Reviews You Can Rely On

Best Camping Coffee Makers of 2021

We've sipped and slurped delicious brews thanks to camping coffee makers from MiiR, AeroPress, Hario, and so many more to help you get caffeinated no matter where you wake up
The Nanopresso consistently produced some of the best-tasting coffee, ...
Photo: Dana Prosser
Wednesday November 3, 2021
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Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
For the past 9 years, we've field-tested close to 30 different camping coffee makers. For this update, we purchased the 17 bestselling brewers and tested them head-to-head all over the backcountry. Whether you're waking up in an alpine bivy or the comfort of your own home, a cup of coffee is probably an essential part of your morning. Our team of coffee experts tested these coffee makers extensively to help you find the best one to get your fix while out in nature. Your days of sacrificing delicious coffee to sleep under the stars are over. Whether you're searching for a tasty instant or you crave a cup of rich espresso, our review will help you find the ideal setup for your next camping adventure.

Top 17 Product Ratings

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Awards Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $29.95 at REI
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Gourmet flavor, stylish, compact, easy to clean, easy to use, made from stainless steelGourmet flavor, well-conceived design, ceramic version available for home useAmazing flavor, versatile, very portable, simple cleanupNo filter needed, tiny and light, consistently good tasteSuper tasty espresso with impressive crema, compact, fairly straightforward to use
Cons Hefty, not ideal for big groupsSpecial shaped filters are harder to find, expensive for a plastic dripper, heavier than other brandsLots of little pieces to mind, heavy for backpackingMust lift filter out of most cups to avoid over-steeping, poor for large groupsSpendy, lots of little parts, somewhat difficult to clean, time-consuming to produce more than one shot of espresso
Bottom Line A 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 flavorThis is our top scorer for taste and we love its durability, ease of use, and versatilityThe best option for light travel and backpacking, this savvy brewer will keep you caffeinated without taking up space in your bagIncredible espresso with caramel crema on-the-go, but there are lots of little parts to keep track of and clean
Rating Categories MiiR Pourigami Hario V60 Plastic D... AeroPress Coffee Maker Primula Coffee Brew... Wacaco Nanopresso
Taste (40%)
9.0
9.0
10.0
7.0
9.0
Ease Of Use (25%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
Group Cooking (15%)
6.0
6.0
4.0
4.0
4.0
Portability (10%)
8.0
5.0
6.0
9.0
8.0
Weight (10%)
7.0
8.0
5.0
9.0
4.0
Specs MiiR Pourigami Hario V60 Plastic D... AeroPress Coffee Maker Primula Coffee Brew... Wacaco Nanopresso
Measured Weight Dripper alone: 4.89 oz
Dripper + case: 5.52 oz
Dripper alone: 2.95 oz
Dripper + scoop: 3.37 oz
Press alone: 7.98 oz
Press + spoon + stirrer: 9.39 oz
1.1 oz Press alone: 11.02 oz
Press + cup + brush + scoop + bag: 12.35 oz
Brew Type Pour Over Pour Over Pour Over/Press Hybrid Pour Over Espresso pump/press
Main Material Stainless steel with Hardshell powder coat Hard plastic BPA-free polypropylene Nylon filter BPA-free plastic
Filter Needed? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Notable Features Easy to clean, collapsible pour over with slim carrying case Cone shape, large hole, ribs along side Easy to clean, re-usable filter Rests on any mug High powered espresso maker, compact, comes with stuff sack for storage


Best Overall Camping Coffee Maker


MiiR Pourigami


78
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Taste 9
  • Ease of Use 7
  • Group Cooking 6
  • Portability 8
  • Weight 7
Weight: 4.89 oz | Brew Type: Pour Over
Gourmet flavor
Stylish
Compact
Easy to clean
Made from stainless steel
Heavy
Not ideal for big groups
Requires technique for best tasting coffee

The elegant and stylish MiiR Pourigami stole our hearts and the show. We love this cleverly designed and aptly named brewer because it is the most compact pour-over brewer that delivers gourmet-level flavor. It features three interlocking stainless steel panels that affix to each other to create a solid base for filtering your coffee. While it is on the heavier end of the spectrum, it is very compact, and we appreciate that it eliminates the need to pour hot water over plastic when making coffee in the backcountry. For all these reasons, we happily award the Pourigami our coveted top spot.

While we love many aspects of this brewer for making excellent pour-overs at home or while camping, at 4.89 ounces for the dripper alone, or 5.52 ounces for the dripper and the case, it is one of the heavier compact models we tested. Additionally, making consistently great coffee with a pour-over requires some technique and finesse, and this one is no different. That said, we love how the Pourigami proves you can have form and function in a compact dripper with gourmet flavor that is ideal for car camping, van-living, or even cozy mornings at home.

Read review: MiiR Pourigami

Best Bang for Your Buck


Hario V60 Plastic Dripper


76
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Taste 9
  • Ease of Use 7
  • Group Cooking 6
  • Portability 5
  • Weight 8
Weight: 2.95 oz | Brew Type: Pour Over
Gourmet flavor
Excellent design
Inexpensive
Lightweight
Requires a V60-specific paper filter
Best-tasting coffee requires technique and finesse
Odd shape for travel

The Hario V60 Plastic Dripper delivers consistently delicious coffee at a fraction of the price of other brewers in our review. It should come as no surprise that the plastic version of the adored ceramic cone used by coffee-nerds worldwide is also one of our favorite options for camping. The V60 makes delicious coffee and is straightforward to use once you've honed your pour-over technique. Plus, this little cone is lightweight, weighing a mere 2.95 ounces (3.37 ounces with its measuring scoop). The AeroPress ranked slightly higher in our taste tests, but it is triple the price, more than double the weight, and a bit more complicated to use — especially when brewing for multiple people.

The downsides for the V60 are minimal and inconsequential. It may take more time and intention to finesse your technique than your average French press, and you will need to find V60-specific filters. You will want to use uniform, finely ground coffee for the best tasting coffee, best achieved with a burr grinder. If you want to take your brewing game to another level, then you will also want to weigh your coffee and water and time your bloom and brew. That said, once you've mastered the pour-over process, this brewer will produce one of the cleanest and best-tasting coffees you can have, whether on the back of your tailgate, several miles into the backcountry, or on the kitchen counter in your home.

In case you're curious, the Hario V60 Ceramic Dripper is also one of our favorite ways to make coffee at home. You could take it camping, but it's much heavier and nowhere near as durable.

Read review: Hario V60 Plastic Dripper

A Great Deal for Backpacking


Primula Coffee Brew Buddy


75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Taste 7
  • Ease of Use 9
  • Group Cooking 4
  • Portability 9
  • Weight 9
Weight: 1.1 oz | Brew Type: Pour Over
Lightweight
Simple
Inexpensive
No filter needed
Great for coffee and looseleaf tea
Must lift filter out of most cups to avoid over-steeping
Not ideal for large groups
Filter is a bit delicate

If you are searching for an economical and lightweight camping coffee maker for backpacking and through-hiking, look no further than the Primula Coffee Brew Buddy. This tiny brewer is compact, durable, and weighs about as much as a stroopwafel. Pour after pour, the Brew Buddy provides a tasty cup of coffee without the fuss of paper filters. Other pour-over contenders require a precise pour, which is challenging with a JetBoil or camping pot, but the forgiving nature of this filter is much easier to master.

One of the few downsides to this brewer is that you must be sure to remove it from your cup in a timely fashion. If you forget about it, your coffee will continue to steep, leaving you with a bitter, over-extracted cup. Minimal drawbacks aside, the Brew Buddy is a lightweight and cheap option for brewing excellent coffee, making it an excellent option for backpacking on a budget.

Read review: Primula Coffee Brew Buddy

Best for Gourmet Taste


AeroPress Coffee Maker


75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Taste 10
  • Ease of Use 7
  • Group Cooking 4
  • Portability 6
  • Weight 5
Weight: 7.98 oz | Brew Type: Espresso / Pour Over
Great flavor
Can brew in varying strengths
Very portable for such a gourmet result
Many pieces
Requires special filter
Only brews enough for one person at a time

The AeroPress emerges as the consistent leader in our taste tests, year after year. With this fun and functional brewer, you can create smooth espresso-like shots as well as clean, satisfying americanos. We know a handful of folks who use this as their exclusive coffee maker, even at home, yet this press is portable enough for travel or making camp coffee. Cleaning is as fast as popping the puck of grinds out of the tube — the squeegee action of the plunger cleans effectively without the use of extra water.

There is a slight learning curve with the AeroPress, and it has more pieces than many other camping coffee makers in our review (though many of them are not necessary). You will also need to make sure you have a wide enough cup for it to properly nest into for pressing, and it requires the use of special round filters, available in paper, stainless steel, and even cotton. While not for everyone, coffee geeks will fall head-over-heels for this versatile brewer and its delicious results.

Read review: AeroPress

Best for Camp Espresso


Bialetti Musa


68
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Taste 8
  • Ease of Use 9
  • Group Cooking 4
  • Portability 5
  • Weight 2
Weight: 19.19 oz | Brew Type: Espresso
Brews quickly
Great coffee with minimal expertise
Easy to clean
Stylish and stainless steel
Only brews enough for one person at a time
Odd shape for travel
Too heavy for backpacking

If the thought of going without delicious espresso is as horrifying as a life without adventure, the Bialetti Musa is a must-have. The folks at Bialetti have outdone themselves with the Musa, revamping their classic stove-top espresso maker for a 21st Century crowd. This stainless steel redux of the iconic Bialetti Moka Express brews a delicious cup of espresso in a matter of minutes. It is easy to clean, easy to finesse, and was a crowd favorite among nearly all of our taste testers. It delivers in terms of function but in form as well; this elegant brewer is the most stylish of the ones we tested. Indeed, one of our reviewers loved this brewer so much, it became her go-to coffee maker for daily brewing at home or the campsite.

The downsides with the Musa are few and far between. The plastic handle that lends to easy maneuverability and pouring makes it an odd shape for travel. Additionally, it is not an ideal candidate for accommodating a big crew, though Bialetti does make a 6-cup and 10-cup option. Despite this, it does make coffee quickly and with minimal fuss — in a pinch, it could power through several rounds of coffee before leaving camp. Finally, at almost 20-ounces, this brewer is too heavy for backpacking, though it proved to be an ideal companion for car camping and river trips. Bottom-line, the Musa is our favorite brewer for camp espresso.

Read review: Bialetti Musa

Best for Large Groups


Planetary Designs BaseCamp Travel Press


68
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Taste 7
  • Ease of Use 8
  • Group Cooking 10
  • Portability 4
  • Weight 1
Weight: 34.56 oz | Brew Type: French Press
Brews clean and well-balanced coffee
Durable
Insulated
Great for groups
No filters needed
Heavy
Difficult to screw/unscrew lid
Requires extra water to clean

If you came to this review looking to make coffee for all your friends or family on your next camping trip, then you're in luck! The Planetary Designs BaseCamp is a durable French press available in 32 or 48 ounces to ensure you can make a righteous amount of coffee whenever you need to caffeinate your whole crew. The redesign of this press is even better than previous iterations. It boasts a more compact and stylish design to lend to better packability, and even the most discerning coffee snobs in our review team were impressed by the clean-tasting and well-balanced coffee it produced. The innovative filter stops the coffee extraction process when you submerge the press, and the vessel features double-wall insulation. These features merge to ensure your coffee will stay hot and sludge-free for hours (or minutes depending on how quickly you like to drink your coffee).

While the BaseCamp is our go-to for large groups, it is obviously one of our last picks for backpacking. It is rather hefty and large, proving too cumbersome for anything but car camping or living out of your van. Additionally, it can be somewhat challenging to screw and unscrew the lid. To make it less difficult to screw open, be sure to flip open the snap top lid to decrease pressure. Beyond these minimal drawbacks, we were impressed by this burly, innovative, and easy-to-use French press. It is sure to keep up with the caffeine needs of your whole crew on your next car camping adventure.

Read review: Planetary Design BaseCamp Travel Press

Best Backpacking Option


MSR MugMate


67
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Taste 6
  • Ease of Use 8
  • Group Cooking 4
  • Portability 8
  • Weight 9
Weight: 0.7 oz | Brew Type: Espresso / Pour Over
No filter needed
Light and compact
Easy to clean and easy to get a consistent taste
Very durable
Must lift out of the cup to prevent over-steeping
Only brews enough for one person at a time
Awkward shape

So you're going on a backpacking trip, and you want a coffee brewer that's lightweight, easy to clean, and produces tasty coffee? Then the MSR MugMate is your match. Weighing in at just under half an ounce, this steadfast, tried-and-true coffee maker gets the job done. All you need to do is add coffee grounds and hot water, steep for a few minutes, and voila. In a pinch, it cleans easily by tapping it into the trash, though for a more thorough cleaning, you will want to give it a quick rinse. This brewer can also double as a loose leaf tea brewer, though you will want to thoroughly clean it to avoid tainting your tea with the flavor of coffee.

While this coffee brewer scored well in our blind taste tests, it wasn't our go-to for gourmet flavor. Then again, it requires very little expertise to produce a consistently good cup of coffee, while most of our top-rated coffee brewers demand more finesse and technical skills for gourmet taste. Given the rigid plastic frame of the MugMate it does require some forethought to pack well, but our reviewers found that it nests perfectly in some mugs and most cooking pots. This isn't the ideal option for brewing coffee for more than one or two people, and you must lift the brewer out of your cup to prevent over-steeping, but beyond these minor complaints, this lightweight camping coffee maker is our top choice for backpacking.

Read review: MSR MugMate

Best Instant


Alpine Start Instant


64
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Taste 4
  • Ease of Use 10
  • Group Cooking 2
  • Portability 10
  • Weight 10
Weight: 0.13 oz for 1 packet, 1.62 oz for box of 8 | Brew Type: Instant
Ultralight
Surprisingly delicious
Fast and easy
Vegan/dairy-free options with coconut cream
Can brew with hot or cold water
Pricey
Slight instant coffee flavor
Not ideal for large groups
Best with less than the recommended 8oz of water

Thru-hikers, long-distance backpackers, and alpine climbers rejoice! The search for instant coffee that is ultralight, ultra-fast, and ultra-delicious is over. Alpine Start delivers a balanced and bright cup of tasty coffee that you almost can't tell is instant coffee. It even comes in a variety of flavors from their Original Blend to a vegan Dirty Chai and a vegan Coffee + Creamer. You can also buy their instant in bulk to cut down on waste and cost per cup. When space and weight are at a premium, but you don't want to sacrifice for your morning coffee ritual, this instant is the way to go.

Instant coffee is not a gourmet pour-over, and even though Alpine Start retains some of that instant coffee flavor, it tastes and smells far better than most. Instants are great when you need a quick and light cup in the backcountry, but they aren't ideal for large groups unless you're feeling generous — because it is more expensive than freshly brewed coffee. Finally, for the best flavor, we recommend brewing with 5-7 ounces of water rather than the recommended 8. But when you're in need of a fast, lightweight, highly packable method for drinking tasty coffee deep in the backcountry, Alpine Start has you covered.

Read review: Alpine Start Instant

Notable for Delicious Espresso On The Go


Wacaco Nanopresso


69
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Taste 9
  • Ease of Use 6
  • Group Cooking 4
  • Portability 8
  • Weight 4
Weight: 12.35 oz with all accessories | Brew Type: Espresso
Tastiest espresso with impressive crema
Compact
Fairly straightforward
Spendy
Lots of little parts
Somewhat difficult to clean
Time-consuming to produce more than one shot of espresso

Historically, heading into the backcountry has meant that coffee lovers must leave behind the caramel crema of their dream espresso. Not any longer. The Wacaco Nanopresso produces expert-level espresso with a crema to rival the "Guinness Effect" on a freshly pulled shot at your favorite cafe. The Nanopresso performed favorably in every blind taste test, almost edging out the AeroPress. Brewing with the Nanopresso is straightforward, requiring minimal expertise to produce an excellent shot of espresso — once you learn how all the parts work together. Fill the mini-portafilter with finely ground coffee, tamp it down with the provided scoop, add hot water to the reservoir, and pump it like a bike pump — voila, a fantastic shot of espresso.

While the Nanopresso delivers delicious coffee and near-perfect crema, it has a few drawbacks that kept it from earning a higher mark in our review. For die-hard espresso lovers, the steep price tag is hardly a deterrent, but it will set you back a noticeable amount. And, even though it is fairly straightforward to make excellent espresso, this device comes with many small parts that are somewhat difficult to clean and easy to lose. Using the Nanopresso while camping could prove challenging without access to water or a drying rack, thus it is a more ideal coffee maker for van-lifers than backpackers or casual car-campers. Despite these drawbacks, it stole our hearts by producing cafe-quality espresso with a beautiful crema.

Read review: Wacaco Nanopresso

Compare Products

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Score Product Price Our Take
78
$30
Editors' Choice Award
A cool and innovative pour over device that is compact, easy to clean, and delvers tasty coffee every time
76
$9
Best Buy Award
Great taste, easy to use, and lightweight - we love this plastic iteration of the classic glass and ceramic versions
75
$32
Top Pick Award
While this unique brewer has a bit of a learning curve, the final flavor is the best in our test suite
75
$13
Best Buy Award
Durable, light, and compact, this is a fantastic option for backpacking trips or any kind of light travel
69
$70
Expert-level espresso maker that requires minimal expertise, but comes with tons of tiny parts
68
$60
Top Pick Award
This burly, well-insulated press is great for making tons of well balanced and clean coffee for your whole crew
68
$40
Top Pick Award
A sleek and stylish stainless steel espresso maker that is easy to use and clean
67
$17
Top Pick Award
A tried-and-true, no-fuss filter that is great for backpacking and can also be used for steeping tea and pre-filtering water
67
$11
If you are counting every gram in your bag, this is a great ultralight option - just be sure to pour carefully
67
$6
If you're on a budget but love pour over coffee, this is a fantastic option
67
$50
A durable mug and French press combo that brews less muddy coffee than most and keeps your coffee hot for hours
65
$25
A stylish stainless-steel filter that makes tasty coffee and is filterless to boot
65
$25
A stainless steel pot and French press combo that is easy to use at a friendly price
64
$25
Top Pick Award
An easy, fast, and ultralight instant coffee that actually tastes good
63
$38
If you love French press coffee on the go, this press is a solid choice, though it is on the heavy side and harder to clean
62
$13
Innovative and compact, this dripper is great for small spaces and larger groups
60
$20
An impressively yummy instant from a specialty coffee roaster with single-origin and blended varieties

Camping should never mean sacrificing delicious coffee.
Camping should never mean sacrificing delicious coffee.
Photo: Fumie Hiromitsu

Why You Should Trust Us


Our camping coffee review is spearheaded by Mary Witlacil and Penney Garrett, both life-long lovers of coffee. Mary has over fifteen years of backcountry experience riding bikes, hiking, backpacking, and climbing rocks, ice, and mountains. While her preference for outdoor pursuits has changed over the years, her love of coffee has not. Indeed, she ascribes to the belief that no good adventure ever starts without a strong cup of black coffee. Penney also boasts a long resume of outdoor pursuits, but her experience in the coffee world is even more impressive. With over 15 years working in the world of specialty coffee, you name it, and she's probably done it. From origin trips to coffee farms, sample roasting, barista competitions, and palate trainings, she knows every step of the coffee supply chain in detail. Between the two, Mary and Penney have subjected every camping coffee maker to rigorous testing in and out of the backcountry, with craft coffee from all over the U.S.

To ensure that each coffee brewer was tested thoroughly and in the broadest range of situations possible, we took these devices everywhere. From car-camping and van-living to multi-day backpacking trips and alpine bivvies, we assessed the strengths and weaknesses of each brew method specific to its potential camping applications. To level the playing field, we sourced high-quality coffee beans with a consistent flavor profile to eliminate flavor variability with low-quality beans. This allowed us to evaluate taste differences between brew methods accurately and reliably.

Related: How We Tested Camping Coffees

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Analysis and Test Results


For a lot of us, coffee is the best part of our morning ritual and a critical catalyst to starting the day off on the right foot. Coffee brewing is a personal process, and there are innumerable options and resources for brewing types and methods. From dark roasts to light roasts, espressos to pour-overs, plastic to stainless steel… decisions abound, and each one will change the flavor and overall enjoyment of your final cup. Read on to learn about some of the savviest brewers on the market, how easy (or not) they are to use and care for, how conducive (or not) each is for serving multiple people, and — most importantly — how deliciously they brew up that precious nectar of liquid black gold.

Related: Buying Advice for Camping Coffees

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

Value


Items in this review span a broad range in terms of price — enough of a spread to warrant some time and consideration when deciding what to buy. We recommend reflecting on where you plan to brew coffee and how important flavor is to your coffee enjoyment experience. Is taste your number one priority? Do you prioritize weight and packability? Or do you need a brewer to prepare large volumes of coffee? Some brewers triangulate between flavor, being lightweight, and packability, but it is rare for these same brewers to be great for large groups. Once you figure out which features and applicability work best for you, it will be easier to decide what you need.

As you look through our review, you'll notice that we weighted each metric according to the elements we deemed most important to the average camping coffee drinker. If one of the metrics is more important to you, you can evaluate each category's least expensive brewers side-by-side. The Hario V60 is one of the highest performers — great taste, lightweight, and easy enough to use — and it has one of the lowest prices of all our contenders, thus representing an outstanding value. Likewise, the Primula Brew Buddy and Melitta 1-Cup Pour-Over represent an excellent value for everything from ultralight backpacking missions to a cozy car camping weekend.


Taste


No surprise here, taste is the factor we weighted the heaviest in our evaluation. If you don't care about taste and just want a caffeine jolt, you can skip the rest of this review and buy instant coffee. However, most coffee drinkers don't want to sacrifice delicious coffee while camping and recognize that instant coffee will never taste as good as the real thing, though Alpine Start Instant comes close. Most of us want a smooth, rich, clean flavor, whether lounging on our couch at home or slamming coffee on the trail during the wee morning hours. We can help you achieve that, even with a bare-bones backpacking or car-camping kitchen.


Recognizing the importance of this rating metric, we conducted several blind taste tests with like-minded coffee lovers to evaluate which products produced the best final result. All the brewers we reviewed made an acceptable cup, but a few stood out for their ability to deliver an elevated flavor that was pleasing even to the pickiest coffee snob.

The AeroPress continues to stand out as the distinct taste winner, though the MiiR Pourigami, Hario V60, and Wacaco Nanopresso are close rivals. These impressive brewers are followed by the ESPRO Ultralight Travel Press and the Bialetti Musa. Some tasters did prefer the V60, Pourigami, and the Nanopresso over the AeroPress, though one taster began using the AeroPress at home every morning after the initial test because she loved it so much. The AeroPress brews a smooth, strong cup devoid of bitterness. By pushing water evenly through the grinds at high pressure, the result has some resemblance to shots of espresso, with a refined and clean flavor.

The AeroPress is durable, easy to clean, and delivers the best...
The AeroPress is durable, easy to clean, and delivers the best flavor of all our coffee makers.
Photo: Penney Garrett

The Nanopresso scored well in our taste tests, producing a rich shot of espresso with a caramel crema to rival a shot at your favorite cafe. The Bialetti Musa also scored high in our taste tests. This stainless steel stove-top espresso maker provides flavorful coffee, as long as you remove it from the heat as soon as it finishes percolating.

The Nanopresso earned some of the highest honors in our head-to-head...
The Nanopresso earned some of the highest honors in our head-to-head blind taste-tests.
Photo: Dana Prosser

The ESPRO press made the best tasting cup from a French press. The double mesh filters are much finer than a traditional French press filter, and when coupled with a patented system that stops extraction once pressed, you get a tasty brew every time. The ESPRO also has special paper filters for use between the mesh filters for an even cleaner cup — the paper filter removes any remaining extra-fine particles as well as absorbing excess oils. You end up with a final product that's very similar to the V60 or a Chemex. All of this exists inside an insulated, leakproof travel mug that, while on the heavy side, is highly durable and can go with you anywhere.

With two interlocking micro filters, the ESPRO Ultralight...
With two interlocking micro filters, the ESPRO Ultralight effectively reduces the muddiness typically present in your average French press.
Photo: Jared Ross

Some people like the viscosity and mouthfeel of a French press. By not removing the oils, you get a thicker mouthfeel and a different depth of flavor. To enjoy a press without an abundance of sediment or a bitter over-extracted flavor, be sure to time your brew (we recommend about 4-5 minutes) and remove all liquid immediately after pressing. Alternatively, you can look for a press like the Planetary Designs BaseCamp that double filters and stops extraction upon pressing, much like the ESPRO Ultralight.

The Pourigami rose above the ranks, proving itself top-notch in terms of flavor. Along with the V60, it produces the best tasting coffee of the pour-over drippers in our review. The Pourigami produces a rich, gourmet cup with a bright flavor and a clean mouthfeel. It is also the best-tasting brew method that doesn't involve pouring hot water over plastic. The V60 also brews a clean-tasting cup with vibrant flavors and less bitterness than other drippers. The special angle of the cone (60 degrees to be exact), and the fact that it causes everything to coalesce at one point, means that the ground coffee gets evenly saturated — flat-bottomed brewers are prone to over-saturation from water pooling at the edges, which can cause bitterness.

The Pourigami produced some of the best tasting coffee of the...
The Pourigami produced some of the best tasting coffee of the brewers in our review.
Photo: Jared Ross

One great option if you would prefer to avoid the waste of paper filters is the stainless steel Cafellissimo Paperless Pour Over, which gives almost as good a cup without creating any additional waste.

Go tree-free
If you have a dripper that requires filters, but you would prefer to avoid creating more waste, consider a reusable organic cotton filter.

The Cafellissimo delivers great taste with no filter.
The Cafellissimo delivers great taste with no filter.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Of note, most pour-over methods require careful pouring to get the best flavor. This is best done with a kettle like the Hario Gooseneck Kettle, but few people will choose to camp with such a specialized pouring apparatus. Though it doesn't score quite as high as the V60 or Pourigami, the Primula Brew Buddy and the MSR MugMate both deliver consistent tastes with the sloppy pour you often get from a pot or JetBoil while camping.

Don't want to pre-grind?
There's no doubt about it; fresh ground coffee is the gold standard. If you want to grind your beans right before brewing, there are many hand-grinder options on the market to consider. We have tested several, and we like the GSI JavaMill best. It doesn't have any glass components, and it packs down nice and small.

Special Note on Pour-Over Methods


Yes, you can use a pour-over with no real plan by placing a random amount of ground coffee into the device and dousing it with hot water. That said, how you prepare and use your chosen pour-over dripper will dramatically alter the taste. There are many essential variables: quality of beans, freshness, the quantity used, grind size, water temperature, and how you pour the water. Videos abound on the internet, offering tutorials and advice to hone your pour-over technique.



Ease of Use


If you are one of those people who doesn't wake up until after your first cup of caffeine, then the simpler the brewing process, the better. Resources are often limited while camping, so models with easy clean-up are preferable. Whether you want a second or third cup or you prefer hitting the trail as quickly as possible, a complicated coffee brewing process shouldn't be the thing holding you back.


French presses are among the simplest camping coffee makers to use, and they don't require filters, but they are also a pain to clean. You have to flick and scoop out the messy wet grounds and then use water to rinse everything. If water is no issue where you'll be camping, then a French press might appeal to you. The ESPRO, BaseCamp, Stanley Adventure All-in-One, and the GSI Outdoors Personal Java Press all fit the bill for being straightforward to use, without the need to hone your coffee-making skills. Beyond being easy to master, French presses are certainly the best way to accommodate multiple people. However, if you're in a dry area with limited access to water, then another brew style that requires less water for clean-up will be ideal.

Like other French presses, the ESPRO Ultralight is ridiculously easy...
Like other French presses, the ESPRO Ultralight is ridiculously easy to use for brewing coffee. Add, mix, wait, press - that's all there is to it. Clean-up, on the other hand, is where presses can be a bit more cantankerous.
Photo: Jared Ross

The AeroPress is a breeze to clean — just remove the piece that holds the filter and press the plunger to pop out the puck of coffee grounds. However, this device requires a bit more know-how to use and has more parts to contend with. The Bialetti Musa is also among the easiest brewers to use and clean. Simply unscrew the reservoir from the base, pound the portafilter into the trash, and then wipe the coffee grounds out with your finger.

The simplicity of the Musa means there are only three main...
The simplicity of the Musa means there are only three main components and they are all easy to clean.
Photo: Mary Witlacil

The various cone-shaped pour-over brewers we reviewed are easy to use once you've mastered your pour-over technique. And they are straightforward to clean — just lift out the filter and toss it in the trash (or compost). Do keep in mind that many of these drippers, such as the Pourigami and the V60, require special filters for optimum brewing, and all of the pour-over devices require some finesse to produce a great cup of coffee. As we discovered in the testing process, you can make almost any filter work with a little folding, finagling, and careful pouring, but it's less than ideal.

While the Pourigami requires a filter, it is ridiculously easy to...
While the Pourigami requires a filter, it is ridiculously easy to clean in the field, simply lift out the filter and while down each of the interlocking panels, and you're good to go.
Photo: Jared Ross

Filterless options like the Cafellissimo involve more cleaning between uses. You can get 90% of the coffee out with a quick pour of a 1/4 cup of water. If you want your filter 100% clean, you will have to sacrifice quite a bit more water. Of all the filterless options, the Brew Buddy is the easiest to clean because of its shape and small surface area — turn the filter inside out, and voila, it's clean. The MugMate isn't far behind, though its rigid design makes it a tiny bit harder to rinse. For a quick and dirty clean-up, you can tap the MugMate to evacuate the grounds and clean it more thoroughly when you have access to a stream or water source. Both the MugMate and the Brew Buddy score well on this metric because they are simple to perfect, have minimal pieces to contend with, and are easy to clean.

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

Run out of filters?
No problem. Using a carefully folded paper towel is almost as effective as a coffee filter. We recommend pouring water through to make sure you don't get any paper towel flavor, but this should be done with any coffee-specific paper filter as well. You can also use a folded cloth handkerchief if you're in a bind. Again, pour water through it first so that it's saturated and ready to go.

Filterless options like the Cafelissimo require cleaning after each...
Filterless options like the Cafelissimo require cleaning after each use. How much time and water is dependent on your personal cleanliness standards, though if you let too many coffee oils build up it will impede how well your dripper works.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Of course, with regard to ease of use, instant coffee will always be king. Nothing is easier than opening a packet and pouring water (hot or cold) to mix with the grounds. No mess, no fancy filters or kettles, no clean-up except for your mug and the bit of trash the packet creates. You will sacrifice some flavor for this convenience, though with modern instant coffees like Alpine Start and First Ascent some people barely notice the difference; just make sure to add less water than the packet suggests, unless you want bean-tea.

Instant coffee is the easiest to use and easiest to clean. To clean...
Instant coffee is the easiest to use and easiest to clean. To clean up after making a cup of instant, simply drink all your coffee, rinse (or don't) your mug, and you're ready to go.
Photo: Jared Ross

Group Cooking


If you are planning a camping trip with multiple devout coffee drinkers, it is worth looking for a method that can brew for more than one person and still deliver excellent flavor.


The BaseCamp is a big press able to accommodate a large crew of caffeine-fiending campers. We tested the 32-ounce version, but it's also available in a larger 48-ounce version. This insulated press is the easiest and best-tasting way to satisfy a group quickly.

Our favorite way to make a French press involves a medium grind and shorter brewing time. If you're willing to use a timer, place your coffee in the press, add water to fill about 1/3 of the way full, let bloom for 1 minute (fresh coffee will bubble and off-gas — this is called the "bloom"), stir, fill with water to the top, place lid on the press, and steep for an additional 3-4 minutes. Press and serve at 4 or 5 minutes.

Here are a smattering of burly french presses, ready to go...
Here are a smattering of burly french presses, ready to go head-to-head in a taste test.
Photo: Mary Witlacil

While pour-over drippers are best for 1-2 people, you can always fill them with more grounds if you need to accommodate a small group. Just remember that this will affect extraction and the final flavor. Of our tested models, the GSI Collapsible Java Drip has the greatest capacity, and if you're willing to test the limits, it can brew for 4 or more. The Stanley Adventure All-in-One and the GSI Personal Java Press are great if you're in a party of two. Both of these presses brew around 20-ounces, so there's plenty to get two people started. The Java Press comes with its own mug that nests inside the press — a nice feature if you don't already have a camp cup or need an extra one for your buddy.

The GSI Collapsible is large enough that it can be loaded up with a...
The GSI Collapsible is large enough that it can be loaded up with a lot of grounds for a decently sizable crew.
Photo: Scott Sinor

Portability


Portability refers to how easy each item is to pack and carry. No surprise, the instant coffee options from Alpine Start and First Ascent score the highest. We include instant coffee in our review for all you gram-counters and alpine-starters. Sometimes you need to shave every gram possible, even if it means sacrificing a little flavor. However, with instant coffees as good as these two options, you won't be grimacing your way through caffeination.


Instant aside, it was neck-and-neck between several of our contenders. The GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip is so compact it folds to fit under a fuel canister and weighs just over an ounce. Another stellar option is the Brew Buddy, which weighs the same but is considerably more durable. It also requires less coffee to produce a flavorful result, further cutting down on weight.

The GSI Ultralight is the most portable filter we tested. Just fold...
The GSI Ultralight is the most portable filter we tested. Just fold the little plastic legs and this fits under a fuel canister.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Another ultralight and durable option is the MugMate. While it doesn't collapse down flat, it can nest inside your mug for travel and weighs less than an ounce. If a few more ounces are okay, we like the GSI Collapsible Java Drip and the MiiR Pourigami. The former is made out of silicone, and the latter is made out of stainless steel. They are both portable and durable. The Pourigami is a clear winner in terms of flavor, but it weighs quite a bit more than the other top options in this metric. That said, if you're searching for a compact stainless steel brewer with gourmet flavor, and don't mind a few extra ounces, then we can easily recommend this one.

The Pourigami stows away in a slim Cordura carrying case that...
The Pourigami stows away in a slim Cordura carrying case that commands as little real estate as an older smartphone.
Photo: Jared Ross

Weight


None of the brewing devices tested can compete with the featherweight of a single instant coffee packet at less than a quarter of an ounce. However, they can be reused indefinitely, making them more cost-effective in the long run.


Instant coffee packets like Alpine Start and First Ascent are ideal for backcountry missions where you don't want to burden an already heavy pack weighed down with gear. However, for long-distance backpacking or through-hiking, instant coffee can get pretty dang spendy, so unless you can afford it, we recommend saving some money and carrying a reusable option that will produce far more delicious coffee for a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the weight.

Alpine Start is the lightest weight and most delicious instant in...
Alpine Start is the lightest weight and most delicious instant in our review!
Photo: Mary Witlacil

Our review team weighed each brewer on a kitchen scale, determining the MugMate was the lightest, weighing just a single ounce with the optional lid/coaster and 0.7 ounces without it. The Brew Buddy and GSI Ultralight are just a smidge heavier at 1.1 ounces, and the Melitta weighs in at just 2.01 ounces. None of these brewers — except for the Melitta — require filters, which is an additional weight savings.

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

The V60 and Cafellissimo are some of the next lightest options, hovering right around 3 ounces. The V60 requires filters, however, while the Cafellissimo does not. Next up are the GSI Collapsible Java Drip and the MiiR Pourigami at 4.76 and 4.89 ounces, respectively. Both of these require filters, but their collapsible nature makes transport easier than a rigid cone shape.

While the Pourigami isn&#039;t as weightless as other models in our...
While the Pourigami isn't as weightless as other models in our review, at only 4.89 oz it is light enough that you're unlikely to notice its heft unless you're thru-hiking or cutting weight on your backpacking kit.
Photo: Jared Ross

Consider switching to tea for no mess and less weight
While it may be blasphemy to write this, switching to tea while camping or backpacking saves a lot of weight and clean-up. Some of our testers find instant coffee acceptable, but others want nothing to do with it. For those folks, tea may be a nice option.

Conclusion


With so many choices out there, we know it can be challenging to select the right camping coffee maker (or home coffee maker) for your needs. We hope you find our ratings and tests helpful in narrowing down the plethora of options so you can hone in on the perfect brewer for your sacred morning ritual.

A whole arsenal of coffee makers lined up and ready to be put to the...
A whole arsenal of coffee makers lined up and ready to be put to the ultimate test: reviving sleepy campers!
Photo: Penney Garrett

Mary Witlacil and Penney Garrett

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