It’s time to get your summer plans in gear and prepare to hit the trails! Fun in the sun — or rain, if you’re in our neck of the woods — is oh-so-much better when you’re highly caffeinated. Watch Gail take us through some options for portable coffee making gear.
We spent an afternoon up at Hario USA (now Roustabout Products) earlier this year and posted a wide array of videos from that field trip. But there’s nothing like a Gail review, is there? So we asked her to show us the ropes on how to use one of the Hario pour overs. Watch as she talks to us about the process and whips up a smooth cup of coffee using Velton’s Twilight Blend. Delish!
When the weather starts heating up, we love nothing better than a rich iced coffee drink. Seriously — nothing. In the past, we have be known to brew espresso directly onto ice or pour out hot-brewed drip or press coffee into an iced cup, knowing that there would be dilution in the mix. We are now converts, however, of the cold brew coffee preparation — specifically, Hario’s Cold Brew Pot makes a deliciously smooth and rich cup of coffee.
Gail tried it out with Velton’s Twilight Blend and there were cheers all around. For the coffee AND the cups, obviously. Check it out!
Summer’s siren song is courting us, so it’s time to start thinking about how to take our coffee on the road. There are several excellent brewing options available that are both easy to use and to transport. Here are some recommendations for your coffee travel kit.
Hario Mini Slim Hand Grinder
First up, let’s talk about grinding. You may have thought that you’d take pre-ground coffee with you, but we all know it’s not as tasty to brew with when you get right down to it. Adding the Hario Mini Slim grinder to your collection means that you’ll have a cost effective and easy way to freshly grind your beans to any coarseness level — from espresso to French press. Its durable plastic body is lightweight and compact.
Hario V60 Pour Over
You can go super lo-fi on your preparation by carrying one of these plastic pour overs with you; add paper filters, freshly ground coffee and some hot water from a kettle and you’re in business. There are ceramic and glass versions, too, but the plastic is going to be lighter and more durable in your travel gear. If you’re not going to be carrying said gear on your back, however, then the ceramic and glass models are a good choice as they’ll retain the temperature better than their plastic counterparts.
The Aeropress is one of the darlings of the specialty coffee world, but just because fancy pants coffee connoisseurs dig it doesn’t mean it’s off limits as your travel caffeine source. It’s as lo-fi as the Hario pour overs, but will create a richer brew that is kind of a hybrid between espresso and French press. All you’ll need is your Aeropress, paper filters, freshly ground coffee and hot water to make a tasty cup. It is also made of durable, lightweight plastic so it’s easy to take with you on the road.
Hailed by campers everywhere, the French press is an awesome solution for your outdoor java needs. Combine this with freshly ground coffee from your Hario Mini Slim, hot water and let it chill out for a few minutes. Then serve up a delicious cup to those near and dear. If you’re a car camper, pick one up made of highly dense borosilicate glass; for hiking or air travel, you may prefer the single-serve plastic version instead.
We’re huge fans of stovetop espresso because it’s a nice balance between strength and flavor. More akin to a really strong cup of coffee, we’ve successfully used our stovetop on gas camping stoves and wood campfires alike. Probably not the best choice for hotel travel, but an awesome solution for outdoors. The stainless steel versions can get a little hefty, so you might not want to carry them on a 10 mile hike-in to that super secret camping spot only you know about. The aluminum version may serve you (and your back!) better in that regard.
Grab and go! The Handpresso lets you pump up the pressure and then pull a shot. It comes in both the ESE pod version (Wild) or with the pre-ground version (Domepod) for a single shot extraction. Not as rich as some of the other methods, but definitely espresso. It’s awesome because you can easily take this on flights, boats, camping, roadtrips — anywhere. Its shots won’t blow you away, but it is nice that you don’t have to have anything other than your brute strength to create the required extraction pressure.
This little lady is taking the world by storm these days, and with good cause! If you put the effort into pre-heating all the metal components, this nitrous oxide-induced extraction will come close to that achieved on the Rancilio Silvia. You do have to have the nitrous oxide cartridges to achieve an extraction, however, and you can’t easily fly with them. You can try sourcing the cartridges at your destination — and if you’re driving there, even better. This is an awesome solution for roadtripping and hotel travel.
Do you have a favorite coffee travel item not referenced here? Leave it in the comments and we’ll add it to the list!
The final video (yes, can you believe it?!) from our field trip to Hario USA earlier this year features a competition between Gail and Velton regarding who could produce the better cup of pour over coffee. Velton might have had the edge, since his coffee was ground in a hand mill that had previously ground cloves — truly making it a ‘clovered coffee’. Hilarity ensues.
Some folks live for iced coffee alone, and options like the old toddy makers or the newfangled Hourglass create a deliciously smooth brew that isn’t watered down by melting ice. Hario also has a slow cold brew option that is both beautiful and functional.
Edwin Martinez talks to us about Hario’s cold brew — something we’re looking forward to trying in the future.
While we have an appreciation for the simplicity of many espresso blends, getting into single origins can be a sumptuous adventure. For his recent Holiday Blend, Velton imported a delicious Arabica from the El Salvador plantation Finca Alaska. This 2007 Cup of Excellence winner is a clean, smooth cup with bright lemon, fig, chocolate and even blackberry notes.
He only has a small quantity left, so if you have a love for single origins and want to try this excellent varietal, we highly recommend picking it up. In fact, during our recent trip to Hario USA, this is the coffee we used to demo the gear and Edwin Martinez noted that it is one of the best coffees he’s tasted in a long while — even bringing it down to the plantation in Guatemala and impressing his counterparts there!
Not sure if Velton’s Coffee is worth the hype? Well, your local church folks sure thinks it is:
One of the things we loved hearing about during our visit to Hario USA was Edwin’s experiences with the International and US versions of the Cup Tasters Championship. Devised to accentuate the importance of tasting the flavor of coffee — instead of seeing it simply as a commodity or a fuel — the contest brings coffee buyers from all over the world together to compete head-to-head.
Who has the best taste buds? Only the strong survive? OK, not so much. But it was fun learning about it from Edwin.