← Back to portfolio
Published on

Traveling to Coffee-deserts: On Why the Aeropress is Your Perfect Travel Companion

Traveling to Coffee-deserts: On Why the Aeropress is Your Perfect Travel Companion

Whenever I visit my family in southern Indiana, I have to mentally prepare to spend a week in a coffee-desert. I live in Portland, Oregon and am well aware of how spoiled I am by great coffee. When I travel, the options are limited. If I've checked the web for hidden gems in a desert, and still come up empty, I pack my AeroPress.

To make killer coffee while traveling in a coffee-desert, I use an AeroPress. I use it for camping, and I use it for traveling to small towns where it’s hard to find coffee profiles that have changed since the late 80’s.

Traveling inevitably means drinking some bad coffee for the caffeine. If you’re driving, it usually means slogging down a cup of gas-station machine-brew. If you’re flying, airport cafes are always a gamble. While my preferred at-home brewing method has always been pour-over, I’m definitely not forgoing my favorite travel-hoodie or yoga pants to make room for my gooseneck kettle or risk bending all the paper filters.

Unless you’re staying with fellow coffee dorks, you probably want to purchase a hand grinder for your whole-bean coffee to avoid the inconsistency of a traditional blade-grinder. Manual grinders are not only easy to use, they bring a whole new sense of mindfulness to the coffee making process.

I use this manual grinder because it doesn’t activate my carpal tunnel, the grind is easy to adjust, and it fits in a sock. Your Keurig-reliant grandmother will be nothing but impressed.

An Aeropress is your best option because it’s made of thick plastic and very difficult to damage while traveling. AeroPress has recently released a new model specifically for traveling, but I can testify that the original is hassle-free. The AeroPress weighs almost nothing, and you don't need a lot of extra accessories to go with it, (besides the optional hand grinder) and a portion-pack of filters.

An AeroPress is low-maintenance, and an award-winning brew method. If you want to go totally wasteless you can purchase an inexpensive reusable filter for your AeroPress. However, the paper filters are small and come in packs of 500, so it depends on whether you prefer a cleaner cup of coffee; think the cleanness of a filtered pour-over using paper, versus a cup of French press without. Either method is easy to travel with, it simply depends on your taste preferences.

Traveling with an AeroPress is made easier by the fact that you don’t need a scale: Unlike the execution of a pour-over, where a scale and timer are essential, you can easily eyeball the amount of coffee beans in your grinder to make a decent AeroPress, and you don’t need your cell phone’s timer.

If you can, try using a scale at home before your trip. Tare the weight of your hand-grinder to 15 or 16 grams of coffee. Note where the beans lie in your grinder. Mine lie just a half-inch below the lip of the manual grinder. With this knowledge, you won’t have to pack a scale, but you know how much you will need to grind per cup.

If the household you’re visiting doesn’t have a fancy kettle, fear not. The classic AeroPress creates a full-body cup without a restrained pour from an expensive kettle.

Last but not least, I am an avid flipper, and you should be too. Why? Flipping your AeroPress is fun and continues to impress your family. The flip method is scarier than it looks (flipping the AeroPress right side up with the hot coffee brewing inside.) Try it a couple of times before your trip. You can aim for about a 1:15 brew-time by adding the ground coffee to the base of the AeroPress, filling it half-way with 205-degree water and counting 30seconds before filling to the top. Place your rinsed filter and cap on top of the beautiful crema, before quickly flipping the AeroPress over your mug.

When I first started making AeroPress, I watched this delightful Stumptown video a few times to get the hang of the flip-method. Though it was intimidating at first, AeroPress is my go-to whenever I travel to coffee-deserts, whether I’m camping or trying to impress my grandmother.