CUSA COLD BREW INSTANT COFFEE
BY NANCY GRIFFITH
August 15, 2020
Northern California, USA
5' 6" (1.68 m)
126 lb (57.20 kg)
My outdoor experience began in high school with a co-ed scout group which made a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since college in Pennsylvania. I have hiked 1/4 of the Appalachian Trail and 2/3 of the Pacific Crest Trail. My typical trip is in the Sierra Nevada from a few days to a few weeks long. My base weight is lightweight at 15 lb (6.8 kg) while still using a tent, stove and quilt. Longer mileage summer trips are now stoveless.
Manufacturer: Cusa Tea & Coffee
Year of Manufacture: 2020
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.cusatea.com
MSRP: $6.99 for 7-serving box
Listed Weight: 2 g (0.07 oz) product weight
Measured Weight: 2 g (0.1 oz) - my scale isn't fine enough for the ounce measurement
Flavors Available: Light Roast, Medium Roast, Dark Roast, Vanilla Dark Roast and Lemon Dark Roast
Flavors Tried: All of them!
Sourced from Rainforest Alliance-certified organic coffee plantations
Note that the name is 'Cold Brew' but that refers to the manufacturing process of the coffee. It can be prepared either hot or cold.
I was lucky enough to be able to test Cusa Teas for BackpackGearTest.org when they first launched in 2017. I was hooked and have been buying tea from Cusa ever since. They've introduced various new tea flavors along the way so when I received the notice that they were doing a Kickstarter campaign to launch Cusa Cold Brew Coffee, I was interested! By supporting their campaign, I was able to get my hands on Cusa Coffee earlier than most and have been drinking it for months now. Note: I paid for all coffee. Cusa did not send free product to me or otherwise taint this review.
My Kickstarter pledge allowed me to get 3 boxes, so I ordered Medium Roast, Vanilla Dark Roast and Lemon Dark Roast. I also added on a box of Light Roast. When my order arrived, they had thrown in some Dark Roast too, so I was able to try all five flavors. The order came with a card explaining that they recommend adding 8 oz (237 ml) of water to start and then adjusting the amount of water to suit tastes.
First, let me say that I am no coffee connoisseur and most frequently drink French Dark Roast made from freshly ground beans (usually decaf but sometimes caffeinated or a mixture). I use a burr grind coffee maker and leave the 'strength' setting on strong.
Here are my impressions. I tried them hot the first time with no cream or sugar added.
Light Roast: I liked this but it has a strong aroma which isn't unpleasant but I figured out kind of smells like almond...think almond extract. I'm not sure if the difference is from the lighter roasting, but I have to admit I don't typically drink light roast coffee. I liked this version the least but I still like it and wouldn't shy away from a cup anytime. I made my first cup with 12 oz (355 ml) of water which was too much and the coffee was too weak. Making it with the recommended 8 oz (237 ml) of water much better suited my taste.
|No cream added!
Medium Roast: I didn't detect any of the aroma that was present with the light roast and I liked this one. Again I made it with 8 oz (237 ml) of water which became my go-to for the remainder.
Vanilla Dark Roast: I'm not really a fan of flavored coffees but the vanilla flavor is very subtle. I noticed that I liked the dark roast, so I tried that next (in plain). This vanilla flavor is yummy.
Lemon Dark Roast: Lemon? Seriously? Fortunately, Cusa broke the ice early on and said to just try it instead of analyzing it. What an interesting flavor. Again it is very subtle, but I like it
Dark Roast: This was the one that only had a sample of at first, but I ended up buying bulk since I like it so much.
Overall, I really like every one of these flavors and think that the taste rivals a good cup of brewed coffee. I tend to favor the dark roast, but I like opening the drawer and finding them all. Something is bound to suit my mood that day. The coffee is very smooth with no acidity or bitterness. I usually add milk to my coffee but find that I don't need to add anything to this. I enjoy the coffee flavor alone. I tried them both hot and iced (or just in cold water) and liked them just as well either hot or cold.
As with the Cusa Teas, these are excellent for backpacking. I've used them multiple times for overnight trips. My go-to coffee packets have been Starbucks Decaf Via for years which I still like. I find that the Via product has 3.3 g (0.12 oz) of product weight while the Cusa Coffees have 2 g (0.07 oz) of product weight. So, I've been used to mixing one Via in 12 oz (355 ml) of water making a perfect cup. And a 12 oz (355 ml) cup of coffee is just right for me in the morning. On the trail I also love cold coffee and use two Vias in a 20 oz (591 ml) bottle of water. The problem is that the Cusa would require 1.5 packets to make my morning joe leaving an open packet that doesn't store very well. For the cold version I need 3 packets which is at least doable (though maybe a bit too much caffeine). This is the one and only downside for me. I would also like to see the addition of a decaffeinated version since I don't like to drink too much caffeine.
Lastly, while the retail price may seem a little high, Cusa sells in bulk, constantly has some type of promotion and offers a ton of deals so that I always feel like I am getting a good value for my money. Cusa seems like such a responsible company offering recycling of the stick packets, sourcing coffee from Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee plantations and using only premium tea (the top 5%). I've contacted them multiple times for various reasons and they are easy to communicate with, very responsive and customer-oriented. I love finding small businesses like this to support.
Cusa Cold Brew Instant Coffee is an excellent cup of coffee either hot or iced. The packets are ideal for backpacking.
MY FAVORITE THINGS
Smooth, not bitter taste
Love all of the flavors
Good hot or iced
Would prefer 3 g (0.11 oz) package size (for a 12 oz cup of coffee)
Would love to see a decaffeinated version
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
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Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith