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Primula Coffee Brew Buddy Review

The best option for light travel and backpacking, this savvy brewer will keep you caffeinated without taking up space in your bag.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $10 List | $6.86 at Amazon
Pros:  No filter needed, tiny and light, consistently good taste
Cons:  Must lift filter out of most cups to avoid steeping, poor for large group
Manufacturer:   Primula
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 28, 2019
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 16
  • Taste - 40% 7
  • Ease of Use - 25% 8
  • Group Cooking - 15% 5
  • Portability - 10% 9
  • Weight - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Primula Coffee Brew Buddy is not only brilliant for backpacking, but it's also an outstanding option for any scenario where you have limited room in your bag or any kind of weight restriction. It's our reigning Top Pick for adventures that require fast, light, and easy. If you're tired of showing up at your relatives and drinking disposable K-cups or burnt-tasting Folgers, bring a 1/2 pound of your favorite grind and this little disk, and your morning routine can remain uninterrupted. Easy to clean, easy to use, and barely weighing over an ounce, this brewer will start your day off right.

If you have some extra room in your luggage or pack and want superior flavor, check out our Editors' Choice winner, the Hario V60 for a fantastic filtered option. The Cafellissimo Paperless Pour Over is a close runner up and an excellent non-plastic and paper-free dripper. If plastic-free appeals to you but you need something compact, check out the stainless steel Snow Peak Collapsible Coffee Drip.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Have you ever been packing for a trip with your bag bursting at the seams and you realize you still don't have all the essentials? For those of you that cannot leave home without a reliable way to make your own coffee — no matter how limited weight or space may be — the lightweight and low profile Primula Brew Buddy may be just the ticket.

Performance Comparison


The Primula Coffee Brew Buddy is a great lightweight and packable option that delivers a really decent cup of Joe.
The Primula Coffee Brew Buddy is a great lightweight and packable option that delivers a really decent cup of Joe.

Brew Features


Slim enough to fit almost anywhere, this single-cup brewer is made up of a simple plastic disc that provides a nice wide rim to rest on top of your favorite cup and a flexible fine mesh filter. Simply place a scoop of coffee in the filter, add hot water, steep, and you're ready to go!

Your coffee will only take a few minutes to brew.
Your coffee will only take a few minutes to brew.

Taste


Out of all our lightweight models, the Primula consistently remains the easiest to deliver a great cup. Hence it's high marks in this category.


One of the major issues with making a good cup of camp coffee is the fact that pouring hot water uniformly and accurately from a pot or JetBoil is difficult. If your camp kitchen includes a gooseneck kettle, then no worries — but this isn't something most people bring with them into the great outdoors, particularly if backpacking. We appreciate the fact that, even with an imprecise and messy pour, the Primula can still give a consistently good-tasting brew.

However, the design of this brewer is such that the filter hangs down into your cup (see photo below). This means that it will continue extracting much like a French press if you don't remove it. And if you're not paying attention and don't do this promptly, you'll end up with a bitter, over-extracted cup. Not a big deal, but you can't walk away from the Primula like you can with other pour-over drippers in our review.

Left to right: Primula Brew Buddy  GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip  and the Hario V60
Left to right: Primula Brew Buddy, GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip, and the Hario V60

Ease of Use


Of all our filterless options, the Primula is the easiest to clean with the least amount of water. Cleaning is as simple as flipping the mesh filter inside out and pouring a bit of water through. A mere 1/4 cup will get you 95% clean and ready to re-brew. The other filterless options in our review require much more water and manipulation to get clean.


Additionally, brewing with this filter requires the least precision when pouring to achieve a good flavor. Options with filters like our Editors' Choice V60 are still a little easier to use, but not by much. Our one issue is that the edges of the Primula disk can get pretty hot, so you may need to use gloves or a potholder to remove it.

This is also a great device to consider if you are a tea drinker or like to be able to switch between loose leaf tea and coffee.

The edges of the Primula disk can get quite hot  so be mindful when removing it from your cup.
The edges of the Primula disk can get quite hot, so be mindful when removing it from your cup.

Group Cooking


The Primula is not an ideal group option. The mesh filter is small, and if you try to load it up to make more at once, you'll end up with multiple weak cups.


On the flip side, this brewer is fast and easy to clean, so the transition from pour-over to pour-over will be quick, allowing your group to get caffeinated efficiently even with just the one filter.

Cleaning is as easy as flipping the filter inside out and pouring water. Of all the filterless options  the Primula is the quickest to clean.
Cleaning is as easy as flipping the filter inside out and pouring water. Of all the filterless options, the Primula is the quickest to clean.

Portability


While the Primula is extremely portable, the GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip is slightly smaller — so small that it can collapse to fit under a fuel canister. That said, it is also much more delicate. The Primula is one of the most durable compact options in our review, so if you tend to be rough on your gear, choose this one.


Weight


At 1.1 ounces, the Primula is a highly lightweight option. The GSI Ultralight is the same weight, but that includes a cup to brew into, a definite bonus. As mentioned above, though, it's not nearly as durable.


The MSR MugMate is very similar to the Primula and even lighter, though it doesn't collapse down flat. The Primula hits all the marks of a great backpacking brewer.

Light  compact  and easy to use - a perfect combo for ultralight adventurers that still want a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
Light, compact, and easy to use - a perfect combo for ultralight adventurers that still want a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

Value


The Primula offers amazing value and versatility. It's cheap, ultralight, compact, doesn't require filters, and can be used for coffee or tea. This is an excellent choice for the budget backpacker or traveler that wants to be able to have a great cup of coffee anywhere they happen to roam.

Conclusion


The Primula Brew Buddy is for anyone that refuses to give up their morning coffee ritual but has space and weight limitations. It's low profile, and durable design make it perfect for packing into cramped spaces without worry of damage. This simple device is our pick for Best Backpacking Coffee Maker for a reason — it will keep you caffeinated and happy without completely sacrificing flavor, no matter where you happen to wake up.

We love the Primula for outings where space is at a minimum. It's highly durable and consistently delivers good flavor.
We love the Primula for outings where space is at a minimum. It's highly durable and consistently delivers good flavor.


Penney Garrett