5:45am. Some of us (!) are awake drinking coffee or tea on deck. It pays to wake up early to enjoy the sunlight dancing softly on the atoll, before the heat of the day. These glassy, windless days begin like a watercolor painting! Soft, pearly tones cover the sky, and the clouds light up like frivolous strokes of the artist’s brush.
Not everyone is bright & bushy-tailed at this hour. So we ended up with 3 forms of making coffee on Aldebaran, to cover the bases. Of course, lots of tea gets made; but in the honor of Jonathan’s daily ritual, let’s explore our 3 options of making decent coffee, expensive, energy intensive machines:
#1 – French Press is the go-to bulk approach if more than 1-2 people are drinking coffee. The preferred approach is to grind the beans fresh, which takes just 20 seconds. The coffee grounds steep in the water for 5 minutes then are gently pressed. I am partial to this approach over drip coffee; I’m not sure why.
#2 – For 1 serving, we sometimes make Aeropress coffee, which has a cleaner robust taste. Thanks to Hamid, back in the Panama days of 2016, for leaving this amazing contraption behind with us. It takes no extra power, just special filters and boiling water. The coffee grounds don’t steep in this case, rather they are immediately pressed at a higher pressure (by hand).
#3 – The closest option to espresso is Percolator coffee, which is a genius Italian stainless steel contraption: it heats up on your stovetop, and pushes steam UP through the coffee grounds, and the liquid condenses on on the top container. This is pretty strong stuff and can make a mean cappuccino. Unless you have iron vessels of a true Italian, you’ll want to add hot water to dilute this.
When my dad Bob came aboard he brought a high quality hand grinder for the beans, along with a manual espresso maker (no power, just add hot water and pump). This made even stronger, richer coffee. Maybe he can remind us the name of this device.
I hear that back home people are paying lots of money for fancy coffees. Jonathan, who is a regular in SB’s French Press coffeeshop, reports that cold-press, nitro, and what is it— artisanal coffee? — are fetching $7-9 a cup. Wow. Is it possible to make all this stuff with just a stove top? Without thousand dollar machines, even let’s say while camping? Share your best coffee making hacks in the comments below 🙂