Coffee – nectar of the gods

In life, there are two kinds of people: those who choose to drink coffee, and those that don’t. I’ firmly in the former category, and a good coffee is one of life’s essentials to me.

Coffee is a rich source of caffeine, which is common knowledge. Perhaps less commonly known is what caffeine does to our bodies. It’s a highly deceptive chemical, and caffeine molecules are tiny, so passthrough into your bloodstream quickly. Once in your bloodstream, caffeine mimics a compound called adenosine, which makes you feel more awake. It’s also linked to increased levels of dopamine (which makes you feel good) and adrenaline, which perks you up.

All of these benefits, plus more, from a simple drink. And you thought magic beans weren’t real!

Caffeine, like all things, should be consumed in moderation, and too much of it can have serious health impacts, including severe heart palpitations, and more, but in moderation, it also offers health benefits. The sweet spot for most people seem to be between two to four cups of coffee per day, depending on how strong the coffee is.

If you’re a coffee lover, no warnings from me about any possible health risks will put you off coffee,

and as a fellow coffee lover, I understand that only too well.

Cycling is (often) closely linked with coffee, and many cyclists pick café stops based on how good the coffee is. That’s great, but when cycle touring, your options are often far more limited, as there may not be a café around, and even if there is, they might not serve a decent cup of coffee.

Obviously, that means if you want coffee, you’ll have to make your own, and here’s where the debate can sometimes get a tad heated. You see, everyone has different ideas around what constitutes “good coffee”.

Some people will happily drink instant coffee, while others gasp at the very suggestion. This post isn’t about which is best – life is all about compromises, and you’ll have to find the compromise that fits in best with your preferences.

Your  options
I’ll be straight here and tell you that your options are limited, and starts with instant coffee. If you’re happy to drink instant, then you’re all sorted, as it’s easy to store, and easy to use – all you need to do is (almost) boil some water.

If you want to use ground coffee, life becomes a bit more complex. Realistically, when cycle touring or cycle camping, you really only have three options: a V60 dripper, a (hopefully stainless steel) cafetiere, or an Aeropress.

A V60 dripper is easy enough: pop it on top of a mug, insert a fresh filter, add coffee grounds, then add the desired amount of hot (not boiling) water. Within a minute or two, the water will have dripped through into the cup as freshly-brewed coffee. Cleaning is easy, too: remove the filter, taking care not to spill the grounds, and pop into the carrier bag you use for all your rubbish (yes, coffee grounds count as litter, so take it away with you!) before giving it a quick rinse.

A cafetiere is even easier to use: scoop the desired amount of ground coffee in, add hot (not boiling) water, wait as long as your taste buds prefer, then push down the plunger, and pour into a mug. Cafetieres have built-in metal filters, but – when camping in the middle of nowhere – cleaning them is more tricky, and certainly requires more water.

My personal favourite is an Aeropress – they’re super-easy to use, and produce good coffee. Afterwards they eject the used grounds like an ice-hockey puck, and simply require a quick rinse to clean.

Make sure you read my review of the AeroPress’ little sibling, the AeroPress Go!

Some people also use a small mokka pot, which makes an excellent espresso, but can require significantly more water to clean.

Should you want a posher cup of coffee, your options for frothing milk is mainly limited to using a cafetiere. Warm the milk (another benefit of using a stainless steel cafetiere is you don’t need to warm the milk in a different container) then simply plunge it a few times, to end up with surprisingly frothy milk.

I’ve been told of a totally different coffee-making option that’s very unusual, and that I’ve never heard of: the Bripe (short for Brew Pipe).
You can read all about it here:

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