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Thread: The Best Instant (yes, a serious question!)

  1. #1
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    The Best Instant (yes, a serious question!)

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    As part of the on-boarding for a new job, I have a three week jaunt in the US of A coming up, covering suburban Boston, Columbia SC and San Francisco. Most of it will be in corporate offices and hotels, and I'm dreading the stale drip-filter muck and charcoal Starbucks that inevitably are served as "coffee".

    So I'm thinking about chucking a jar of instant into the suitcase to survive the period.

    I've previously taken the Robert Timms bags, but even these are a pretty poor substitute for my home-roasted freshly ground single origins pushed through my beloved Presso. (Enjoying the Bolivian BTW)

    Any ideas?

    Matt

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    I'd acquire an Aero press and hand grinder if you have the space in your suit case, and if you have a kettle and time to grind the beans
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  3. #3
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    The Best Instant (yes, a serious question!)

    Can't you take the Presso? They're smaller than an Aeropress aren't they? Barring that I reckon the Robert Timms bags are better than any instant. But I found that most hotels in the States had little drip filter machines in them. So I bought some paper filters and ground coffee and made my own in my hotel room. Was certainly better than most chain coffee shops. Would be even better if you can take a hand grinder and some decent coffee from home. You should be able to find some reasonable coffee shops in SF (eg. Blue Bottle), can't comment on the other cities though.

  4. #4
    TOK
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    When I travel o/s I usually don't drink coffee except for "medicinal purposes"....that is, simply to keep a minimum caffeine level in the system to ward off the heavy headache that comes when you come off caffeine.

    Hotels in the US give you a filter machine and individual, sealed, filter coffee pouches.

    Honestly, if you make one of those in the morning before stepping out, at the strength you like (worked out the first morning in hotel room), you will make a reasonable cup oof coffee for yourself and you don't need any more for the day...if coffee for "medicinal purposes" is all you require for your short trip. And... it wont be "muck".

    There are places that will make you nice coffee. Just like in Oz, you are in the hands of the individual cafe and its staff. Ergo, in some areas in the US, starbucks is a veritable saviour, where it is way better than anything else.

    But you have to try when you are there. You cant say that all starbucks is charcoal or bad or whatever....

    And you will generally speaking, have a better chance of getting good coffee in the northern states, and a worse chance of getting good coffee in the southern states. Notice I said "generally speaking". When I was in Kentucky 5 years ago I used to go over to the local starbucks across the road from my hotel, where it was the only place you could get a reasonable cuppa. It was just fine.

    So I would say, don't take pre-conceived ideas with you. See how you go while you are there.

    As to which instant.....its entirely up to you. There are a variety of "flavours" across the different brands, so you have to try to make up your own mind on what you might like. But its the same story there....if you are in control of making the instant (as you are when making ground coffee), you will make it better by making it to your liking, rather than someone making it for you and handing it over. It doesn't have to be "...that bad...".
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  5. #5
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    Cool

    I second the notion of taking an Aeropress and Porlex grinder (and your own beans) when travelling. There will be plenty of times when you have to suck it up and drink instant or terrible brew coffee, but you at least get your first fix of the day in your hotel room. If you are basing yourself in an office for a stretch of time, bringing an interesting coffee device is also a good way to strike up some conversations in the break room. You might even find a closet coffee snob in the same office! Just remember to bring more beans than you think you'd need, so you have enough to share!

    This might not work for a three week trip, but for shorter trips I often take a flask of my cold brew concentrate with me. Dilute it with some hot water and you have a wonderful "instant" coffee.

    The other advice - lots of milk and sugar. I mostly drink straight espressos or black coffee, but when I travel in SE Asia I get used to drinking "3-in-1" (powdered milk, powdered sugar, powdered coffee all ready to go). Just tell yourself it's not coffee, but a completely different drink.

  6. #6
    Senior Member speleomike's Avatar
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    "... but for shorter trips I often take a flask of my cold brew concentrate with me. Dilute it with some hot water and you have a wonderful "instant" coffee."

    That won't be allowed on an international flight :-)

  7. #7
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by speleomike View Post
    "... but for shorter trips I often take a flask of my cold brew concentrate with me. Dilute it with some hot water and you have a wonderful "instant" coffee."

    That won't be allowed on an international flight :-)
    It will if he puts in his checked luggage or packs it in 100ml bottles.


    But, if one was going to be bouncing round cities, I'd just do a bit of research and give some local places a go. Nothing wrong with good quality, fresh filter coffee if it comes to that. SF shouldn't be a problem.

    When I'm OS for a few months I live on the Aeropress/Porlex combo.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that the US pretty much invented the specialty coffee scene that now influences the finer cafe precincts around the world... including ours. With a population of 300,000,000 there are more than a few people over there capable of brewing you a fine cuppa so I think it would be foolish of you to head over there with your eyes and mind anything other than wide open.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheumack View Post
    As part of the on-boarding for a new job, I have a three week jaunt in the US of A coming up, covering suburban Boston, Columbia SC and San Francisco. Most of it will be in corporate offices and hotels, and I'm dreading the stale drip-filter muck and charcoal Starbucks that inevitably are served as "coffee".

    So I'm thinking about chucking a jar of instant into the suitcase to survive the period.

    I've previously taken the Robert Timms bags, but even these are a pretty poor substitute for my home-roasted freshly ground single origins pushed through my beloved Presso. (Enjoying the Bolivian BTW)

    Any ideas?

    Matt
    G'day Matt

    If you like SO dark roasts, you will be off the usual "dark to charcoal blends" which is mainstream US coffee. Having lived there for 18 months, you will have to hunt long and hard for any decent SO's - especially if you prefer medium roasts.

    Having said that, plenty of San Fran & Boston places were OK for medicinal purposes. SC would be a worry, unless it also has a maverick 'round town. For example, Montrose CO (blink you miss it) had by far the best over the counter SO I found there - an Irish guy had set up his own roaster there as a last resort mainly to service his own need.

    I only found the better coffees over there by looking for long queues when it was bitterly cold / raining / snowing in winter. Victor's in Redmond WA (another Irish roaster at the time) had over two large city blocks of desperate addicts awaiting their fix (ironically, just down the road from the first Starbucks - which was damn near empty on the same day). The Montrose one had one block of queuing desperados. Shows some Americans have taste in coffee when they encounter a good one.

    Enjoy your trip.



    TampIt

  10. #10
    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    G'day Matt

    If you like SO dark roasts, you will be off the usual "dark to charcoal blends" which is mainstream US coffee. Having lived there for 18 months, you will have to hunt long and hard for any decent SO's - especially if you prefer medium roasts.

    Having said that, plenty of San Fran & Boston places were OK for medicinal purposes. SC would be a worry, unless it also has a maverick 'round town. For example, Montrose CO (blink you miss it) had by far the best over the counter SO I found there - an Irish guy had set up his own roaster there as a last resort mainly to service his own need.

    I only found the better coffees over there by looking for long queues when it was bitterly cold / raining / snowing in winter. Victor's in Redmond WA (another Irish roaster at the time) had over two large city blocks of desperate addicts awaiting their fix (ironically, just down the road from the first Starbucks - which was damn near empty on the same day). The Montrose one had one block of queuing desperados. Shows some Americans have taste in coffee when they encounter a good one.
    Enjoy your trip.
    TampIt
    I lived in North America (both the US and Canada) for 22 years and regardless of the doom and gloom spread around it's actually not too hard to find good, even amazing coffee if you are willing to make a bit of an effort. Beanhunter, or similar, will prove useful.
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  11. #11
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    The specialty coffee industry in the US is a far cry from what it was 20 or even 10 years ago.

    Sheumack, while few things will match a fresh home roasted coffee prepared in ones usual/favored brewer good coffee is not all that hard to find in any major city in the US. For example many cafes now offer take-home bottles of their own cold drip/brew. You can also find cold drip in most larger grocery stores from a variety of sources. If you don't feel like chasing some down in cafes head over to the local coop where you will typically find higher end cold drip available.


    Java "Enjoy your trip" phile
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    The specialty coffee industry in the US is a far cry from what it was 20 or even 10 years ago.
    +1^^
    there is no shortage of good coffee bars in Boston or SF.
    they may not be as obvious as Starbucks etc but they are there and in numbers.
    A little research will pay off, and it will also make your time there more interesting searching them out.
    dont forget to report back and update the forum .
    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/notau/3481...on-coffee.html
    some ideas for SF..
    http://en.ilovecoffee.jp/posts/view/164

  13. #13
    Senior Member Gavisconi007's Avatar
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    2 weeks in Atlanta last year, I packed my Bacchi stove-top and my Lido, and a kg of freshly roasted beans. 2 colleagues would stop by my room in the morning for their daily fix. I think we all survived because of it. The coffee in the office was "Jasper"- I had one swig and it ended up in the sink. Atlanta- good for Gumbo and Friday Happy Hours, but forget about coffee!

  14. #14
    TOK
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    Smile

    I gave up putting coffee paraphenalia in my shoes in the bag long time ago. Not going to be that hard up for a coffee, & wont go hunting for cafes in strange cities in strange countries. Life's too short and there are better things to do with my time...

    Wont pay for mediocre or bad coffee anywhere, including Australia. This is not restricted to other countries.

    But Ive never had a bad beer anywhere o/s. Unfortunately there have been mediocre red wines, but the beer is always good. Suggest not to get too hung up on the "concept of coffee".


    hope that helps.
    Last edited by TOK; 7th August 2015 at 08:06 PM.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Gavisconi007's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TOK View Post
    ..... wont go hunting for cafes in strange cities in strange countries. Life's too short and there are better things to do with my time...
    Uhmmmm.........such as?
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  16. #16
    TOK
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    Serious answer.

    When not working, I am an avid sight see-er when o/s, and for me, that doesnt include seeing the inside of cafe's when I could be seeing the inside of a some kind of cultural icon, landmark etc.

    Coffee needs to be easily sourced and available. Effectively, once you leave the safety of your hotel room and the good filter coffee you should have been able to make yourself (in the US), any further coffee had during the day needs to be...directly and conveniently in front of you. If it isnt in front of you, or if it is but isnt very good, you dont (need) go out of your way to find something. And of course, the world doesnt (have to) revolve around espresso / milk espressos and / cafes. I enjoy a good filter coffee.

    But that's just my philosophy. I think there are many more people that take that philospohy but are intimidated to say such in forums like this.

    hope that helps
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  17. #17
    TC
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    Easy answer- same as the best contraceptive: Abstinence

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    Indeed, on more than one occasion in the US I've found myself standing in a very long line for a coffee thinking to myself what the hell am I doing wasting 20 minutes of my holiday for something that's no better than any cafe in Australia can bash out in 2 mins.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Gavisconi007's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon View Post
    Indeed, on more than one occasion in the US I've found myself standing in a very long line for a coffee thinking to myself what the hell am I doing wasting 20 minutes of my holiday for something that's no better than any cafe in Australia can bash out in 2 mins.

    Someone needs to invent "Caffobate" patches......

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gavisconi007 View Post
    Uhmmmm.........such as?
    Couldn't agree more... as a regular traveller I take pride in finding a decent place in a new country. Trust me, most of my time is in China in the last 3 years. Mind you, you think the US is bad. Starbucks is heaven compared to the shite traded there as coffee in most places.
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