice?!?
  3. Drop slim bullet thermos – you can get hot water from a flight attendant/airport coffee shop/misc kettle in your travels but the nice pour that these guys have works great with the tiny mouth of the Aeropress.  It is also way more safe when you are stuck in an economy seat on U.S. air to have something so well sealed…
  4. Drop hand grinder – you can totally pre-grind your coffee for travel.  You could also just use Via, you savage…”

And for those going home for the holidays who don’t mind checking luggage, hit the jump for Michael’s more serious setup.

“This is not TSA friendly and takes up a bit more room in the suitcase. But… the electric kettle is a huge win as a surprising number of hotels do not have kettles available for your room.  Also if you are grinding by hand you may not want to go downstairs to the kitchen at a family gathering to very publicly make a super tasty brew of Kenya up. It will destroy both your forearms and the next hour of your life… the tiny Bodum allows for early morning covert bedroom brews.  The AWS scale is a little bigger but goes up to 2,000 grams and is just sweet.

“If you’re big pimpin’ spending G’s and do not care about the room it takes or the mess, throw a Capresso Infinity burr grinder in the mix.  It is probably the smallest acceptable quality electric grinder out there and would elevate your game to brewing for the whole family status.  I’d pair this with the Clever package, replacing the Skerton.”

Coffee Travel Kits for Campers and Rich Folks

Matt, who actually got me started with the basic kit, provided me with a variety of coffee geek travel kit ideas tailored for whatever you’re looking for, whether you want something rugged enough for camping trips or if you have money to spend.

Mammoth coffee by Caroline on Crack

At Mammouth 2011 blogger trip, Matt was in charge of cooking as well as making the pourovers.

Camping Coffee Geek Kit: Something durable that can make more than one cup of coffee for you and your camping buddies.

High-End: If you want to take your coffeemaking to the next (price tier) level.

If you’re wondering what the difference between Aeropress and pourover (using Clever Dripper) is check out these videos:

By the way, if you’d like to get started with a pourover setup or are looking for the perfect gift for your favorite coffee geek, Thrillist Rewards just happens to currently offer a deal with Handsome Coffee Roasters where you get the Clever Coffee Dripper and coffee beans delivered to your home for $60 for three months!

6 Responses to The Ultimate Coffee Geek’s Travel Kit Guide: Taking Your Coffee Snobbery on the Road
  1. bz
    December 14, 2011 | 3:10 pm

    these are quality kits. for the neurotic types who obsess about wedges of space in travel bags, excellent brewing gear can actually get substantially more compact.

    first of all, ditch the plastic brewing device itself for a pack of kantan drippers, which are tiny, flat in a suitcase and unfold to fit over any cup.
    http://shop.wreckingballcoffee.com/product/kalita-kantan-dripper-pack

    secondly, i vote for the porlex grinder, in part because it has an even smaller mini version.
    http://www.orphanespresso.com/PORLEX-Mini-Stainless-Steel-Japanese-Ceramic-Burr-Coffee-Grinder_p_3498.html

    i recently went to europe, and managed to brew in my airplane seat with such a setup. i was not arrested.
    http://www.chemicallyimbalanced.org/2011/11/21/ci-auditions-for-flight-attendant/

    • Caroline on Crack
      December 14, 2011 | 3:27 pm

      bz, Awesome suggestions! Thanks! I was actually looking for a different hand grinder now since my Hario doesn’t grind consistent grounds. The end result is a combination of big grains and sand.

  2. mattatouille
    December 14, 2011 | 6:17 pm

    bz, while the kalita kantan paper filters are a decent option, I feel like their limited output could be hard to work with. Hopefully you’re traveling with some mates, so making more than a small cup at a time is a good idea! 🙂 Good input though

  3. NOMAD
    December 15, 2011 | 9:04 am

    Any idea on where to get the Aeropress in LA, I think I’ve passed the get it in the mail by xmas deadline.

  4. Caroline on Crack
    December 15, 2011 | 10:19 am

    NOMAD, actually I just checked on Amazon and looks like you can still get it before Christmas: http://www.amazon.com/Aerobie-AeroPress-Coffee-Espresso-Maker/dp/B0047BIWSK

  5. Travel Setup | Tamp & Steep
    August 22, 2013 | 9:48 am

    […] is going to seal the deal for me is finding an article on Caroline On Crack with the travel setup of my coffee idol Michael Phillips of Handsome Coffee Roasters. The Handsome […]

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