Coffee is serious business to many, and if you are looking for a good way to make your coffee when camping that doesn’t involve the use of a big lithium battery system, inverter and coffee machine you might have stumbled across alternatives like the Aeropress.
We’ve had ours now for a couple of years, and I’ve just about burnt through the original pack of filters, so its had a fair chunk of use. In fact, these days, I often use it to make a cup of coffee at home too! It’s one of our most used Camping Gear items.
What is an Aeropress?
If you haven’t heard of one before, an Aeropress is a food grade plastic device that filters your coffee grinds, and turns it into a tasty, heart kicking drink. They released a travel version not too long ago which is marginally smaller, and there’s a number of other ‘off grid’ coffee makers that compete against it, which we go into further.
How do you use it?
You can jump on Youtube and see a hundred videos of people using an Aeropress, but in essence you install a small paper filter in the bottom of the Aeropress, screw the bottom on, add your coffee, and then add your hot water.
Give it a stir for 10 seconds, let it sit for a while, and then use the plunger to push the water through the coffee and filter. From there, you undo the bottom, pop the paper and coffee in the bin (or the fire if you please) and give it a rinse, ready for next time.
There’s a number of different methods for using the Aeropress, and I tend to leave my water sitting in the unit until it naturally flows through via gravity, but the choice is yours.
You can make Espresso, and up to 5 cups of coffee, and it works pretty well.
What coffee can you use?
You need to use ground coffee in an Aeropress. We often just buy the espresso grinds, and use that, or have been getting a number of different types from 5 Senses Coffee, which is delicious.
How does it compare to a coffee machine?
I will confess here that I’m not really a coffee snob. I’ll drink Nescafe 43 if I need to, and I still often do this at home if I’m in a rush.
I much prefer the Aeropress, and a proper machine coffee is even better, but its somewhere in the middle. It takes more time to make than a Nescafé 43, but the taste and kick is worth it!
We don’t bother with milk frothing (or use a huge amount of milk), so the actual coffee making is the only part we really care about.
I rarely purchase a coffee when we are out, as we’d rather put the money towards more useful things!
What’s annoying about the Aeropress?
I can’t complain too much about the Aeropress. It’s been reliable, makes good coffee all the time, and is quite easy to use.
It is easy to knock over, and with young kids around that means you need to be careful where you put it.
You also need a solid surface to push the plunger down, and you have to purchase paper filters (or some people buy re-usable stainless ones, which we haven’t tried).
Another annoying point that I quickly identified was that the size of filter housing on the bottom is quite large, and doesn’t fit every single cup that you use (even ones you’d use at home). I’ve actually stopped using our favourite camping travel mugs, because I can’t brew the coffee over the top of them as it doesn’t fit!
We’ve had no Aeropress problems, except for the silicon part of the plunger coming off a couple of times when you retract it. You can see there’s some sort of glue in there, which I assume gets soft with the hotter temperatures and allows it to come off, but you just push it back on and its all good.
It takes a bit of time to make, but its generally pretty fuss free and simple to use.
Alternatives to the Aeropress
Of course, there are other unpowered methods of making coffee when camping, and we looked at a couple (and there’s been a few more come out since)
A Moka Pot is a small, metal device that pushes boiling water via steam through ground coffee. You simply fill them up with water and coffee, and put them on a stove until the coffee starts to bubble out and finishes up.
These are quite simple, robust and easy to use, and make great coffee
Wacaco Nanopress and Minipresso
A number of people are buying the Wacaco Nanopress or Minipresso. I’ve not actually used one and can’t comment on them, but have a few friends who rate them.
Coffee in a bag
You can get some pretty decent tasting coffee in a bag if you want. We’ve got the Robert Timms brand in the cupboard, which although isn’t too strong, its got a nice taste.
Pour Over Coffee
Pour Over Coffee bags are all the rage today, and lots of people are pushing them. I’ve never actually used them, but they look neat, and I’m sure they’d work just fine. They are not cheap though!
I’m happy with our Aeropress. We could absolutely buy a pod coffee machine, or even a full size coffee machine and take it with us, now that we have a big lithium battery system and inverter, but I don’t feel its worth the space, weight and difficulties that come with it.
We’ll keep using the Aeropress; it works well, is light and compact and is easy enough to use. Have you used one? What did you think of it?