Who doesn't like coffee? And beautiful scenery? And biking?
One of life's simple pleasures is to ride out to a nice location for a bit of a break. You can make it a full-on picnic, which is tough to beat. Or you can make it simple: make some coffee ahead of time in a thermos, grab some snacks, and ride out somewhere nice.
Then there's the #coffeeoutside phenomenon (the tag used on various social media), of people who bring the equipment to make their coffee at the destination. I mean, if you're going somewhere beautiful, why not make the most of it and make your coffee there? There are a variety of off-grid options for making coffee, even for grinding beans.
I was at my cottage just north of Wakefield, and in the years that we've been there, we've never really seen the covered bridge that is on the edge of town. So, in early September, I got up early on a Sunday morning and headed out the door while the fog was still blanketing the river.
First I needed some pastries, so I headed into Wakefield. There were many times that I went through Wakefield early in the morning, wanting a little baked good to help me get the day started right, but the only things open were the Tim Horton's (yuk) and the Wakefield Bakery, and for whatever reason I never stopped at the latter. Maybe it was the nondescript exterior, maybe it was the fact that the parking lot was empty, I'm not really sure. But this morning, I figured that I'd try it out. I popped in for a fresh croissant and a turnover. Would they be good? Disgusting? Keep reading to find out!
I headed back up the river five minutes to the bridge. The location was perfect: stunningly beautiful, the early still air was blanketed in fog, and none of the tourists had arrived yet.
First built in 1915, the bridge allowed horses to cross the Gatineau river without being scared of the heights. Spanning the river for 70 years, it was destroyed in 1984 when an unknown arsonist drove a car soaked in gasoline onto the bridge and lit it on fire. The dry wood caught fire quickly and within 7 minutes the whole bridge was ablaze.
The community rallied to rebuild the bridge, and after years of effort and fundraising, an exact replica was built in 1997 (you can read the full story in great detail if you wish).
Once rebuilt, the bridge became a great place for jumping into the river, as seen in several videos. Unfortunately the police cracked down on this in 2014, with a $200 fine for anyone jumping off.
Today I was trying out the Wacaco Minipresso, lent to me by a friend at presso.ca. It claimed to be able to make honest to goodness espresso without needing electricity. I was keen to try it out, because to make a proper espresso needs a fair bit of pressure, so I was wondering how such a device would deliver.
I fired up my imitation jetboil (I'm too frugal to pay for the name brand). I'm always amazed how quickly the water comes to a boil, the fins really soak up the heat and transfer it to the water. Totally worth the price; why aren't home kitchen sets made the same way? In the time that it took to lay out the pastries, open up the espresso maker and load it with coffee, the water was ready.
The design of the Minipresso is well done. Everything is integrated - the cup, the scoop (which acts as the tamper), the filter basket.
The big button on the side pops out and with thumb pressure you can pump it up until the right threshold is reached, at which point the espresso automatically flows out the bottom.
I've got to say, I was pretty happy with the result. It was real espresso, with crema and everything, made without electricity.
Now - about those pastries. They were absolutely delicious! How on earth had I never tried the Wakefield Bakery before? This was clearly something that was missing in my life.
Sitting there next to the quiet, still river, enjoying the view of the bridge, delicious coffee and pastries, and the fresh air, I have to say I was a pretty happy guy. You really don't need to spend a lot of money for a special experience.
If you haven't tried it yet, you really should give it a shot. I don't mean going to Wakefield, specifically; I just mean the #coffeeoutside experience. You don't really need the equipment; honestly, I would have rather had thermos coffee and be outside than not go out at all. Next time you think of going to a cafe, consider a riverside instead, or some other nice spot, save some money, and enjoy more.