Travel often throws up a problem for coffee lovers like me. While it’s easy to get a great hot beverage in some parts of the world, it’s monumentally difficult in others. I’ve lost track of the number of awful coffees I’ve had on the road, but it’s well into triple digits by now.
For a while, I chose to make my own instead, traveling with a small French press in my luggage. It worked well enough in a hotel room, but was messy, hard to clean, and needed a separate portable cup if I had an early start and needed to take my caffeine hit to go. In the end, I donated it to a friend and resigned myself to coffee uncertainty once again.
Enter Espro’s Travel Press. Billed as being for “people who love coffee and tea, and want to take it with them anywhere,” it sounded like my kind of travel accessory. Would it actually live up to expectations on the road, though, or was it more promise than practicality? The company sent me one so I could find out for myself.
The Travel Press consists of a few different parts. The main section is a double-walled stainless steel 15oz container, rated to keep your drink hot for 4-6 hours. The press comes with two metal filters, and screws into the top of the container. On top of all of that, a travel lid keeps liquid on the inside, where it belongs while you’re on the move.
For those who prefer a pour-over style coffee, the company also includes a packet of paper filters that fit between the two metal filters for extra smoothness. Tea lovers haven’t been forgotten – any loose leaf tea can be used in place of coffee grounds, as long as you’ve got the appropriate metal filter.
When used as a standard travel mug, the full 15oz capacity is available. When making tea, you’ll end up with a 12oz cup, and 10oz when making coffee. If you like sugar or sweetener with your coffee, it can be added before or after plunging.
The Travel Press is available in white, black, red and silver, and can be bought with a coffee filter, tea filter or both. Roughly 8” tall and 3” wide, it weighs 6.4oz.
Using the Travel Press to make coffee was similar to any other press-style maker. I dropped a few tablespoons of ground coffee into the container, added hot water up to the appropriate line on the inside, and stirred. After clipping on the second filter and screwing in the press section, I pushed the plunger down slightly, and left it for four minutes.
Once that time was up, I depressed the plunger the rest of the way down. It was firm but not difficult to push, requiring a hand rather than a finger. Extraction stops immediately when the plunger is pushed down, which was useful – I was heading out the door for a day trip, and didn’t want my coffee to be bitter by the time I finished it an hour or two later.
With the plunger down, the travel lid screwed comfortably over top. When it came time to drink, only that lid needed to come off. The press section has four recessed, open holes that let me drink directly from the container (or pour the contents into a cup, if that’s more your style).
The company says its dual microfilters are 9-12x finer than a standard French press, and even using unexciting pre-ground supermarket coffee, I tasted an immediate difference. It was noticeably smoother than other coffee presses, with almost no grit, even when I poured the last dregs into a cup to double-check.
The outside of the container was cool to the touch, but the contents stayed hot even after nearly two hours of walking and driving around. There was no sign of leakage, either around the lid or in the backpack where I’d stowed the Travel Press. The container is solid and durable, and seems like it would handle travel’s inevitable knocks and bumps without issue.
Cleaning everything at the end of the day was straightforward. Most of the grounds fell out with a few sharp taps on the bottom of the press, and running everything under cold water for a few seconds got it clean enough to use again. Hot water and detergent does a better job, of course, but it’s not necessary in a pinch.
To test that theory out, I filled the container with cold water, and used it as my drink “bottle” for the rest of the day. If there was any coffee residue left inside, I couldn’t taste it.
I was impressed with the Travel Press. While it’s not a travel essential for all but the most coffee-addicted, it does what it sets out to do extremely well.
The size and weight are appropriate for even carry-on travelers, especially since it doubles as a standard drink bottle, and it’s easy to keep the various parts together so they don’t get lost when you’re on the move.
The Travel Press is particularly useful for those whose travels take them away from civilization for a while. Like many things in life, camping, hiking and other outdoor adventures are better with a decent coffee, and this unit provides it, without much weight or hassle.
You’ll still need a source of ground coffee and hot water for the press to be any use, but neither are particularly hard to come by in most travel situations.
While there are several other ways of making coffee on the move, I haven’t come across one that has the same mix of simplicity, convenience, affordability and quality.
In short, Espro’s Travel Press is a top-notch way of keeping your favorite hot beverage at hand, no matter where your travels take you. Recommended.