Being a coffee reviewer, it’s not too often that I get my hands on something non-drinkable to share with readers, so today is an exciting day! Up for review is local Kansas City bag maker, Andrew the Maker’s, Buzz Bag. This is a bicycle handlebar bag made specifically to hold an AeroPress, camp stove and camp mug with a bit of room to spare. The bag is amazingly well-made and it’s going to be a giveaway to a reader very soon, so make sure you are following KCcoffeegeek and Andrew the Maker on Instagram so you don’t miss out! The Buzz Bag is available, made to order, from Andrew the Maker for $69 with a wait time of about 4-5 weeks.
I’ve found that people who are enthusiasts about one thing tend to approach a lot of things in their life with the same vigor. In my case, sure, I obviously love coffee, but I am equally obsessed with pens/pencils/paper, bags, photography, etc. I even wrenched for three years at a bike shop in Davenport, IA when I was in grad school, so a bike bag that is made to carry coffee stuff is right in my wheelhouse!
Andrew the Maker is a Kansas City-based bag manufacturer specializing in custom frame bags. He started sewing around 2010-2011 and went into business in 2012. He has been staying busy as a full-time manufacturer since 2014 and a lot of his customers are people who work in bike shops and can buy just about anything for 50% off retail but choose to pay full price for his work. Andrew’s specialty is making custom frame bags, which are bags that occupy the often-unused space under the seat and inside the frame triangle on a bike. Frame bags have been around forever, but they often are lacking since a big manufacturer will make one size that you have to make work for whatever size and shape your bike is. Being 100% custom, Andrew takes the measurements from a client’s bike and then fits the bag perfectly to fit it. It’s the difference between something off-the-rack or flying to London to have a bespoke suit made on Savile Row.
Andrew does offer some basic bags like waist packs, snack bags and now, the Buzz Bag, that are made from a pattern. Even these are customizable for fabrics and other features. The Buzz Bag is a handlebar bag intended to carry an AeroPress, a metal camp cup and a small camp stove so you can enjoy coffee on the go. The bag makes a pretty nice way to store some coffee gear for general travel, too, and it’s low profile would be just as awesome thrown into a carryon or lashed to a hiking pack as it is on the front of a bike.
The Buzz Bag measures about 4″ in diameter and 9″ long. Weighing the Buzz Bag on my trusty kitchen scale, it comes in at a svelte 4.47 ounces, or 126.7g. Weight can vary a little depending on fabrics and options, of course. Every bag junkie is a materials junkie, too, so let’s start with the materials list and go from there:
- Exterior is Coyote Brown 1000D Cordura
- Interior is yellow VX21 X-Pac, a high-tech, German-made laminated ripstop sailcloth fabric
- Zipper is YKK Uretek water-repellant zipper with nickel-plated slides
- Straps are Omni Tape, which is a hook & loop product like Velcro, but that sticks to itself, so it’s lighter and lower profile
- There’s some heavy-duty webbing that I’ll talk about more
- The ends are reinforced with closed cell foam to support the Buzz Bag’s round structure and keep your coffee stuff a bit safer
- Last, but not least, Andrew the Maker’s fantastic label (one of my favorite logos) is heat-laminated to the exterior rather than sewn
I am a verified bag junkie. I have four custom Rickshaw Bagworks messenger bags (two are X-Pac), some old custom Timbuk2 messengers from way back, a ton of Jandd bike bags, panniers and luggage, and more than I can count from Tom Bihn, Tactical Tailor, Eagle Creek, Nock Co. and others. It’s a sickness, truly. I’m telling you this not to let my bags out of the proverbial closet, but rather to let you dear readers know I know a thing or two about bags like this!
The construction on the Buzz Bag is the best I have seen, period. Sometimes with Cordura bags you’ll get some warping and excess fabric or puffed-out seams or other things that give the bag a bit of a messy look/feel and there is none of that with the Buzz Bag. It’s perfectly made, and that’s not an exaggeration. Every stitch is perfectly straight and expertly finished. Every seam is tight and there is no excess material to give it that “one size too big” misshapenness that sometimes happens with bags like these. All the external elements are tacked on beautifully and anything that needs to be finished is. The inside is the same. The zipper is a work of art and those YKK waterproof zippers look as cool as they are functional, repelling all water except for full submersion.
On the inside, the yellow X-Pac fabric is a nice contrast to the Coyote Brown and I’m always a big fan of having bright interior fabrics for better visibility. On something as small as the Buzz Bag this isn’t as big of a deal as, say, a big messenger bag where lots of things get lost when the interior is dark or black, but still, it’s a nice touch when Andrew could’ve just used more Cordura. The X-Pac fabric is a German-made high-tech laminate that has a cool cross-hatched pattern of ripstop cords running through it, creating the X’s you see. It gives the fabric texture and makes it crazy strong and cut/tear resistant to an insane degree. Personally, I think it looks really cool and I also like it because it’s slippery, so when you need to break our your AeroPress and you can’t risk having it hang up on a tackier fabric, only X-Pac will do! LOL
All of the seams on the inside of the bag are taped and finished, too. What that means is the edges are all rolled or have additional fabric wrapped around them, as in the case of the zipper, and then they’re all sewn up. This means nothing on the inside of the bag will fray, which is often a problem with untaped edges and it’s super annoying. Each of these elements may seem like a small detail, but that IS the art and craft of sewing bags, too. There is a bit of padding in both ends thanks to the closed-cell foam, but it’s mainly there to support the Buzz Bag’s round shape, and it does that well. It’s all detail work, but every detail I’ve mentioned also translates to a longer life and better performance out of the Buzz Bag.
The lashing setup is super simple. The Buzz Bag is designed to hang from the handlebars, and the two Omni Tape hook and loop straps can accommodate any size and shape of handlebars you throw at them. The strip of webbing on the top of the Buzz Bag allows you to change the width and placement, or even add more, of the Omni Tape straps. My titanium riser bars were no problem for a perfect fit. To keep the Buzz Bag from flopping around as you ride, Andrew added a small lash point to the back of the bag and it uses a simple length of elastic cord with a cord lock on it to allow you to strap it down tight to the front tube. It’s rock-solid this way and the elasticity in the cord ensures that even crazy movements at the handlebars will not be restricted because of the bag.
As far as the functionality goes, this is a bare bones AeroPress bag. If you are looking to bring half your kitchen with you, this isn’t the bag for you. It has one pocket and one space to fill. It’s designed to carry the AeroPress, a cup, and a stove, but there’s room in the bag for a Ziploc of pre-ground coffee or maybe even beans and a Porlex mini mill, since that grinder will nest inside the piston of the AeroPress!
I had no problem fitting my AeroPress and an enamel mug (I don’t have a camp cup) inside the Buzz Bag and there was plenty of room for an alcohol stove to be added in. The AeroPress is too big to nest inside of that size mug, but it will nest inside some camp cups, and those will double as vessels to boil your water, too. You can really Russian-doll this setup if you want and nest your Porlex mini mill inside the piston of the AeroPress, then nest the AeroPress inside your camp cup (would probably be a 450mL or larger cup). You’d have plenty of room for the stove and a sizable amount of beans, too.
A more minimalist approach would be to pre-grind the beans at home and put them in the hollow space in the piston and cap it off with one of Able Brewing’s Travel Caps. Toss a few filters in the bottom or add an Able metal Disk filter and you’re good to go!
Here’s a suggested list of what you’ll need to make coffee, most of which will fit in your Buzz Bag:
- Buzz Bag
- AeroPress filters or Able/similar metal replacement filter
- Pre-ground coffee in a Ziploc or add Able’s Travel Cap to take advantage of the space in the piston. Alternatively use a Porlex Mini mill that nests inside the piston and a bag of whole beans
- Camp stove, like Trangia or another alcohol stove
- Camp cup like a Toaks Titanium or GSI cup that can double as drinking vessel and water boiling vessel. Some cups will nest with the AeroPress, unmodified, but you’ll have to find the right fit
- Extra fuel if needed
Andrew offers the Buzz Bag for $69 and his wait time is around 4-5 weeks on them. You can customize the materials. Some ideas I had would be to use the webbing strip on the top of the bag as lash points for cord/webbing to attach it to a backpack for hiking. I don’t know if Andrew does MOLLE spacing on webbing, but if you could convince him to I could see the Buzz Bag working great lashed to any pack or body armor that has MOLLE webbing on it! I don’t know if you can carry an AeroPress into combat that way, but damn that’d be awesome if you could!
Simply put, the Buzz Bag is a beautifully constructed and versatile bag for AeroPress coffee addicts who like to travel in style. You can’t ask for something better designed and made than this and with the right stuff you can even grind whole beans if you need to. Andrew the Maker proves why he is so beloved in the cycling community, and now with the Buzz Bag we can welcome him with open arms into the coffee geek circle, too. Now it’s time for me to talk to him about a backpack that will carry my espresso machine and a Nuova Simonelli MDX… LOL