I'm a big fan of the outdoors - especially because it provides me with an opportunity to turn a very simple experience into something incredibly special.

On the top of my list of simple-made-great experiences is coffee. I love nothing more than the ritual of brewing and drinking a cup of coffee when I'm out in the wild.

I'm not sure if it's something that was hardwired into me at birth or whether it's just been a series of positive life experiences in the outdoors but when I'm sitting outside, watching the birth of the day, far away from anyone else, with a fresh brew in my hands, the background noise of my life seems to easily melt away and I can become fully present in moment.

Some may think the coffee in this picture is significant because I am a "coffee guy" … you would be wrong. I was immersed in outdoor pursuits in high school and in my postgraduate studies. This meant that I got pretty good at adventuring and "expeditioning" and most of the people around me got pretty good at it too.

Surprisingly, getting kudos as an outdoor professional from your colleagues did not take great feats of bravery and skill and endurance like you'd think. No, the one thing that would impress even the most hardened adventurer was taking a simple pleasure like coffee and lifting it up a notch or two without expensive gear.

One of the best examples that illustrates this for me was the time I was with a group on a three or four day hike. We were all pretty experienced hikers and arrived at our first selected campsite at about 4pm the afternoon. We had chosen the campsite carefully after pondering the contours, the wind, the shade, the orientation of the sunset and sunrise and the vista we would have as we rested until the next day. Without any fuss and bother, we went about setting up our campsite and independently getting on with preparing our dinner which, for most of us, was some concoction of dehydrated veggies and probably some noodles or rice. As the sun lowered towards the horizon and our dinners were ready for eating we all slowly assembled in a circle where we could eat our dinner together and debrief our day - except for our Instructor who had wandered up the hill and to our amazement had carried up with him: a low camping table and low slung camping chair, a white linen tablecloth, a large ceramic dinner plate, a large fine red wine glass, a half size bottle of red wine, a proper knife and fork and a candle in a candlestick holder and had set himself up in a high position to eat dinner and watch the sunset.

He hadn't said anything to any of us about his intentions and no one had any inkling of what he had managed to pack into his backpack but what he taught us in that one moment was what it took to be make a moment of being in the outdoors a thing of greatness.

That one moment (apart from making him the undisputable king of the camping castle on that trip) illustrated a point that he made later in the evening's debrief - that it was important not to allow moments just to pass by uncelebrated but to put an effort into dialling up something simple and turn it into an experience to remember. We had trudged hard all day to get to our campsite and once there, none of us had really stopped to enjoy the very thing that we had walked so far to experience. We had just focused on getting our camp set up and dinner done before dark - just going through the motions: walk, eat, sleep, walk, eat, sleep etc.

When I camp now (admittedly I'm not doing it on foot these days) I make sure that I find time to pause and soak it all in. Great moments in camping and adventure happen when you find something that can be better than the normal expression of itself.

For me, that's the ritual of making my morning coffee and then sitting in my camping chair with my fingers wrapped around the mug while I watch the sun rise and start to breathe warmth into the day.

The act of making coffee when you are camping can so easily slip into the category of "just give me caffeine" - just like us getting the dinner done at the end of a long day's walk. To think like this lends itself to missing the opportunity to turn something potentially mundane into something extraordinary and memorable.

Coffee can be good anywhere, but in the outdoors it has the potential, when prepared and enjoyed in quiet and still moments of the morning while the sun is rising, to be amongst the greatest experiences you can ever have.

Whether you're out bush or boarding a flight, carrying an all-important coffee kit is essential. So depending on the type of travel I'm doing, I carry one of three combinations of a coffee kit. 

Coffee Kit Lite

This is the kit I take when I travel by myself or with my wife. It is the most simple of all kits and stuffs neatly into a small bag which fits happily into my carry on. It contains -:

*Let me explain the reason for the jug. When you travel, you don’t always have access to suitable cups to pair with your Aeropress. Sometimes the diameter of the top of the cup is too small for the Aeropress to fit into, sometimes the only cup you can get is a takeaway foam or paper cup that may collapse under the pressure of the ‘press’ or sometimes the cups are just very small (like on an aeroplane). Because I don’t carry scales in this kit, I have to use volume measurements to keep my brew ratios consistent. I have a mark in my Porlex grinder that helps keep the weight of beans approximately the same each time and I have a mark on my Aeropress that allows me to fill it with a consistent amount of water. In the event of only having a small cup to brew into, I brew into the jug rather than trying to make arbitrary adjustments to my coffee volume in accordance with my water volume (which is otherwise dictated by the size of the cup). Another advantage of carrying a small jug over your own mug is that it’s lighter and easy to pour from in the event that you make one brew and want to share it with someone else.

Coffee Kit Medium

This is the kit that I take when I travel with my family by air and still need to be nimble. This kit is especially great if you’re constantly on the move. It’s exactly the same as the ‘Lite’ kit except I add these extra parts into my checked luggage -:

  • An additional Aeropress (or two).
  • 1 x small rechargeable electric screwdriver to attach to the grinder.
  • 1 x hex to pent adaptor so you can connect your standard electric screw driver to the Porlex grinder. (Sorry but you can’t buy these — you have to have one made. It’s not hard. I just went down the road to a local engineering company, explained what I needed and one carton of beer later…)
  • A couple of bags of fresh Five Senses coffee

Coffee Kit Max

This is the kit I take when I go on holidays with family and/or friends and I get dobbed in to be the guy who has to take care of the coffee. This kit goes with me when I’m camping in the outback, staying in a caravan park or flying somewhere like Bali where I know I’m going to be parked in the same place for a week or more. It consists of -:

*Like many 4WD’s used for camping, I have big dual batteries and 12v power running through to the back of the car so I can run the portable fridge. The cabling in the car was upgraded to cope with heavier than normal electrical load specifically so that I could run the size inverter needed to power up the Baratza. Obviously I don’t need the inverter when I have easy access to power. I also pack the Forte into one of those protective suitcases with the foam cutouts. It has space for the grinder, two Aeropresses, the filters, the jug and a couple of bags of coffee. It bumps along both airline baggage conveyors and outback roads very happily.

I know that this might sound a bit over the top to some of you, but when you think about it, none of what I’ve done is a big deal.

Most of you probably have a plastic brewer (Clever Coffee Dripper or Aeropress) and you probably have at least one grinder. In fact, I’m sure that many of you would be able to cobble together some sort of travel kit without too much difficulty. I’ve been doing this for a long time now and my ‘kits’ have evolved to reflect what has become available for brewing as time goes on. I imagine that as rechargeable batteries and electric motor technology progress, it isn’t inconceivable that Baratza could invent the first serious, portable/travel battery-operated grinder. (Are you reading this Kyle and Kyra?) Imagine that!

Having a great coffee anytime and anywhere is well within reach for nearly everyone. It’s not expensive nor is it complicated. It just means you need to get organised.

What you put in your travel kit is totally up to you, but if you want something to start you off, check out these options: Five Senses Gifts and Packages

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