To the shaken few who have been around me when my daily coffee quota goes unmet, my devotion to the bean is notorious. At home, in the office, or in the middle of the Gobi Desert, my need for morning caffeination is distractingly strong—which, coincidentally, is exactly how I take my morning caffeination.
To ensure unfettered access to my drug of choice when I’m on the road, I have stocked my carry-on with all manner of promising portable solutions over the years, including pricey powdered instant coffee in packets (good variety of roasts, but so-so taste) and triple-concentrated cold-brew liquid (surprisingly fine taste, but needs to be poured into little airline liquor bottles to get through airport security). But while I can appreciate instant gratification as much as the next guy, instant coffee—even expensive gourmet instant coffee—always comes up a bit short.
Meet the Cafflano Klassic. This $95 cylinder, about the size of a big thermal tumbler, is presented as a packable, beans-to-brew coffee solution for venues like a campsite or the galley of a sailboat, but it’s hardly difficult to envision its usefulness in places like, say, London, where every hotel room has an electric tea kettle but a decent cup of coffee is harder to find than a yellow cab.
Despite its clever all-in-one engineering, the Klassic is a straightforward drip coffee maker, and the brewing process is as simple as you might imagine. Whole beans go into the feed chute and an extendable hand crank turns the ceramic burr grinder. When the fresh grounds have filled the etched stainless-steel filter, the mill module is unscrewed and hot water is poured into the basket using the cute miniature kettle. Allow three or four minutes for full drip-through and—voilà!—your caffeine fix is ready. Milk and sugar are up to you.
There’s a cheesy, as-seen-on-TV vibe to small gadgets that claim to conquer big jobs. But the Cafflano Klassic is no Ronco Pocket Fisherman. For one thing, it’s a beautifully made little machine, a genuine keeper that defies the kindergarten spelling of its name by making a damned fine cup of coffee—or koffee, if that’s how you brew. Pocketable packets of instant powder and itty-bitty bottles of concentrated liquid offer easier preparation—particularly from the confines of a coach-class airline seat, where urgently hand-cranking your beans is bound to raise eyebrows. But in this armchair barista’s repeated experience, using a variety of favorite roasts, Cafflano-made coffee simply tasted better. And as far as I’m concerned, the only thing better than coffee is better coffee.