simplest coffee maker ever devised Oct 16 2011

Nice thing about my apartment is the lanai – an open air patio that looks to the east. the alarm goes off at 0500 every morning, and as I listen to NPR I make coffee, contemplating the view of L.A. over the horizon, a tenuous connection to the mainland. Lots of folks here follow L.A. sports teams – for me, I have always detested the Lakers and UCLA for that matter ( being a Cal alumnus). 

In one cabinet I have three broken coffee makers, and last week I went shopping to see about getting a fourth one. Looked at a Keurig – nope, can’t get Starbucks. Thoughts about a new espresso maker – hmm….. not for $150 I won’t.

  Then I said to heck with it. I will use the system I now have,  the one I relied upon while backpacking, the same system they use to make Chiya in Nepal. SOme call this the Hobo method for coffee – I recall seeing this in a campground in Oregon in 1978 while driving crosscountry with a woman I knew at the time. It is an unexpected pleasure to come across well-prepared food in such a location.

  A simple mesh filter. Portable. Unbreakable. In Nepal, when they make chiya they boil the tea, milk and spices together, then strain it through this. Nepal is not a coffee-drinking country, in the east they have many tea plantations, in Ilam district. I want to visit there someday. Nepali chiya is sort of the predecessor to “Chai” – a trendy drink sweeping the countercultural nation.
  The system works like this. Water is boiled in a kettle. Get the ground coffee out of the freezer compartment, I spoon it out in to a plastic heat-tolerant measuring cup. Add boiling water and let it steep. stir it a couple of times. Then I strain it through the filter into the drinking cup.
I bought the filter for about $1.50 at the grocery store, then sawed the handle off when I went backpacking on the Appalachian Trail last year. A long time ago I was on a gourmet-food-while-backpacking mode, last year I managed to simplify things considerably, but I never gave up having real coffee in the mornings. It’s easier to dispose of used grounds, in the woods. In my apartment I put them in a separate trash container, since they will clog up the garbage disposal.
  And of course, I have a favorite mug. This one I got at a tag sale when I first moved here, there is a nice heft to it. The red-checkered tablecloth on the lanai table adds a festive touch. I am thinking of getting Christmas lights to string along the railing, since there is no built-in light on the lanai. Most of the time, though, it’s nice to be out there with just the lights of the nearby urban landscape. If I ever do get such lights, I will share a photo or two.

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