When you’re on the go but desperately need your caffeine hit, finding a café or making instant coffee are usually your only two options. But what if you could make a good, fast coffee with a device, compact and robust enough to take travelling? Enter the portable coffee machine, but is it worth buying, and what should you consider before buying? Find out all you need to know about portable coffee machines with this Canstar Blue guide.
What is a portable coffee machine?
A portable coffee machine is exactly what it says on the tin – a coffee machine that you can take travelling, with a much smaller weight and capacity. There are multiple types of portable coffee machines available to suit your preferences when it comes to get your morning cuppa.
Types of portable coffee machines
There are typically five different types of portable coffee makers – automatic types, automatic pod types, pot types, press types, and vacuum types. These coffee machine types all have their advantages and disadvantages, so it really comes down to what you want out of your portable coffee.
Automatic portable coffee machines
Automatic portable coffee machines are probably what you’re looking for, automating the process entirely down to you simply needing to put water and coffee in and turn it on. Automatic portable coffee machines are usually small enough to carry and operate with a single hand, are robust enough to take on a plane, and while they might not look all that interesting, they make up for it in ease of use. You might struggle to find an automatic portable coffee machine that’ll grind the beans for you as well, but for coffee while travelling, it’s worth the trade-off.
Portable pod coffee machines
Portable pod coffee machines function exactly the same as non-pod automatic coffee machines, except with the addition of pod capability. Instead of inserting ground coffee, all you need to do is give it water and a compatible pod, and your portable pod coffee machine will brew your coffee.
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Portable pot coffee
Pot coffee makers are classic, and in many regards get in on a technicality – typically their use of operation makes them classically portable, but pot coffee machines can be quite cumbersome. Otherwise known as percolators or moka pots, pot coffee machines involve two halves, with water in the bottom half and coffee in the top half.
The pot is boiled over a stovetop, which forces the water to bubble through the coffee, letting it blend well as the brew is heated. Just be careful not to burn your coffee! You can also get coffee pots that can boil on their own, provided they have the mains power to do so.
Portable hand press coffee
A basic way to make your coffee is through the use of a press coffee machine. This is where you put your coffee grinds into a pot, fill it with boiled water, and then press the plunger in, brewing the coffee above the rim of the plunger without the nasty taste of coffee grinds.
This approach, like with pot coffee machines, can be less than portable, depending on the weight and build quality of your press coffee maker, however, you can definitely find small and light enough press coffee makers out there.
Portable vacuum coffee
Vacuum coffee makers use a paper filter, where coffee is placed in the filter and water is poured over the filter. After this, you have to push with your own strength on the outsides to force the hot water through the coffee, blending it together. Specialised machines do this well with detailed instructions, and this very well could be your portable coffee solution.
How much do portable coffee machines cost?
Portable coffee machines can range in price, but can generally cost you around $40 to $200 depending on the brand, type and functionality of the machine.
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Portable coffee machine brands
There are multiple brands that sell portable coffee machines, including the likes of AeroPress and Wacaco.
AeroPress portable coffee machines
AeroPress is – as the name implies – a coffee press that allows you to brew and press your coffee in the one container. Simply add ground coffee, hot water, brew for the desired time and then press into a mug, and you’re on your way! The AeroPress range includes the standard AeroPress Coffee Maker and the AeroPress Go, although arguably both are fairly portable, with the AeroPress Go coming with a lid and a slightly smaller capacity to help fit in your bag. Both cost around $50-$60, coming with plenty of extras to help you get the coffee you’re after.
Wacaco portable coffee machines
Founded in Hong Kong, Wacaco is known for its piston-driven handheld espresso machine, with a wide variety of portable coffee machines available to purchase. The Picopresso is a portable espresso machine that weighs in at 350g and is just over 10cm in length, making it a truly portable model. While it does require a bit of manual work, including heating water separately and grinding the beans, it does also come with a travel bag, making it easy to pack away. Wacaco’s range of portable coffee machines range in price from around $80 to $200.
What should I look out for when shopping for a portable coffee machine?
There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for a portable coffee machine. Obviously, you want to get the best machine for your needs and your travel requirements, so keep the below points in mind:
- Bulkiness: Some models are bulkier than others, and depending on what your priorities are, you could end up with one that’s too big for your intentions. If you’re going camping, consider a smaller coffee maker, but if you’re headed for hotels, maybe consider a bigger machine, if your luggage can handle it!
- Power: Depending on the style of machine, power might become a bit of an issue. Some machines will require mains power through a cable, whereas others will be battery-powered either by an in-built battery or by removable batteries (such as AA’s or AAA’s).
- Price: For a lot of people, price is the be-all and end-all of buying a new gadget, but considering that a morning coffee is worth its weight in gold for some, spending more on something that gets your coffee just right may be well worth forking out extra for.
- Type: The type of portable coffee machine or portable coffee maker you get is very important, be it automatic, pot, press or vacuum. You might prefer one type of coffee brewing over another, so keep your eye out for different brewing capabilities.
Should I get a portable coffee machine?
Portable coffee machines are useful for those that travel a lot and prefer their coffee a certain way (or just don’t want to fork out for takeaway coffees all the time), but for those who may not be travelling far and wide, a portable coffee machine may not be worth it. But if you can imagine yourself enjoying a nice hot cuppa while taking in the fresh air during a camping trip, a portable coffee machine might be worth adding to your inventory.
Original Author: April Broadbent