In July of this year I took to the roads and campsites of Victoria and NSW for a 4000km Espresso Unplugged road trip. Before the trip, a team brainstorming session resulted in the idea of “Where’s your kitchen today?”. We posed that with the right equipment, it shouldn’t matter where your kitchen is – you should be able to make coffee that’s as good as the $4 latte you’d find at a hip inner city cafe. This provided some of the inspiration for my road trip. The idea of brewing and drinking awesome coffee in remote and beautiful locations is pretty good motivation.
There’s no reason you should have to rough it when you’re camping. It also doesn’t have to cost a fortune to bring comfort and convenience to your outdoor adventure. Some might suggest that this is a soft approach, and perhaps they’re right. That being said, I think George Washington Sears summed it up extremely well:
“We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks—anywhere that we may be placed—with the necessity always present of being on time and up to our work; of providing for the dependent ones; of keeping up, catching up, or getting left.”
“And to these I would say, don’t rough it; make it as smooth, as restful and pleasurable as you can.”
For me, a limiting factor for taking my coffee off-the-grid has been the issue of steaming milk. The Bellman stovetop milk steamer solved this issue and I’m now able to make sensational lattes wherever my kitchen is. The Bellman was the missing piece of the puzzle. Teamed with the ROK and a Porlex grinder, we now have the ultimate off-road coffee kit.
Some folks suggested the middle of Winter is perhaps not the best time for camping, but I beg to differ. I had a fantastic trip with awesome off-the-grid coffee to keep me warm along the way. I wondered whether the extremely cold weather would affect my coffee making, but even in a frost, the Bellman was at full steam in 15 minutes by which time I had boiled the billy, ground coffee, dosed and loaded my pre-heated ROK, ready for action. After the first coffee it takes less than five minutes to be locked and loaded, at full steam, ready to bang out another latte (and another, and another).
One advantage of Winter camping is that I had quite a few campsites to myself. I came across a few really spectacular camping locations on my trek. The choice camps were up at Copmanhurst in Northern NSW and at Tamboon Inlet on the South-East coast of Victoria. At Tamboon I had a couple of pelicans and an extremely old wombat keep me company as the sun came up. Sitting by rivers and lakes in the stillness of the morning, sipping coffee (of course) as the sun rises at your back. Oh no! Now I’m feeling homesick for camp. Coming home is quite an adjustment. Getting out into nature is an important and effective antidote to the wear and tear of urban living.
Roasting coffee on my Whirley Pop, by the river in Copmanhurst was another highlight. It was my first attempt with the Whirley Pop, but was still immensely satisfying. I was pretty proud of my baked and scorched roast of Tanzanian coffee. It took only to two or three more attempts with the Whirley Pop to get the method down. More off-the-grid coffee magic.
Regardless of where your kitchen is today, there’s no reason you can’t “smooth it” and enjoy great coffee anywhere. You can now create your own off-the-grid coffee kit with our ROK bundle builder, available on all of our websites:
New Zealand: http://presso.co.nz/rok-bundle
USA / International: http://espressounplugged.com/rok-bundle