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How Do I Make Coffee On the Run?

Okay, you might not be “on the run” per se. The cops are probably not on your tail, but finding good coffee on the road can be hard. While gas station coffee certainly has its own hallowed place in the pantheon of things that aren’t actually good, but satisfy a perverse craving, sometimes we crave coffee that’s actually good.

How do you get it? Local shops are a dice roll. Hotels only serve coffee out of Keurig machines these days, which is a disaster for the environment. How does a decent person get a decent cup of coffee when they’re traveling? Hugo Coffee Roasters has some tips.

What is your travel situation? Are you in an RV? A van? Are you going by plane to various hotels? Your answer determines what kind of options are going to be most effective, as you may have to consider space. While an RV might permit you to carry your very own Moka pot on the road, someone traveling light might have to keep their coffee in a suitcase.

Moka pots are a small, economical way of making coffee that requires only a small pot, water, and a heat source. These pots brew a strong, nearly espresso-like coffee. If you prefer a cappuccino or a latte, they are definitely an option to consider while traveling or even at home. Depending on the materials used to manufacture the Moka pot, you can even use them on a campfire, though you’ll want to find one made with strong, heat-proof materials in the handle. While many models brew 3-6 cups, some models make only a single cup at a time, which means you have plenty of options when shopping for a pot that suits your needs.

If espresso isn’t your thing and you prefer a more traditionally brewed cup of black coffee, you might consider either a French press or Aeropress. Coffee presses require only coffee grounds and hot water to function, so as long as hot water is available, you can brew your morning cup of joe. For travelers with a little more room to spare, the traditional French press is a great way to go, particularly if you plan on making coffee for multiple people. They come in a variety of sizes, though they are generally the size of a small pitcher. Most models are made of glass, so definitely don’t throw them in with your checked baggage unless you want a suitcase full of jagged glass shards shredding your vacation socks and Hawaiian shirts.

The Aeropress is similar to the French press in design, though slightly more compact. Because of this, the Aeropress is popular with hikers along America’s long Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails. Just like the French press, only hot water and coffee grounds are available, meaning the only ingredient travelers need to find is hot water. Because the Aeropress is made from plastic, it’s slightly more resilient to the wear and tear of travel. Throw it in your suitcase without worry.

For travelers with the least amount of space, instant coffee can be a great alternative. While instant coffee has fallen in popularity over the past few decades, great instant coffee can still be found! Teabag-style coffee is a new trend that small roasters like Hugo are pioneering. Dehydrated coffee can lose lots of flavors, even after rehydration. Instead of using freeze-dried, astronaut coffee, Hugo uses premium, fresh, ground coffee in biodegradable tea bags. The coffee is portioned into each bag for a perfect cup. All it takes is a mug and a little hot water to steep in. These instant coffee tea bags are a great solution for people traveling light for business, quick trips, or even for keeping at the office.

You may have noticed that all of these suggestions had one thing in common. Each assumed that hot water was readily available. While hot water can be found in kitchenettes, offices, and campgrounds, sometimes it just isn’t an option. Whether you’re an urban traveler without a way to heat water or a hiker trying to conserve fuel, cold brew can be a great alternative to hot coffee. The trick is to prepare ahead of time, as cold brew requires approximately 12 hours to fully steep. The best strategy is to make a quart or two at once, then drink it in portions throughout the day.

Hugo’s cold brew packs make it simple with bags of pre-ground coffee perfectly portioned for individual quarts. We like to take it camping, stick it in our water bottle at the end of the day, and let it steep overnight. When morning rolls around, we have a cool cup of strong coffee to get us back on the trail. Not having to break out the cook set makes cold brew a godsend for those of us who weren’t blessed with energy in the morning. If you prefer to brew in smaller or larger amounts, trying our Dog Daze Cold Brew coffee beans will let you customize your portions.