My AeroPress and Hario Mini Mill performed well! I took them with me to Villa Union, Coahuila, Mexico for the last 6 days. I had no idea if I would be able to even make coffee on this year's Mizzou Christian Campus House mission trip. I had weaned myself completely off of coffee in preparation- I wanted to be of some use while there if pure water/ means for boiling were not available. When we arrived, I saw a mountain of purified water stacked against a small cinder-block shed awaiting us; necessito numero uno, el checko. The next miracle appeared shortly thereafter. I saw a fully functional propane powered stove WITH a small pot in the sleeping quarters (hallelujah). Ten minutes into our week-long mission, I knew large-scale success was inevitable- Where there is coffee (and the Lord), there is a way.
Every morning I busted out my AeroPress at 7am, and ground my Costa Rican coffee, from the Helsar de Zarcero farm, from Kaldi's Coffee Roasters. I became known as "Hombre del Cafe," the "Coffee Man." The ladies from the church there at the Villa Union Iglesia de Cristo asked me to prepare a cup for them on the last day, which was a big honor (they thought the coffee was "muy fuerte" or "very strong" and tasted divine).
During the 25 (or so) hour drive back to Columbia, Missouri, we stopped at several gas stations and McDonald's restaurants. As one of the few drivers on this expedition, I thought staying awake was a priority; staying alert was not a job for something as insignificant as gas station or fast food coffee. Around 6:30 this morning, I asked the gas station attendants at one Oklahoma truck stop if I could simply use a styrofoam cup and hot water to make my own coffee. They told me it'd cost 49 cents. This was a rip-off, but a sale nonetheless. Around 10am, I bought a number two at Mickey D's on the Kansas Turnpike, near the godforsaken cesspool known as Lawrence, Kansas. Instead of taking the standard 'coffee' with the meal, I opted for a different beverage- no, not the $1.30 extra charge orange juice either. Rather, I asked for hot water. I whipped out the grinder and AeroPress again and made my own brew right then and there at the soda fountain counter. I caused a scene at both locations, but specialty coffee can do that sometimes. I'm sure most thought I was acting out a bit, being a tad dramatic, and overly zealous about coffee. I see it differently.
I am committed deeply to very few things. My faith, my family, my employer(s), and great coffee. I was on a mission trip of two kinds: Christian service and charity as well as Coffeevangelism. I would like to think I effectively practiced both on that trip, and hope to continue the practice daily hereafter.
I'm bummed I didn't take any pictures now that I'm blogging about it, but I'm more of a man of action, rather than detailed notation. Surely somebody on Facebook took a picture at some point. If so, I'll link to it.
Traveling? Get yourself a Hario Mini Mill Hand Grinder as well as an AeroPress. While you're at it, think about buying some solid coffee to take with you. There are many great specialty roasters out there (check the right side of my page if you don't know where to get started). Personally, if I had been able to roast my own (I couldn't since the last popper I bought was a dud) coffee, I would have.
This mission trip wasn't my first with coffee and I hope it isn't my last either. Coffee seems to be a cross-cultural bonding mechanism that nearly everyone can appreciate. It certainly gave me an inroad with the people we were serving in Villa Union. I think that most people who work in coffee would second my experiences- coffee unites.
Lord, thank You for the safe and successful journey to Villa Union. I pray the church there can fill the new sanctuary we build as well as use the baptistry that is now in place. Also Lord, I thank You for creating such an awesome drink that assists in the process of meeting people as well as keeping travelers safely alert (if not in need of more restroom breaks). Keep my head deflated and on straight.