My morning coffee is sacred to me. As I’m sure it is to you. So when you experience as many days on the road as I do, you come to daydream about being home and getting to make yourself some delicious French press coffee. I felt the anguish of drinking hotel coffee for years…that is, until I discovered the beautiful world of TRAVEL FRENCH PRESSES.
The travel French press is a sturdy, rugged version of its glass cousins. Designed to withstand the bumps and bruises that come along with being a road warrior. So in my attempt to find the perfect travel French press, I discovered that there were presses out there to suit the needs of every kind of traveler. Here is my rundown of my favorites travel French Presses.
(Click the names of the presses to shop!)
CARAFE TRAVEL FRENCH PRESSES:
Presses that are similar to the classic French Press but made of travel friendly materials like BPA free plastic or Stainless Steel. They are not made to drink out of. Sizes range from individual cups to two large cups of coffee.
The Venture Travel French Press from OXO is almost identical in size to a classic French press. The body and handle are made from shatter resistant BPA free plastic and it has a stainless steel mesh with rubber gasket for a great pressing experience that rivaled most glass or ceramic home presses. It was capable of making enough coffee for 2 casual drinkers, or one hardcore badass coffee drinker. Like your at-home press, it’s not made for keeping coffee hot for long, but that is the case with most carafe presses. However, traveling with it means you must also travel a mug or…dare I say it…use the hotel mugs! GROSS!
Ideal Traveler: Those with a travel companion who don’t mind the hassle of needing a separate vessel for drinking their coffee. www.oxo.com
I love the folks at Planetary Design. They made my favorite travel french press in my last review. They’ve expanded their lineup of travel coffee products and I couldn’t be more excited. Now, they bill the Steel Toe as a mug, but I like it much better as a carafe for a couple of reasons. First, it’s big enough (20 oz) to share some morning joe with a fellow traveler. Second, they made an interesting choice by leaving the drinking hole exposed, making it not ideal for traveling with it full of liquid. But with that said, the combination of their “bru-stop” technology, the extra layer of fine mesh on the mouthpiece and the great insulation make this a great carafe press!
Ideal Traveler: This is a great press for the coffee lover who makes AND drinks their coffee in the same place but doesn’t want to have to worry about a separate drinking vessel to pack. www.planetarydesign.com
MUG TRAVEL FRENCH PRESSES:
Coffee tumblers that have a pressing element in the lid. Ideal for individual traveling coffee drinkers.
Stanley has been in business for over 100 years, so you’ve probably had a father or grandfather who had a Stanley steel thermos back in the day. Over the years they haven’t changed much, but that’s because they’ve created such a great, iconic product that they haven’t needed to. This press doesn’t look like most other presses on the market; from the iconic green steel exterior to the basket pressing element, this thing stands out. For some people, that might not be ideal because the design definitely has a “classic” feel to it.
The press functions fantastically. The mesh and rubber ring on the pressing element did a great job keeping grounds separated from the coffee and the screw top made the press completely leak-proof. I had no issues throwing the whole thing, full of coffee, into my gym bag. The double wall vacuum seal claims that it keeps liquids hot for 4 hours. It almost works TOO well. 5 hours later my coffee was still piping hot. That could be a plus or minus for some.
Ideal Traveler: Those who appreciate the nostalgia of classic products. Ideal for people who don’t intend on drinking their coffee for many hours after making it. www.stanley-pmi.com
ESPRO has been making fantastic travel french presses for years now and they just completed a Kickstarter campaign that nearly tripled their goal to make the lightest travel french press in the world. I had the pleasure of being one of the first people to test out the Ultralight and I wasn’t disappointed. They were able to pack a ton into a small frame. Their vacuum sealed double wall is unbelievably thin, easily keeping coffee hot for a couple of hours. They were able to save weight by foregoing a traditional drinking hole and having slits built into the pressing element. Speaking of the press, their double mesh filter is multi-functional, working as an incredible french press filter, or you can put grounds on the inside to make cold brew coffee overnight. The screw top was air-tight and the handle on the top was comfortable to carry. My only issue was that I feel like I was getting slightly less than the advertised 16 oz. It felt like a great option for a smaller, “second cup of the day” for me.
Ideal Traveler: Someone who carries a lot with them and doesn’t want the extra weight/bulk. People who order a Tall Starbucks, not a Grande. People who like the option to make cold brew. www.espro.ca
My number one travel french press from my last article is back and they’ve made some great improvements! Starting with the great things they kept from their earlier model, the press is still a sturdy double wall stainless steel mug with handle that keeps your coffee nice and hot for hours. It sill has a super-stealthy twist-off bottom for storing an extra serving of coffee grounds, cash or whatever dirty little secrets you want to keep down there. A few key improvements include a wider base, making it not quite so easy to knock over, less metal by the mouthpiece, preventing burning your lip on ultra-hot coffee, and the addition of the same Bru-Stop technology as the Steel Toe mentioned above.
Ideal Traveler: Those who want the option of a second serving of coffee, thanks to the added storage. www.planetarydesign.com
The Kohipress is one of the top selling travel French presses on Amazon so I was excited to get my hands on this bad boy. I loved the design and I was impressed with how the fine mesh filter and the “Advanced Isolation Mechanism” kept the grounds separated from the brew after pressing. My only issue was that occasionally while testing, a good 2-3 ounces of coffee were trapped under the Isolation Mechanism along with the grounds. In a 12 ounce press, that’s a lot of coffee to miss out on. It didn’t happen every time, and perhaps I received a faulty unit. But when the press worked properly, it was very impressive!
Ideal Traveler: Those who appreciate function AND form without spending more than $30 on a great, lightweight press. www.kohiplus.com
POUR OVER COFFEE MAKERS:
Because I know some of you out there aren’t down with the french press, I’ve decided to include some honorary mention pour over coffee makers that work great, but TECHNICALLY aren’t french presses.
For a great shatterproof pour over coffee option, OXO is a fantastic choice. While I don’t normally like extra pieces to have to carry with me, the water tank features a hole pattern that precisely distributes the hot water to give a cafe quality pour over coffee experience. The water tank also allows you to see how much water you are actually pouring into the dripper, which is a great added touch.
Ideal Traveler: Those who don’t mind having a few extra items to throw in their bag (the dripper, the water tank, coffee filters and don’t forget, you also need a mug to catch the coffee), but want the ease of being able to buy regular coffee grounds at any store. www.oxo.com
For those of you looking for an all-in-one pour over option, the Coffee Gator pour over travel mug allows you to make pour over coffee directly into a double wall vacuum sealed travel mug. The fine mesh of the steel dripper gives a great even coffee saturation. My only issue with the Coffee Gator is that you have to guess how much water you are pouring into the mug since you can’t see inside. Not a dealbreaker, but just a note that it takes a couple of tries before you get the levels perfect.
Ideal Traveler: Those who prefer pour over coffee but don’t want to travel with a separate tumbler to drink out of. www.coffeegator.com
Just for fun, I thought I would include a great option specifically made for cold brew coffee! If you’ve just got to have your cold brew coffee on the road and you have a refrigerator to steep your brew overnight, or you just like the option of making loose leaf tea, cold brew, or fruit infused water, this is a great option!
My name is Spencer Howard, and I’m an Concierge/Host/Drunk who has spent the majority of the past 9 years on the road, hopping from hotel to hotel for months at a time. Through trial and mostly error, I’ve become what the airport security line calls an “Expert Traveler.” (It makes my Mother proud)
But for those of us who go beyond occasional puddle jumper and enter the world of Hotel Homebody, it takes more than a complimentary mint and a flat screen TV to warm the cockles of our hearts.
I hope you have insurance, because I'm gonna be throwing some knowledge bombs at your face.
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