How To Make Hotel Room Coffee Taste Way Better

Manuel Barsallo isn’t here for a bland cup of coffee. As a partner of the Panama Coffee Club, the founder of Coffeetologist Coffee Company, and co-founder of  Cruce Coffee Company, Barsallo really knows his beans. He also happens to be a globe-trotting photographer, meaning he too has gone through the horrors of slugging down a harsh cup of hotel room coffee just to get the day started. But hang on, because Barsallo says there’s a better way of living.

Yes, he says, you can indeed turn hotel room coffee into something palatable. No, these tips won’t turn your off-brand grounds into coffee shop magic, but they will at least make the mornings a little brighter. Read on for Barsallo’s advice for making even the worst hotel room coffee taste just all the better.

Food & Drink

Tea Vs Coffee: Which Is Better For Your Health?

By Kirsten Nunez, Jul 28

Food & Drink

How You Take Your Coffee Can Describe Your Personality

By Priyanka Lamba, Dec 08

Try adding an unexpected ingredient

One of Barsallo’s favourite ways to mix up hotel room coffee is to add a splash of an unexpected ingredient — orange juice.

“My go-to is mixing it with cold orange juice and tonic water to make it a signature drink. Still get the caffeine minus the awful flavour,” he shares with Food & Wine as a way to add a little punchy flavour. Alternatively, Barsallo says, he’ll mix in other fruit extracts that he has handy. Check the mini-fridge to see what juices your hotel may have available to mix in a little flavour.

Add a sprinkle of salt

If there’s no juice around, Barsallo suggests sprinkling a little salt into the grounds before brewing, which he says “usually works for darker roasts “to help cut the acidity. But don’t expect this tried-and-true hack to be a magic bullet.

Of course, you can always add “good old brown sugar or simple syrup” to the final product. If the hotel has a restaurant or bar attached, they likely have both, so it’s OK to call down to the front desk and just ask.

Use bottled water — and less of it

hotel room coffee
Image Credit: Cottonbro/Pexels

Bottled water is a powerful ally when brewing coffee in a hotel room.

“I definitely recommend using bottled water,” Barsallo shares. “Usually tap water, depending on the destination, might have excess calcium or chloride. I recommend finding bottled water with higher magnesium content and lower calcium and sulfate content. Magnesium improves the mouthfeel, texture, and overall sweetness of coffee.”

Speaking of water, he also suggests cutting the ratio of water to grounds to improve the boldness of the flavours.

“After roasting, there’s not much you can do, but you can try making the hotel room coffee on a shorter ratio to have a balanced mouthfeel and a nicer aftertaste,” he says.

Bring along some extra equipment

If all else fails, or if you’re a purist regarding your caffeine intake, Barsallo says you may want to create a “to-go” kit for your coffee needs while travelling.

“Taking your coffee gear is one of the best options if you don’t know what kind of coffee experience you’re going to get at your destination,” he says. “I usually travel with a Carter mug that keeps my water hot for sixteen hours, an Aeropress, an Acaia scale, and my Comandante grinder.”

Barsallo also suggests looking into more practical options like drip kits, speciality coffee capsules that work with most instant coffee pots, and, he shares, “there’s a pretty interesting movement on ultra speciality coffee solubles,” aka instant coffee.

“Depending on the destination, sometimes it’s a hassle to take my gear with me,” Barsallo says, adding that while it’s a little extra to pack, it works miracles in the morning. “I must say it was life-changing.”

This story first appeared on

(Credit for the main and featured image: Burst/Pexels)

© 2021. TI Inc. Affluent Media Group. All rights reserved.  Licensed from and published with permission of Affluent Media Group. Reproduction in any manner in any language in whole or in part without prior written permission is prohibited.

Food & Wine and the Food & Wine Logo are registered trademarks of Affluent Media Group. Used under License.