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Primula Coffee Brew Buddy Review

The best option for light travel and backpacking, this savvy brewer will keep you caffeinated without taking up space in your bag
Primula Coffee Brew Buddy
Photo: Primula
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $13 List | $10.39 at Amazon
Pros:  No filter needed, tiny and light, consistently good taste
Cons:  Must lift filter out of most cups to avoid steeping, poor for large group
Manufacturer:   Primula
By Mary Witlacil and Penney Garrett  ⋅  Apr 29, 2020
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 19
  • Taste - 40% 7
  • Ease of Use - 25% 9
  • Group Cooking - 15% 4
  • Portability - 10% 9
  • Weight - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Primula Coffee Brew Buddy is not only brilliant for backpacking, but it's also an outstanding option for any scenario where you have limited room in your bag or any kind of weight restriction. It's our reigning Best Buy for adventures that require fast, light, and easy. It is among the lightest-weight and most compact of any brewer in our review. While it is ideal for backpacking, if you're tired of drinking disposable K-cups or burnt-tasting Folgers whenever you visit your relatives, bring a 1/2 pound of your favorite grind and this little disk, and your morning routine can carry on, uninterrupted. It is easy to clean, easy to use, and weighs just over an ounce. This tiny little brewer will start your day off right.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award   
Price $10.39 at Amazon$9.05 at Amazon$29.95 at Amazon
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$64.90 at Amazon$39.95 at Amazon
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Pros No filter needed, tiny and light, consistently good tasteGourmet flavor, well-conceived design, ceramic version available for home useAmazing flavor, versatile, very portable, simple cleanupSuper tasty espresso with impressive crema, compact, fairly straightforward to useExcellent clean flavor, double-filtered to eliminate sediment, press completely stops extraction, vessel can be used as a leakproof travel mug
Cons Must lift filter out of most cups to avoid steeping, poor for large groupSpecial shaped filters are harder to find, expensive for a plastic dripper, heavier than other brandsA lot of little pieces to keep track of, on the heavy side for backpackingSpendy, lots of little parts, somewhat difficult to clean, time-consuming to produce more than one shot of espressoLots of pieces to keep track of, heavy, on the pricier side
Bottom Line Durable, light, and compact, this is a fantastic option for backpacking trips or any kind of light travelGreat taste, easy to use, and lightweight - we love this plastic iteration of the classic glass and ceramic versionsWhile this unique brewer has a bit of a learning curve, the final flavor is the best in our test suiteExpert-level espresso maker that requires minimal expertise, but comes with tons of tiny partsThe superfine double filter and extraction-stopping plunger of this press make for a very excellent brew
Rating Categories Primula Coffee Brew Buddy Hario V60 Plastic Dripper AeroPress Coffee Maker Wacaco Nanopresso Espro Travel Press
Taste (40%)
7
9
10
9
8
Ease Of Use (25%)
9
7
7
6
8
Group Cooking (15%)
4
6
4
4
5
Portability (10%)
9
5
6
8
6
Weight (10%)
9
8
5
4
3
Specs Primula Coffee... Hario V60 Plastic... AeroPress Coffee... Wacaco Nanopresso Espro Travel Press
Weight 1.1 oz Dripper alone: 2.95 oz
Dripper + scoop: 3.37 oz
Press alone: 7.98 oz
Press + spoon + stirrer: 9.39 oz
Press alone: 11.02 oz
Press + cup + brush + scoop + bag: 12.35 oz
12.3 oz
Brew Type Pour Over Pour Over Pour Over/Press Hybrid Espresso pump/press French Press/ Pour Over
Main Material Nylon filter Hard plastic BPA-free polypropylene BPA-free plastic Stainless steel
Filter needed? No Yes Yes Yes No
Notable Features Rests on any mug Cone shape, large hole, ribs along side Easy to clean, re-usable filter High powered espresso maker, compact, comes with stuff sack for storage Can be used as french press, pour over, or for tea
Notes Filter hangs in coffee for most cups Makes strong, smooth coffee Eliminates bitterness while keeping a good flavor Makes fantastic espresso with perfect crema, easy to use once you learn how each piece works together. Fairly portable, somewhat heavy. Brews a really clean cup, keeps liquids nice and hot

Our Analysis and Test Results

Have you ever been packing for a trip with your bag bursting at the seams, and you realize you still don't have all the essentials? For those of you who cannot leave home without a reliable way to make your own coffee — no matter how limited weight or space may be — the lightweight and low profile Primula Brew Buddy may be just the ticket.

Performance Comparison


The Brew Buddy is a great lightweight and packable option that...
The Brew Buddy is a great lightweight and packable option that delivers a really decent cup of Joe.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Brew Features


This little brewer is slim enough to fit almost anywhere, consisting of just a flexible fine mesh filter and a simple plastic disc with a wide rim to rest on top of your favorite mug. Simply place a scoop of coffee in the filter, add hot water, steep, and you're ready to go! Head's up, though: to avoid over-steeping your coffee, you will want to remove the filter after 2-3 minutes, as your coffee will continue to steep as long as the filter rests inside your mug.

Your coffee will only take a few minutes to brew.
Your coffee will only take a few minutes to brew.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Taste


Compared to our other lightweight models, the Primula Brew Buddy delivers a consistently tasty mug of coffee for a fraction of the price, and it is among one of the easiest brewers in our review to master.


One of the major issues with making a good cup of camp coffee is the fact that pouring hot water uniformly and accurately from a pot or JetBoil is difficult. If your camp kitchen includes a gooseneck kettle, then no worries — but this isn't something most people bring with them into the great outdoors, particularly if backpacking. We appreciate the fact that, even with an imprecise and messy pour, the Brew Buddy can still deliver a delicious brew.

The design of this brewer is such that the filter hangs down into your cup. This means that it will continue extracting much like a French press if you don't remove it. And if you're not paying attention and don't do this promptly, you'll end up with a bitter, over-extracted cup. Ultimately, this really is not that big of a deal, but you can't walk away from the Brew Buddy like you can with other pour-over drippers in our review. In our blind taste-tests, the Buddy scored fairly well compared to other more sophisticated brewers. For the weight and the price, you really can't beat the taste performance.

Left to right: Primula Brew Buddy, GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java...
Left to right: Primula Brew Buddy, GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip, and the Hario V60
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Ease of Use


Compared to all of the filterless options in our review, the Brew Buddy proved to be the easiest to clean and required the least amount of water. Cleaning is as simple as flipping the mesh filter inside out and pouring a little water through. A scant 1/4 cup will get you 95% clean and ready for another round of coffee. The other filterless options in our review require more water and some finagling to clean.


Additionally, brewing with this filter requires the least precision when pouring to achieve a good flavor. Simply dump your grounds into the brewer, add water, and voila! The simplicity of the brewing process, which requires very little expertise or technique, and the ease of cleaning this device are the main reasons why it earned top marks in this category. Our one issue is that the edges of the disk can get pretty hot, so you may need to use gloves or a potholder to remove it.

This is also a great device to consider if you are a tea drinker or if you like to be able to switch between loose leaf tea and coffee, though the filter will retain a bit of flavor of one or the other over time.

The edges of the Primula disk can get quite hot, so be mindful when...
The edges of the Primula disk can get quite hot, so be mindful when removing it from your cup.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Group Cooking


The Brew Buddy is not an ideal option for making tons of coffee for your whole crew. The mesh filter is small, and if you try to load it up to make more than one cup of coffee at a time, you'll wind up with multiple weak cups of bean-tea.


On the flip side, this brewer is fast and easy to clean, which results in quick transitions from pour-over to pour-over. If you find yourself in the backcountry with only one brewer, and a need to caffeinate a legion of friends, you can efficiently brew multiple cups for all your buds, even with just the one filter. Though, the Brew Buddy is cheap enough that you could buy one for each of your backpacking buddies and still have money in the bank for a pound of your favorite craft coffee.

Cleaning is as easy as flipping the filter inside out and pouring...
Cleaning is as easy as flipping the filter inside out and pouring water. Of all the filterless options, the Brew Buddy is the quickest to clean.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Portability


The Brew Buddy is one of the most portable brewers in our test suite. The only options that command less space in your pack are either instant coffees or they are more fragile brewers. By contrast, this is one of the more durable, yet compact options in our review, so if you tend to be rough on your gear but need a brewer that requires minimal space, this is the one for you.


Weight


At 1.1 ounces, the Brew Buddy is an incredibly lightweight option. While there are other brewers that weigh less, this one is either more compact or more durable than any of the other options.


Compact, lightweight, durable, and easy to use — the Brew Buddy hits all the marks of a great backpacking brewer and was an easy choice for a Best Buy Award.

Light, compact, and easy to use - a perfect combo for ultralight...
Light, compact, and easy to use - a perfect combo for ultralight adventurers that still want a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Value


This tiny brewer offers amazing value and versatility. It is cheap, ultralight, small, doesn't require filters, and it can be used for coffee or tea. What's not to love?! It is an excellent choice for the budget backpacker or traveler who wants to enjoy a great cup of coffee (or tea!) wherever they happen to roam.

Conclusion


The Primula Brew Buddy is an ideal lightweight brewer for anyone who refuses to give up their morning coffee ritual but has minimal packing space and a need to shave weight wherever they can. Its low profile yet durable design makes it an ideal coffee-maker for packing into cramped spaces without worry of damage. This simple device is our Best Buy for Backpacking for a reason — it will keep you caffeinated and happy without completely sacrificing flavor or breaking the bank, regardless of where you happen to wake up.

Mary Witlacil and Penney Garrett