Bad coffee is not on the itinerary.
Ok, let's face it: Finding good coffee while traveling can be hit or miss. Burnt or stale beans, questionable water, and chemical smells in the cup all conspire to ruin the start of your day.
Don't settle! If you're going to pay good money for a coffee away from home, shouldn't it be delicious? We think so.
Sip, Sip, Hooray!
Here's the good news: It's easier than you think to get your hands on an awesome cup o' joe on the go. Here are your options:
- COFFEE IN YOUR HOTEL ROOM OR AIRBNB. It's not hard to whip up your own morning brew that will taste just like home — if you do some prep in advance of your trip.
- COFFEE AT A LOCAL COFFEE HOUSE. Find your local coffee tribe and immerse yourself in the local café culture. It's fun and exciting, and you could end up with some new lifelong friends.😳 We'll share a few proven methods for finding the best coffee locally.
From our experience (and we've traveled a lot 😅), you don't need to compromise when it comes to coffee on the road.
Here are some of our favorite hacks and tips for making your coffee experience on the road exhilarating.
Coffee in your hotel room or Airbnb.
We may be control freaks, but we ❤️ LOVE ❤️ having an amazing cup of coffee in our hotel room or Airbnb every...single...morning. It's something we look forward to, and you can too.
You can roll the dice and try the in-room coffee 🤢, OR simply do a little prep before your trip and you can enjoy your favorite coffee style right in your own private space. Here's all you need to make great coffee in your room:
OUR PACKING LIST FOR AMAZING COFFEE:
PORTABLE COFFEE MAKER.
For making coffee on the road, we recommend (and use) the trusty AeroPress Go. Hands down, the Go is the simplest to use, weighs in at just 11 ounces (remember to pack light!), and includes filters and a built-in coffee cup.
If you're a pour-over fan, you can pack a collapsible coffee dripper like this Attsky silicone dripper. You'll need to bring some paper filters; we love the Hario V60 filters as they don't add funky flavors to your cup. To be extra-ready for anything, pack a coffee cup made by our Aussie friends at KeepCup - environmentally a great travel companion.
If a silicone dripper isn't your thing, then pick up this very cool, artsy MiiR Pourigami (our founder often travels with this). Don't forget your filters.
FRESH GROUND COFFEE BEANS.
We love Guatemala beans roasted medium, and this Prague roast is a trusty companion for a trip anywhere.
We recommend you grind your beans for the trip at home, just before you leave. You could bring a hand-crank Hario Skerton grinder with you, but that's extra weight in your bag and being lazy is a virtue on this point. For a 1-2 week trip, your ground coffee will stay fresh in a thick ziplock freezer bag (double-bag it if you don't want your suitcase and clothes to smell divine).
LOCAL OPTION: Bring just enough of your own beans pre-ground for the first couple of days. When you arrive, go find a local roaster for more (see tips below). They can grind their beans for your AeroPress or drip — it's a great way to experience the local roasting styles while on the road.
HOW MUCH COFFEE? If you're bringing your AeroPress Go on the trip, you should grind 1/2 ounce (15 grams) for each cup of coffee you want to brew. For example: if you're on the road for 7 days, and you want 2 cups of coffee a day, that's 14 cups or 7 ounces of coffee. Keep it simple and just grind 2/3 of a 12-ounce bag of this Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee, bag it up and you're ready to go.
OPTIONAL: TRAVEL KETTLE.
So how do you heat your coffee water? We've found that most hotels and Airbnb's on the road have some kind of electric kettle or other way of boiling water in your room for your coffee. If you can't find one in your hotel room, just call down to the front desk and they'll bring you one.
For peace of mind, you could bring a collapsible, dual-voltage travel kettle like this one. It's one more thing to pack, but if you have the space, go for it.
WHAT ABOUT THE WATER?
We get this question a lot, and while most water in Europe and Asia is drinkable... it's not always amazing for making a tasty cup of coffee.
When you're not sure about the provenance of the water coming out of the tap in your hotel room or Airbnb, we recommend you pick up some bottled water at a convenience or grocery store in the town you're staying. Your hotel front desk probably can bring some bottles to you...sometimes at a stiff price. caveat emptor.
Water is cheap at the local C-store, pick it up there.
Coffee at a local coffee house.
Ok, let's say you're out prowling for the local coffee scene, or just looking for a great cup of coffee. It's not your town, so where do you go?
OUR TOOLS FOR FINDING AMAZING COFFEE LOCALLY:
Google Maps is your COFFEE SHERPA.
We find the truly local coffee shops using good ol' Google Maps. Make sure you have a good data plan for your trip and just pull up the Google Maps app and search using this phrase:"coffee roaster in PLACE"where PLACE is the city or district you're visiting. Look for coffee places with high ratings (4.6 or higher) and ideally lots of reviews in the local language. If the locals love it, it's probably a great find.
For example, try this on the Google Maps app on your phone: enter in "coffee roaster in Prague." (btw, when you're in Prague, be sure to drop by Můj šálek kávy, the home of Euro-famed doubleshot coffee roasters).
Why search for "coffee roaster" and not just "coffee" or "coffee house?"
We like to hunt down cafés that roast their own beans, either on-site or somewhere nearby. You'll get a truly local roast, and that's where interesting locals will be hanging out to get their caffeine fix. You didn't come all this way just to visit a Starbucks full of fellow Americans, did you?
SPRUDGE MAPS COULD HELP YOU FIND GOOD COFFEE.
The coffee fanatics at Sprudge have funded an amazing mapping project called Sprudge Maps, loaded with uber-local "third-wave" (specialty) coffee shops and roasters in many world cities.
It's a noble work in progress, so give it a shot, but if it doesn't work out, use Google Maps (see above). There's more info about the Sprudge Maps project here.
BOOKS ON WORLD COFFEE HOUSES.
You can find a few books in bookstores (or on Amazon) that are fun to explore and look great on your coffee table, but they're not practical to take with you on the road. Use them instead to explore and dream about future coffees you'll have when you're planning out your trip.
Our favorite book (which sadly may be out of print) is Where To Find Coffee, with hundreds of coffee shops curated by wandering baristas and vagabond roasters just like us.
After so many journeys to Europe, Asia, and nearly all 50 States, we've learned that bad coffee doesn't have to be part of your itinerary, no matter where you're headed. A great cup of coffee first thing in the morning is totally achievable, if you pack an AeroPress Go and some fresh beans in your bag.
While it's tempting to seek out the familiar, like the Starbucks around the corner, when you're visiting a new place there's nothing like immersing yourself in the local coffee culture and discovering hidden gems.
Embrace the moment and indulge in the local coffee scene. You'll be amazed at the passion and creativity of the baristas and roasters you'll meet. Who knows, you might just make lifelong friends and memories to cherish.
After all, isn't that what travel is all about?
We are traveling to southern Italy and Sicily in April and then Berlin to Prague in October and I am so looking forward to your Red Eye and learning about coffee in those areas. It is always fascinating to me to sit in a coffee bar oversees and watch the locals and tourists pass by!