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Sea to Summit X-Brew Review

A collapsable silicone coffee-maker with a reusable stainless steel filter
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Price:  $22 List | $21.95 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Compact, reusable filter, very durable, decently tasty coffee, not made out of plastic
Cons:  Slightly heavy for backpacking, annoying to clean, takes finesse to produce an excellent cup of coffee
Manufacturer:   Sea to Summit
By Mary Witlacil ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 29, 2020
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#15 of 19
  • Taste - 40% 6
  • Ease of Use - 25% 5
  • Group Cooking - 15% 6
  • Portability - 10% 8
  • Weight - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Sea to Summit X-Brew is a cleverly designed pour-over dripper with a reusable filter that compresses easily, giving it a slim profile that is easy to stash in your kitchen bin or backpack. This brewer is not the lightest-weight model in our test suite, nor does it produce the best tasting cup of coffee outright. Our reviewers found, however, that with some finesse and a careful pour-over technique, a great cup of coffee is attainable. It may require some extra patience and practice to hone your skill for a fantastic cup in the backcountry, but it can be done. Overall, this is a decent option for a backpacking brewer that occupies minimal space and does not require paper filters for brewing.


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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.

Performance Comparison


The lightweight  no-fuss X-Brew makes it easy to roll out of your sleeping bag in good style  with a cup of coffee in hand.
The lightweight, no-fuss X-Brew makes it easy to roll out of your sleeping bag in good style, with a cup of coffee in hand.

Brew Features


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.

Cleaning the X-Brew is a breeze  after tamping out the coffee grounds  you're left with a little bit of leftover grounds. Simply pour some water in the filter and wipe the grounds out with a bandana  a rag  or with your hand. 1/2
Cleaning the X-Brew is a breeze  after tamping out the coffee grounds  you're left with a little bit of leftover grounds. Simply pour some water in the filter and wipe the grounds out with a bandana  a rag  or with your hand. 2/2
The X-Brew collapses with ease 3/3

Taste


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.

Fumie Hiromitsu enjoys a cup of coffee from the X-Brew on a crisp desert morning.
Fumie Hiromitsu enjoys a cup of coffee from the X-Brew on a crisp desert morning.

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.


Group Cooking


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.

Water never boils slower than when you're waiting for your first cup of coffee  except when you're brewing coffee for the whole crew.
Water never boils slower than when you're waiting for your first cup of coffee, except when you're brewing coffee for the whole crew.

Portability


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 compresses down so flat that you'll barely even notice it in your pack!
The X-Brew compresses down so flat that you'll barely even notice it in your pack!

Weight


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 Sea-to-Summit X-Brew fully collapsed. This little gem of a coffee-maker takes up hardly any space at all.
The Sea-to-Summit X-Brew fully collapsed. This little gem of a coffee-maker takes up hardly any space at all.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

Our reviewer found that with a proper grind and pour-over technique  the X-Brew could brew a delicious cup of coffee in no time at all.
Our reviewer found that with a proper grind and pour-over technique, the X-Brew could brew a delicious cup of coffee in no time at all.


Mary Witlacil