Seven years of homesteading have shown me that most of life is spent on domestic issues related to food and drink. Mikey and I savor the details when it comes to figuring out how to get the greatest amount of pleasure from food. We are coffee lovers and admit to consuming heroic doses of caffeine. On the road, caffeine keeps us alert and safe. A mighty cup of Joe can even produce blasts of creative inspiration and epiphanies. We devised what we believe to be a near-perfect travel kit and system for making hot- and cold-brewed java while traveling.
GEAR: One super-cute, avocado-green, vintage, plastic, shoe-box-size fishing tackle box (50 cents at yard sale) contains: AeroPress for making single cups of coffee ($25 new), metal thermometer (50 cents at yard sale), Hario hand-crank coffee grinder ($30 new), TDS meter for testing water ($20), long sundae spoon for stirring (50 cents at yard sale), coffee beans roasted at home* using a Poppery II popcorn popper from a yard sale (beans $5/lb, roaster $2).
COLD TODDY: Toddy is a system for making cold-brew coffee, which has a nice, smooth taste. It is easy to make on the road because all you need is ground coffee, water, a vessel, and a filter. When traveling, we make a fresh batch daily. Simply add 1.5 cups of ground coffee to a half-gallon Mason jar filled with fresh water. Shake and let sit 24 hours before filtering. Chill. Yes, it is that easy.
HOT COFFEE: Grind bean in hand grinder and place in the AeroPress that is turned upside down on your work surface. Heat water to 175 degrees (temperature is important) measured with a metal thermometer, stir with long sundae spoon, place Aero cap on with its filter in place, and turn right side up over a mug before slowly pressing to strain.
TIPS: Use a TDS meter to determine how many nonwater molecules are in the water coming from the tap you plan to use. As a rule we choose not to drink water with more than 200ppm (parts per million) nonwater molecules. Hot water can be found free of charge at truck stops, where it is regularly on hand for tea. AeroPress paper filters can be washed and reused five times or more. Fair-trade organic green coffee beans can be purchased online for less than half the price of roasted coffee and roasted in a thrift-shop popcorn maker.
EPIPHANIES: If you are lucky enough to have one, you probably drank too much coffee. You might as well catch the spark. Some of my best ideas have come this way! So grab a pen and paper and write it down.
*A NOTE ON ROASTING: We favor Poppery I and Poppery II for coffee roasting, but any poppers with a perforated metal cylinder will do. Roast time is approximately 8 minutes. If you melt the plastic top, just put a cardboard box over the whole rig to prevent chafe from flying out. Always brew outdoors. When finished, cool the beans in a metal strainer for 24 hours to prevent acids that will upset your belly. Video instructions:
More from Wendy Jehanara Tremayne at PowellsBooks.Blog:
- Dodging Sysco
- Wildcrafting the Northwest
- Make Good
- They Had a Broken Keyboard; I Bought a Broken Keyboard: Thrift, the New Museum
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Wendy Tremayne was a creative director in New York City before moving to New Mexico, where she built an off-the-grid oasis with her partner, Mikey Sklar. She is the founder of the textile repurposing event Swap-O-Rama-Rama, a conceptual artist, a yogi, a gardener, and a writer. The Good Life Lab is her first book.
Books mentioned in this post
Wendy Jehanara Tremayne is the author of The Good Life Lab: Radical Experiments in Hands-On Living