Dear future Shep,
If you ever, ever, ever get the cockamamie idea to leave your coffee kit at home Again when you travel, I Shep Past, will personally come to the future and kick your sorry, caffeine-starved ass to the ground, where I will then hold you down, force open your mouth and pour down your throat an entire cup of Folgers Black Silk Dark Roast that has been sitting on the hot plate of a middle Georgia Exxon Station for 3 days!
I’m not sure why I got the crazy idea to leave my coffee kit at home. It’s not like I didn’t have room for it. All it is is a Jetboil, a folding Snow Peak cone filter holder, come filters, a Porlex hand grinder, scales…and fresh, quality coffee. No, really, it doesn’t take much room. But, alas, in my quest for expanding my coffee horizons by not being so snobby and trying other people’s brew, I subjected myself to one of life’s worst tragedies; specialty coffee withdrawal…and it was not a pretty sight
Day 1: I tried using the k-cup in my room. It was horrible. No, really. It wasn’t even hot. And it was too weak, so I went to the lobby and got a cup of Holiday Inn’s best. It was light years ahead of the Keurig cup…and it wasn’t very good. I’m starting to see why my wife doesn’t like coffee. If I had to drink this I would switch to tea. However, I did have a backup plan:
Day 2: I have a headache. I hear there is a bakery in town that serves, in their words, the best locally roasted organic Coffee in town. Sign me up! When I pulled up I thought, “looks like a cool place. Just might be my lucky day,”
It wasn’t. Before I stepped through the door I could smell that smell; the unmistakable aroma of real butter, and lots of it, folded into dough, filled with sugar and baked. At one time that would have sounded good to me. These days not so much. Kind of turns my stomach to tell the truth. And when I walked in the door I had all sorts of flashbacks. Kind of like a bad acid trip. It was like I stepped into the Hot Tub Time Machine and came out in 1976 at a dirty, hippy coffee house in Dunkirk Square on Kirkwood Avenue. My hopes faded. The young, fit Yuppie couple in front of me orders one of everything in the case. I thought it ironic. Maybe they thought that because it was organic then all of that fat and sugar would not turn their arteries into a traffic jam rivaling Louisville’s Spaghetti Junction at 6:00 pm on a Friday afternoon.
My hopes were fading but I saw the coffee offering of the day was Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffee. Dare I hope? I am sorry to say the hotel coffee was better. Who in their right mind would take this delicate Flower of a coffee and roast it deep into second crack? I poured it out…and got another headache.
Day 3: The Lake House. The whole purpose of this trip was to attend a friend’s wedding in South Carolina. I know there are a couple good shops in Greenville but the downtown was insane because of an art fair so I immediately gave up on the idea of stopping at one of them. I might have had a half cup of coffee that entire day. Headache on top of headache. So much so that I left the party early and went to bed.
Today: I woke up at the lake house earlier than everyone else. That’s not unusual. Lori and I get up very early during the week: like 3:45-4:15. I didn’t want to wake anyone up by making coffee and I had no idea what they had anyway so I resigned myself to another day without my fix. But Bill, the groom, woke up early too and proceeded to make a pot. I don’t know what it was but at this point in my journey I was in no place to be choosy; I needed coffee! I had two cups.
I ended up at a hotel in Asheville tonight and my desire for a cup of freshly roasted coffee was bordering obsessive. Just so happens the hotel is next door to an Earth Fare grocery. I looked at the pot in the room; a real, 4 cup pot, not a Keurig. That gave me an idea. I headed to the store and began to search to see if they had any locally roasted coffee that was fresh. They did! Actually, the fresher bag was Counter Culture, a well know wholesale roaster here in North Carolina. So I bought it. But it’s whole bean and I didn’t want to grind the entire bag at the store, as it would all stale quickly, so I started looking for a grinder (sensing my obsession yet?). They had a Bodum blade grinder but it was kind of pricey so I didn’t buy it…at first.
I took the coffee and headed back to the room to regroup. Maybe I could crush the beans with the heal of my motorcycle boot! Once I got to the room I realized that I also had no filters for this pot since the coffee comes in a pouch. Back to the store I went. This time for the grinder and filters. Just like an alcoholic, I justified my purchase like this: the $4 I spent on the filters I have no further use for was about what I paid for the bad cup of coffee I had the day before. And the grinder? I mean I have lots of grinders at home, all costing hundreds of dollars, how could I justify this? Well, I use a hand grinder at work every day to make my coffee and I’ve been thinking about getting a cheap blade grinder for work. Especially when my co-worker heard me whirling away on the hand crank and stuck his head around the corner to see what I was up to. He said he thought I must really like pepper!
Of course I don’t have my portable scales so I had to guess how much coffee to grind, but I was willing to take my chances. I brewed a pot, went outside to the fire pit and let the drugs take me away. It was an emotional experience. Hey, don’t judge!