No matter how manufacturers spin it, instant just doesn’t come close to freshly made coffee, but that was all I used to take with me on bikepacking trips as it was convenient, light to carry and took up minimal space. Camping filters were the next best thing, but patience was not one of my virtues when it came to getting going in a morning! It was more a case of having a hot drink using instant as opposed to ‘enjoying’ a coffee before getting stuck into the day’s riding. I just put up with it as part of the accepted ‘suffering’ of bikepacking. Then I came across Aeropress. Having never seen this product until it appeared on a local café’s shelves here in Chamonix, it looked like the answer to enjoying good coffee trail side!
To be honest, the feedback comments adorning the outside of the packaging seemed mildly unbelievable, many suggesting that it was the best coffee that had ever passed their lips. I remained open minded, if a bit skeptical, expecting a coffee that would be wholly better than instant, yet not quite matching the taste and flavour of a freshly brewed cup.
The Aeropress is supplied with a host of parts; a holder for the filters, a stirrer, a funnel that makes sure you don’t miss a drop going into your mug and a good amount of filters. As with everything in bikepacking, weight is a consideration and the Aeropress does come in at 200g for the body. Obviously, in keeping with the minimalist aspect for bikepacking, you won’t be carrying the other parts, just the body and some filters (in a waterproof bag). The body itself is hollow down the middle, perfect for filling with a small bag of ground coffee and powdered milk/sugar, if that’s your preference.
The Aeropress isn’t the easiest of shapes to pack into a bikepack bag, so I ended up wrapping it up in the long sleeve warm top (to give it a better shape for packing) and putting it in the near end of the saddle bag, which worked perfectly well. You’ll have to carry 2 mugs or equivalent of course, 1 for boiling the water and the other to sit underneath the Aeropress as you pour in the water. Personal favourites are the Alpkit MytiMug 650 and the smaller 400, which fits perfectly into the stem mounted fuel pod.
Following the instructions to press down for at least 10 seconds or more makes a much better coffee. Go through the motion too quickly and it lessens the strength of flavour and punch craved from that morning brew! Being faster than a filter means that the coffee also retains its heat, ideal for warming hands on those chilly mornings.
Here’s where my skepticism faded and I understood the comments. The Aeropress really DOES make a fine cup of coffee, easily on a par with a hob top coffee maker. It isn’t going to be up to the depths of flavour from a €2000 coffeehouse Italian coffee machine, but hey, this is trail side and what you get is exactly what you need from a morning coffee, enjoyable, solid flavour and that caffeine kick. Perfect. I even use it regularly at home too now over the hob top version.
The Aeropress works, exceedingly well and has become my go to coffee maker for all travels, even accompanying me for hotel stays. Obviously it takes up space and adds weight in a bikepacking setup, but it is well worth it over having to succumb to instant or the slow process of using a camping filter. Highly recommended.