Something that worked
Looking back on Iran, I had a few wins and loses. Quite clearly, I took too much stuff with me. Three cameras and three tripods, for example.
Coffee was a bit hit and miss. Most of the time, it was filter coffee or instant. Only one place had espresso, and they couldn’t quite get a latte right.
My essential kit for many years has included an AeroPress coffee maker, and although it’s not something I can whip out whenever I feel like a cuppa, it does deliver a superior coffee.
I need a bit of time and space, a source of boiling water, and some milk. Mornings in the hotel room are the best time; before we can go down for the dubious delights of the breakfast room coffee.
Most rooms in Iran had jugs. As well as a supply of instant coffee and teabags, which could be safely ignored, because I brought a supply of ground coffee with me in a sturdy and airtight “Sistema” plastic container.
No rooms had milk of any sort, not even those nasty little plastic tubs of plastic milk. Fresh milk, when I could find it, came in large bottles of a litre or two, far more than we needed.
And UHT milk in small containers was remarkably difficult to find. I really needed a supermarket, as opposed to a bazaar, and they weren’t always conveniently located.
A brilliant idea, the Aeropress is essentially two tubes of plastic with a filter at one end. Hot water and coffee grounds go inside, are stirred, and then pushed down with the plunger. The air pressure forces the coffee through the filter and into the mug or jug beneath.
They are available at good coffee gear shops, or online at Amazon or on eBay. I have the “tote bag” to keep all the bits together in my luggage, and I bring a small number of the paper filters with me. Each filter is good for two or three coffees.
Fine mesh metal filters are available, but they tend to be pricey and fiddly.
Buying coffee beans and grinding them fresh works best, but although I’ve tried a hand grinder, it works out to a lot of grinding on the road, so for travel, I’ll get ground coffee.
Hotel rooms usually have dainty little mugs or teacups that don’t hold the hearty dosage I need in the morning. My ideal is a big double-sized Starbucks mug, but Starbucks are thin on the ground so I gave in and bought some local mugs from an outlet in Esfahan.
The owner was an ex-cabbie from Sydney and spoke excellent English. He had a shop full of exquisite ceramics, but what caught my eye were the two mugs depicting the Persian deity Ahuramazda.
I bought them and presented the one with a heart-shaped handle to my beloved.
After that, we would greet each dawn with a mug of fresh coffee on the balcony. Bliss!