Great Coffee on the Road-Put a Sock in It!

Good (really, excellent) coffee and what the Colombian’s call “grandma’s sock”

I see way too many posts where travelers mention drinking instant coffee. For shame! The other day  was traveling all day by buses and taxis, and the only recourse for coffee was the god-awful stuff they were serving at the bus depots. Worse than instant. I had a coke to get a little caffeine fix. I never drink sodas. Bad for my health. But truly bad coffee? Bad for the soul.

Here is something I learned in Cambodia. If you use a big enough and open enough “sock”, you can get pretty great coffee. (I know  there are some who recommend using a large tea filter, but this doesn’t really to the trick- they are too small and the coffee gets compressed.) These days when you visit Siem Reap or Phnom Penh, you can go almost anywhere and get nice pulled espresso. Years back , not really so many, breakfast was a simple affair: noodle soup and coffee served up at little 10″ high stools and cooked by squatting women. The coffee was actually splendid (as was the soup!). The coffee was brewed in a sock. I am fairly sure it was an actual grandma’s sock. No harm no foul, as they say. Well, the water was boiling, so no harm, but the sock? Well, no harm, at least.

Now I carry with me one of those lovely fine mesh filters shown in the picture above. I got my first one in Bangladesh, when I lived there. Then I kept two-one for coffee and the other to strain homemade yoghurt. I haven’t seen them in the US, but you can always resort to a sock.

I simply boil water, put my desired amount of coffee in the filter, put the filter in a cup, and pout the water over till the cup is full. I like to let it brew a bit, 3 or 4 minutes, more or less, and then I have a great cup of coffee. I do this at the sink, because sometimes there is a bit of overflow or dripping.

The filter in the picture is cheap and weighs nothing. It goes with me everywhere. I got that particular coffee in Colombia, and it may be an all time favorite. Good coffee is available most places. A corner of the backpack for some coffee and the filter is easy.  Hostels have kitchens, but if you must be in a hotel, they have coffee makers and you can boil the water there. Instant coffee is a crime, even Starbucks.

15 thoughts on “Great Coffee on the Road-Put a Sock in It!

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