The budget travel way to make true, brewed coffee where none exists

Finding a decent cup of American-style brewed coffee is a challenge on this early retirement budget travel adventure. And I am here to tell you – we have met this challenge.

When I first started out back in Tulum, I tried to use a French press to make my coffee, and heated my water with an aluminum coil. The coils are sold all over Mexico and Central America – it’s often how people heat their water.

I eventually got rid of the French press, but kept the coil to make hot, instant coffee in Belize and Guatemala whenever we desperately needed a caffeine fix. This set up also was woefully inadequate to deliver a decent cup of coffee for Tedly and me. (Although I will say instant is better than nothing.)

We eventually bought a small coffee machine that we carried around with us for quite a long time. Now, that’s gone, and so is the immersion coil. These days, we carry a small cup with a screen with which to filter water through coffee grounds. The Germans call this the “one-cup method.” A dear friend of mine, a German sailor, first told us about this method years ago, but sometimes I’m slow. We never tried it until this year. This coffee preparation also is popular with campers. We easily found the contraption online and bought one – and this – this is the solution to our challenge.

It’s a plastic cup with a thin, fine screen at the bottom. Coffee grounds are laid onto the screen, and the cup is screwed onto a wide rim that allows it to brace over a larger drinking cup, so the filtered coffee flows easily flows through.

This little thing is awesome. I get coffee, and I don’t get cranky. Not only that, but the coffee is really good. Even if the grounds aren’t so great. (Maybe it’s just that it’s better than nothing.) My German friend believed one cup brewed at a time prevented too much acidity in the drink. I believe he was correct.

Brewed coffee is difficult to find in this part of Northern Africa. The drink called “Cafe Americano” on menus here – and around the world – is actually espresso mixed with water. It’s just not the same as brewed coffee. There have been a few times when I was glad to have a cup of Americano (better than instant, and also better than nothing). But ultimately, I am happier with a cup brewed by this space-saving, and money-saving one cup method.

We each drink a few cups of coffee each morning. Say, four cups total. Sometimes six. Four to six cups of cafe Americano every day in a cafe can get quite expensive – as opposed to making our own. And — the drinks are never as good as true, brewed coffee.

Now all we need is an immersion coil (again) to heat our own water and we’ll be able to brew a cup of coffee without a kitchen. If I recall, we ditched ours after Guatemala last year, because all of our rentals had kitchens — until now. We are staying in a lovely traditional Moroccan riad, but our Airbnb does not include a kitchen. Lucky for us, our hosts have supplied a kettle of hot water for our coffee fix each morning.

The irony is we thought they sold water heater coils all over the world. And they do – I’m sure if we started the hunt for one in the medina here in Fes, we’d find one. As with the old city in Marrakesh, you can find virtually anything in the markets, as long as you have enough patience to look. That said, we haven’t seen one on display the entire time we’ve been in Morocco so far, which is more than three weeks in three cities and one tiny village and a Sahara camp.

Tedly’s mother, also a world traveler, experienced this same conundrum of assuming these water heater coils were sold all over. When she and her late husband finally came across them, it was a purchase they were glad to make. The same may be true for us. It’s not that large, so it’s probably a good idea that we carry it for times we cannot get our fix through kitchens in our rentals.

We have a few more rentals to go as we travel around before we end up in Portugal for a solid month – and that apartment will have a full kitchen, plus a washer and dryer. Oh, the luxuries! While I look forward to that day, I will enjoy each day until then – and be grateful Tedly had the forethought to buy this one-cup contraption as we continue this early retirement budget travel adventure.

Enjoying a brewed cup of coffee









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