Muggy Iran


Shiraz in Shiraz

Muggy IranCanberra
8 May 2017

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.


Muggy IranI use my Aeropress every day. Usually at night or in the early morning when I don’t want to make too much noise.

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. 

The mugs

Muggy IranHotel 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!


Muggy Iran


  1. Oh what I would do for a decent coffee! The only place we have stayed in so far that had coffee making facilities was an AirBnB in Bergen – and we still had to buy coffee and milk. Luckily they did have milk in small cartons! Instead it’s €2+ for each of us a couple of times a day to get very average take away coffee. I’d almost be happy with Moccona right now! Might have to invest in a nifty Aeropress to get us through the rest of the trip.

    1. It’s light – that’s a big bonus. And if you slide the plunger all the way down, the scoop and stirrer fit inside and room for something like a pair of socks.

      Each one comes with 300 filter papers, about as big as a small can of tuna.

      So there’s a bit of space and weight overhead, more for the ground coffee and milk, but it quickly pays for itself in price, and the convenience of having coffee on demand is priceless.

      Just need a jug…

  2. Three tripods???

    I’ve been trying to travel light when it comes to photography gear. I already end up with too much stuff on me while traveling. On my last trip (Paris) I only brought one camera with one lens (35mm) and a Joby mini tripod. Didn’t end up using the Joby so it stays home next time. Planning to use the same setup on my next trip (Japan). After a whole day of walking around, even a light bag gets very tiring.

    1. One regular tripod, because I knew I’d be standing at night on that riverbank in Esfahan to get a night photo of the illuminated bridge. And for the final group shots.

      A Gorillapod for the daypack, just in case. I could have used it a couple of times, notably at Persepolis in doing landscape pans, but as it happened the in-body-image-stabilisation of both Olympodes was good enough.

      And a tiny wee pocket tripod, which likely wouldn’t have supported anything much beyond the Canon M3, but I chucked it into the mix because it was tiny and only weighed a few grams and I could put it in my pocket.

      1. If the US takes the current laptop/electronics ban in carry on to the next level (they’re now thinking of extending it to flights originating in Europe as well), I’ll *really* be traveling light, with just an iPhone 6 for my computing and photography needs. I’m not putting cameras and laptops in checked luggage. This will also make me think twice about even bothering to travel.

        1. I saw that. I’d be thinking about flying to Canada and making a shorter flight from Toronto or Vancouver.

          Whether I had a bomb in my laptop or not.

          What a stupid move.

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