As a die-hard coffee obsessive, I’m always seeking out the best brews in any city I visit. But I do need a starter cup to tide me over in the morning, and what I can get in my hotel room is rarely up to snuff (sorry, Nespresso). A new solution: the Coffee Travel Kit by Timbuk2 and Blue Bottle Coffee, a packable pour-over set roughly twice the size of your standard amenity kit. Included are a Japanese-made hand grinder with adjustable grind settings, a pack of filters, two Falcon enamelware mugs with felt cozies, a non-leeching plastic cone dripper, and—of course—a two ounce sample of Blue Bottle beans, all in a waved canvas and leather bag. So how do these expert-grade tools perform on the road? We took the kit for a test drive.
At first glance, this is a kit for the true aficionado, with no provided instructions (just follow what you’ve seen your baristas do hundreds of times). A closer look, however, reveals some annoying omissions: for instance, I wanted a tablespoon measure to better gauge the strength of my cup, and had a hard time finding a good vessel that could correctly pour water into the dripper (because how does one lovingly craft a good pour over without a Hario kettle, really?). The mugs, meanwhile, are adorable but take up unnecessary space—most hotel rooms have them at the ready. Which brings us to the biggest challenge: finding a way to properly heat water to the right temperature in a hotel room. Still, most of these issues are things no coffee company can fix. If you’re this dedicated to making a good cup of coffee in your hotel room, you’d better expect to put in some effort.
All that said, I still love the Coffee Travel Kit. It’s perfectly suited for adventure trips—where you can heat water over a tent-side fire and not feel badly for leaving leftover grinds all over the bathroom countertop (and where coffee shops are definitely not an option). If you want to take it on the road, it’s also easy enough to unpack its contents and bring along just the essential parts. The design is beautifully done, and 100% gift-worthy. And the ensuing cup—when you do get there—is fantastic, which at the end of the day, is the only thing that matters.
Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.