There's no doubt a cup of coffee is an end itself.
The result of hard, focused work conducted by exceptional farmers and producers at origin, followed by informed and consistent roasting, before considered, conscientious brewing, there really is no end to the rabbit holes that can be fallen down in the pursuit of creating an ever-improving cup of coffee. It's why we spend each day of the working week focused on the plethora of data and details, which help us to produce the best cup of coffee possible.
However, coffee can also be a means to an end.
From the ten minutes we take for ourselves over our morning brew, to aligning plans and finally meeting up with some old friends, coffee frequently acts as the backdrop to balance in your life. Allowing us to carve out time in our increasingly busy days for that moment of control, or a platform to bring people together, it can be an excuse.
It was undoubtedly the catalyst for our latest expedition. Born out of a conversation over a couple of cappuccinos with Jordan, friend and owner of wholesale partner G!RO, we continued to exchange emails and phone calls until we found ourselves in Esher, Surrey, our bikes fully-loaded with everything we needed for a weekend of cycling, brewing and sleeping in the wild.
With brewing hardware readily accessible, our small team of four departed, quickly leaving roads and tarmac behind in favour of loose-packed gravel and lumpy single-track paths. The sound of traffic was replaced by the melody of idle conversation and a continuous, comforting chorus of clanking enamel cups and pots; suspended from the back of our bike luggage, they knocked together as they rolled with the ditches and divots of the North Downs Link.
Our focus was on exploration, rather than destination, so the ability to stop and brew up when and where we wished lent itself perfectly to the style of riding; another excuse to take a touch more time and appreciate the places we were passing through.
The first brew method, a simple V60, played into this. With involved and repetitive actions, the pourover process -- pour, bloom, pause, steady concentric circles, pause, stir, serve -- drew the group in. Providing us with a few more minutes in our beautiful brewing spot, the calming preparation and resulting cup of Githembe acted as a remedy to the hard kilometres already covered on the challenging and unpredictable terrain.
The second stop was for Cowboy Coffee -- the most basic of immersion methods that simply involves bringing a large jug of water to the boil, adding ground coffee, stirring and waiting. Being so hands-off, the two most important rules to adhere are to exercise patience, easy when you have the people and the surroundings to distract you, and pour gently, to minimise grounds in the cup. Obviously less refined than the erudite, ritual-driven V60, we drank in both our surroundings and the delicious Andrés Reyes Hernandez. Happy and content, this journey to nowhere in particular provided us with exactly what was needed.
You can read more detail for each method in our Brewing In The Wild piece here. You can also see what we took with us, along with several tips and more photographs from the weekend, below.
What We Packed:
A Camping Stove: we used MSR's Whisperlite Universal, a hybrid fuelled backpacking stove that not only packs down incredibly small but is wonderfully simple to operate.
A V60 2-Cup Clear Dripper Set: this plastic 2-Cup V60 is light and robust, making it perfect for putting into your bag. Just make sure you don't forget your filter papers.
A Coffee Measuring Spoon: when packing light, scales can be excessive, but that doesn't mean you can't still work to a recipe. Our wooden Coffee Measuring Spoon holds 17g of coffee, so we can always be confident in our coffee/water ratio.
Enamel Pots: Depending on how you're brewing, you'll need at least one vessel to boil your water in, and two if you're planning on making a pourover.
Two Bags of Coffee: The morning we left, we ground two bags of freshly roasted coffee for our chosen brewing methods. Ensuring they were well-sealed, we knew we'd brew all 500g within 36 hours, so the contents would remain relatively fresh throughout.
Special thanks to Jordan Addison from G!RO for his help in putting the weekend together and his photos; Curve Cycling for providing their ever-reliable bikes; and George Galbraith from Jam Cycling for sharing his company and photos