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GSI Outdoors Personal Java Press Review

This brewer is a score for the French press lover that camps, but there are other options that make better-tasting coffee
GSI Outdoors Personal Java Press
Photo: GSI Outdoors
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Price:  $38 List | $37.45 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Very portable, compact, comes with a mug that nests inside press, press and cup are insulate, silicone gasket reduces coffee residue
Cons:  Lids can be sticky, unrefined flavor, messy cleanup
Manufacturer:   GSI Outdoors
By Mary Witlacil ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 21, 2021
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 16
  • Taste - 40% 6
  • Ease of Use - 25% 8
  • Group Cooking - 15% 4
  • Portability - 10% 8
  • Weight - 10% 5

Our Verdict

The GSI Outdoors Personal Java Press is a great option for anyone who loves French press coffee. This camp-ready brewer comes with an extra mug, and both the mug and press include nylon insulating sleeves and a lid. While it is more difficult to keep French presses clean, and they don't produce the tastiest coffee when compared to other methods, we like this brewer for its durability, simplicity, and the tidy way everything packs down. Be fair-warned that the lids are difficult to open until you break everything in, and the press can get stuck, but these minor drawbacks aside, this is a great option.

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Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $37.45 at Backcountry
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Star Rating
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Pros Very portable, compact, comes with a mug that nests inside press, press and cup are insulate, silicone gasket reduces coffee residueGourmet flavor, stylish, compact, easy to clean, easy to use, made from stainless steelGourmet flavor, well-conceived design, ceramic version available for home useNo filter needed, tiny and light, consistently good tasteAmazing flavor, versatile, very portable, simple cleanup
Cons Lids can be sticky, unrefined flavor, messy cleanupHefty, not ideal for big groupsSpecial shaped filters are harder to find, expensive for a plastic dripper, heavier than other brandsMust lift filter out of most cups to avoid over-steeping, poor for large groupsLots of little pieces to mind, heavy for backpacking
Bottom Line This brewer is a score for the French press lover that camps, but there are other options that make better-tasting coffeeA cleverly designed, compact, and easy to clean pour-over device that brews consistently great coffeeThe iconic pour over model in a light plastic package, delivering a consistently great flavorThe best option for light travel and backpacking, this savvy brewer will keep you caffeinated without taking up space in your bagThis is our top scorer for taste and we love its durability, ease of use, and versatility
Rating Categories Personal Java Press MiiR Pourigami Hario V60 Plastic D... Primula Coffee Brew... AeroPress Coffee Maker
Taste (40%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
10.0
Ease Of Use (25%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Group Cooking (15%)
4.0
6.0
6.0
4.0
4.0
Portability (10%)
8.0
8.0
5.0
9.0
6.0
Weight (10%)
5.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
5.0
Specs Personal Java Press MiiR Pourigami Hario V60 Plastic D... Primula Coffee Brew... AeroPress Coffee Maker
Measured Weight Press alone: 9 oz
Press + cup: 12 oz
Dripper alone: 4.89 oz
Dripper & Case: 5.52 oz
Dripper alone: 2.95 oz
Dripper + scoop: 3.37 oz
1.1 oz Press alone: 7.98 oz
Press + spoon + stirrer: 9.39 oz
Brew Type French Press Pour Over Pour Over Pour Over Pour Over/Press Hybrid
Main Material Shatter-resistant, BPA-Free Infinity clear polypropylene with removable insulating EVA sleeves Stainless steel with Hardshell powder coat Hard plastic Nylon filter BPA-free polypropylene
Filter Needed? No Yes Yes No Yes
Notable Features Included mug nests inside press Easy to clean, collapsible pour over with slim carrying case. Cone shape, large hole, ribs along side Rests on any mug Easy to clean, re-usable filter
Notes Pieces fit so snugly together, can be dificult to open the press to use; Can be hard to push down, sometimes the press gets stuck; muddy Consistently delicious coffee; easy to use; clever/stylish Makes strong, smooth coffee Filter hangs in coffee for most cups Eliminates bitterness while keeping a good flavor

Our Analysis and Test Results

The GSI Outdoors Personal Java Press is a fantastic option for camping and backpacking with friends. It is a bit on the heavy side, so it isn't ideal if you are trying to go ultralight, but it does come with a mug so that you can share coffee with your compadres.

Performance Comparison


The Personal Java Press comes with a mug that stashes inside the...
The Personal Java Press comes with a mug that stashes inside the main press, and both are insulated with a nylon coozy and a lid.
Photo: Jared Ross

Brew Features


The Personal Java Press is a typical French press, but the price includes a cup with a lid as well! Both the press and the cup have nylon insulators to keep your coffee warm longer, especially on those frosty outdoor mornings.

Taste


Coffee brewed in a French press has a distinctively strong taste with a thicker (sometimes even muddy) consistency. Some coffee drinkers love it. Some hate it. But on those crisp camp mornings, when you wake up to a dew-covered sleeping bag and the scent of pine needles, sometimes a strong pot of French press coffee is just the thing you need to start your day off with a bang. While the Personal Java Press did not score particularly high in our taste tests, it provides a decently tasty brew for those of us who prefer strong French press coffee.

In head-to-head taste tests, the Personal Java Press didn't earn the...
In head-to-head taste tests, the Personal Java Press didn't earn the highest marks, but the silicone gasket on the press keeps muddy residue to a minimum and produces an utterly drinkable cup.
Photo: Jared Ross

Ease of Use


A French press is one of the easiest methods for making coffee, and the Personal Java Press is no different. Just throw some grounds into the bottom of the press, add water, stir, and wait for the magic to happen. If you want to hone your French press skills, you can time how long you steep for a more consistent flavor, but this is not a necessary step. There were, however, a couple of noteworthy issues with this brewer that made it slightly more difficult to use than your average press. For one, we struggled to remove the lids on both the cup and the press — both of which got easier over time but were never quite easy. The press can also be a little sticky while plunging. Finally, one of the main concerns with a French press is the cleanup. Scooping and rinsing out the grounds is messy, and it is hard to leave no trace with this method — the grounds usually end up somewhere on the ground. Keep in mind, this is not allowed in bear country, so do your research about the area you're heading into beforehand.

Using a French press is super straightforward. Simply add water to...
Using a French press is super straightforward. Simply add water to your grounds, stir, wait, and press. It requires minimal expertise and finesse - perfect for bleary-eyed camp mornings.
Photo: Jared Ross

Group Cooking


This press can brew 20 ounces at a time, plenty to get two people at least partially going in the morning. Nylon sleeves insulate both the press itself and the additional mug, so your brew will stay warm while you break down your tent.

The Personal Java Press is designed to make coffee for one or two...
The Personal Java Press is designed to make coffee for one or two, but given how easy it is to make a French press, you can always rinse and repeat if you want to share with your friends.
Photo: Jared Ross

Portability


The Personal Java Press comes with a separate cup that stacks conveniently inside the press, like Russian nesting dolls (though you have to disassemble the screen and rod first). We like this feature because it means that the mug and press pack down neatly and command very little space in your camp kitchen bin. Despite this great feature, this press is a little too bulky and heavy to be ideal for backpacking.

Being able to nest all the parts together helps keep your camp...
Being able to nest all the parts together helps keep your camp kitchen nice and compact.
Photo: Jared Ross

Weight


Including the cup, the Personal Java Press weighs 12 ounces, which is on the heavy side for coffee makers in this review. While not the best option for most backpackers, the die-hard lover of French press coffee could make it work. For the rest of us, it is a great and durable option for car camping or van-living.

The Personal Java Press isn't the lightest-weight brewer in our...
The Personal Java Press isn't the lightest-weight brewer in our review, but it is compact enough to leave us smiling and earn an easy home in your camp kitchen kit.
Photo: Jared Ross

Value


The Personal Java Press certainly isn't the cheapest option to be had, but the fact that it includes a mug and doesn't require filters is a significant bonus. It's also mega durable, insulated, and quite packable — even for its size and weight — so, for the right user, this is a slammin' deal.

Conclusion


For the French press lover who wants a decently compact and burly setup, the GSI Outdoors Personal Java Press with its accompanying mug is a solid choice. Due to its weight, it's probably better suited for car camping than backpacking, though for short trips where you want all your favorite luxury items, it might be just fine.

We were impressed by the stackable and portable design of the...
We were impressed by the stackable and portable design of the Personal Java Press, which makes for a great car camping French press!
Photo: Jared Ross

Mary Witlacil