Sea to Summit X-Brew Review
Cons: Slightly heavy for backpacking, annoying to clean, takes finesse to produce an excellent cup of coffee
Manufacturer: Sea to Summit
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The compressibility of the Sea to Summit X-Brew makes this unique pour-over press ideal for excursions where space is at a premium. With some finesse and proper pour-over technique, it can produce a good cup of coffee that is only rivaled by the most sophisticated brewers in our review. One of the best features of this little brewer is that it is a filterless option, owing to the fine-mesh stainless steel filter situated at the base of this dripper. The X-Brew may not be the lightest weight or most compact option in our test suite, but it is a decent option for a backpacking coffee brewer that doesn't require extra filters.
This pour-over brewer is rad because it boasts a reusable stainless filter that doesn't require extra filters, which will save you money in the long-run and help cut down on weight and waste. However, if you prefer to brew with paper filters, it is fairly easy to remove the stainless filter (see below).
The X-Brew is the lightest-weight non-plastic coffee brewer in our review, owing to it being made out of silicone and food-grade nylon, so if you would like to avoid brewing hot coffee in plastic, this is a great option for you. The stainless steel filter is made of a super-fine mesh, which is great for producing a clean cup of coffee but can slow down the brewing process, especially if the filter isn't properly cleaned between uses.
When we made coffee with the proper ratio in a kitchen, the X-Brew often produced an excellent tasting cup. That being said, it scored in the middle of the pack during blind taste tests. This is because, in real-world scenarios, it proved somewhat fickle. Like any pour-over device, it takes time, attention to detail, and a quality recipe to produce consistently delicious coffee. With a little bit of practice and the proper grind, the X-Brew made quality coffee in the backcountry, but it required some patience and experimentation.
Ease of Use
Much like the other brewers with reusable filters in our review, the X-Brew requires extra time and water to properly clean it between uses. Sea to Summit claims their stainless mesh filter can be easily removed for cleaning and for use with paper filters. However, in our quest to effectively test every aspect of every product, our reviewers found this was not the case. The filter proved fairly easy to remove, but to reinsert the filter, even per Sea to Summit's recommended technique, was basically impossible. Two of our adept reviewers (one a former bike mechanic and the other a DIY mastermind) could not get the filter back in the cone. Indeed, with minimal effort, our reviewers discovered they had separated the filter from the filter-ring, rendering it garbage. This is why the X-Brew earns such low marks with regard to 'ease of use' in our review.
Beyond the extra effort for removing the stainless filter and for cleaning, the X-Brew is fairly straight-forward to use. Simply add coffee and water, stir, and be done with it. However, for a more delicious cup of coffee, the X-Brew requires more finesse. It received low marks for ease of use, owing to the effort and time it takes for a solid cleaning and for it taking some technique to produce an excellent cup of coffee.
The X-Brew is not an ideal brewer for large groups. However, you can make enough for two cups of coffee with each brew, and as long as you have water around for a sufficient cleaning and sufficient ground coffee, you can be ready to go with another round fairly quickly.
Given the unique and innovative design of this compressible brewer, the X-Brew is incredibly portable. It can also fit snugly inside the Sea to Summit X-Pot Kettle, which is a great backpacking set-up for someone who only uses their stove to heat water for freeze-dried meals and coffee. Though be fair-warned: this combo will cost you a chunk of change.
The X-Brew weighs 3.06 ounces. While this is not the lightest of the brewers in our test-suite, it is still light enough — and certainly compact enough — to be a decent backpacking option.
The X-Brew is not the least expensive of the brewers we tested. However, given that it is incredibly compact, decently lightweight, well-made (mostly), very durable, and features a reusable filter — this brewer is worth the money. While we did review other brewers with reusable filters that are lighter weight and comparably durable, all of these brewers filter through plastic and/or fabric, rather than silicone and stainless steel, or they are not compressible. The X-Brew is not cheap, but it will continue to meet your caffeine needs for years to come, as long as you don't try to remove the stainless-steel filter.
The compressible X-Brew did alright in our review, but it does not steal the show. This pour-over brewer has a reusable filter, which saves money in the long-run, but takes extra effort to clean, and proved fairly challenging (nay impossible) to reinstall after removal. It is made out of silicone, while other comparable models are made out of plastic. It is far easier to compress than similar brewers in our test-suite and takes up less space. While it isn't the lightest-weight or the cheapest, it is a compact and durable option for backpacking or any other activity where space and weight are a concern.
— Mary Witlacil