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Useful Inexpensive Gadgets – 9 best portable coffee makers for the perfect brew while camping


Most Useful Gadgets

Useful Inexpensive Gadgets – 9 best portable coffee makers for the perfect brew while camping

There’s no better way to welcome a crisp morning at the campsite than with a cup of hot, barista-quality coffee.  Thanks to the recent intersection of hipsters and hiking, you can forget mediocre mugs of instant coffee or cold strolls to the cafe. There are plenty of pocket-sized, artisanal coffee makers on the market that…

Useful Inexpensive Gadgets – 9 best portable coffee makers for the perfect brew while camping

Useful Inexpensive Gadgets –

There’s no better way to welcome a crisp morning at the campsite than with a cup of hot, barista-quality coffee.  

Thanks to the recent intersection of hipsters and hiking, you can forget mediocre mugs of instant coffee or cold strolls to the cafe. There are plenty of pocket-sized, artisanal coffee makers on the market that you can use to brew from your sleeping bag.  

We tested these coffee makers on camping trips, day hikes and windswept surf trips. We also discovered a useful crossover: many of these little coffee makers are desk size and keep your drink warm for hours, meaning you can maintain a steady supply of caffeine when working from home without having to pop down to the kitchen to microwave your mug every few minutes.

We looked for portability and durability first – so glass and ceramic were out, as was anything that took up too much room in our backpack. We also preferred makers that didn’t need paper filters, because those can be fiddly to pack – although we made some exceptions. Overall, we looked for the best tasting cups of coffee, across a range of brew methods, with a variety of beans and roasts.

The kind of coffee maker you need depends on what kind of coffee you like – there are really portable options out there for every style of brew. If you like a long, even cup of coffee, pick a “drip” brewer or a French press (cafetiere).  

If you need a short jolt of coffee to get going, try one of the portable espresso makers – you can always lengthen these with hot water to make an Americano.  

If you’re a gourmet, you’ll love the Hario v60 and the travel version of the famous Aeropress – these made such smooth, flavourful cups of coffee that we started using them at home, too.

You will need to be able to boil water to use with these coffee makers, although with some systems, the kettle is integrated, so you can pop the whole thing on the stove.  

Most make a single shot or cup of coffee at a time, unless we’ve specified otherwise, but also come in larger models.

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Useful Inexpensive Gadgets – Aeropress go

The portable coffee maker of choice for many coffee experts just got even more portable. Aeropress makes some of the smoothest, best extracted coffee we’ve tried, and this slightly smaller travel version is no different. Packing down into its own plastic mug, it’s a brilliantly compact device. It also comes with some upgrades on the classic model – we found it had a slightly smoother plunge, for example. It comes with paper filters, but we prefer metal, reusable ones when we’re on the go – Aeropress doesn’t have an official one yet, but they’re easy to find online.

Useful Inexpensive Gadgets – Planetary Design ovrldndr press

The most rugged, adventure-ready coffee maker we tested. It’s essentially a tall cafetiere, made from steel, with an integrated mug. Thanks to the vacuum insulated wall, it kept our coffee warm for at least an hour. It’s incredibly neat and simple: add coffee (course ground) and water, stir, then pop on the lid – which integrates the press – and push down. The mesh press sits snug against the wall, so the grounds stay firmly at the bottom of the cylinder while you drink. It’s very durable and easy to clean, simply unscrew the bottom compartment and throw away the grounds. It’s on the heavier side but makes two generous cups at a time.

Useful Inexpensive Gadgets – Wacaco nanopresso

This is a handheld espresso maker that extracts with more pressure than most machines and is the perfect camping machine if you like your coffee short and strong. It works best with ground, shop bought espresso coffee and takes very little time and effort to brew – fill the small water tank with hot water, pack in the coffee, and squeeze. It’s not quite barista-quality espresso, but if you consider the fact it will fit in your pocket or the side pocket of your backpack, it’s a very fine substitute. 

Useful Inexpensive Gadgets – Sea to Summit x-brew coffee dripper

This is our favourite of Sea to Summit’s clever range of collapsible camping cooking equipment. The flexible, cooking grade silicone “pour over” style coffee filter collapses to the side of a small coaster, making it the ultimate coffee maker for ultralight camping or hiking trips. We found that a finer grind made the best coffee – water seems to flow straight through coarse ground coffee – and you need roughly the same proportions of coffee to water that you would use for any drip system. It’s easy to clean and fits on any mug.

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Useful Inexpensive Gadgets – Bialetti moka express

A tiny, one-person version of the classic Italian stovetop coffee maker. A moka pot is ideal if you camp with a gas stove because you can leave it gently bubbling away while you pack up camp. It’s designed to make espresso, so it’s best suited to people who like a short coffee – although you can easily top your shot up with hot water to make an Americano. The espresso it makes – a shot at a time – is exquisite, as good as you would make at home, and well worth the little bit of space it takes up in your pack. Producing a tiny version of Italy’s coolest coffee maker at breakfast will also win you major style points.

Useful Inexpensive Gadgets – MSR windburner coffee press kit

This spectacularly fast, neat coffee system only works with MSR’s windburner stove – it’s basically a lightweight press that fits inside the windburner pot – but paired up, they make the most reliable and dependable cup of coffee you can get on the road. It will light in even the worst weather thanks to the burner being very well shielded, and, because the pot sits snug on top, the water boils fast, even at altitude. The coffee is smooth and works best with a course ground. Everything packs down into the windburner’s pot, making it ideal for backpackers and bikers. If you’re an adventurer and coffee is a survival essential, this little press is the best you can get.

Useful Inexpensive Gadgets – Timegoing Vietnamese infuser

A real coffee expert’s hack. These little metal drip filters – called phin – are popular across Vietnam. They are perfect for its elegant, fine ground traditional coffee. Designed to be used on the road and on street corners by the country’s scooter commuters, they also make brilliant camping coffee makers. A cross between a press and a pour over, it works best with finely ground coffee. Inexpensive, easy to clean and compact, it takes up almost no space in your pack, and doesn’t require any additional filters.

Useful Inexpensive Gadgets – GSI mini espresso set 1 cup

A beautiful little espresso system that works a bit like the moka pot. The base sits comfortably on a small gas stove, and the coffee bubbles up the longer spout to drip into the double-walled cup provided. It looks amazing and the coffee is excellent. The whole system packs down into a small case that’s just slightly bigger than a sunglasses pouch. It only makes one shot at a time, but it brews very quickly. It’s the perfect treat for an almost lightweight-camper – and is available as a larger, four-cup model if you’re heading out with a group, or just require a lot of caffeine before summiting.

Useful Inexpensive Gadgets – Hario v60 coffee dripper

Hario makes the wildly popular ceramic v60 drippers you see deployed at artisan coffee shops, and we’re happy to report that this lightweight, plastic version works just as well. Brewing with this is an art, but it is one you can replicate at the campsite: make sure you use v60 filters, and let your boiled water cool a little before pouring it, which should be done as slowly and precisely as possible, in circles over medium-coarse grounds. The lightweight plastic dripper in the single-cup size is very small, and even though it’s a slightly odd shape we found that we could fit it into our backpack pocket easily.

Useful Inexpensive Gadgets – The verdict: Camping coffee makers

The Aeropress go takes one of the best handheld coffee makers on the market and makes it pocket-size, which is hard to beat. Our espresso-loving reviewers were also blown away by Wacaco’s nanopresso handheld pump.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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