Friday, 01 June 2018 09:42

Oomph Coffee Maker for the outdoors - tested and reviewed

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Oomph claims to be the "World's most advanced portable coffee maker" and with coffee being one of our outdoor essentials we just had to put one to the test.

What Oomph say:

As the UK's most succesful crowdfunded coffee maker the Oomph claims to br faster, easier, cleaner and more consistent than the alternatives of cafitiere, piston press or pod machine. Brewing with the Oomph couldn’t be simpler. After adding your favourite ground coffee into the inner chamber, pour in hot water and allow to brew. After around 1 minute of brewing on the reusable filter, the device is ready to be pressedWhereas a standard piston brewer generates a fixed amount of pressure, the Oomph’s specially designed chamber narrows towards the filter, forcing liquid through the coffee at an accelerated flow rate. The rate of erosion is therefore greatly increased and thanks to the higher level of insolubles in your coffee, you are guaranteed a stronger and more flavoursome brew.

Oomph on test:

Let's start this review with a bit of background.............I like coffee. Really, really like. I don't drink tea and it's fair to say that a few years ago my doctor told me I was drinking an unhealthy amount of it. For me coffee is a serious business, I have custom blends made up for me once or twice a year and whether on the move or at the desk a coffee is never far away either in time or distance.

It's been said that the best coffee in the world is instant coffee because it achieves an unparalleled level of consistency and while many coffee aficionados and baristas will cringe at the thought there is something to be said for the argument. While fresh ground coffee is almost always superior it can be very hard to get two consecutive cups that taste the same. Over-hot water can burn the grind giving a bitter taste and a small variation in brew time can make one cup too weak and the next too strong. Throw in the longer brewing time between capfuls with a French, or piston, press and short of using the overpriced, homogenised, offerings of the high street chains consistency is often just a dream.

Oomph 1

What Oomph does offer that's different is a level of consistency that's otherwise hard to achieve. Unlike a French press the Oomph locks the brewed coffee in by keeping the used grinds away from the liquid once brewed, meaning at a minimum the 2 cups from a single use will be pretty much identical. Once brewed the Oomph will also keep your coffee hot for approaching an hour.

In testing we've had mixed results from the Oomph; beautifully smooth and consistent coffee but issues with leaking have diluted the enthusiasm for the overall process. Supplied with a sample pouch of Ethiopian single-origin pre-ground coffee the consistency over a dozen cups has been a revalation. Fill the base to the full line, add water and leave for two minutes then compress the brew with a rotating action as you press down and the upper section locks efficiently into place. At this point the resulting coffee is locked away from the grind, preventing any increase in strength from the contact of hot water with ground beans. Should the brew be a bit weak you can raise the upper part of the device and recompress the grind to add strength. As an added bonus the supplied coffee came in a bag fitted with a one way valve to remove air from the resealed bag.

Oomph 3

Straight from the box the Oomph delivered a fresh, smooth, coffee as good as any commercial brew and followed up with a second cup that was indistinguishable from the first. It was on second use, however, that the first questions over the build quality arose. After emptying the used grinds and a quick double compress with hot water to remove the few stubborn bits clinging to the filter I dried the lower compartment with a tea towel before re-assembly. At this point a rubber gasket on the upper surface detatched itself.

Oomph 4

It dook a good couple of minutes to work out where the gasket fitted; in the middle of the matching black plastic ring on the upper surface. Another couple of minutes and it was relocated and to be fair it worked perfectly for the next use. On third use, however, the gasket had again detatched and was now firmly pressed up against the inside of the outer compartment at the point where the two compartments sealed - and it leaked! The 4th and 5th uses passed without incident but again on the sixth use, forgetting to double check the gasket, it leaked again.

When sealed properly there's no doubt that the Oomph delivers great quality coffee, smooth and consistent cup after cup. It's quick; you can fine tune the brew time between 1 and 2 minutes to suit, simple and efficient. The ability to increase the strength with a second compression works superbly - meaning you can get a full strength brew with a smaller amount of coffee, and once brewed the insulated upper compartment keeps the coffee at drinking temperature for between 45 minutes and an hour. Apart from the detatched gasket issue cleaning is simple and quick and weighing in at 644g the weight is acceptable for carrying in the side pocket of a pack. In a campervan it's size is ideal for a quick morning wake-up for two people.

Oomph 5

While Oomph offer fourpre-ground blends (Columbian, Sumatran, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and Ethiopian Sidamo) we also tested the device with a range of standard grinds without issue, the grind size being comparable between the Oomph blends and offerings from the likes of Taylors of Harrogate and Coffee-direct. Double checking the gasket before each use has been a bit of a pain, particularly in the enclosed confines of a tent or campervan where a spill can be both inconvenient and difficult to clean up, but if this single issue is addressed it's hard to see any point where we'll return to cafitieres and presses. It's proved itself in terms of consistency and producing "bit-free" coffees within minutes.

In the run-up to Father's Day in the UK Oomph are offering a 10% discount on gift packs combining the coffee maker with a bag of each of the four blends. Prices for the Oomph start from £29.95 with gift packs from £49.99 for a limited period.