Product Review: GSI Java Drip Camping Coffee Maker

Camping Coffee Maker

I drink coffee daily at home, and I love the idea of sitting outside to drink it. Though my intentions are good, there’s always something more pressing to get to. I usually end up sitting at my computer or doing chores while drinking my morning brew. When I’m camping, however, it’s a different story. On a chilly morning outdoors, there nothing better than sipping a steaming hot cup of coffee while enjoying a great view.

Growing up, we always made camping coffee with a percolator. The coffee turned out fine, but there are a couple of things I don’t like about percolators. A percolator is heavy and only convenient for car camping. Also, percolator coffee is oily and often contaminated with grounds. When I started planning a long bike tour with Mai-yan, I knew I needed a better solution than this. Instant coffee was out of the question—a Dirty Gourmet Girl doesn’t do instant coffee!

I was happy to have a potential solution to my coffee dilemma when Mai-yan gave me a mug press—a modified french press that fits into any cup. It made a good cup of coffee, but both Kismat, my husband, and I were drinking coffee and this little press only made enough for one. When you’re scrambling every morning to get on the road again, you don’t want to have to make one cup of coffee, wait for it to brew, rinse out your coffee press, and then do it all over again (and that’s assuming you only want one cup). Another point against the mug press is that the coffee must be ground quite coarsely, or you end up with a mouthful of coffee grounds.

So, I knew that I needed another camping coffee solution, and finally found it at a Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) store (MEC is Canada’s version of REI) in Victoria, BC—the GSI Outdoor Java Drip. The Java Drip brews coffee much like your drip coffee maker at home. Just set the cone over the large carafe, put a filter and ground coffee in the cone, and pour hot water over the coffee grounds. The coffee drips into the carafe, just like at home.

Pros of the Java Drip:

  1. The flexible cone collapses to nest inside the carafe.
  2. The insulated carafe actually does a decent job of keeping the coffee hot. It’s not trying to be a high-tech vacuum sealed thermos or anything, but it will keep your leftover coffee hot while you sip on your first cup.
  3. It makes a good amount of coffee. It comes in both 30-ounce (about six 6-ounce cups of coffee) and 50-ounce (about eight 6-ounce cups of coffee) sizes.
  4. The coffee tastes great—no more oily coffee or coffee grounds floating in your cup.

Cons of the Java Drip:

  1. Though it comes with a reusable filter, it takes so long for the coffee to drip through the filter that it’s not worth using. A #4 cone paper filter (available at any grocery store) is an easy fix.
  2. It is easy to spill coffee unless you pour from exactly the right angle.

Overall, despite some minor flaws, I think the GSI Outdoor Java Drip is a great camping coffee maker. Does anyone else have a great camping coffee setup? We’d love to hear your ideas.

7 thoughts on “Product Review: GSI Java Drip Camping Coffee Maker

  1. Hey I’ve tried it,like it. It actually can replace your coffee maker at home. It’s faster than the alternatives like the press and the perculator.

  2. I love this setup! i think i will buy soon. You know those starbux instant coffee packets? thats my current setup. Its actually not that bad, but is a bit embarrassing. At least its lightweight, though there is always that small amount of waste. I think as far as instant coffee goes, it is the best you can find out there. I think their secret is the small packages. I bet instant coffee gets stale quick, so if they package individual servings, they never get a chance to get stale, as long as you use it before it expires. It is STILL instant coffee though.

    Hi Tony, Actually, I agree. The Starbucks Via instant coffee is probably the best instant coffee I’ve tried. Apparently it’s not freeze-dried like most instant coffee, but ground really finely so that the grinds actually dissolve in water. That’s probably a great option if you’re more concerned with weight and/or space. Great idea! —Aimee

  3. I used this method at home after my coffee maker died…..sort of I used a coffee filter in a small metal mesh strainer and out enough coffee into the filter and poured boiling water over it. It worked well until I could get a new coffee maker.

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