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2 Ways To Brew Coffee While Traveling

Tasty espresso at a McDonalds in Europe - what a surprise! Photo by Tui Cameron
Tasty espresso at a McDonalds in Europe - what a surprise! Photo by Tui Cameron

Perhaps it’s because all 3 of us have roots in Washington State, the birthplace of Starbucks, but fellow bloggers, MJ and Jessica have both written about the difficulty of finding a tasty cup of coffee while traveling.

MJ found a handheld espresso maker called the Handspresso that looks really good. At $100 it seems pricey, but a true coffee junkie would recoup that after a month or two. It would definitely make a great gift for espresso fans who travel a lot. (Heck, it would make a great gift for me.)

All you need with the Handspresso are coffee pods (like the Nespresso uses) and hot water. It’s a tidy little unit that would be easy to tote around. Judging from the video demo on MJ’s post, it makes a primo cup of joe.

After living in Italy, Jessica moved to a small town in northern France where she could not find a decent cup of espresso. She wrote of her coffee woes in a post that pulls no punches.

Jessica’s story has a happy ending, however. She solved her crappy coffee dilemma by cold-brewing her own toddy coffee in an easy process which she describes on her blog. I have since adapted her recipe and brew it all summer long. It’s a lifesaver in triple digit Texas heat!

Here’s how I make toddy coffee: Dump 2 cups of coffee grounds into a large glass jar, to which I then add 6 cups of filtered water. Steep over night, then strain into another jar. The resulting cold coffee can be used as a base for iced coffee drinks made as strong – or weak – as you prefer. (What I often do is fill a tall glass with ice, pour a serving of this toddy coffee in, add a splash of 1/2 & 1/2, a touch of vanilla, and voila!)

What’s great about Jessica’s technique is that the cold-brewing process actually improves the flavor of the beans. If you have an old bag of coffee that was too sharp for your palate, the toddy coffee version will be more mellow. While you’re welcome to use top of the line coffee, a middle-grade bean comes out just fine.

As a recovering barista, the quest for good coffee is a prime concern. Since I don’t yet own a Handspresso, I plan to brew my own toddy coffee on my next trip. In fact, I’m flying to Arizona in a few days, so I will to do some toddy coffee testing while I’m there.

Here’s my plan: I’ll pack a glass jar of some sort (an old dill pickle jar, maybe), whatever I can find that is roughly 32 ounces. I’ll put a heaping cup full of coffee grounds in the jar, fill it with good tasting water, leave it in the hotel fridge overnight, then strain out each dose one serving at a time. If this is too messy, I may invest in either the Planetary Design Travel French press, or the Bodum 16-Ounce Travel Coffee Press for toddy coffee brewing while traveling.

Do you have any tips for brewing a great cup of coffee while on the go? If so, leave a comment and let me know.

Tui Snider
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Published inTravel Photo Essays


  1. Hi there Tui, I realize that this is a pretty old post but Google directed me here when I was desperately searching for a good option to enjoy my cup of coffee while traveling. I think this Handpresso is something that I need. If there are other options to this, I would appreciate your recommendation. Thanks a lot.

  2. Thanks for the post. I like second one brew coffee. It is really nice, little bit spicy also. It’s taste and aroma is too good. I like to drink it very much.

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Hi Anjelina! Frankly, I’m still on a quest for the best way to brew coffee while traveling, but I’m having fun trying! Thanks for dropping by. :)

  3. Ferdie Ferdie

    Hi, I enjoy yours posts and the pictures here. I travel a lot for business and unfortunately drink a lot of bad coffee while on these trips. I will try out your idea. Have you made improvements on this idea yet? Keep up the good work on your blog! :)

  4. […] Tips: I love coffee, and judging by the amount of hits 2 Ways To Brew Coffee While Traveling continues to get I am not […]

  5. I’ve gotten rid of my coffee pot in favor of a French Press, but I think I just might have to try the cold brew coffee. I can see that being a bonus here in Houston during the summer time.

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Oh, yeah. You can cold brew in a French press. It’s easy peasy and I know Space City heats up like crazy. You will love it! :)

  6. These are very interesting tips. I have never tried to cold brew coffee before, but it seems so easy that I am definitely going to give it a shot. I can see where it would be great for iced coffee and frozen coffee drinks. Thanks for the tips!

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I, too, was surprised by how easy it is to cold brew coffee. As I said, it really mellows out the flavor, too. I have read that it lowers the acidity, as well, which can be a concern for some folks.

      I fly out tomorrow for a few days, and plan to cold brew coffee while I’m gone. I’ll let you know how my experiments go!


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