Product Review: Kuju Coffee

by AA Ambassadors on November 16, 2018


I love good coffee. I might tell you that I’m a bit of a snob when it comes down to it, but I can thank my ten years of living in Portland for giving me a high-maintenance coffee palette. You better believe I pre-grind my artisan small-batch roasted beans before leaving on a camping or road trip, and seal them up in an airtight container I can use for the coming mornings away from home.

When I was given the chance to try out and review some coffee that sounded like it could get me my fix for pour over coffee in the woods (without all the hassle and extra gear)- I was so down.

Kuju coffee says on their website that they offer, “single-serve, ethically-sourced and specialty-grade pour over coffee for Wherever You Wander.” Founded by two Eagle Scout brothers, it goes on to state that, “In 2015, we’d had enough watered-down, bland instant coffee and set out on a journey to find something better.” The company also notes that it donates 1% of its profits to national parks and aims to only work with farms that make positive impacts in their respective local communities. All-in-all, Kuju sounds like a pretty good package (yes, pun intended).

With all of that being said; their do-good philosophy and origin story of striving to create something better after being tired of taking what was given them – how does Kuju actually taste? How does it perform when put to the test?

Don’t worry guys, I did the dirty work for you and I have some answers (well, opinions, really).

After a crazy couple of weeks at work, I was needing an escape from the city. My boyfriend and I along with my mini aussie Dag loaded up our car and trekked out to the Cleveland National forest. We had plans for some camping, hiking, and of course- Kuju coffee testing.

Photo by Jenna Kuklinski

Going from sea level up into 5-6,000ft of elevation is such a treat. We transitioned from the sunny beaches of San Clemente into the fall-foliage of the National Forest in less than two hours. The colors and smells of the yellow, orange and rusty colored oak leaves trees were intoxicating and reminded both my boyfriend and I of our New England roots. If you haven’t been into the woods lately, you’re missing out.

Alright- enough about the crisp, refreshing surroundings. I’m sure what you really want to know is, “How was the coffee?!”

The morning was brisk, chilly and perfect for a hot cup of good caffeine. I grabbed the two Kuju pour over coffees I had to try out (one for myself and one for the bf) and started boiling water over the fire. I really liked the individual serving coffee’s packaging- it enticed me and got me excited to try it. It was neat, informative – and easily storable in almost every pocket. I imagined being able to stash this in a backpack and know that it wouldn’t take up as much space as my typical coffee kit does. (yes, I bring grounds, filters and a reusable pour over cone camping and backpacking. I know there are more compact ways to make coffee but I’m a traditionalist).

Opening the packaging up, you are greeted with a beautiful coffee aroma and are presented with a neat little filter and paper-board package. This contains both the coffee and what holds the coffee above your cup to allow you to use it as a pour-over with any cup. GUYS this is so cool! It’s simple, intuitive and (as long as I’m not missing anything crucial here) I believe this pour-over and coffee grounds combo should be compostable, based off of what it appeared to be made of.

I had one pouch of Ethiopia and one pouch of Indonesia. Tasting notes for each are printed on the outside of the pouch so you can get an idea of what kind of coffee you’re choosing for yourself. The Ethiopia listed, “fresh blueberry, morning citrus, honey” and Indonesia stated, “aged berry, toasted cocoa, apricot”.

Pouring the boiled water over the tops of each of the coffees, I was treated to the familiar smells of a quality coffee beginning to brew in front of me. And the shape of the combo filter pour over was easy to aim water into. Also- when seeing that filter pour over was made of paperboard, I was nervous about how securely it would hold onto the sides of my mug. I was pleasantly surprised when I had no issues with it falling off of the edges. It stayed right where I put it the first time and needed no adjusting throughout the entire brew process.

Photo by Jenna Kuklinski

Finally the coffee was ready to taste, and I was ready to drink it. Handing Dave a mug and giving him a good-morning coffee cheers, I inhaled the aroma and took my first sip. I had Ethiopia and the flavor of morning citrus wasn’t as distinct as I was used to in Ethiopian coffees I’m used to drinking but I definitely got the smell of fresh blueberry and tasted honey in the coffee. Trading mugs and trying the Indonesia, I can say there was a distinct difference in the flavors and aromas and I got the toasted cocoa and aged berry they talked about on the package.

We made our breakfast and continued to sip on our coffee while Dag chewed on a stick near the morning fire. The coffee of course went perfectly with the egg breakfast we made, and soon it was time to clean everything up and head out for a day of hiking. We found some great lookouts and saw glimpses of the observatory that’s up in the area. Next time I’m going to make a point of getting to the observatory to see inside it before they close, it looked so cool.

So what’s the verdict? Overall – I really enjoyed the Kuju Pocket Pour Over Coffee. If I saw it in a grocery or camping store, I would buy it. I don’t think you can compare it neck-and-neck to a fresh pour over coffee made at home or at a coffee shop, but I can say that it’s a big leg up from instant coffee or anything in the quick-fix camping realm for caffeine. Also, the packaging was fun and convenient and I really love the mission behind the brand.

If you get a chance, look them up for yourself at www.kujucoffee.com and try their coffee to see what you think. Once you’re done, let me know your thoughts!

I’m always game for a good coffee conversation.

-Jenna Kuklinski, Ambassador

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In the life of an adventurer, ambition is all it takes to kick-start a day, but sometimes after long travels or cold nights, a warm cup of coffee makes the ambition a little easier to find. Coffee is an essential piece of gear that comes along most trips I take. In the past coffee has taken many forms. Various gizmos and gadgets, stove attachments, and the truest sin; instant coffee crystals. While many of these options were good enough, or better than nothing at all, thoughts of having a better cup of joe away from my favorite café has stolen many first sips.

Enter Kuju. Let me tell you, this little company makes some major coffee. Founded by two brothers on a mission to put better coffee in the hands of adventurists, I can safely say they have hit the mark. It’s the simplest way I have seen to make good coffee happen in remote places. Rich aromas filled the air as soon as I tore open the seal on my first packet. I wasted no time with the set up and poured the hot water through the suspended teabag-like design. The flavor did not disappoint. Bold, but smooth, and lacking and compromise in taste I was thoroughly impressed with my new favorite porta-joe.

Sweetening the whole deal, Kuju donates 1% of sales to the National Park Foundation. So every brew you make supports the places beckoning with adventure. Now, if simple use, super flavor, and supporting our parks isn’t enough, Kuju’s coffee is all ethically sourced through farms that support their communities. Kuju’s primary source of coffee beans is a farm that supports victims of sexual abuse. So next time you are headed on a grand adventure, grab your stove and a cup—Kuju will bring the rest.

– Reid Wiegleb, Ambassador

Photo by Alyssa Arsenault

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I took the Kuju Pocket Pour Overs on a sunrise hike with me, they are lightweight and compact and fit in my pack easily. The pour over design was easy to use and fit well in my camping mugs, I like that the pods have a limited amount of waste. It took about 4 minutes to brew a cup, and the aromas were great and the overall flavors of both were amazing. Neither coffee pour over had a stale or old taste, so the packaging really helped to seal in the freshness of the grounds.

Papua New Guinea: it seemed a little lighter in flavor but still tasted great. It was almost a little fruity on the finish and I prefer darker roasts, I still enjoyed this better than the usual instant coffee brought on the trails.

Ethiopia: This was my favorite out of the two, it was a lot darker and richer in flavor. This tasted like something I would find in a coffeehouse downtown and not in the middle of the wilderness, very fresh and flavorful.

My only real suggestion to help improve the product, is to add an adhesive to the anchors of the pour overs. I had a little trouble with the first try, with keeping the pod in place while I poured the water. You will definitely need to go slow, and only fill the pod half way. A little sticker would help secure the anchor of the pod properly in place and ensure that it does not fall into the cup.

My overall experience with Kuju was positive and it is a product I would definitely consider purchasing for my next backpacking adventure or to even just use at home.

– Kelsey Kuehl, Ambassador

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