How do we make Coffee onboard?

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 🙂

12 thoughts on “How do we make Coffee onboard?

  1. Fave coffee: wake up early, smell the delicious aroma of coffee beans. Boil water, take out Tea forte brand Earl Grey, steep moderately, spot of honey and milk… perfect start to the day.

  2. Oh,oh! I can’t even comment on the subject…
    I have never, I do not and I probably will never drink coffee. Just don’t like it.
    I feel like an outcast !

    • Same here…no coffee, none…nada! I don’t like the smell either but a good black tea with cream and sweetener in the morning is heavenly!

      • I’ve been moving towards this… Coffee gives me the jitters since I’m not used to it [in life]. I can take L-Theonine to drop the cardiovascular uptick, but then, tea already has L-Theonine in it so why bother with the coffee…
        But sometimes I still go for it. I don’t know why😆

  3. Susie can’t comment, so I will. The portable brewing method I brought on board is probably the best of half a dozen that have finally aced out the long reigning portable, manually operated Aeropress. Aeropress makes excellent coffee, but lacking the conventional, minimum 9 bar pressure it cannot brew real espresso. That’s where the excellent manual, portable Nanopresso comes in. Producing up to 18 bar pressure by hand, it makes true espresso with plenty of ‘crema’ on top. For grinding beans, we opted for a portable, manual little burr grinder. It outperforms electric grinders which tend to shave the beans, rather than fully grind them. The one we use is the very portable, 20gr 1Presso Mini or the larger, 35gr 1Presso Pro, top quality clones of a $240 European manual grinder.

      • Hey Brian, how are you? For caffeine jitters, a little counterintuitive info in case helpful. Espresso, contrary to conventional wisdom, produces LESS caffeine than any other brewing method. The high pressure of espresso brewing, plus heat, forces the coffee to brew much more quickly. With high pressure (minimum 9 bar) the grind can be in contact with hot water for less time. Shorter brewing time means less time for caffeine to reach the coffee brew. One caveat: The better the espresso machine, whether manual/portable, electric or hydraulic, the less caffeine and the better espresso experience. Try it!

  4. You don’t even make Turkish Coffee, or if you are Greek, it is Greek Coffee. You you are missing an excellent very strong coffee. In what used to be Yugoslavia it is called Turkish Coffee. What ever country they make in, they put their own name on it, but it came from Turkey.

    • Agree, your Turkish Coffee is the best! It can be for others, too. Most- but not all- is due to the right grind. For example, my usual brewing method prioritizes espresso with plenty of ‘crema’, with maybe a splash of milk. It employs a finer grind than any other brewing method. Except Turkish, for which you just reduce the size of the grind from espresso’s ‘salt’ consistency to ‘powdery’. This is where a good grinder comes in- and a little extra manual effort.

      BTW, my preferred ‘bulk’ method is option #3 “Percolator”, usually called the Italian Method in contrast with option #1 French Press. However, French Press allows the coffee to cool too much during brewing. Other than for subjective flavor differences, coffee from the “Percolator” or Italian Method that I prefer can be served at once. Still hot.

  5. Unless Leo disagrees…. Turkish is “Cowboy Coffee”. That is….
    Boil the grounds in water. Pour. (Except for the sludge on the bottom!)

    The difference between the two is that coffee must be ground even finer for Turkish than for Expresso.
    Like normal “salt” for Espresso. “Powdery” for Turkish.

    Easy. Did I get that right, Leo? Enjoy!

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