I REALLY LIKE COFFEE. And sometimes this leads to varied (and desperate) adventures with brewing coffee on the road (the true peak being sifting coffee through a pair of leggings). Like clockwork, another strange speed bump cropped up throughout what is an already sort of unusual winding road through Coffee Land.
We started our voyage into the rural midlands of Argentina with a jar of ground coffee. Regular stuff – some Columbian beans I had left over from Cusco. But as all ground things come to an end, before long I was eyeing the bright green packages of whole Peruvian coffee beans with something similar to a caffeine-induced hunger.
Audrey and Chevi bestowed upon us the generous gift of COFFEE before we left. Our bags were so stuffed that I had to cram three of these packs into my purse. Made for an awkward bag-search when we crossed the border, let me tell you (who carries three pounds of whole coffee in their purse?)
Once our ground coffee reserves came to a delicious end, I wondered how we might begin sampling the Peruvian jungle beans. Jorge’s parents live in town these days, but they still have a pretty rustic lifestyle when it comes to household appliances. I knew a proper coffee-grinding appliance was out of the question – I might not be able to locate one of those for 300 miles. But a blender? Those are pretty common place. And they’ll get the job done in times of coffee grinding need, even if it is a bit cringeworthy for certain types of coffee snobs.
But hey – when you’re out here in the farmland, you make do with what you have.
Except *record screech* they don’t have a blender. I was so sure they would, too. Turns out, they had a blender, long ago, but it broke, and was never replaced. (BUT WHAT ABOUT SMOOTHIES?!)
Fine. So let’s turn to our resourceful farmhand whiles. What this house does have is a mortar and pestle. And a pretty bad ass one at that – something of the mortar and pestle of my dreams (though not quite as large as ones I’ve seen in the Incan museums. Nor is it made of stone. Or forged from ancient remembrances.)
I asked myself if I could grind coffee with a mortar and pestle. And then I realized, how silly. You can grind ANYTHING with a mortar and pestle, especially one this size. I could grind my own teeth if I wanted. Even if they weren’t out of my head first.
So we got to work with the experiment. We poured in a small handful at first, to see how it might work. And then, voila – tantalizing aromas, more fragrant than anything I have smelled in my entire life, wafted from the mortar and pestle. The smell was truly sublime.
And though the grounds weren’t exactly even, it got the job done.
The resultant coffee was a DELIGHT.
In my never-ending journeys through unlikely and often-times very hillbilly methods of brewing coffee, I have unwittingly come across something that pushes me into the coffee snob end of the spectrum: GRINDING BEFORE YOU BREW IS OTHERWORDLY.
I’ve heard about this plenty, though mostly in reference to picking on the ubiquitous hipster and all the infuriating cultural quirks therein. (“Sorry, I can’t drink coffee that hasn’t been freshly ground, the taste is just sooooo much different.”) And yeah, maybe I’m afraid the hipster missile will seek me out, even down here in the South American pampas. But you know what? The taste is just sooooooo much different. (Though, all you experienced coffee drinkers knew this already, didn’t you??)
I’m definitely going to grind the rest of the bag like this, most likely in the serene breezes of the mild San Luis fall mornings, listening to the insane bird squawking like a goat in the neighbor’s house, or the roosters who literally crow at all hours of the day, beginning at 4:30AM. I recommend trying this with deeper mortar and pestles. Shallow ones would allow too much room for the coffee beans to jump out and otherwise avoid their untimely, flattened demise.
Not only is it an unexpected meditative time-out, the ‘I-just-ground-this-shit-right-now’ coffee experience is a subtle explosion of joy for the palate. Even if you have to do it with a mortar and pestle.
Now go try it and tell me about it! Seriously, share your results below. Did a coffee bean shoot out and lodge itself in your eyeball? Or were you wooed and seduced by the fragrant aromas wafting from the kitchen?