If all good things must come to an end, then it had to happen sooner or later. After 7 years and nearly 400 tips, DIY projects, yarns, and wordy expressions of opinion, we have decided to end our Monday posts and shut down the website. We will still be sharing tips and great information on our facebook page, and pictures of both the practical and eye candy variety on Instagram. So as we and technology move along, please move with us and like and follow us at either or both of those locations. And as always, feel free to swing by and say hi when you share an anchorage with Eurisko. Thanks for all the support. See you out there.

Coffee On Board

Date

It's here! My latest book, Years of Ideas from a Simple Sailor is now available on Amazon.

As big of a part of our lives as coffee is, I'm shocked I haven't done a post dedicated to coffee aboard before now. Though there are as many different ways to make, store, and enjoy coffee as there are coffee lovers, we strive to find the simplest, most fail-safe way to do everything.


We may have a coffee problem.

We only buy coffee beans, mostly because they store better without losing their flavor quite as quickly. Whole beans, of course, require a grinder. Being members of the "why use electricity if you don't need to" crowd, we naturally have a manual coffee grinder. Finding the exact one we wanted took far longer than it should have, but it seems that there are plenty of Chinese knock-offs out there, even when it comes to coffee grinders. But we finally found a high quality mill with ceramic gears (its most important feature) that fit our budget.

We grind the coffee beans while the water heats in the tea kettle on the propane stove. Once we open the bag of beans, we store the rest in a glass canister with a positive locking clamp lid. Because these containers don't store well, we only use them for staples that we keep handy in the convenient galley locker, not in the storage lockers.

We put the ground coffee in the French press, cover it with boiling water, and set a 5-minute timer. What type of French press we are using depends on how recently we were clumsy. We prefer a glass French press, and under normal circumstances, use it. However, since stuff happens, we also have a backup stainless steel French press that lives under the V berth, making an appearance only on the morning of (or after) we break a glass French press and each subsequent morning until we get around to buying another expendable glass version. While I much prefer the glass variety, it sure is comforting to know we have an unbreakable back up.

What happens at this point depends on our latitude. If we have suffered from amnesia and convinced ourselves that "winter isn't really that bad" and were gullible enough to believe ourselves, keeping the coffee warm while it brews may call for drastic measures. One technique is a Celotex sleeve we made out of leftovers from an interior insulation project a decade or so ago. But thankfully our memories haven't suffered any lapses lately and we haven't had to endure the nasty "W" word in northern climes, so keeping the coffee warm while it brews is not an issue. We do, however, still try to keep it warm after it has brewed. For this, we use a Nissan thermos given to us by some former customers. (It really is THAT good!)

Because I'm such a temperature snob (about my weather and my coffee) I have a coffee cup with a lid to help keep the contents warm. Of course, the original lid matched the cup, but when my captain/husband/carpenter broke it, you made me a new teak version that works just as well.


Winter coffee measures

When we leave an area where we know we can get good coffee and venture into those places where you just never know, we stock up, like we do on everything. We spent 4 months in the Bahamas before we had to find "good" coffee again. Good luck. Short of paying $15 for 11 ounces (When did "pounds" of coffee become 11 ounces??) there was no good coffee to be had. In fact, there were very few choices for whole beans at all. We suffered through the rest of the time we were there, knowing we'd be back in the US (-ish) soon. But once we got to St. Croix, our troubles weren't over. Here, whole bean choices abound. The problem is finding a GOOD one. We don't like acidic coffee, and it seems that's pretty much our choice here. So while we wait for friends and relatives to come visit (and bring coffee in their carry-ons) we've done a bit of research and discovered that we can "fix" some bad beans.


For the coffee temperature snob

I'll save you the science, but basically, coffee reaches two different stages when it's roasting, called "cracks." Most of the coffee that is medium roast and "mildly acidic" (their words, not mine!) is roasted to the point of the first crack. The darker, less acidic, bolder flavor that we like doesn't come until the second crack, at about 446 degrees. Since you can actually hear this phenomenon, it isn't necessary to know the temperature, but Dave found the convincing straw that broke the non-consumer's back and used this as an excuse to finally buy a non-contact thermometer. (This from a guy who doesn't do "gadgets.") So now, when we buy a new brand of beans, grind the first pot, and realize that we don't like the roast, we just roast it again until it reaches the second crack. He uses a heavy bottom pan and roasts the beans dry, stirring as necessary to keep them from burning. Be sure the boat is well ventilated, because there is an overpowering odor as the beans roast. But the end result is a "fresh" roasted coffee that we enjoy.

If it seems like we spend a lot of time and energy on this particular habit, you might be right. But as habits go, this one is relatively harmless. Cream or sugar?

MONDAY we'll stay in the galley to share our thoughts on some tropical fruits.

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Connie McBride's work has been published in Good Old Boat, Sail Magazine, Small Craft Advisor, Cruising World, All at Sea, and Blue Water Sailing. As a full-time liveaboard cruiser for over 15 years, she has written several books and in her spare time, well, who has spare time?

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