“Could I get a real coffee mug and a glass, please?” I asked politely.
“I’m sorry, we don’t have those here.”
For the five seconds or so of silence while my brain was compiling that obtuse information I must have looked like some gape-mouthed fool while stuttering “But, but…” as I motioned to the area where what they call breakfast is served.
I’ve been skipping around the outer reaches that is the gravitational suck of the wormhole of coffee dweebdom for decades. I bought a Chemex while in college which made that can of Chock Full of Nuts marginally better. Then I bought a whirling blade grinder because it was cheap and any type of beans I could find and grind had to be better than that can of Yuban I tried a while back in order to find any kind of coffee flavor beyond Maxwell House bad flavor.
I don’t think I’ve ever owned a more dependable device than that Braun whirling blade grinder as the thing, over 20 years later, will not quit. I’ve used this grinder with my electric drip makers, my Chemex and then when I bought a French press, I could see how it didn’t produce a uniform grind but rather a mishmash of pulverized grounds so I told myself I loved chewy coffee from the French press. I kind of actually do.
Fortunately for me, there have been artisanal coffee roasters where I live for over 30 years and I indulged in seasonal products from around the world. Tanzanian Peaberry over that can of Folgers? Hell yes, I say!
In case you’re wondering, I prefer the darker, meatier roasted Indonesian beans. Sumatra and Sulawesi beans, come to me!
Whatever your interests/hobbies may be, there are internet forums that dive into minutia on those subjects. Imagine my surprise when lurking around coffee forums and I learned of the abject horrors I’d been inflicting upon the innocent coffee bean with my whirling blade grinder.
This lead to my researched purchase of a conical burr grinder. Even the cheapest machines aren’t cheap, however, I’ll admit that the coffee from my French press tastes much better from beans ground by my Baratza Encore conical burr grinder than from my Braun blade grinder. Hell, all the coffee I make tastes better from that burr grinder. It’s all in the uniformity of the grind, something a whirling blade grinder just cannot do.
Why do I go to all this work? I love good coffee. I love coffee with flavor but there’s no way in hell I’ll ever consume a “flavored” coffee. I like coffee in my coffee and nothing else.
I’m not one to spring out of bed and be on the go immediately, I want some time to ease into the day. I like the daily ritual of grinding some beans and thinking about how I want to brew today’s coffee. I like the aroma.
I love good coffee but there is an aspect of coffee I don’t really enjoy and that is to linger in a coffee shop. I can make coffee at home much cheaper and I’ll probably enjoy it more although I cannot make an espresso drink as I don’t have an espresso maker and good ones are very expensive.
I don’t want to spend $10 and wait 15 minutes while some waifish, pouty, tatted-up “barista” conjures up my pour-over coffee. Give it to me from that thermal urn and in that paper cup, thank you, as this isn’t coffee for me to contemplate over something/anything.
I do some mild regional traveling for my job and I’ve always packed a bit of ground coffee and various filters including a reusable Keurig basket, not knowing what sort of coffee maker may be in the rooms. Where ever I stay, if the room doesn’t have them I always ask for a real coffee mug and a glass and there’s never been a problem, if not a quizzical eye cast my way, until very recently.
“I’m sorry, sir, we don’t have those here” was uttered recently by the front desk attendant at a location of a well known chain of hotels.
This was the last fucking straw.
I’m the idiot in this situation; I need to take my own coffee rig when I travel.
Careful, dear reader, here again is a very strong wormhole of coffee-dom to get caught up in; The Coffee Travel Rig.
No, I’m not taking a portable burr grinder with me. No, I’m not taking a scale with me. No, I’m not taking a pour-over thingie with me in a custom made leather bag, although I might, if I could.
I’m done with relying on hotel coffee makers and all the hard water scaling within to make my morning beverages. I’m done fabricating a filter for the cheapest of hotel room single cup makers. I’m done searching hotel websites to get a glimpse of the coffee maker from the room images. I had all the supplies necessary to make my own rig, with the exception of heated water and the interwebz, along with Sunday delivery, made that wonderfully possible.
My traveling coffee rig consists of a Bonavita electric kettle. This kettle is great, although I wish it had a separate base like it’s larger siblings. I have an Aeropress and I can’t recommend it enough. Just buy one and do yourself a favor and skip right to the “inversion” method of brewing.
I have small Mason jars that will hold enough coffee that I’ll grind the day before. I already have a suitable coffee mug and my beer glass is a Mason Jar that did hold fantastic homemade rhubarb jam from my aunt. The responsibility to carry these supplies rests upon a cooler than fuck burgundy Samsonite Series 3600 train case that has been sitting around for years, waiting for a task.
I’ll be testing this rig very soon and I can’t wait.