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 legitimate 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 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 explosive aroma of 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 in a treat
Lucky Roland’s Coffee Experience du Van, one big treat!