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  • Writer's pictureClotaire Mandel

Let's talk coffee.

As I often talk about coffee and as I received some questions on how I manage the coffee logistic, here is a small answer. The gear : - Trangia kettle 0.6L : simple but efficient. I use it for an only purpose : boiling water. To not affect the water taste and therefore the coffee taste, is serves only for this aim. The capacity is a bit too much for a single cup but didn’t find a smaller smile yet. Although, when boiling a bit more water than needed, I can rinse the cup and the paper filter to prepare a coffee as perfect as possible. - Hario plastic V60 coffee dripper : Considering weight and price, it’s probably the best way, in my opinion, to get the best of a slow process coffee. Bulky and not much who can fit inside regarding the shape, but to justify it, is a handle who makes it “hanging out” certified. I don’t really like seing things dangling outside of my bags but if I need room on those, it’s easy to pass one of the saddle bag’s buckle in and let it lives its life outside. The plastic version is obviously not the best option in term of quality and efficiency generally speaking, but considering the situation, it’s perfect. The changes ceramic will brings considering weight and fragility not really worth it. - Paper filter : With good coffee beans, it’s the second tricky thing on the batch. It has to be found in advance and probably stock up. Again, it needs some work to check if is any decent coffee shop around and how far. Might be a solution for reusable filter but haven’t check deeper yet to be honest. So far so good, just need to calculate what you need. And that’s the reason why I think clever to got a second option. - GSI ultralight java dripper : And here is my second option. Was the first one for a while the I found a cheap V60 and decided to give a chance. It’s now my emergency wheel. It needs more attention as the filter catch quit quickly smells. Especially when packed in on morning without being completely dried up. This filter is clearly less efficient, and it let the finest coffee particles going trough, landing on you cup. Not so good. Although, as it folds and pack light, it’s good to have this “in case”. And in the future, if places where I’ll be cycling it gets more tricky to get filter, I might consider just using this again. - Decathlon foldable spoon : Funny how at some point every little thing as a detail. I don’t want to talk for hours about what kinda spoon to take, but having a clean spoon to stir your coffee. And this detail is one of the bunch who makes your coffee better. Clean and dedicated instruments, on top of the fact that stirring slowly your coffee at the end let melt aromas together to create a well balanced coffee. - GSI bugaboo mug 14oz : Not as random as it looks. I wanted foldable holders and graduation on a lightweight cup. Wasn’t that easy but finally randomly found it in Singapore. A light as titanium but three times cheaper, it’s a good option for coffee making. With graduation it’s easier to pour as much water as needed. Not too short, not too long. - GSI java mill coffee grinder : I’ve been through different grinders. I lost some, broke some. So this is the one I have right now. It’s a light, compact and cheap option. So far so good. The grind is not perfectly balanced and hard to make it perfect but I’m still digging for perfection. The handle fold easily and stick to the grinder to make it as compact as possible and decreasing chances to lost it as well. No joke, I did lost one not a long ago. - Hario graduated spoon : Apparently it’s not extremely precise but honestly good enough, then it’s being to picky, and I’m glad to have this set up already, don’t need more. So you can quickly check for 8, 10 or 12g of coffee. Helpful as the normal spoon for me sounds blurry, way to much if you consider how you coffee cup change with a couple of more grams ! Well, I love it. - And, coffee ! : Yep, no surprise, coffee beans. Here depends everyone’s matter. Type of coffee, where it does come from, roasting profil, acidity, aromas. So many things to care about and s personnel that I won’t talk much about it. Takes time to understand coffee as a fruit. It’s way more complicated than just what the word “coffee” means. Not just a black liquid tasting strong and keeping you up. It takes times but it’s clearly fascinating.

My way to get coffee beans : So here is how I deal with coffee beans procurement. I do long research at first on the map. Trying to get locations of coffee roasters or coffee beans salers. Then I contact them, making me sure they have what I want, and making me sure they are still alive and open. I generally got in exchange the “coffee menu” with all the beans available, prices and stuff. With this, I already got some pins on my map, creating real distances between each other. This points represents the place where I can potentially resupply. Then, I consider my daily coffee consumption, comparing to futur places where I can get proper coffee. If the following coffee roaster is about 3 weeks ahead, I consider having at least a month of coffee with me. Then I got enough till the next ravito ! Considering that ou need to keep your beans as fresh as possible. Makes no sens to carry such a kit if your coffee were roasted 4 months ago. Seems crazy, but tis is how it goes for me. I’m conscious that it looks like a puzzle from the outside, and makes me doing some detours as well. But as long as you like something, doesn’t really matter. My approach : Let say all of this is my luxury piece. I don’t smoke and can stay away from alcohol. And it’s the only thing who stays important to me as an habit, as an anchor. It’s not just drinking coffee. I would rather drink water than a bad coffee. It’s a whole world. It’s a process, it’s true love of good things. On top, it’s a degustation process who asks a constant attention and a special focus. Boiling up water, grinding coffee, prepare everything, and then “make” your coffee. And this extraction method ask to do nothing else aside than this. So it’s clearly a precious moment. It’s a moment where I pay attention to quantity, quality, details. To te water spiral who slightly infuse. To the colour, the smell, the shape. It’s a full concentration moment. Wordless and screen less. I only do THIS. I force myself not doing anything else. Then comes the degustation. Same same. I try to understand, to intellectualise what I’m drinking. To understand how my body reacts. I close my eyes and I sip. I feel, I exhale. I’m my moment. Mine, far from everything and everybody. It’s sounds silly but I swear, you just need a few days with me to figure out how difficult is it for me to do one thing at a time. Is a bit of undetected hyperactivity behind but anyway, it’s my moment. And beside of it, it’s an insurance to have a very good coffee to start each day. It’s a way to start each day by the best manner, whatever the day turns to be after it. To conclude, I’ll also say that all of this changed my life in a way. No I got what I want to do in life. Want to be a proper barista and keep rollin’. Bike touring and make coffee. Be happy and make people happy. Water : Probably the more unstable factor in this coffee making session. It’s crazy how the water can change a coffee cup taste. Although, on the road, it’s hard to chose sometimes, as you already happy to get water enough to survive. I try to keep in a designated bottle a water as clean and pure as possible and use it mainly for a coffee purpose. But yep, sometimes the water is so bad that I have to forget the idea of a sweet coffee on morning. It would be more wasting than anything else. Not stubborn enough yet. Small batches : As much as I can I try to got small batches. First of all it’s handy to get few different types of coffee, and also if I have to spare some coffee for quit some time, part of it stays in a sealed bag and stays as pure as possible till I need it. It’s also easier to pack and hide between clothes or fill up some stuffs. Possible improvement : This system is far from being perfect. It’s hard to accept but if I want something even better, I’ll not need more than this, but different types of. Heavier and bulkier. And I don’t want. It’s a non permanent kit, so it moves with the time, with what I discover and what I find, what I have access to. To know : I know all of this sounds a bit overkill. And loads of solutions are available to get a decent coffee without this system and this process. I just consider that there is no excuse for bad coffee as soon as somebody says that he loves coffee. While digging a bit, you’ll always find out. We are rarely further than 2 months away from a good coffee shop. (Really approximative calculation) Is a lot of coffee extraction system, of coffee types. With a few efforts we can easily step out of the rough black socket juice you can find on supermarket shelves. And buying and drinking this coffee, you also participate to keep alive craftsmanship. More than that, roasters are clearly artists. Them and the farms who try to get the best of coffee despite of what it costs. It makes people living decently, those people I crossed path already. Laos, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Thailand, Brazil, Tanzania, So yep, long live to good coffees.


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