Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jetboil Zip & Coffee Press

So I got pretty tired of the lack of decent coffee when my unit's out in the field.  With the prospect of 2 weeks of wonderful Ft. McCoy coming up next month, I decided to do something about it.

Long ago I saw a Jetboil Java System in a camping catalog.  Really nothing more than their standard Flash cooking system with a French Press style filter that fits in the cup.  After minutes of gruelling online research, I found the Jetboil Zip and separate Coffee Press were cheaper to order separately than to get the full blown Java System.

What makes the Zip cheaper is a combination of a simpler stove, requiring a separate ignition source rather than the built in piezoelectric igniter on the other models; and a slightly smaller cup, 0.8 liters, rather than 1 full liter.

One of Jetboil's selling points is that their cooking systems all fold up and store inside the cooking cup.  Despite the smaller cup size on the Zip, I was still able to get everything I need for good coffee inside the system, and it fit quite nicely inside my new pack.  Jetboil claims the system comes in at 12oz, not counting the fuel can or little plastic stabilizer legs.

Granted I had to put the filter screen portion of the press in the measuring cup, it still fit fine provided it was upside down.  By leaving the regular stove top part (what they call the "pot stabilizer") at home I was able to get the press's rod sections inside the cup.

The stove assembles quickly and simply, the stabilizer (orange triangle bit) unfolds, the fuel can clips onto it, and the stove threads onto the top of the fuel can.  From there you can either place the cup with the "FluxRing" on it to boil water, or the pot stabilizer to use regular pots and pans or Jetboil's larger sized FluxRing frying pan or 1.5 liter pot.

Speaking of fuel, the only downside of the Jetboil system is that it uses Jetboil's proprietary fuel cans (it can run off of other backpacking stove manufacturer's pressurized cans, like MSR's, but they won't fit in the cup for storage.)  The nearest retailer that stocks them is a 40 minute drive for me, and if you're flying somewhere you'll have to find a source at your destination, since you can't fly with pressurized fuel cans.  On the upside, a 100oz can only runs about $5 and Jetboil says it'll boil about 10 liters of water.  I tend to use about a half a liter to make coffee, so 20 uses for $5 isn't too bad.

On the upside, the fuel burns hot and clean, with a nice pretty blue and purple flame.  Here's the stove running with the valve a little less than half open-

In practice, the little stove will bring the little pot of water up to a rolling boil in around 3 minutes.  I scalded my hand pretty good the first time I played around with it, so it's a good idea to watch it and not fill the cup too full.  The 500ml line on the cup is a good spot for coffee making, and fills my Nissan Thermos cup exactly.

The Press Kit is a thing of genius too.  It consists of a plastic and metal mesh filter that fits snuggly inside the Jetboil cup, and the rod unscrews into two sections and fits through the hole in the middle of the lid (which also has drain holes and a sippy spot.)

Not much to say here for those familiar with French Press style coffee, the kit works fantastically, and there were no grounds in the bottom of my cup.  What else could you ask for?

As far as use goes, I assembled the system, filled the cup, and lit the stove up.  The water boiled quickly, I turned off the stove, tossed in the desired amount of quality grounds, stirred, and let steep for about four minutes.


After taking the photo, the press and lid were stuck on to keep bugs and other crap from getting on.

Coffee in the shade of a 5-ton Dump

Once enough time has elapsed, the plunger was slowly plunged, and the liquid deliciousness was poured into my thermos so I could brew up another cup for the Section SGT.

Requisite gun and coffee.  M4 Carbine (I know, no mag. 
Stupid rules,) fresh pressed Guatemalan Dark.

All said and done, easily the most delicious cup of coffee I've ever had while wearing ACUs.


Coffee's taking time to kick in... I'm going to retreat to a paperback and hopefully get some photos edited for some product review-ness in a bit.

Check back later I'd say.