Grower’s Cup Specialty Coffee

Let me start by saying, I am not a coffee addict! I will admit, back in the day I lived with a cup of black (Emergency Room) coffee in one hand and an energy drink in the other, but this simply is not the case anymore… However, this does not mean that I do not enjoy a cup of coffee every once in a while. I can definitely get by without it, but a nice warm cup of good coffee can be a great way to wake up and get me going on the trail…

I should also go ahead and add that I do like a little cream and sugar in my coffee now as well. I can get away with drinking it black if I have to, but my preference is to sweeten it up a little bit. As well, I do not like my coffee to be overwhelmingly strong or bold, but rather more of a medium roast. So, while I freely admit that I am not a coffee connoisseur, I do still have my preferences and like it the way I like it.   🙂

I have also come to the realization that if I drink coffee too late in the afternoon, then I will be up, tossing and turning at night trying to get to sleep… I don’t understand why I am so opposite from how I used to be with this, but fact’s are fact’s… and this is the way it is for me now… So, with this in mind, morning to early afternoon is the latest I dare drink my coffee, both on the trail and at home.

That being said, I have tried only a couple of different coffee methods while hiking. When I say this, I mean I have tried the single serving Starbuck’s Via coffee’s and the Nescafe Instant coffees. When it was all said and done, I found the House Blend Nescafe Instant coffee to be the best tasting to me (and at only $1 for a box of 7 individual serving packs from Wal-Mart was a very nice point too!)

Soon after realizing that I liked the Nescafe on the trail, I actually started to drink them at home on the weekends, which is when I can afford the time to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee (or 2 if the notion hit me). After doing this for a while I decided to simply pick up a jar of the Nescafe Instant coffee, which turned out to be a great idea. Once I did this I began to start mixing in my sugar, creamer and coffee in the corner of a sandwich bag, then twisting, tying and cutting. What I ended up with was a little sachet of coffee, just the way I liked it! No adding sugar or creamer from this or that bag while on the trail, just simply cut open the bag, pour the contents in my cup, add water and done! Simple.

These little sachet have been my go to coffee method on the trail for sometime now. They are easy to make up, and are very inexpensive. As well, they only weigh between 0.6 – 0.8 oz each (depending on how big my “spoonful” happened to be while making them up).

Then a couple of months ago, Brian Green (from Brian’s Backpacking Blog) asked me if I would like for him to send me a few of these Grower’s Cups coffee packets to sample. I had read his previous blog post on these coffee packets and thought that they sounded promising, so I said sure! Then a couple of weeks later they showed up in my mailbox!

The first thing I noticed was the size of each of the coffee packages. They were a little big, albeit quite slim. Despite this, the idea was interesting and I was excited to try them out!

Brian sent 5 flavors: Guatemala, Honduras, Bolivia, Ethiopia and Nicaragua. Each of the packets come with instructions printed on the back side of the pouches, as well as the “Roast”, “Body” and the “Acidity” levels marked with a coffee bean on a linear graph. Of the 5 packets, all 3 of these listings looked to be marked relatively close to me. So, when the next weekend rolled around, I rolled out of bed on a Saturday morning and put a kettle of water on the stove. Then I “eeny-meeny-miny-mo’d” it to figure out which one I should start with.

The process was quite easy really, although I will admit, it has taken me a bit of handling to get the feel of pouring the coffee out of the spout without dribbling it all over me or the bag (and as seen in the video below, I still am not graceful at it…) The bag has a built-in filter with actual coffee grounds inside. So, once the water is poured in over the grounds, it then drips through the filter and into the bottom reservoir inside the packet. Once the water is added, the instructions call for a 5 minute brew for a mild flavor and 8 minutes for a strong brew.  After the desired time, the package is then tilted to the side and the coffee flows out of the built-in spout.

A look inside the pouch after use

I have now drank 3 of these coffee packets, admittedly all at home. My wife is a much more avid coffee drinker than I and she has shared 2 of these packages with me. The first one, she said was fine, but nothing special. I myself, thought it tasted like “real” coffee, and this is the only way I can explain it. This morning though when I was waiting on the Ethiopia coffee packet to “brew” she came in with her coffee cup and asked for some. She said it smelled good already, however, I didn’t smell anything. After drinking the coffee though we both found it to be tasty, and she was a bit disappointed when she went back for a second cup and found the bag empty…

As I mentioned above, I do not care for a thick, strong, bold cup of coffee, so I did not let the coffee brew but about 4 minutes this morning and found it to be good to me. I let it brew a few more minutes for her. As well, being that I do not like the coffee too strong, I wonder if I could actually pour more water into the pouch and still have a good cup of coffee, for me. I  feel like I could do this, however, all in the same sitting. I feel like if I tried to use it on 2 consecutive mornings I would be quite disappointed…

So far though, I am happy with the coffee as far as taste is concerned…but there are other concerns I have as far as using these on backpacking trips…

I feel like the weight is a bit hefty, at least for someone like me who is so easily satisfied with a cup of instant coffee. A single packet of the Grower’s Cup coffee weighs in at 1.7 oz (47 gm) before used. But the real shocker comes after use. The coffee grounds will not let 100% of the water pass through them, but instead hang onto a small amount, which means the wet weight after pouring all the water I could out of the bag came to 3.1 oz (90 gm)! Granted, if I were to open the bag up and let it set out for a while, it may dry out a little more, but still, this is a bit heavy in my opinion. Saying this, I could see myself using something like this on an overnight trip when my wife came with me (she would like this coffee much better, which means she would love me better) but for myself on a multiday hike, I can’t see myself lugging these with me. Remember, my instant coffee sachet come in at 0.8 oz max and the only thing left to carry after use is a tiny, near weightless corner of plastic bag.

Of lesser concern would be transporting the used coffee packet. I always carry a 1 gallon Ziploc bag to store my garbage in, so these packets would be inside the bag after use. However, I feel like a few of them would take up a considerable amount of space. Of even lesser concern, but still worth noting, I would want to be extra careful so that the grounds, or worse, extra water/coffee did not spill out of the packets while in my pack. Granted though, this spillage would be inside the Ziploc still.

So, I want to say thanks to Brian Green for sending me the Grower’s Cup Specialty coffee packets to try out. I have enjoyed them at home, and can see myself using them on the trail some of the time, and other times probably not.

Also, here is a video that I did this morning when I was preparing the Ethiopia coffee packet:

Thanks for watching!

~Stick~

Disclaimer: Brian Green sent 5 packets of the Grower’s Cup Specialty Coffee to me at no charge. I was not obligated, nor paid, to write anything about these items. The information (my opinion) contained within this “review” was formed after I personally used this product.

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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9 Responses to Grower’s Cup Specialty Coffee

  1. Garrett says:

    Since coffee grounds are biodegradable, you could easily dump out the watered down grounds before you pack out. While Grower’s Cup isn’t as light as other instant alternatives, it is most certainly the lightest way to have a brewed cup of coffee on the trail (as long as you get rid of the coffee grounds)!

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    • Stick says:

      Garrett,

      Thanks for chiming in! I have thought about spreading the grounds but haven’t done so yet. I have also read of others busting open the tea bags and doing the same…

      Anyway, as far as a real cup of coffee is concerned, I admit, I have grown to like it a bit more…Brian Green kindly sent me a few more packets so I was able to enjoy a cup a few more times…I have enough for a camping trip next weekend left!

      I still need to get the pouring down though…it keeps pouring down the edge and onto my fingers…I think that the little holder would make it a bit easier…

      ~Stick~

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  3. Keith says:

    Doesn’t sound like a great alternative. Mark’s Backpacking North review had the trash weight gain at almost 10:1. Bet it costs an arm and a leg for a cup, too. I’ve used Nescafe Classico packets. Same as you’ve found, about a buck for a box of them. For a while, my office was in the basement and I’d buy a bottle to make coffee on an alcohol boiler. Costco had VIA samples and it’s pretty good. I’ve had more problem finding a creamer that tastes decent and isn’t loaded with sugar. BTW, who decided that a “cup” of coffee is 6 ounces. A good mug is at least 12.

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    • Stick says:

      Keith,

      I am not sure how much these cost per package, and like I said, I do not think that they are available in the US just yet either. However, as others have said, I think that this will make a good car camping coffee, and when my wife comes along with me on a hike, it would be worth it to me then to carry them since she likes them (particularly the Ethiopia). 🙂

      ~Stick~

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  4. Mark Roberts says:

    Not dissimilar observations to the review I also posted last week. The weight of the used packages puts me off, and I wasn’t super impressed with the flavour of the brew. Good for overnighters though.

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    • Stick says:

      Mark,

      I had read your entry on the Grower’s Cup coffee a few days ago, which actually prompted me to go ahead and write something about them before I drank them all up! I agreed with so much of your review that it was a bit uncanny, but what really got me was the weight issue with these. I think we had many of the same concerns, but the only difference was that I found the coffee to taste “good”, but unlike you, I am not as much of a coffee connoisseur so my opinion on taste may not mean as much to others. (After all, I am a fan of the Nescafe Instant coffee’s… even at home.) 🙂

      ~Stick~

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  5. Aaron says:

    Very interesting product and design. Via has been working great for me on the trail – I would have to agree that the Grower’s Cup does seem like a little too much for most of my trips so far as the bulk of the packaging and the weight is concerned. However, I can imagine this making a pretty nice cup of coffee… So it might be the ticket for an overnighter, car camping, or even when away from home while travelling in the frontcountry.

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    • Stick says:

      Aaron,

      In my opinion, I think that it makes a fine tasting cup. However, considering the amount of coffee I drink (not much) and the fact that I sweeten it up with sugar and creamer, my “good” cup and someone elses “good” cup may not be the same… 🙂

      As you said though, I think that these would be great options for overnight or car camping.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      ~Stick~

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