Needless to say, I learned the hard way that cold brew coffee lovers like myself should absolutely get a lay of the land before arrival—or come prepared. For my future travels, I’ll be sure to learn from my mistake by picking from and packing the DIY cold brew pouches below. They’re slim and convenient enough to keep in tow no matter where your adventures take you. Better yet, they’ll likely save you a pretty penny and stave off any pre-caffeine grumpiness.
A few tips to on prepping your cold brew packets
Before you steep and sip on your travel-friendly cold brew, here are a few tips and FYIs to keep in mind:
- Keep tabs on brewing time. “At a minimum, cold brew should be steeped for around 12 hours,” says Grady Laird, president and co-founder of Grady’s Cold Brew. “Longer does equal stronger, but beyond 24 hours it won't make a difference and can actually be detrimental to the flavor.” Darker roasts are better for shorter brewing times, adds Cary Wong, Director of Coffee at Partners Coffee.
- Storage temperature will impact the flavor. According to Laird, steeping your cold brew pouches at room temperature (around 65°F) works best to extract the most flavor. If you don’t have any ice on hand or you want to make sure your cold brew is ready to go the next day, refrigerating is fine as well.
- Keep your cold brew concentrate chilled and sealed. “Cold brew stays fresh for about two weeks after brewing if you keep it refrigerated and in an airtight container,” Laird continues. Naturally, you wouldn’t want your cold brew to go to waste before it’s time to head back home. Whether you need to make room for it in a cooler while camping or in your hotel mini fridge until you check out, aim to store it properly.
The best cold brew packets for coffee lovers who travel
Grady’s Cold Brew was the first to bring cold brew pouches to market in April 2014. Famous for their New Orleans-style coffee concentrate infused with chicory and spices, the brand also takes the cake for the sheer variety of ways to choose your own cold brew adventure. Options vary across flavors and decaf, single-serve packets, bundles, and more. The Cold Brew Kit includes a reusable “pour and store” pouch with a built-in serving spout, plus 12 bags (each of which yields 3 servings of cold brew concentrate). Consider it a one-and-done option for camping, long-haul road trips, and longer-term getaways that require a steady stream of velvety smooth, subtly sweet cold brew coffee.
A single bag (which contains four biodegradable pouches) yields the equivalent of 14 cans of cold brew. “Each single-use pouch contains 3 ounces of pre-ground coffee specifically for cold brew,” Wong shares. The medium roast has notes of chocolate, caramel, and sweet vanilla. In other words, your caffeine consumption can basically double as dessert. Simply throw a pouch in a tumbler, add 24 ounces of water, and steep in the fridge for up to 24 hours. From there, add water to your glorious cold brew concentrate at a 1:1 ratio.
These one-and-done coffee steeping bags include the NYC-based brand’s original Organic Downtown Blend: a medium roast with notes of roasted nuts, cedar, and sweet herbs. Plus, they work double duty for instant hot coffee and cold brew alike. To prep the latter, add 8 ounces of water in a mug, cover, refrigerate, and let steep for 12 to 24 hours. (Note: This cold brew will be ready to go as is, rather than needing to water it down.)
These single-serve cold brew packets are great for people who enjoy testing out diverse notes and roasts… or have no real clue about what differentiates one from the next. This variety pack is also ideal for those traveling with coffee drinkers who have different flavor preferences and/or tolerance thresholds for caffeine. A single box contains two packets each across five varieties—including the warm, medium roast Careless Cat (caffeine level: 2.5 out of 5) to the bright, tart, light roast Early Bird (offering peak caffeine content of 5 out of 5).
I know, this option isn’t technically a pouch or pocket. But Jot says it’s the most concentrated form of liquid coffee in the world—a detail that might make your ears perk up as much as your energy levels. Since each bottle measures 200 milliliters, it’s too big to be TSA-compliant for carry-ons. However, it’s well-worth wrapping and packing in your checked luggage (or in your trunk), which is exactly what I did for a month-long trip abroad. A word to the wise: a little dab’ll do you. You’ll only need to add a single tablespoon to 8 ounces of water to lead you to caffeinated bliss.
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