Tomorrow is International Coffee Day, and though we don’t want to go too overboard with our kitschy love of ‘National This’ and ‘International That’ Days, coffee is one we have lots of reasons to celebrate.
Especially when it’s coffee served up outside. #CoffeeOutside is a hashtag that has become a recent trend tag on Twitter and Instagram. No one’s sure of the exact originator of the #CoffeeOutside hashtag, though there’s speculation that it arose from the biking town of Portland, Oregon.
#CoffeeOutside types tend to take a perfectionist approach to their brew at the same time that they endeavor to keep it simple, or at least simple enough that they can actually make their coffee outside – on a beach, a pier, or a mountain campsite.
Any beautiful outside spot will do, actually. And while this latest #CoffeeOutside movement may have started in the Pacific Northwest, it’s long been known by outdoorsy people everywhere that coffee tastes extra-especially great when it’s served up in nature.
“As a coffee professional who travels for work and a lover of the outdoors, I’ve been brewing coffee outside for many years with multiple methods,” said Steve Kirbach, coffee curator at Stumptown Coffee in Portland. “Like wine, I think it’s easy to get carried away with the science and agronomy of it all, but brewing outside is this great grounding force that makes you just focus on the present and the simple pleasure of that cup of coffee.”
Steve is part of Stumptown’s quality assurance team, and part of his daily task is to help decide what coffees the company is offering, coffee harvest to coffee harvest, as well as maintaining the consistency of the company’s blend profiles. Generally, Steve’s work is so fast-paced that every day passes in what he calls a ‘crazy coffee whirlwind’ but once a week he tries to make time to bike to different city locations to meet up with friends and brew the day’s first cup.
“#CoffeeOutside has been about getting together with friends by bike once a week and just stepping outside of the normal flow. It’s been a great way to meet some new people and also have fun looking at different set ups,” Steve said.
Finding a perfect way to brew outside means having a way to heat the water and get it poured over the beans and into a cup. Steve has several different tools to achieve the perfect cup. He likes the SOTO Helix and Snow Peak collapsable drippers, and his setup includes a grinder, a tiny stove, a titanium mug and a small kettle.
He stows the gear in a Stumptown Rambler kit bag especially designed for coffee on the go. For #CoffeeOutside in town when he’s biking to the outdoor destination, Steve said he has a beautiful Kalita Wave dripper.
But even if you don’t get fancy and simply take your joe in an old Thermos in your bike basket down to an outdoor park, we guarantee it will taste better than drinking it at home. Swedes have known this since time immemorial, and the tradition of ‘kaffe på landet’ or ‘coffee in nature’ goes far back. Anna Brones, a Swedish-American author who wrote a book on the Swedish tradition of coffee and cakes called Fika, explored the outdoor coffee phenomenon in the short video below.
So perhaps a plan for a little outdoor morning drinking is in order for tomorrow, International Coffee Day. Grab your brew tools, plan a nearby destination, and spend just a few minutes in some sweet outdoor spot before heading to work.
Oh, yeah, and don’t forget your helmet.