The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

How We Tested Camping Coffees

Wednesday April 29, 2020

Our Process


After researching the market's best camping coffee makers, we hunkered down and drank obscene quantities of coffee to test each of the devices in our review. During that time, we also inspected every aspect of our brewers noting which traveled the best, which were easiest to use, and which provided the best taste whether we were measuring or not.

Rotating coffee makers!
Rotating coffee makers!

Taste


We performed several head-to-head blind taste tests with self-professed coffee lovers, noting their preferences in detail. We taste-tested each brewer by using both precise, dialed-in recipes and haphazardly-made coffee sans recipe, to mimic your average bleary-eyed camper. This helped reveal which devices were the most versatile, intuitive, and user-friendly.

Crema while camping?? You betcha!
Crema while camping?? You betcha!

The Coffee We Used


To ensure the coffee itself was not an issue with tasting, we selected top quality beans from roasters who know their stuff. Over our various cycles of testing we have used Black Velvet in Mammoth Lakes, CA, Deeper Roots Coffee based in Cincinnati, OH, Copper Door Coffee from Denver, CO, and, most recently, Sweet Bloom Coffee based in Lakewood, Colorado. By starting with high-quality beans and freshly ground coffee, we could focus on evaluating the subtle differences in taste based on the brew methods and remove the variable of stale or otherwise bad beans.

Ease of Use


To test this metric, we noted how easy and intuitive each device was to use and perfect, as well as how quickly and efficiently we could clean each brewer. Did the brewer require special filters? Did we have to time the brewing process? Were there lots of small pieces to keep track of? We also paid attention to the weight of each model and how easy or difficult they were to pack up and transport.

Doing a quick and dirty cleaning of the Nanopresso is decently easy with a JetBoil and a dry-rag.
Doing a quick and dirty cleaning of the Nanopresso is decently easy with a JetBoil and a dry-rag.

Group Cooking


To evaluate each brewer for group cooking, we assessed how many cups of coffee each brewer could make. Then we considered how effectively and efficiently we could repeat the process. Brewers that required thorough cleaning and produced only small amounts tended to score poorly on this metric, no surprise.

If a brewer is easy enough to use you might be willing to brew repeatedly for a large group here and there. If not  many brewers (like the Musa seen here) are available in multiple sizes.
If a brewer is easy enough to use you might be willing to brew repeatedly for a large group here and there. If not, many brewers (like the Musa seen here) are available in multiple sizes.

Portability


We took each brewer along with us on camping and backpacking trips, trying them in different situations and environments to determine which were the best adventure companions, whether solo or in a group. We lent the brewers to people planning trips who wanted a convenient way to make their morning coffee and noted their observations.

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


We checked and noted each of the manufacturer's listed weights. Then immediately after receiving each brewer, we weighed each of these brewers on a high-quality kitchen scale.

It may be too heavy for backpacking  but it certainly isn't heavy. Fumie Hiromitsu demonstrating just how lightweight the Musa is.
It may be too heavy for backpacking, but it certainly isn't heavy. Fumie Hiromitsu demonstrating just how lightweight the Musa is.

After drinking enough coffee to blast off into space, we compiled all of our research to present you with detailed comparisons. We hope this helps you find the perfect coffee companion for your next adventure, wherever you might find yourself. Salud!

Working hard in a remote OGL test kitchen!
Working hard in a remote OGL test kitchen!