Handheld and Travel-Friendly: The Best Portable Coffee and Espresso Makers

Published on 03/11/2024 · 9 min readEnjoy your favorite brew anywhere! Explore the best portable coffee and espresso makers, perfect for travelers seeking convenience without compromising quality.
Ethan Hauck, Coffee Expert
By Coffee Expert Ethan Hauck

Photo by Abun5M

an undertaking without your daily coffee, latte, espresso, or other delicious treat. While there are certainly drive-through options like Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, the reality is that if you’re used to quality espresso or coffee, those likely won’t do the trick.

This makes finding a high-quality, easily transported, and (preferably) affordable alternative to bring along almost a necessity. While there are a lot of options out there, the unfortunate reality is that most won’t really do what you’re used to — and like most general rules, there are, in fact, exceptions.

After perusing our roundup of travel-ready handheld coffee and espresso makers, feel free to chat with a Curated Coffee and Espresso Expert — we’re here to help.

The Best Portable Coffee & Espresso Makers of 2024

Now first off, not every item on this list is an espresso maker; actually, there is only one true espresso maker on this list — the Flair Pro 2. With that said, though, each option on this list is excellent for travel, and some make coffee that’s just barely off from “true” espresso.

While this may catch some readers off guard, the majority of items on this list actually won’t be featured on Curated. Don’t take this as a sign that they’re not high quality; I selected each item for quality over sheer “featured status.”

One final side note: Those who prefer a cappuccino or other milk-based coffee drink will not find anything with a steam wand on this list. Furthermore, there are no coffee pods or coffee capsules here — sorry, Nespresso fans. Now, onto the list.

The Flair Pro 2

The Good

I’ve covered this thing so many times that I’ve lost track. If you’re curious to see a slightly more in-depth review, check this out here.

With that said, I’ve discussed the Flair Pro 2 multiple times for a reason: It’s excellent at what it does. As the only true espresso maker on this list, it’s honestly a pretty simple sell: Buy it and get espresso anywhere that you have access to hot water. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a hotel, camping, or, heck, brewing roadside — you can have espresso as quickly as you can boil water and press your coffee grounds.

While its cousin, the Flair Neo Flex, offers quite a bit of the same portability at a lower price, it also forgoes the custom-built travel case, pressure gauge, and stainless steel construction that the Pro 2 offers. Because of this, the Pro 2 (once again) won out over its budget cousin, but I’d still happily recommend the Neo Flex for those shopping on a budget.

Pssst! Check out our guide to tamping coffee if you’re considering the Flair Pro 2 — it’ll help make far more consistent espresso.

The Bad

There is very little that’s outright bad to say about the Flair Pro 2. It’s portable, lightweight, and makes manual espresso pretty dang simple. Truthfully, its largest downside is that users need to manually press their espresso, meaning those who suffer from restrictive disabilities or arthritis may have trouble consistently brewing.

Some users have also reported difficulty with assembly. While I’ve never had any trouble, that is also a worthwhile note if you’re expecting to be traveling and brewing on a tight schedule.

The Verdict

The Flair Pro 2 is one of the fastest-selling manual espresso makers on Curated for good reason. It fits into many budgets, provides a lot of upgrades from its predecessors, and genuinely makes delicious espresso. I also personally believe that a manual espresso machine brings a certain charm to my morning ritual, which you may (or may not) love, too. At the end of the day, what more could you ask for from a portable espresso maker?

The Fellow Stagg Pour-Over Set

The Good

The Fellow Stagg pour-over set is a surprisingly compact, high-quality pour-over kit that offers portability and quality in a small package. Sitting at roughly the same size as a standard 12oz glass, it’s ideal for fitting into luggage or a backpack, and the stainless steel exterior will help keep it intact during hikes or mad dashes for the next plane.

Notably, the Fellow Stagg pour-over is not an espresso maker, it’s a pour-over. This puts it firmly in the “coffee maker” category, but it’s earned a place in my go-kit for its ease of use and simplicity.

The Bad

The two (minor) downfalls of the Fellow Stagg pour-over are its size — if you care about making a lot of coffee, at least — and its paper filters. With a maximum volume of 10oz, it doesn’t make a lot.

More importantly, though, it uses proprietary paper filters that can only be bought from Fellow Stagg — even we don’t sell them. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great filters … but they’re harder to get than most people would like.

The Verdict

If you’re willing to bite the bullet and order online (I know, who could imagine), the Fellow Stagg pour-over is a great little pour-over for the road. I highly recommend this for solo travelers who want to enjoy a pour-over in the comfort of their hotel room or campsite. If, however, you want a bit more volume in what you can make, I’d check out our next entry, the Bialetti Moka Express.

The Bialetti Moka Express

The Good

The Bialetti Moka Express is a slightly more modern take on a mainstay of the coffee scene for over 100 years: the Bialetti Moka Pot. Often confused for an espresso maker, this is actually a stovetop coffee maker. Just like a French press or Aeropress, the Moka pot is honestly its own sub-category of coffee makers.

Some may say this is due to its versatility — after all, it works equally well fireside (on the coals, please) or on a stovetop — but I truly believe Bialetti has lasted as long as it has because their machines make damn good coffee.

The Bad

The downsides you’ll see with the Moka Express are the same as you’ll see with many non-electric coffee makers. You’ll need to supply your own water (rather than a built-in water tank), and you’ll need to grind coffee separately. Additionally, users with an induction stove will need to separately purchase the Bialetti induction burner to properly use the Moka Express.

The Verdict

The Bialetti Moka Express is a longstanding part of the coffee world for a reason. It consistently brews delicious coffee that is slightly stronger than average and, importantly, will likely last you a lifetime. Whether you want to brew fireside (again, it’s aluminum — do it on the coals) or stovetop, there are few ways as classic as the Moka Pot to enjoy coffee.

Keep in mind that the Moka Express doesn’t really break down, so it will take up some space. With that said, it’s a constant selection on camping trips for me and my friends because it performs so well that it’s worth a little bit more space.

The Espro P7 Stainless Steel French Press

The Good

There are a lot — and I mean a lot — of French presses on the market. You likely either love them or hate them, but those who enjoy an easy way to tailor their coffee’s strength with minimal investment will be hard-pressed (pun intended) to find a better option than the Espro P7.

It features an extremely high-quality mesh filter, ensuring minimal sediment, and top-notch stainless steel construction. Additionally, it’s made to accommodate paper pour-over filters, making it slightly more versatile than many similar French presses on the market.

The Bad

It’s a bit spendier than other French presses — that’s really it. The Espro P7 runs slightly more than similar mid-to-high-end models, but its design and build quality make up for it (in my opinion). Seriously, I wouldn’t be recommending this if it wasn’t a killer press.

The Verdict

If you can justify spending a touch more than on a generic French press, the Espro P7 will serve you very well for years to come. It’s not as portable as other selections on this list, but it offers fantastic coffee in a (relatively) small package. If you’re looking for true portability, I recommend the AeroPress Go (below) or the Fellow Stagg pour-over set (above), but this will likely fit the bill for many people.

The AeroPress Original + Go Bundle

The Good

Chances are that if you’ve done just about any research on coffee makers, portable or not, the AeroPress has come up at least once (if not over and over again). The AeroPress is a modern classic that takes inspiration from a traditional French press, opting to use a few modern twists to improve the process. While this absolutely won’t make you espresso, it does create a concentrated coffee that’s most comparable to a proper pour-over.

This particular combination of the AeroPress Original AeroPress Go allows you to take the (admittedly already portable) AeroPress anywhere your travels take you with a more compact version. Both feature the same general mechanic — a plunger similar to a French press — but the Go comes in a far more compact frame and is accompanied by a purpose-built travel case.

If you’re looking for just a travel-ready coffee maker, I recommend that you opt for the Go — but the addition of the Original allows you to perfect the AeroPress at home before you, well, go.

The Bad

The AeroPress Go is designed to be portable first and foremost. As such, it sacrifices some of the ability to prepare multiple drinks of the Original with a (still reasonable) 13.5oz volume. Beyond that, though, the only major downside of the Go is that its plastic cup/carry case is, well, plastic. Drinking hot coffee from a plastic container, well made or not (and this one is top-notch), is generally not preferable to just about anything else. Except maybe styrofoam … gross.

The Verdict

The AeroPress Original + Go bundle offers quite a bit for a reasonable price, especially if you want a simple, easy-to-use coffee maker. While its smaller variant lacks some of the control of the original, it more than makes up for that with its extremely simple “pack up and go” philosophy to make what may be one of the best portable coffee makers on the market.

Find the Right Portable Espresso or Coffee Maker for You

Photo by praphab louilarpprasert

When picking a coffee or espresso maker for travel purposes, it’s important to factor in their size, weight, ease of transport, and durability. Options like the AeroPress Go are tailor-made for travel, and Flair’s Pro 2 offers a great mix of manual espresso and portability. More old-school users may prefer the Moka Express or Espro P7, but that’ll all boil down to preference.

Ultimately, while I did hand-pick these just for you, I couldn’t fault you for needing just a bit more information. If that’s the case, reach out to a Curated Coffee and Espresso Expert today. We’re friendly and knowledgeable, and most of us don’t bite — or so I’m told.

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Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

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