Coffee in the Woods
Snapshots of camping trips buzz warmly through my mind. The chirps, and chortles of songbirds waking early. The tiny scream of the tent zipper being dragged across its well-worn tracks. Stepping out, the morning dew dripping from leaves to grass, intermittently pattering on the taut, drum-tight, rain fly. In that transitory time as night rotates to day before fellow campers awake. It isn't silence, but peaceful seclusion, a communion with nature. You begin the primal, flame-borne ritual, brewing your espresso over coals of yesterday to complete the liturgy.
Whew yea, I love that moment. Just writing about it gives me the urge, the craving to set up my tent in my backyard tonight. Camping is relaxing, just like brewing coffee can be. These two together form the ideal morning.
I've had a few tried of making coffee while camping. Most ended with me buying one of those jugs of Starbucks cold brew at the grocery store. My first try was with a percolator given to me by my mother-in-law. Over the coals from the night before it was carefully placed. Sticks gathered and placed beneath, while campers waited with groggy eyes. And waited. And waited. I think someone cheered at the first bubble seen from the clear top.
The first was the last. Even switching to the camping stove produced similar results. My second attempt followed similar patterns, just with a different version of that percolator.
While visiting Yellowstone, we stopped by Cody, WY I believe. There is a hiking shop, whose owner hung out and chatted with us as if time wasn't valuable. An appreciated favor for someone looking at getting into ultra-lightweight hiking.
While chatting I caught the gleam of something. A chrome-looking contraption with a small tub-like base, with a long skinny tube coming up and curving back over to point down into a small cup. This tube had an insulating wrap, that I assumed was to keep heat in, but also seemed to be in the perfect place to get wrap your hand or fingers around.
It was a small, one-shot brewing, espresso machine! I examined this new machine, as we all know, I have been disappointed before. I could see that it would take much heat to get this hot enough to work. The metal was thin, but not in a cheap way.
I would not have a chance to use my purchase for a good while. My fast was broken on a trip to the Smokey Mountains. While camping at the Cherokee KOA in North Carolina. As I sat outside at the picnic table, with the river just steps away. (This campsite was maybe one of the closest I have ever camped to a river). I was able to test this curious coffee curio.
As a suspected, it didn't take long for the little thing to heat up and sputter out a thick, full-bodied shot of espresso. I was so excited, I saw with my oversized hands gripped around an undersized cup feeling like a giant ready to grind some bones (beans). Fantastic, beautiful, flavor.
I really enjoyed my time with this brewer, even if it happens to be the only way I've successfully brewed while camping. The name of it is the GSI Minispresso, while writing this article I discovered it also comes in a 4 cup version. I had 1 cup. Although without testing it I can't confirm it's as easy.