Something I have struggled to adapt to since we moved to Germany is the local preference for strong, darkly-roasted coffee beans. Outside of Berlin it is difficult to find locally-roasted fruitier, spicier and lighter-style beans that I prefer to use. This also means that the coffee in cafes and restaurants is almost always also super-dark and not really to my taste.
So, what to do when one is a devoted lover of coffee? When the day that starts with a lovely cup of coffee is a day that starts right? Well, one improvises.
At home, we order beans online from various roasteries around the country with some success. Our favourites at the moment are deliveries from The Barn and Five Elephant in Berlin and Vits in Munich. Hilariously, Vits have beans all the way from Australia and these are actually my favourites (although the most expensive that aren’t ‘novelty’ *ahem*catpoocoffee *ahem* beans). Coffee at home is made using the espresso machine or a Hario syphon, depending on the beans (espresso or filter).
An additional difficulty is that I often work four days of the week in a different city, living in a hotel room and far removed from the beloved Rocket and Hario. So, what to do now? One puts together a CoffeeKit to throw into one’s suitcase every week. After months of refining, my CoffeeKit has been streamlined and improved and currently looks like this:
There’s the essential Aeropress for making the coffee – I say essential because this is the coffee maker that changed my coffee-drinking life. It packs up small, it’s light, it’s super easy to use and it makes great coffee!
Second comes the porlex grinder – the best hand-grinder I’ve ever used, it’s ceramic, easily-adjustable and the little lid on top stops the beans jumping out while grinding (a problem I have experienced in other grinders).
Third is the Stanley thermos because once I have made the coffee I usually take it to work to drink over the morning. If you have a long or cold commute, a travel mug is simply not going to do the job of keeping your drink hot enough. This thermos never spills a drop even when it gets thrown around in a bike basket and the coffee stays just the right temperature.
The beans come next, although these can change from week to week. It usually takes me two or three weeks to finish a 250gm bag o’ beans (three mornings per week) and when I run low I simply hit up Vits to get a new bag delivered to the Packstation near the hotel. Vits, for example, usually delivers within 2-3 days.
Lastly, a new addition is the Aeropress Timer app which provides 9 different ‘recipes’ for brewing with the aeropress so you can choose what works for you and your beans. My favourite is the ‘Collective’ recipe from the Coffee Collective cafe in Copenhagen. This recipe uses a long brewing time and the inverted method for a flavourful and strong coffee.
This CoffeeKit goes with us on holiday sometimes (especially travelling through Germany) because it is simply so practical and easy to pack. Here’s a secret: you don’t even need to wash all the elements every time you use it! The Aeropress and thermos really only need a rinse after use! They can be washed properly later, when you get home.
Of course, it’s not a perfect system. I recently stayed in a different hotel and there was no electric kettle in my room so I couldn’t boil the required water. Well, in that situation I will humbly admit defeat and drink whatever is available, which only makes me appreciate the self-made drinks all the more!