In Ecuador, a kind man gave us a bag of his finest coffee and I became hooked while writing We Will Be Free, without my daily fix I was a grumpy twat but then I discovered that hot, sweet coffee is dispensed, free, at gas stations in Colombia. Because our “on the road” routine is so varied, it is difficult to settle into a decent coffee routine. Usually I drink it if I remember to.
But, it was while we were converting our Defender into a live-in camper that I truly understood why Americans drink so much coffee. You see, intelligent people do these kinds of builds in fully equipped workshops, with plenty of time and readily available resources. We did the opposite and always had a deadline of some sort – a plane or ship to catch, the end of a housesitting gig, an overlander show in Germany. We worked ten, sometimes sixteen-hour days. We had to fabricate everything, Keelan (my son) and I trying to find solutions for complex problems using limited resources and tools. It was extremely hard work and sometimes we simply ran out of ideas and motivation. The following is an imagined advertising agency pitch I dreamed up some time after my coffee revelation.
Bearded, gruff and grey dad; ponytailed, blonde and tall son are working together on a Defender, fabricating a lock box for tools. Both are sitting on workshop stools, muscular, drop dead gorgeous, covered in denim and plaid and strategically placed grease, running out of ideas.
“Lets have some coffee, son”.
Son uses a perfect hand to strike a dramatic match and light a retro gas stove. He places a picturesque kettle on the blue flame. Mumford and Sons plays in the background. The water boils, son uses the Wacaco coffee machine and a tanned muscular arm to pump out a couple espresso, dad sits manly sexy, out of focus in the background, deep in thought, Defender looking purposeful behind him. Son hands dad the coffee. Dad drinks, son drinks, damn, them boys are men! Dad begins to smile. “I’ve got it”. Dad uses a plank of wood over sheet metal to hand bend the perfect tool box. The Doors, Break on Through plays on the radio. “Wacaco, coffee is inspiration”.
No-one said it was a great pitch. But the story is true. When we were gassed and running out of ideas we would have a cup of coffee and the caffeine would reignite the brain resulting in ideas, this is why Americans have the best ideas, coffee truly is inspiration. Wacaco sent me a message on Instagram – “Hey, do you like coffee?”. “No coffee imma grumpy bitch”. I responded. The response seemed to confuse them a bit, it was late and I had not had any coffee. “Yes, I love coffee”. They sent me a Wacaco Minipresso machine and, well, I fell in love. The machine, not much larger than a large handful, arrived in a zip-up hard case. You unscrew the top of the machine and fill a small filter cup with ground coffee and screw the top back on, then unscrew and fill the lower cup with hot water. Screw the cup back on, release the pump mechanism, flip the little machine and pump over the little espresso cup which clips on top of the lower cup. A few seconds later you have an inspiring, delicious little espresso. Boom. Day improves, ideas flow, shit gets done!
I am a Defender man, I appreciate practical design and built quality, I am also an overlander and I love any piece of gear which is light, compact, well-built and serves a purpose. My only gripe with the Nanopresso is that it is not KTM orange (the six detachable parts would be easier to locate in a cluttered camper if they were brightly coloured) and it delivers a relatively small espresso. That said, the Nanopresso is going with me wherever I go from now on, providing inspiration when this old brain has run out of the big ideas, big dreams demand.
I am not a coffee connoisseur at all, a girlfriend introduced me to cappuccino when I was 19 and I had no idea how to add the three spoons of sugar. I know very little about cheese either, but that is a story for another time. Growing up we drank Ricoffy and when we were feeling larney we would have a cup of Frisco, mmm creamy (both Ricoffy and Frisco are South African, chicory heavy, instant coffee). As a kid I would watch those American movies where they would pour their coffee black from a glass jar and never lock their cars. I wondered why those cars were never stolen and why they did not add milk and sugar, though sometimes they apparently added cream.