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Reviews > Cook Gear > Cooking Accessories > BRIPE Coffee Brew Pipe > Test Report by Richard Lyon
BRIPE COFFEE BREW PIPE
Test Report by Richard Lyon
Initial Report August 20, 2017
Long Term Report December 9, 2017
PERSONAL DETAILS and BACKPACKING BACKGROUND
Male, 71 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 205 lb (91 kg)
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Outside Bozeman, Montana USA, in the Bridger Mountains
I've been backpacking for nearly half a century, most often in the Rockies. I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips. I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500 - 3000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp. Though always looking for ways to reduce my pack weight, I still usually include my favorite camp conveniences. I sleep in a floored tent and like hot meals. Summer adventures are often centered on fly fishing opportunities; winter on ski touring.
I'm definitely in Bripe's target market. A caffeine addict, I especially appreciate a jolt of joe as the sun comes up in the backcountry. And instant coffee won't do. What's needed is high octane, caffeinated, extra strong high grade coffee. The Brew Pipe should be right up my alley.
INITIAL REPORT - August 20,2017
Its full name, Bripe Ultra Portable Coffee Brewing System, is reasonably descriptive. This little copper pipe "is designed to make a quick shot of coffee anywhere."
Manufacturer: BRIPE Inc.
Weight, listed: 337 g [12 oz] including carrying case and tube [listed at 15 g/ half an ounce] and 5 g [0.2 oz] of ground coffee
Weight, measured: 11.2 oz [318 g] with no coffee
Dimensions of carrying case, listed 6.9 x 5.3 x 2.2 in [17.5 x 13.5 x 5.5 cm]; measured 6.9 x 5.3 x 1.8 in [17.5 x 13.5 x 4.6 cm]
Includes: Pipe, filter, stand, thermometer, torch, tube for coffee, felt carrying case
MSRP: $84.95 US in the United States; $99 Cdn in Canada
Designed in Costa Rica, made in China. The manufacturer's headquarters is in Carlton Place, Ontario, Canada.
The pipe and stand are made of copper, a metal known to chefs to conduct heat quickly and evenly. The pipe has a plastic tip for sipping and a cork piece for gripping. The filter is made of stainless steel, the coffee tube of hard plastic with a screw-on metal cap.
HOW IT WORKS
It's easy and intuitive. Be sure the filter is seated at the bottom of the pipe, add the desired amount of ground coffee [how much will be a subject of testing], add water [another testing subject], stir, be sure the thermometer is inserted [there's a small hole in the filter to hold it in place], heat with the torch to above 180 F [82 C], allow to cool to 140 F [60 C], blow a couple of bubbles into the pipe, then sip and enjoy. These steps are explained and illustrated on Bripe's website.
TRYING IT OUT
Before firing up I needed to purchase some lighter fluid and fill the torch. [Not including fuel is no fault of Bripe. Shipping such flammable material is severely restricted.] That done, the process works just as described above, with the entire cycle from filling the pipe to quaffing coffee taking about three minutes. I tried the coffee included with the kit and found it rather weak. A second shot with freshly ground French roast tasted much better. I used about one heaping tablespoon of coffee each time. I shall experiment with different quantities to see what I like most.
INITIAL LIKES AND DISLIKES
I particularly like two things after these very limited trial runs. The pieces fit neatly into the case, and the case has a size and shape that make it very easy to stash the kit in my pack. Also it's simple and easy to use. My only initial concern, a minor one, is how well I'll be able to clean the pipe when in the backcountry. Coffee grounds are an unfortunate nuisance whatever the brewing vessel, but in my test runs I found it somewhat difficult to rinse them from the pipe.
LONG TERM REPORT - December 9, 2017
I've used the Bripe for both day hikes and on weekend backpacking. For reasons I'll explain I prefer day use.
Backpacking use was on two weekend excursions to Forest Service cabins in the nearby Gallatin and Bridger Mountains, an overnighter in late September and a full weekend [two nights, three days] in early November. Crisp fine weather on the first trip, with morning temperatures right about freezing and warming to 60 F [16 C] in the afternoon. The later trip was more adventuresome - an early blizzard had deposited about twenty inches [50 cm] of snow in the Bridgers and colder weather had set in, a nippy 15 F [-10 C] at breakfast. It wasn't that cold in the cabin, but the Bripe went to work before we fired up the woodstove. On wintry mornings caffeine first is my rule.
The Bripe has become a regular traveler in my daypack this autumn, at least a dozen excursions in and around Bozeman and in nearby Yellowstone National Park. Until that early snow shocker the Northern Rockies enjoyed an extended Indian summer, warm and dry. Temperatures from 50-80 F [10-27 C], with the mercury usually at the warmer end of that range in the afternoons. Come November it turned cold, as on the backpacking trip referred to above, then warm again, melting most of the snow.
On backpack trips we brewed coffee first thing in the morning and after dinner. On day hikes it was at lunch, when the hike included lunch, and always as a celebratory beverage upon returning to the trailhead.
Four months' field use of the Bripe has not caused any noticeable difficulties in performance. The system remains as easy to use as out of the box. I have been attentive in rinsing the pipe after each use to be sure to clean out all the wet grounds, which has been something of a bother on the backpacking trips, when I've used it for a friend as well as myself. The Bripe's single-shot capacity meant three rounds each morning, two for me and one for her, and hence three rinses. After some experimenting at home and on day hikes I found that rinsing through a standard coffee filter was the least messy way to trap the used grounds, so I packed one, folded up and stored in the Bripe pouch, for each anticipated use. One filter worked for each meal if I was careful. The filter and the grounds were deposited into the communal garbage bag for packing out.
Capacity is the Bripe's principal limitation. It's a one-shot deal. One shot of strong coffee is just fine for me, but to serve companions it's one customer at a time. Add cooling and rinsing time to the two or three minutes it takes to brew a shot and I'm approaching five minutes between servings. Not that I'm in a hurry on backcountry mornings, it's just much more time than brewing a potful on a backcountry stove. All users must sip from the same unit, adding some sanitation issues to use by more than one person. I thus treat the Bripe as a product for solo use, which is the principal reason I prefer it for day use. Most of my backpacking is done with friends.
For solo use, though, it's a terrific product. Easy to use, easy to pack, and much less to clean than after a full pot of campfire coffee. The torch or a simple lighter gives a smaller and more focused flame than a canister stove, my usual alternative. I won't worry as much about setting my shelter on fire if I'm ever inclined to use the Bripe inside a tent. I'm looking forward to using it this winter after a day at my local ski area or cross-country ranch.
I commend Bripe for a product that not only is easy to use but also works exactly as described on the manufacturer's website. When the liquid's temperature drops to 140-145 F [60-63 C] it has become a perfectly brewed Java shot, just right for slow sipping. A wonderful way to begin a day or to relax after an invigorating hike.
Here are some tips I offer to those interested in backcountry caffeine:
- I've tried several types of coffee in the Bripe, all ground at home just before setting out. The stronger the blend, the better the coffee tastes. Surely my personal preferences are in play here, but the consistency of the Bripe-brewed coffee is close to espresso - thick, dark, and slightly oily. That dictates using blends described as "dark" or "robust," even espresso.
- I grind the coffee (at home) somewhat finer than I do for my coffeemaker at home or for a French press or percolator in the backcountry.
- Follow Bripe's suggestion of blowing a few bubbles into the mix before sipping. This helps separate the liquid from the grounds and reduces the chance of drawing loose grounds into the pipe stem. A drop or two of cold water helps too, though isn't necessary.
- Fill the bowl with coffee about halfway up, almost to the top of the central cone, then tamp down lightly. and fill to about one-quarter inch [6 mm] below the brim. That's about one and one-half tablespoons of coffee per serving. Personal preference for strong coffee influences this too; vary to suit your taste. I never use cream or sugar in my coffee and thus can't advise on adjustments needed for such poisonous additives.
- Use the torch, even though it's larger and heavier than a standard cigarette lighter. It's also more powerful and focused. A match won't burn long enough to heat the coffee properly and using a lighter takes more time than the mini-blowtorch.
QUICK SHOTS [pun intended]
Easy to use. An excellent way to supply what is for me a necessary backcountry food group.
Easy to pack. The pouch keeps everything together and can be stuffed almost anywhere in a backpack or day pack.
Reliable and durable - No visible dings or dents and no deterioration in performance.
Reliable end product. Not much that can go wrong. Makes good strong coffee.
As a practical matter limited to solo use. But less mess than a French press.
My Test Report ends here, with thanks to Bripe and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this nifty product.
Read more reviews of Bripe Inc. gear
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