VSSL launches rugged, packable coffee grinder for backcountry brewing
Beyond its core line of tubular multitools and kits, Canadian outdoor provisions company VSSL also dabbles in other campsite essentials and conveniences rolled into easy-carry tube form. It already has PM beverages covered with a handy flashlight-flask, and now it lends its expertise to the AM beverage of choice. Its neatly designed Java burr grinder packs away small, quickly assembling into a powerful bean pulverizer with 30 settings. Pair it with a favorite backpacking stove and backcountry coffeemaker, and it delivers fresh, premium coffee anywhere in the world.
There are already a number of ultra-portable coffee grinders out there, some designed specifically for camping and backpacking, others that could easily be adapted for such use. VSSL looks to step up the game by building a tougher variant specially optimized for holding up to the harsh abuses of outdoor adventure while still offering seamless performance in grinding beans for a perfect cup of coffee the next morning.
VSSL applies its signature aluminum-tube construction to create what it calls "the most durable hand grinder ever designed." Along with the solid tubular construction, the foundation of that rugged design is the folding "carabiner-to-grind" handle. Many other grinders have weak, rattling fixed handles that stick out all the time or fold with light, easy-to-break hardware. A grinder without a handle is essentially a coffee-scented paper weight, so VSSL beefs its handle up and creates a folding mechanism that turns it into a carabiner-style carry handle for transit. The handle locks in carabiner form via a screw, ensuring the hinge doesn't suffer unnecessary wear and tear every time the Java takes a bouncy backpack ride. The carabiner lashes easily to a backpack, and VSSL says it has more than 200 lb (90-kg) of load-bearing capacity.
After zipping the tent mesh open in the morning, campers can quickly fold out the Java handle and extend it into grinding length. The conical grab handle stores neatly in the empty coffee canister that unscrews from the bottom. Taking the coffee canister off also provides access to the grind setting dial, allowing users to choose from 30 different micro-settings that run the full gamut between powdery espresso and French press grit. The quick-release lid on the other end pops open at the push of a button for loading the beans.
Once everything's set up and loaded, it's off to work, rotating the handle to set the stainless steel burr to work chewing up the fresh beans. VSSL says the grinder can handle its roughly 20-g fill capacity in as little as 60 seconds.
At 12.7 oz (360 g), the VSSL Java might prove too high a weight-vs-utility ratio for the average lightweight backpacker, but it looks to be a valuable tool for coffee-loving car campers, overlanders, canoe campers, anglers, hunters and others not so focused on cutting every possible ounce. It definitely looks like it will hold up to abuse better than the average lightweight hand grinder and brings the peace of mind of a lifetime warranty. The grinder measures 6 in (15 cm) tall to the top of the carabiner handle and 2 in (5 cm) in diameter.
VSSL has turned to Kickstarter in hopes that the crowdfunding public will see the value in a grinder small enough to pack easily, robust enough to power over trails and up mountains, and precise enough to deliver the uniform grind needed for a premium brew, morning after morning. So far it seems the crowd is welcoming it, as the Java has spiked way past its CA$25,000 goal on the very first day of its campaign.
Kickstarters can secure an early bird Java at a pledge level of CA$130 (approx. US$99), a significant discount off the planned CA$195/US$145 MSRP. VSSL is also offering various packages, including a CA$255 ($195) Nomad Travel Kit that includes the Java, an AeroPress, a camp mug, a VSSL coffee brew guide and a canvas tote bag to store it all.
If all goes according to plan, VSSL will begin shipping Java units out to Kickstarter backers in February 2021, ahead of a greater launch in March.