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192. Trusty travel companions

2011-08-15 Comments Off on 192. Trusty travel companions

I have been spending a lot of time on the road lately.  I am currently on a three-week tour of CRS coffee programming in Colombia, Ecuador and Nicaragua that so far has included two police roadchecks in Colombia, a stop by an anti-narcotics official while walking across the Colombia-Ecuador border, a fender bender in Managua, sitting patiently in Quito while a police officer issued a ticket to my taxi driver for runinng a red light, and a lost bag on a flight from Panama to Nicaragua.  (And I still have a week in Bogotá and Cali ahead of me!)  These hiccups are just part of the routine.  And nothing can make up for the lost time with my family.  But I do have three trusted travel companions that take a bit of the sting out of spending so much time on the road, where good coffee can be hard to find.

Perhaps best gift I have gotten from my in-laws since they allowed me to marry their daughter.  The double stainless wall keeps the second cup of coffee hot while I drink the first.  When I first started traveling with this through Central American airports, I buried it in my carry-on and it always seemed to raise concern during the security screening.  Fortunately, the 12-oz. model is small enough to fit in the water bottle sack on my backpack so I don’t have to open my carry-on anymore when I go through the security screening.  It still piques the interest of the security agents, but only because they want to figure out if they can justify confiscating it for themselves on national security grounds.  (Pictured here against the Quito skyline.)

The precision timing of my brewing — and insistence on controlling the water temperature — has alternately been the cause of amusement and consternation in the hotels where I stay, but invariably people are impressed by the Intelli app, as sleek as everything else Intelligentsia does.  (The lush digital hardwood here pictured here against a real hardwood desk.)

Finally, this backpack bottle — another noteworthy gift, this time from my friends at Coffee Exchange in Providence — has been a miracle.  On those days when I rise with the sun to head to the field and return as it sets, the backpack bottle allows me to brew a good cup in the morning and drink it on the road in the afternoon.  Sure, letting your brewed coffee sit in a sealed stainless container for 7 hours doesn’t perhaps meet the highest standards for cup quality, but the backpack bottle keeps the coffee hot and manages to preserve some of its nuances for a long, long time.  When I drink from this in the afternoon, it is usually on a rutted road far from even the most awful cup of instant coffee.  And perhaps the best thing about backpack bottle is the rubber seal and metal hook that keeps every drop of the coffee inside and any nastiness outside.  I have dropped mine into rainy-season mudbanks, dry-season dustbeds and water tanks and every time opened to find the drinking surface dry and clean.


OK, so they don’t replace my wife and kids, but they are welcome companions on the road.