For the last three years, I've tried in vain to put together a travel coffee kit for CES. Because we're in Las Vegas for so long, I really want the comforts of home in the form of a good cup of coffee. Sorry, Residence Inn, but the stuff in the lobby is terrible. I usually piece things together with a small hand grinder and an Aeropress. Since this isn't an all-in-one setup, I either leave pieces behind or have to deal with heating water in a pot and trying not to spill it -- or buying a kettle that I'll just leave in the room. Thankfully Pakt, a company that makes travel gear that helps you pack efficiently, came up with a stellar solution.
Gallery: Pakt Coffee Kit | 19 Photos
Gallery: Pakt Coffee Kit | 19 Photos
I typically brew coffee with a Chemex at home, and even if I'm making a single cup, pour-over is my preferred method. I use the Aeropress from time to time, but it's not what I reach for every morning. If I really want a taste of home, I needed a compact pour-over solution that doesn't take up much space and houses everything in a single container.
With its Coffee Kit, Pakt has leveraged a Russian Doll-like nesting design to make most of the brewing gear fit inside the water kettle. Yes, you read that correctly: This setup comes with its own way to heat water. No more messing with pots or having to buy something cheap from a nearby store for the week. The only things that don't fit inside for storage are the kettle's heating base, the collapsable dripper and the filters, but they all nestle together nicely to save space inside the zippered case. The whole thing weighs just under three pounds and takes up about as much room in a carry-on or suitcase as a pair of shoes. And it survived a flight in my checked bag just fine.
Nested inside the brew kettle you'll find an insulated cup and lid that doubles as your brewing vessel. There's also a smaller container for your pre-ground coffee. I typically grind my beans right before brewing, and I could easily pack a travel grinder separately, but having my preferred brew method is more important than having just-ground coffee. The only issue here is the lid doesn't stay tight when your bag gets jostled around, a few stray grounds will escape. Not a huge mess, but it did require some cleanup. Pakt says it fixed this on the final version -- the kit I tested was a prototype. There's an included scoop too, but no scale, and Pakt gives you some guidance on how much to use. I like my coffee a little stronger, so I adjusted for the second brew and was set for the rest of the trip.
Marks inside the water kettle show you how much water to put in. Again, it's another aspect of the process where you're not left guessing how far to fill it up. And because you don't have a scale to know when you've run enough through the grounds, pre-measuring ensures you don't use too much. Once the water is inside, just set the kettle on the heating base and turn it on. A light on the base will turn off and the unit will beep when the water is at 205 degrees -- an ideal temperature for pour-over brewing. The kettle itself also turns off once the water is heated, so you'll want to respond to those beeps promptly.
The spout on the kettle might seem like a small detail, but it's important. When it comes to pour-over, you need complete control over the water you're pouring. That's why heating water in a cup or the coffee pot in your hotel room doesn't work. You simply can't our slowly with those things without making a mess. Pakt knew this, and it designed the kettle for slow pours -- much like I get on my goose-neck kettle at home.
You can carry this on a plane, but the TSA wasn't a huge fan of it when I took it to Berlin earlier this month. It was mostly because they couldn't see what it was, so I had to open up my bag and do some explaining. I get it: it's round, metal and has a bunch of wires. I put it in a checked back on the way home, but the security at Tegel also gave it a close look after going through the x-ray machine. All of that's to say you're fine to fly with this thing, but be prepared to answer some questions.
Pakt crowdfunded its first product, the Pakt One bag, and it's doing the same for the Coffee Kit. In fact, this product has already amassed $290,592 on Kickstarter and an additional $36,250 on Indiegogo, where it's currently available for pre-order. The Coffee Kit will ship in December for $189 if you wait and pay full retail price. If you want to snag one now, though, you can get it starting at $149.
Update 10/14/19 8:42AM ET: This post has been updated to clarify the coffee grounds container will have better seal on the final version of the Coffee Kit. The unit I tested was a functional prototype.