I will admit, there are places in this world that do coffee a hell of a lot better than home. Another universal travel truth (verified by me) is that outside of Canada and the US, it can be hard to get one in a large format, to-go cup.
One such fond memory harkens back to Beijing. My husband and I were fixing for some caffeine, which inevitably led us into the comfort of a McDonald's. (So exotic!) We ordered the largest to-go coffees we could summon. Not only were our beverages adorably sized, our paper cups each came in a plastic bag...and they still managed to drip down our shirts.
There comes a time when serious coffee-lovers need to take matters into their own hands, quite literally. Which is how I've come to gear test ESPRO, a coffee travel press.
ESPRO Coffee Travel Press
Applications: Travel, commute, car camping, day hiking
Price: $39.95 CAD
Clean, compact design. Sturdy components that seal tightly which leads me to believe it won't leak when stored in a bag.
Fun fact: ESPRO is a homegrown innovation, designed in Vancouver, B.C.
What the packaging boasts: "It's easy. Pour grounds in mug, then add hot water. Stir. Wait 4 minutes. Press. Enjoy."
The verdict: Easy-to-follow graphics made brewing a breeze. I got the hang of it on the first try.
ESPRO filters, optional. The tumbler came with a pack of 25. Refill packs of 100 pieces cost $9.95.
(Optional) Place a paper filter between the two micro filters.
Twist into place so that the locking mechanism clicks.
Add a tablespoon (or so) of your preferred coffee grinds or loose-leaf tea.
Add boiling water to the marked line.
Stir. Wait 4 minutes. Add cream and sugar to suit.
Affix the plunger in place (twist) and slowly press to the bottom of the tumbler.
What the packaging boasts: "Award-winning design stops extraction on a dime, so every sip tastes perfect," and "Life is too short to drink anything less than excellent coffee and tea."
The verdict: It's true: perfectly smooth, well brewed coffee.
Note: I used the paper filter in my taste test. If you prefer the oils to remain in the brew, for more of that French press flavour, you can forego the paper filter.
What the packaging boasts: "Vacuum-insulated stainless steel keeps things toasty for hours."
The verdict: I poured and pressed at 2:10 p.m. I left the cap off the tumbler for some time, taking my first sip at 4:26 p.,m. I'm happy to report it was the perfect temperature. (How'd it do that?)
What the packaging boasts: "Grit-free press coffee, which it achieves through a patented double micro-filter."
The verdict: I let the coffee sit for a few hours before pouring it into a glass. Upon inspecting the bottom of the glass, the number of grinds that weren't caught by the filters was negligible.
Our take on ESPRO:
ESPRO did exactly what it promised: it made a perfect cup of coffee in a leak-proof travel tumbler. (Say goodbye to instant coffee!)
At about 250 grams it's an easy addition to a traveller's carry-on and packing your own grinds means thrifty travellers need only find hot water.
I really liked ESPRO. It seems more environmentally friendly than single-serve pod brewing machines, and no longer will you have to wonder how long that hotel breakfast bar coffee has been sitting around for. At $39.95, just be sure you don't misplace it!