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Monday, December 18, 2023

The Tiny Giant Travel Coffee Maker

Well, I thought maybe these days were over, but here I am, starting a brand new Vegas trip report.

The time since my wife, the Quad Queen, succumbed to ALS has been tough, but it's starting to get a bit easier. I still have my moments, sometimes without warning. Grief is like that.

Without recapping in too much detail, the easiest course of action is to return to Vegas for Christmas - so that I can largely ignore it - with one exception.

My sister Divana has sent me a present to be opened on Christmas morning.

I'm feeling good about being back in the saddle, writing for all y'all y'all y'all again, for so many reasons. The deluge of support from you readers has been astounding to me, and it's clear that this blog has earned its place in so many lives, if only for 3 to 4 minutes while on the subway, or perhaps while having a visit from the Major. (You know Major Dumperooski, don't you?)

It's also great to get my mind on something engaging, like doing a bit of trip report artwork, figuring out a theme and so on.

It's familiar, like putting on a favorite sweater, familiar like your most comfortable shoes, familiar like running out of credits yet again in Vegas when you are already down your entire daily budget before breakfast.

That out of the way, let's talk some travel bidness!

And travel means coffee! Portable personal coffee machines!

As you astute readers know, my go to travel machine is the Little Giant. Every year I spend time trying to find a better one, and so far, it's been impossible to beat. (Until now?)

The official description of the Little Giant is the Better Chef IM-102B Compact Personal Coffee Maker. Brewing up to 12 ounces of delicious cheap bastard in-room coffee, the LG measures in at just 5" x 5" x 8" and weighs just 14 ounces - that's less than a pound.

Other coffee makers come close in size but I've yet to find a lighter or more compact one.'

Sadly, you can't buy the Little Giant retail anymore. They can be found on eBay and places like that, however. I got mine originally on Amazon in 2018 for a measly $14.

I know what you're thinking - who cares. And that's why you should read on.

Jimmy Poon and I have noted that even the Little Giant could be improved, and we've designed a more compact machine that eliminates the water tank and folds down to a disk about 4" across and 3" high. The only downside is it will cost $225,000 to build the Tiny Giant.

But in my latest internet coffee maker search I struck what looked to be coffee maker gold. For less than twenty bucks, I found what looked like the perfect travel coffee maker. I ordered one immediately.

Because, as I've always said, "Performing hand coffee makes you become a master of hand coffee."

In a similar fashion to Jimmy Poon's design, the water tank sits on top of the maker, but for transport, fits overtop of the workings, which sit in a 4" diameter disk. The whole shebang sits on your coffee cup.

I did have some misgivings when I noted that the Tiny Giant is so portable that it doesn't even have a power cord - it runs on AAA batteries. This should have been my first clue. But I ordered anyway, got free shipping, and within a couple of weeks, this bad-ass unit from the reputable DongguanShixingyao Electronic Technology Co. arrived!

I put it together and loaded up the reservoir with top quality water. I didn't bother putting coffee in because I figured it would take a few test runs to get the manufacturing stink of toxic plastic out of it.

The design was really elegant and a thing of beauty, but I noticed that as soon as I put water in the tank, it started to dribble out a small hole in the bottom into the coffee filter. This seemed to be by design.

Hands literally still and not shaking with no excitement, I turned the unit on. How long would it take to make coffee? How hot would it get?

The answer was 'not very'. Or more accurately 'not at all'.

Because all this thing does is light up the on button and spin the coffee around inside the base.

And reading over the literature, the descriptions imply that this thing makes coffee (the word 'brew' is used) but it doesn't.

I'd bought a $20 coffee twirler.

Back it goes.

The Little Giant remains unvanquished.

Nice to kick off the trip report with a fail. But I'm not really bothered, and I'm kind of excited.

I leave for Las Vegas in just two days. Ulp!


    1. I don't drink coffee, only tea, but have been using a folding silicone travel kettle for years to make hot water. Not sure how that would adapt to coffee but it folds down to about 3 inches. Make sure it has auto shut-off.

    2. I also us the foldable silicon kettle with Starbucks Vias. Although instant, they back enough juice to get me down to the casino floor.

    3. "Performing hand coffee makes you become a master of hand coffee."

      I'm dying.

      Quote of the year. Some translator stuffed into a cubicle somewhere in China earned their keep with that.


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