Best Camp Coffee Makers of 2020 Tested Fueling your morning caffeine routine after a night in the woods couldn’t be simpler (or tastier).

8 reviews with an average rating of 5 out of 5 stars
Camper brewing coffee with the AeroPress Go Travel Coffee Press 

When you sleep in the wild, you inevitably give up some creature comforts. But a good cuppa joe shouldn’t be one of them. And thankfully, with so many outdoor coffee systems available these days, you don’t have to.

From quick cups to meticulous pour-overs to efficient crowdpleasers for a group, there’s a camp coffee maker for your morning ritual. Our 16 testers brewed and sipped more than 100 cups of coffee this spring to arrive at this list of the six best systems sold at REI.

 

AeroPress Go Travel Coffee Press 

REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Award Winner

Score: 97

AeroPress Go Travel Coffee Press

 
  • Brew method: Column
  • Grind type: Fine
  • Weight: 11.5 oz.
  • Servings: 8 fl. oz.
  • Price: $31.95

Test Results: Coffee snobs unanimously agreed that if quality is what you’re after, the AeroPress is tough to beat. “Good coffee is worth its weight in gold,” proclaimed one of our testers, who has since sworn off any and all other coffee-making devices on the trail. Even in our blind taste tests, our coffee drinkers noted that other cups (including barista-style espresso) paled in comparison to the rich, smooth coffee brewed with this portable system.

To use it, add one heaping scoop of ground coffee (about 14 grams) into the chamber, add boiling water and stir, then affix the top with the filter and press the brew chamber down, much like a coffee press. (Cleanup is simple and efficient: Pop out the compressed used coffee grounds and give it a quick rinse.) There are more moving parts than many coffee-making systems, but even those new to the brew method found the process intuitive after their second cup. (AeroPress has an easy-to-use guide for how to brew a hot or cold cup of coffee.) “The lightning fast brew time (about two minutes) is also ideal for those who don’t have the patience to wait around for a standard coffee press,” said one first-time AeroPress user after a camping trip in Wyoming.

The Go brews slightly less coffee (8 ounces instead of 10) than the original, and includes a travel mug with a lid, which the whole system packs neatly into. Testers found the included mug to be useful while backpacking, however most were attached to their own camp mugs and preferred to use the AeroPress mug as a carrying case. Aside from the mug, the system includes a plunger, chamber, filter cap, filter holder, stirrer, scoop and 350 paper filters.

We would be remiss to talk about the AeroPress without addressing the elephant in the room: Can you really call AeroPress espresso? In technical coffee terms, the short answer is no. Although many testers referred to AeroPress colloquially as “espresso on-the-go,” it doesn’t meet the technical requirements for a true shot of espresso. (According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s definition, pulling a shot of espresso requires specific brewing conditions that the AeroPress doesn’t meet, notably the amount of pressure and water temperature.) Buy here.

 

Bottom Line: Unparalleled coffee taste in a compact design makes the AeroPress Go Travel coffee press a great choice for most adventurers.

 

Testing stats:

  • Cups made: 32
  • Favorite beans brewed with: Velo Coffee Roasters Central Costa Rica Finca La Margarita
  • Testing states: Colorado, Idaho, Washington, Wyoming
  • Best testing story: One tester said he would give up his pillow if it meant he had more space for the AeroPress.

 

GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip Coffee Maker

Best Coffee Maker for Backpacking

Score: 94

GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip Coffee Maker

  • Brew method: Pour over
  • Grind type: Medium-fine
  • Weight: 0.4 oz.
  • Servings: 8-10 fl. oz.
  • Price: $10.95

Test Results: It doesn’t look like much, but the GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip coffee maker brews a quick, no-fuss cup, with a smooth and bold flavor to kick off a long day on the trail. Three spork-size legs clip easily to most camp mugs, then you drape the handkerchief-size pour-over filter and you’re in business. “It’s fantastically easy to use,” said one tester who paired it with his MSR PocketRocket stove on an overnight in the Teton Range. “And as someone who regularly makes pour-over coffee at home, I’m not sure I could tell the difference between a Hario V60 ceramic pour-over setup, and this lightweight java drip.”

The whole device, which showcased best-in-test packability, weighs just a quarter of an ounce, making it a staple in our testers’ backpacking kits. “If that’s not light enough for you, you’re probably not the kind of person who stops to sniff the coffee beans anyway,” one testy tester concluded. But because the Ultralight Java Drip is supported only by its three leg clips, a few testers found they occasionally had to support the filter with their hand as the hot water weighed it down. (We think this could be mitigated by pouring slower, which would also net a better-tasting cup.) Cleanup is straightforward—just turn the filter inside out and rinse. Buy here.

 

Bottom Line: No-fuss prep makes the GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip a favorite for backpackers and minimalists.

 

Testing stats:

  • Cups made: 26
  • Favorite beans brewed with: Alpine Air Coffee Roasting Goat Herder
  • Testing states: Idaho, Washington, Wyoming
  • Best testing story: One tester stuffed the Ultralight Java Drip in his pocket while packing up camp and hiked with it there for the rest of the trip.

 

ESPRO Ultralight Travel Press Bottle

Best Coffee Maker for On-the-Go Brew

Score: 90

ESPRO Ultralight Travel Press Bottle

  • Brew method: Coffee press
  • Grind type: Coarse 
  • Weight: 7.4 oz.
  • Servings: 10 fl. oz.
  • Price: $44.95

Test Results: A vacuum-sealed coffee press thermos, the ESPRO Ultralight Travel Press is ideal for mornings where time is of the essence. Simply add ground coffee to the chamber and add hot water, like you would a standard coffee press. After four minutes, press the plunger down. You can sip straight from the bottle, pour the contents into another mug or seal off the bottle to sip later on, giving this coffee press top marks for versatility in our round-robin. “This is the coffee system for folks like me who nurse their coffee,” says one editor. “I’ll brew in the morning, then toss the ESPRO in my pack to sip on while ski touring or while hanging at the crag. If I go on an early-morning mission, I’ll leave it in my car for a hot treat when I’m done.” The insulated, leakproof bottle keeps her joe hot for at least six hours, she says.

Testers who routinely brew with a coffee press at home noted how much cleaner the brew tasted thanks to two super fine filters that help remove grit. Still, after brewing a cup on a spring morning in Lander, Wyoming, one tester noted that the double-filter system felt pretty delicate and was a little trickier to clean while camping without running water. It also takes up more space than some testers expected in the bottle—though the ESPRO holds 16 ounces of liquid, it only makes 10 ounces of coffee. (You can remove the filter to use the ESPRO as a thermos.) The system itself is on the bulkier side (not great for backpacking) and not for sharing. 

But this is the one of only two coffee makers in our test that can also be used to make loose-leaf tea (the other is the GSI Outdoors Java Press, below), which scored major points with our testers. And testers noted that it's impressively lightweight for a vacuum-sealed container. Buy here.

 

Bottom Line: For coffee drinkers on the go, it’s hard to beat the ESPRO Ultralight Travel Press bottle.

 

Testing stats:

  • Cups made: 31
  • Favorite beans brewed with: Peet’s Coffee Major Dickason’s Blend
  • Testing states: Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
  • Best testing story: “I figured out that if I just bring the ESPRO with some coffee grounds in it already, all I need is to bum hot water off a friend, and then I don’t need a mug or stove,” one tester says. “Plus, I don’t have to share.”

 

GSI Outdoors Java Press 

Best Coffee Press

Score: 91

GSI Outdoors Java Press

  • Brew method: Coffee press
  • Grind type: Coarse
  • Weight: 10.3 oz.
  • Servings: 30 fl. oz.
  • Price: $37.50

Test Results: Brewing for a small group? Look no further. A reliable coffee press in a rugged, adventure-ready package, the GSI Outdoors Java Press consistently brewed bold and flavorful coffee for two or three campers during our season-long test. The Java Press, which produces about four cups per brew, is about the size of a Nalgene, and durable like one, too. “It’s been rolling around my camping box for weeks now and stands up to pretty much anything I throw at it,” affirms one Wyoming-based tester. Another tester has been using the same Java Press for the past six years, “which includes some fairly haphazard packing.”

The chamber itself isn’t insulated, but the Java Press tucks inside a tough canvas sleeve (and has an insulated top). It won’t keep coffee very hot for very long, but our testers actually noted that they liked that java reached optimal sipping temperature for leisurely mornings around camp right away. Mostly, though, our testers loved the Java Press for its similarity to their home coffee routines. “Three pieces (the bottle, top with plunger and sleeve) make the learning curve easy if you’ve ever coffee pressed before,” one says.

The coffee itself tastes similar to that of the ESPRO, with some extra grit. “A few cups have been muddier than I prefer,” says an Idaho-based tester. “But as long as I keep the grinds slightly courser than I typically would, it isn’t a huge issue.” About half of the testers noted some dribbling down the insulated sleeve while pouring coffee, too. Buy here.

 

Bottom Line: The GSI Outdoors Java Press is sturdy, reliable and reasonably priced, making it a great option for campers and backpackers looking to brew for a pair.

 

Testing stats:

  • Cups made: 38
  • Favorite beans brewed with: Great Northern Snake River Blend
  • Testing states: Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming
  • Best testing story: One tester from Colorado kept the Java Press in the back of his car while on a cross-country road trip and stopped to brew coffee twice a day, never visiting a single coffee shop.

 

Other Top Performers

GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Steel 6-Cup Percolator

Score: 88

GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Steel 6-Cup Percolator

  • Brew method: Percolator
  • Grind type: Coarse
  • Weight: 1 lb. 4.1 oz.
  • Servings: 48 fl. oz.
  • Price: $29.95

Test Results: If you’re making coffee for a crowd, this percolator from GSI Outdoors is the quickest and easiest way to brew six cups. You simply put course grounds inside the chamber (GSI recommends 2 tablespoons for every 6 cups of water, but our testers thought it warranted a bit more), place it inside the water-filled kettle, then let it percolate over a stove for four to eight minutes. Coffee snobs likely won’t be wowed by the taste, but “it’s a quantity-over-quality kind of device that’s nice to have on hand,” says one tester. This percolator scored high marks for durability, thanks to 18/8 stainless steel that’s rustproof and abrasion-resistant. The  steel also maintained even heating while on a gas burner, and the silicone grip helps protect your hands when you’re ready to pour. Buy here.

 

MiiR Pourigami

Score: 81

MiiR Pourigami

  • Brew method: Pour over
  • Grind type: Medium-fine
  • Weight: 4 oz.
  • Servings: 8-10 fl. oz.
  • Price: $29.95

Test Results: The MiiR Pourigami brings creativity to the pour-over game with a unique angular design that testers felt was incredibly “Instagrammable.” Looks aside, the Pourigami brewed consistently smooth coffee, comparable (if not slightly more flavorful) to that of the GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip. Three flat, stainless-steel pieces easily snap together to create a triangular dripper that nests neatly on top of most camp mugs. It’s a bit of a puzzle to set up, but strong and sturdy once it’s together. It comes in a sleek carrying case that can fit filters, too, and fit easily inside the brain or even hipbelt pocket of many backpacking packs. We thought the Pourigami was best when preparing coffee with a lighter roast, where delicate flavors came through easily with each cup. Buy here.

 

Shop All Coffee Makers

 

Buying Advice

Many coffee drinkers already have a preferred brew method, and if that’s the case, consider sticking with what you know. The type of adventure you have planned and what you have access to while you’re at camp are also considerations. Here are a few factors to account for when planning out your camp coffee routine.

 

Portability

There’s a pretty big range in portability of the coffee devices in this guide. If you’re hauling all your gear on your back, opt for lightweight coffee makers that are easy to pack. Collapsible pour-over devices like the GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip or MiiR Pourigami are ideal for situations where space and weight matter.

Options like the AeroPress Go and the ESPRO Ultralight Travel Bottle are slightly bulkier and heavier, although some hikers will choose to carry a little extra weight in order to achieve their perfect cup of coffee.

If you’re car camping and have the space, anything goes, so you can choose based on your favorite method and group size.

 

Video: All the Ways to Make Coffee While Camping

 

Group Size

Brewing for one or two? A single-serving device like the AeroPress GO Travel and GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip are ideal. With larger groups, these coffee makers will be time consuming, because you have to brew and then clean up for each cup.

The GSI Outdoors Java Press and the GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless-Steel 6-Cup Percolator brew anywhere from 3 to 6 cups at a time, so both are great options if you’re trying to satisfy several coffee drinkers.

 

Kitchen Supplies

What camp kitchen supplies will you have access to? Does your device require a stovetop, or can you get away with a small backpacking stove to just boil water?

Some devices like the AeroPress Go and ESPRO Ultralight Travel Bottle have included or built-in mugs so you don’t need to carry a separate mug. In contrast, all other devices in this article require you to pack along something to pour your coffee into.

Also, consider how much water you’ll need to clean up and rinse your coffee maker. Drip coffee makers like the GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip and MiiR Pourigami are great if you have minimal kitchen supplies because you just remove or dump out the filter. (With any device, make sure to pack out your coffee grinds.)

 

Methodology

In the spring of 2020, our dedicated team of 16 testers forfeited their normal coffee routines to evaluate 10 different coffee brewers sold at REI. Blind taste tests, ultralight backpacking trips, quiet car-camping mornings and a few destination coffee hikes provided the ideal settings to evaluate each device on coffee quality, ease of use, portability and cleanup.

Our testers included casual coffee drinkers, former baristas and Seattle-born coffee snobs based in Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. After everyone was sufficiently jittery, the AeroPress Go Travel Coffee Press, GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip, ESPRO Ultralight Travel Press Bottle and GSI Outdoors Java Press scored the highest across the board. The GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Steel 6-Cup Percolator and MiiR Pourigami also proved to be worthy ways to brew coffee al fresco, despite having a few specific features that limited their versatility.

 

Article by Lily Krass. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Lily Krass is a freelance writer living in Jackson, Wyoming. Lily’s work has been featured in SKI Magazine, Teton Gravity Research, Ascent Backcountry Snow Journal and Elevation Outdoors Magazine. Lily is a self-proclaimed Type II-fun enthusiast and when she’s not writing you’ll likely find her out in the Tetons on skis, bike or foot. REI Co-op member since 2005.


How helpful was this article? Click a star to rate.