While visiting cafes and trying the local coffee is one of my favourite things to do in a new city, the costs quickly stack up. After a few years of experimentation, I’ve found few different gadgets that allow you to easily make delicious coffee from the comfort of your home, hostel or even campsite. More recently, I’ve discovered a clear favourite (more on this below).

When it comes to choosing the best portable coffee maker, the most important factors are:

  • Portability. How much space does it take up in my luggage (or at home)?
  • Durability. Will I have to worry about it breaking while in transit?
  • Coffee quality. An obvious one: what is the quality of the coffee like?
  • Speed. How long will it take to brew a cup (or multiple cups) of coffee?

I’ve always been a big fan of the flat white, but I’ve stopped taking milk with my coffee when brewing at home. But if you want to fully replicate the cafe experience, pick up a milk frother and add it to your daily coffee routine.

And now, here are the best portable coffee makers you can buy in 2018.

Best Portable Coffee Makers of 2018

For most people, the AeroPress ticks all of the boxes above. It’s easy to use, carry and clean, and brews consistently excellent coffee every time. However, it’s worth having a look at the alternatives as well to see what works for your needs.

Those who are partial to the French Press style of coffee may want to consider the portable Bodum Travel Coffee Press, while those who insist on a “proper” espresso should take a look at the MiniPresso GR Espresso Maker.

If you’re invested in the Keurig K-Cup or Nespresso capsule systems, check out the the Presto MyJo Coffee Maker (Keurig) and CISNO Portable Espresso Machine (Nespresso). If all you want is a single-serve pour over coffee to go, the Primula Coffee Brew Buddy has you covered.

I also have a soft spot for the old-school “cafetera” or “moka pot”, especially when it comes to making your early morning coffee at a campsite. Out of these, I’d recommend the classic Bialetti Stovetop Espresso Maker.

Next, let’s get into the details.

Winner: AeroPress

Though it’s been around since 2005, the popularity of the AeroPress has only really started to take off in recent years. Now, there are coffee snobs around the world that swear by it (myself included), and there’s even a World AeroPress Championship!

The best part? It’s super easy to use and only takes a few minutes to make a perfect coffee, every time. To top things off, clean up takes literally only a few seconds.

It works like a giant syringe: you mix in ground coffee with near-boiling water, let it brew for a few minutes, then squeeze a perfect cup of coffee through the filter.

Features

  • Delicious, full-bodied coffee without bitterness
  • Relatively simple process with consistent quality
  • Brewing process only takes around 2-3 minutes
  • Compact design that folds down very small
  • Made of durable, BPA-free plastic (not glass!)
  • Clean up takes literally about 5-10 seconds
  • Versatility in creating different kinds of coffee
  • It’s quite cheap and great value for the price

Downsides

  • Only possible to make 1-2 servings at a time

As far as portable (or even non-portable) coffee makers are concerned, the AeroPress ticks almost every box. The coffee is excellent, the brewing process is quick and easy, and clean up takes almost no effort at all. It’s also proved to be quite versatile: for example, I’ve recently started experimenting with creating cold brews with the AeroPress – and it’s delicious.

The only downside with the AeroPress is that it’s only possible to make 1-2 cups of coffee at a time. Still, this isn’t such a major issue as the brewing time is so short. Simply make a batch of coffee, rinse, and make another one right after.

Buy on Amazon

Not sure yet? Read some more reviews first.

Winner: Presto MyJo Coffee Maker

Sometimes, simplicity is best. The Presto MyJo Coffee Maker is similar to the AeroPress in the sense that you have to press your coffee out by hand, but it uses Keurig K-Cups for another no fuss, no mess brewing solution.

It’s easy to use, it’s reliable and best of all – it’s cheap. The only downside is that it only makes one cup of coffee at a time, but it’s meant to be portable so that makes complete sense. If you want to complement your Presto MyJo with a “proper” Keurig machine for home use, you can share the same capsules between both.

Features

  • Compatible with Keurig K-Cup capsules
  • Great coffee as to be expected from Keurig
  • Extremely affordable yet quality construction
  • Manual method that doesn’t require electricity
  • Simple to use with delicious coffee every time
  • Easy to clean: simply rinse after use

Downsides

  • Only produces one cup of coffee a time

If you already have Keurig K-Cups or are willing to try them out, the Presto MyJo Coffee Maker is a highly affordable, quality options for making great cups of coffee on the go. If you don’t have a coffee maker already and want a portable, fully manual coffee maker, the Presto and the AeroPress are probably the ones to beat.

One tip about the Presto: some have complained that the water doesn’t fully press through. This is because the Presto requires 3-5 pumps to get all the coffee out – simply wait for the top to pop back out again and keep pushing the press down until you hear the “whoosh” sound.

Buy on Amazon

Not sure yet? Read some more reviews first.

Winner: Bodum Travel Coffee Press

Before finding the AeroPress, my go-to home coffee maker was the French Press. The Bodum Travel Coffee Press makes French Press coffee portable.

Simply add hot water and ground coffee beans. The brewing process completes in just a few minutes, and there’s no need to wait – it’ll brew even while you’re on the move. The vacuum-sealed design prevents leakage, while the stainless steel, double-wall body also means that your drinks will stay hot (or cold) for hours.

If you’re not a fan of the stainless steel design, there’s also a BPA-free plastic version of the Bodum Travel Press that’s also available.

Features

  • Smooth, delicious French Press coffee on the go
  • Add cream, sugar or milk into the brewing process
  • Durable stainless steel (or BPA-free plastic) body
  • Reduce spillage with its leak-resistant lid design
  • Double-wall design keeps your coffee warm
  • Coffee brewing only takes a few minutes
  • Relatively simple coffee-making process

Downsides

  • Designed to produce only a single serving
  • Some coffee grounds will end up in your coffee
  • Bottle design is leak-resistant, not leak-proof
  • Coffee gets quite bitter if brewed for too long

If you’re a French Press fan and want to drink (or even brew) your coffee while on the move, the Bodum Travel Coffee Press is the one to beat. Like the AeroPress, here’s some room for versatility here as well. For example: let the coffee brew for a few minutes, add sugar/cream/milk, then plunge altogether to get a perfectly mixed coffee straight out of the press.

A downside of the Bodum Travel Coffee Press is that some of the coffee grounds will make it through the filter, but this is characteristic of any French Press coffee maker. Also worth noting is that the lid design is leak-resistant (not leak-proof), so be careful when carrying it with your valuables. Letting the coffee to sit for too long will also produce a rather bitter coffee.

Buy on Amazon

Not sure yet? Read some more reviews first.

Winner: CISNO Portable Espresso Machine

For espresso fans that don’t want to fuss with coffee grinds and want their coffee maker to just work, the CISNO Portable Espresso Machine is here. Compatibility with Nespresso capsules and 217psi/15bar of pressure ensures you get a perfect espresso shot within minutes, at the press of a button.

Pro tip: if you like a Lungo (110ml) sized coffee, simply brew the same coffee pod twice. This is how I like my coffee – but hey, you do you.

Features

  • Perfect shot of Nespresso coffee every time
  • Super easy to use with no fuss and no mess
  • Streamlined and compact design for travel use
  • Compatible with Nespresso style capsules
  • Compatible with reusable stainless steel capsules
  • AC and car charger included for coffee on the go

Downsides

  • Full charge takes about 5 hours
  • Works better with hot or boiling water

For a Nespresso lover, the CISNO Portable Espresso Machine is a no brainer. It’s a little on the pricey side, but it’s comparable – cheaper, even – to most Nespresso machines, so it comes down to whether you value portability over cranking out dozens of espressos at once.

Keurig K-Cup fans, we’ve got you covered too – simply read on to the next section. CISNO (the manufacturer) has also mentioned that they’re working on a Keurig version to be released next year, so keep an eye out!

Buy on Amazon

Not sure yet? Read some more reviews first.

Winner: MiniPresso GR Espresso Maker

Espresso aficionados (who want to use coffee grinds, the “proper” way) might be disappointed in most of the options on this list – and for those people, the MiniPresso GR Espresso Maker is worth a look. The MiniPresso is one of the most compact espresso machines you’ll find today, yet it packs a punchy 116psi/8bar of pressure to squeeze out delicious espresso shots.

The manufacturer themselves make it clear that this is a coffee maker for a particular type of coffee drinker.

“If you are looking a full cup of coffee the AeroPress is a great product. If you are looking for a quality shot of espresso, anywhere on the go, that is what the MiniPresso is made for. If you want both a cup of coffee and espresso, you wouldn’t be the first to own both machines.”

Features

  • Semi-automatic, hand-operated coffee maker
  • Sturdy yet compact and lightweight design
  • High pressure produces great espresso shots
  • Best option for a “real” espresso shot on the go

Downsides

  • Possibility of breaking if prepared incorrectly
  • Hot water may leak out if filled up too much

If you’re a espresso purist and want to keep it that way while on the road, pick up a MiniPresso GR Espresso Maker. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind during preparation – don’t fill the water all the way up to the line (ignore what it says in the manual), and don’t tamp the coffee grinds down too much or you might end up with a broken coffee maker.

If you decide to pick up a MiniPresso, I’d highly recommend reading through these reviews to learn from other people’s mistakes to make sure you get the most out of your machine.

Buy on Amazon

Not sure yet? Read some more reviews first.

Winner: Primula Coffee Brew Buddy

Want tasty pour-over coffee for a single-digit price? Pick up a Primula Coffee Brew Buddy and place it over the cup of your choice to make your morning brew in under 30 seconds. Simply add a scoop of ground coffee into the mesh filter and pour hot water over – slowly for a darker brew, or more quickly for lighter flavours.

As far as portability goes, the Primula takes the crown as it’s a simple (yet high quality) mesh filter. It’s no more difficult than carrying around instant coffee but you get real coffee in about the same amount of time.

Features

  • Extremely portable as it’s simple a mesh filter
  • Brewing tea works just as well as coffee grounds
  • Much more eco-friendly than coffee capsules
  • Takes less than 30 seconds to brew coffee
  • Easy to clean and store away
  • Extremely cheap

Downsides

  • Overly fine coffee grounds sometimes seep through

As the saying goes, “just add (hot) water”. The only thing to keep in mind is that the using coffee grounds that are too fine might result in a dark, sludgy residue accumulating at the bottom of the cup. Most coffee grounds you buy in a packet should be fine, but this is something to keep in mind if you grind your own coffee.

Buy on Amazon

Not sure yet? Read some more reviews first.

Winner: Bialetti Stovetop Espresso Maker

I only learned about the cafetera (or “moka pot”, “percolator” or “cafetiere” depending on where you’re from) after receiving it as a camping gift about a year ago, and I fell in love with it instantly.

It’s very low-tech: simply add water, coffee grounds and put the whole thing on the stove until it starts boiling over. There’s nothing fancy about it – the design has remained unchanged since the early to mid-1900s, but it’s a great example of timeless industrial design.

Features

  • Low-tech, which means there’s nothing to break
  • Low maintenance and very easy to clean
  • Distinctively thick and strong “moka” flavour
  • Great old-school feeling when making coffee
  • Very durable and only get better with time
  • Very easy to clean: just rinse with water

Downsides

  • Its shape isn’t great for portability and travel
  • It might rattle a bit when carrying it around

For best results: grind the coffee slightly coarser than regular espresso grounds, use cold water (don’t cut corners by using hot water), and take your time to slowly heat the water up on a low flame. I personally also don’t tamp the coffee grounds and get fantastic results every time.

The one I’ve linked to is the 6-cup variant, but you can also find smaller (or larger) versions of the Bialetti.

Buy on Amazon

Not sure yet? Read some more reviews first.

Final Thoughts

As someone who drinks several cups of coffee a day, ensuring that getting the best possible brew without the breaking the bank has become a bit of an obsession. I personally use the AeroPress and a cafetera, with recent experiments into ice coffee and cold brews as Berlin’s weather crosses over in 30°C+ and 70% humidity.

To recap, the top picks are:

If you liked this guide, please be sure to share with your friends, family, or anyone that you think might find this useful.

Thanks for reading!

Chris left his hometown of Sydney in 2016 to work and travel his way around the world. When not working on Nomad Toolkit, he works as the lead consultant of Pareto Digital, as well as dabbling in writing, design, development and photography.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here