Portable French Press – The Coffee Maker You Didn’t Know You Needed

Until recently, I had never heard of the portable french press. I typically make my french press coffee at home, and always thought about how to make french press while traveling. I wasn’t even aware the french press travel mug existed!

On many business travel trips I’ve wondered how to squeeze in a great cup of coffee, especially a french press. Personally, Starbucks doesn’t do it for me, and finding a good local cafe can be difficult. A small french press can be packed in a suitcase, though it’s not as easy to carry on a plane or car. Same situation for camping and outdoor activities, though we’ve found a number of good french presses to bring on camping trips.

Last, making a french press can be time-consuming. During most mornings, I don’t have time to do anything but get ready quickly and leave my house. So when I found the french press travel mug I was intrigued. After using a few of them, I highly suggest them for any coffee enthusiast that travels a lot.

portable french press in action

Below, I’ve listed a few of my favorites. I’ve also thrown in the benefits and drawbacks of the portable french press coffee maker and an instructional guide. Let’s get started!

Best Portable French Press Travel Mugs

Best Overall – Bodum Travel Press

One of the most popular travel french presses on the market, the Bodum is an excellent pick. We found the Bodum to be most similar to a regular coffee travel mug. The main difference is the plunger that extends from the top, but it is very discrete! Most drivers you pass or fellow subway riders will never notice that your mug actually makes coffee as well.

bodum travel french press

We tried the Bodum travel french press for a couple of weeks and found it could handle every basic task we needed. To use the press, you load the coffee grounds in first. After that, you pour in hot water and let the grounds brew. A tricky difference between other french presses is that if you want to add cream or sugar, you need to do this before you press the plunger down. After you’ve added these, you can plunge the coffee and enjoy straight from the Bodum!

Most important for coffee drinkers who like more than a single cup: this Bodum has a 15 ounce chamber. This is the perfect amount for us, but if you drink more coffee than that, you will want a bigger french press. It would be nearly impossible to make another cup on the go using this device.

Some users have actually complained about this device keeping water too warm. The double-pane stainless steel definitely works. We recommend using water just below boiling, and you’ll get the best tasting coffee that way. If you do like to load boiling water, just know that it may be 15 minutes before you can drink from it!

Best French Press Travel Mug Design – Espro 5116-C

Without the Espro logo or pulling the plunger out, you may not recognize that this is a french press at first. We’ll show a picture first as the design is truly striking.

espro portable french press and plunger
Beautifully designed portable french press – Espro

The Espro portable french press isn’t all looks – it also functions very well in our testing. Weighing in at just 9.8 ounces, this is one of the lightest french press travel mugs on the market. If you’re a fan of french press coffee and camping, this is probably a good coffee maker for your pack. We even recognized this Espro as one of the 7 best french presses to take on a camping trip! Even better, it has a reusable filter so no need to pack paper filters too.

We found the Espro to function similarly to other french presses in terms of making coffee. The real differences come once you’re on-the-go. We love the handle on top of the device. Most devices are hard to grip since they tend to hold more than a single cup. The Espro is large as well, but the handle helps solve that challenge.

Next, we love the filter design that keeps the plunged coffee grounds separate from your coffee. Other portable french presses we’ve used will continue to mix your grounds with the finished coffee. With this device, that’s not an issue! This makes sure you’re not drinking coffee that becomes extremely bitter, which can be an issue with french press coffee. Also, I personally like coffee more when it’s warm instead of extremely hot. Since I have to leave coffee sitting for a while, it ensures it still tastes great!

Most Innovative Portable French Press – KOHIPRESS

While it still is technically a french press, the KOHIPRESS may remind some readers of another hot portable coffee maker – the Aeropress. Immensely popular, the KOHIPRESS is similar but still retains its status as a french press. The reason is because instead of emptying the coffee directly into another mug, the grounds continue to mix with the hot water. For those who love the french press taste, this will be a positive.

kohipress - similar to aeropress but still a french press.
Like the AeroPress, the KOHIPRESS uses pressure to plunge the coffee

During our rigorous testing, we found the KOHIPRESS to be well-designed and easy to use. Weighing in at only 13 ounces, it is light enough to pack for business travel or even camping. While not as light as some other “made-for-camping” french presses, it’s still not bad! If you like to take your coffee in the car, it’s also a perfect size for a cupholder.

In addition to a great exterior design, the KOHIPRESS also has a unique interior design. In order to keep your coffee grounds separate from water after plunging, KOHI+ built a cool spring that insulates the coffee using the grounds. Confused? I’ll let the video do the explaining.

Overall, we found this to be an excellent french press for an on-the-go lifestyle. Whether you travel often for business, or love the great outdoors, the KOHIPRESS is a great choice.

Buy It For Life Portable French Press – Stanley Classic Travel

Some of the french presses we’ve reviewed are best for light use. A subway car, a crossover SUV, or an Uber is all they can stand. If you work at a construction site, in the field, or on a rig, you have probably been searching for a good coffee maker to bring along. We think this Stanley is a great fit for heavy use, and anything outdoors. If you’re looking for a device that you can (try to) beat to shreds, the Stanley Classic Travel is your best bet.

Constructed from pure stainless steel and with a color that screams “outdoorsy,” this is our top pick for a durable portable french press. All Stanley products are known for their ruggedness. We also featured another Stanley maker in our list of the best french presses for camping. This model is a bit different in that you can both make and drink coffee from the device.

During our testing, we found the device performs similar to other french press travel mugs. It has a compartment that makes it easy to load coffee grounds. The only minor drawback is that it doesn’t keep the coffee grounds completely separate from the water. Since it can keep coffee warm for up to six hours, that could be a deal breaker.

All in all, we found the Stanley Classic Travel a perfect fit for heavy duty, outdoor use. If you’re looking to go camping, it could be a great fit as well.

Well Designed Single-Serve Portable French Press – PRESSE by Bobble

Made of food-grade stainless steel, the PRESSE by Bobble is a great single-serve portable french press. Similar to many of the other french presses in this article, we love the PRESSE’s design. It comes in a number of colors, and all are engraved with the PRESSE logo that gives the press a unique feel.

PRESSE by Bobble

As you can see, it has a very feminine design. It comes in more masculine colors, but the matte color scheme and engraving still give them a more girly look. This would make a great gift for the women in your life, as it’s ready for Pinterest or Instagram.

Aside from the PRESSE’s style, it is also a functional device. We found the loading of coffee beans and hot water similar to all other french presses we’ve reviewed. The only minor gripe we had was when you drink from the press. Unlike the KOHIPRESS, there is a little mixing between the coffee grounds and the water as you go about your day. It’s a small amount (a few tablespoons), but it does make a difference in the taste. If you drink your coffee fast, this won’t be an issue. If you’re like me, though, and like your coffee closer to lukewarm, it may be.

We do like the fact that the press is compact and folds into a single container. That said, cleaning can be difficult as there’s five different pieces, and some are very small. This is true of the other french presses we’ve reviewed here, though. All in all, we do recommend the PRESSE by Bobble and love its “made-for-social-media” design.

Great Single-Serve Portable French Press – ZYLISS

Our last (but not least) top choice is the ZYLISS travel french press mug. It has a very unique design and looks exactly like a normal coffee travel mug. We love this aspect – even on a subway or bus, no one knows it’s also your coffee maker.

zyliss french press travel mug

Not only is this coffee maker compact, we found it extremely easy to use. It has a unique “mesh and plunger” combination that keeps the grounds separate from the water. Instead of plunging from the middle of the mug, the plunger is on the side. This has the effect of keeping this mug discrete and hard to tell it’s also a coffee maker.

This product is best for someone who only drinks around a cup per day. It holds 12 ounces of liquid, but part of that is taken up by the grounds and particulate at the bottom. We would guess it’s closer to 9-10 ounces of actual coffee. Not very much! That said, it could also function as a normal travel mug if you have an Aeropress or espresso machine at home.

The ZYLISS usually only runs around $9-10 on Amazon, and we think it’s an excellent value. It may not have a striking, Instagram-ready design, but it’s functional and works well. If you only drink a cup of coffee per day, this is a great purchase!

Benefits of the Portable French Press

It’s portable!

This one might seem obvious, but bringing your coffee on the go is a big advantage. We love french press, but sometimes waiting the full four minutes in the morning is too much. With a french press travel mug, you can mix the coffee and take it immediately! Then, you can press the plunger while walking, on a subway, or in the car.

It tastes better

We personally love the taste of french press coffee more than any other method. The biggest taste difference comes from the oils from the beans. Using a traditional coffee-making method, the paper filter catches the coffee oils. Since a french press mixes the grounds and water directly, you get all of the oils in your mug. Some claim the oils can have adverse health effects, but the jury is still out. We think french press is worth the risk.

Can have less coffee sediment than a regular french press

When people stop me on the subway and ask about my portable french press, they always ask “isn’t the sediment an issue?” It makes sense that there would be more mixing of the coffee grounds with the water. Actually, in some of the coffee makers we reviewed there’s even less sediment than a traditional french press. They have some clever designs, such as the KOHIPRESS! This device keeps the sediment on the outside of the device using a spring. Pretty neat!

Drawbacks of the Portable French Press

It can’t hold as much coffee

While our favorite travel mugs on this list are larger than 12 ounces, even the largest are no more than 24 ounces. While this is OK for me, I know some coffee enthusiasts who consume 5-6 cups per day. If you’re someone who drinks a ton of coffee, these coffee makers may not be a great fit! It can be difficult if not impossible to make another batch while on the go.

Difficult to add cream and sugar

Some of the devices on this list make it easier than others. That said, it’s still difficult to figure out when to add cream or sugar when using a portable french press. Sometimes you need to add before you plunge, and others you can add after the plunge. Also, some of the presses continually mix your cream, sugar, and coffee grounds together. This can be gross if they’re mixing for more than a few minutes. Most people don’t like the coffee grounds and water mixing continually, much less some half and half!

Some are difficult to clean

This is more of a french press problem than one exclusive to the portable variety. That said, almost all french presses are more difficult to clean than a drip coffee or pour-over. More parts, more screws, and fewer straight surfaces can mean cleaning is a 3-5 minute affair. That’s not a problem for us, and we sometimes go a few uses between cleanings.