Hitting the road no longer means leaving behind good coffee or your sustainability values. As the specialty coffee industry grows, so, too, have companies developing the gear needed to serve that market. For example, WACACO, named for an amalgam of its founder’s last names, debuted a suite of brewing products specifically designed for coffee-loving travelers.
Founded in Hong Kong in 2013, WACACO sells essential gear for the out-of-home (and office and hotel room) coffee experience, both for neophytes and experts. I tested two of their half dozen “platforms,” including the simplest vessel in their line-up, the Cuppamoka, and its more complex cousin, the Pipamoka.
The Cuppamoka is an all-in-one pour over brewing system requiring just ground coffee and hot water. At $38 retail, it compares favorably in value to the Aeropress, especially when considering that it includes a 300 ml (just under 11 ounces) stainless steel double-walled thermos which can keep the coffee hot (remember, this is a pour over) for approximately 2 hours. The final convenience, a flexible sipping hole cover that can seal the thermos, guarding against spills, is particularly useful in a car or on the move.
The one drawback to the Cuppamoka, from a convenience standpoint, is its reliance upon paper filters – which it sells at 200 for under $15. WACACO’s are natural unbleached wood fiber, but it’s not a proprietary design, so V-shaped filters, such as a V60 size 01 will work. A future iteration with a metal screen to replace the paper filter, along with a cleaning brush, would render the Cuppamoka the go-to hiking or camping brewer. Those concerns were addressed with my other sample, the Pipamoka.
The Pipamoka serves as a bridge from filter brewing to brewing under pressure, in this case, a vacuum seal. Like the Cuppamoka, the Pipamoka is a single serving device which delivers the same nearly 11 ounces or 300 ml of coffee, but it shaves roughly one minute off the former’s 3-minute brewing time through its application of pressure.
The Pipamoka holds grinds in a stainless-steel mesh cylindrical compartment which seats at the bottom of a chambered, threaded sleeve. To begin the extraction, twist a rotating collar which unscrews the chamber up from the thermos, forcing water through the grinds over the course of roughly a minute. The resultant cup is arguably a more balanced and consistent brew than achieved through the Cuppamoka – and most pour overs. Unlike the Cuppamoka, the Pipamoka lid does not have a sipping hole, but its tighter seal can keep coffee hot for well over 3 hours.
I’ve only covered the most accessible technology WACACO offers. While they exemplify the company’s engineering capabilities in compact, sturdy, and original design, their other products, all focused on manual espresso, are where their ingenuity and creativity lie. There are several patents involved, including the ability to achieve 18 bars (twice the 9-bar threshold that defines espresso). Stay tuned for those reviews.
In the meantime, travelers can skip the in-room pod machine or the instant coffee abominations, lukewarm batch brew in the lobby, and the takeout kiosk car line snaking around the corner, all which contribute to 16 billion coffee cups disposed of used annually.