Ghetto Brew Magic
Making coffee in my van has become a feature in my top 5 ultimate leisure pastimes, possibly even top 3. There’s magic about the whole process that I just get such a good kick out of.
I have a whole section of wall devoted to coffee which I enjoy not only for its convenience but as something of a feature, a visual statement. Obviously I have a real passion for coffee. I don’t just mean drinking it, I have a real fascination of what I’ve observed to be a pretty bizarre global industry. I’ll ramble about that another time.
My coffee wall - my brew lab? Yep, my brew lab contains: hand grinder, 2-cup pourover dripper, 1-cup pourover dripper, Kone dripper, Clever dripper, unbleached filter papers, Stagg kettle, 1L stainless jug, tea infuser, 2 x double-walled thermal cup. And of course a bag of fresh single origin light roast in constant rotation from whatever we’re selling at TSE.
I bought myself a new kettle recently and gee whiz the coffee nerd in me froths on it. My brewing experience has been amplified to new decibels of enjoyment since getting it. In-built analogue thermometer, counterweighted handle, gooseneck spout, laser-cut tip, it’s bells and whistles galore. Aside from these embarrassingly obscure specifications, it best of all sits very comfortably on my alcohol burner, quickly heating water to a perfect 92 degrees.
Usually I use one of the pourover drippers. They are a unique micro-mesh variant that I found in Japan, that don’t require filter papers - a rad bonus. My steps are as follows
1 Get water boiling
2 Assemble dripper and cup on bench
3 Adjust bench angle with foil wedges to make sure surface is flat
4 Grind a pinch of beans to purge old grinds from grinder
5 Grind 15g (or thereabouts)
6 Rinse dripper and preheat cup
7 Add ground coffee, brew in concentric circles
8 Take to sand dunes, watch surf
I usually have 1-2 coffees a day, but I try to avoid a specific daily rhythm so my brain doesn’t build an addictive pattern. For this reason I also try to take random breaks here and there, between 2 and 10 consecutive days off. I’ve never had a coffee “headache” from withdrawal or oversupply.
My method of brewing is a very sensory experience start to finish. The heat of the burner (and the occasional burn), the subtle smell of the whole beans, the crunch of the hand-crank, the explosion of aroma of the fresh grounds. Plentiful silence punctuated only by the sounds I make with my hands. Ridiculous as this may sound, it’s an immersive mindfulness experience. And all in the back of a bloody van! I can feel the ju-ju like static electricity just writing about it.
I don’t know exactly what, but my barista-sense tells me there is a little extra something in my ghetto van coffees, something perhaps yet undiscovered by science. Something I find noticeably absent in equivalent coffees produced mechanically without any human feel or intuition.
Brewing coffee within minutes of coming out of the surf is a treat. Sitting beneath the brew lab, reading a book or gazing at the view out the back doors with a coffee in hand is a treat. Pulling over on a long drive and quickly brewing a coffee before grabbing a snack and jumping back on the road is. a. treat.
Lucky Roland’s Coffee Experience du Van, just one big treat!