Hack Your Way to Better Gas Station Coffee on Road Trips

June  8, 2016

My five million-dollar idea is a Yelp for gas station provisions (and bathrooms). Waze, permission to steal it because I want it that bad.

Until then, a more rote solution is imperative. If you road trip at all, you know the sludge that resurrects you from a stiff night of sleep—the stuff that comes in a Styrofoam or latte-colored vessel, flimsy top, 99.8 percent water, 0.2 percent “coffee.” Little red plastic stirrers that likely melt in the coffee, 54 creamer thimbles.

I have brought a pour over and grounds on a road trip before, but people look at me in the gas station funny. And come on, you’re on a road trip! And it’s not being photographed by Heidi Swanson. And, if you’re me, you only brought one outfit (PJs).

So, semi-make coffee with even more packaged food. Bring hot chocolate packets (or buy them at the gas station). They cost little, weigh less, and take up no space—they happen to slip nicely into your glove compartment box for immediate grabbing.

Dump half or more of the hot chocolate into your cup o’ and you made a mocha! The coffee is still the afterthought, but instead of coffee-flavored funky water, you have coffee-scented hot cocoa. While the antithesis of artisan coffee (so sweet and good in how artificial it tastes, like boxed cake), it still relaxes your back and makes you forget you were going to buy a Red Bull, too.

Whether you also go with marshmallows depends on how much of a show off you were in Girl Scouts.

Tell us: What are your road trip essentials?

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • SonjaM
  • Ryan Powell
    Ryan Powell
Editor/writer/stylist. Author of I Dream of Dinner (so You Don't Have To). Last name rhymes with bagel.


SonjaM July 16, 2016
Love it! Half the fun of road trips is heavily sweetened gas station coffee, or mugs of watery coffee at Waffle House. That said, in my younger years me and my hubby would bring a French press and a bottle of Baileys on road trips.
Ryan P. June 8, 2016
are you a marshmallower?