Tell us about The Nomad Barista.
The Nomad Barista was a bit of a personal research project that I started earlier this year to put a more direct purpose to my travels and passion for exploring the coffee community on both a local and global perspective. Over the past few years while finishing my degree in urban planning, I sort of stumbled upon the "nomad lifestyle" as I moved around to different cities and countries for work about every 4-8 months, or even every weekend. I started bringing beans and brewers with me everywhere I went, and felt like serving coffee for my friends or hosts was a major way I could return their hospitality. It got me thinking bigger. This year, I made my way to Vancouver, most of Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, New York, Toronto, and of course Barcelona just chatting with local baristas, shop owners, roasters, and people doing big things for the industry. I've already learned so much.
Tell us about the trip, where you went, and what the purpose of the trip was.
Just over 2 years ago now, I was passing through The Netherlands and my host in Utrecht had literally just gotten back from cycling El Camino [Barcelona to Santiago de Compostela]. I was so inspired by her journey, that I knew deep down it was something I had to do at some point. Fast forward, and I've now just gotten back home to Barcelona, still sort of in shock, haha. I knew that if I was going to do this trip, I wanted to make a project out of it, and have it as collaborative as possible. I partnered up with a cycling-inspired cafe in Girona called La Fabrica, a bicycle brand from Bristol called Mango Bikes, and of course reached out to you and Wacaco to see if we could make something happen.
Since Santiago isn't on the coast, I ended up biking from the beach of Barcelona to the beach of A Coruña on the Atlantic, crossing deserts, mountains, vineyards, and beautiful Spanish cities along the way. Keep in mind that I had never biked more than 2 days in a row in my life, so this was a full-on adventure. My main mission was to explore the mysteries of Spanish specialty coffee outside of cities like Barcelona and Madrid while showcasing how it's possible to drink excellent coffee wherever you may be in the world. One contact lead to the next, to the next, and I happened to come out with some incredible experiences and stories about what's happening with the coffee scene in Northern Spain.
How did you enjoy the Minipresso? Did it make traveling easier?
If anything, the Minipresso catches people's attention, haha. They're thinking, "what is this device you're pulling out of your bag?", and they're saying, "Oh yeah, I know this thing! Wait, no I don't, what is it? How does it work?" But in all honesty, it is by far the most compact brewer I've brought with me, and it makes a coffee like nothing else. As long as you have the grind size dialed in, and the brewer pre-heated, you're going to get a really satisfying cup.
What is your favorite part about the Minipresso?
I think, like I said, it's a totally unique style of coffee to have on the go that you don't need a lot of water to make like other brew methods. One thing I like about specialty coffee brewing in general, especially doing it for other people, is the connection you build over showing them your craft, the tools you use, and presenting them with amazing new flavours they usually haven't had before from a coffee. Minipresso takes this even further with its curious characteristics yet natural familiarity for people used to drinking espresso.
Do you have any exciting new coffee adventures planned?
My latest adventure, at least from my perspective, has been actually settling down for a bit here in Barcelona, focusing on my photography and building skills as a barista. It's a city that I feel more comfortable staying in for longer periods of time and always seem to miss when I'm gone. I am heading to London for a week on a few projects, and I'll be sure to investigate as much of the scene there as I can before saying cheerio. I can only imagine the surprise encounters that will pop up while I'm there.
Any interesting stories from your trip?
Oh man, I have stories on stories from this trip! I was Couchsurfing [www.couchsurfing.org] for the majority of my time on the road, and surfing always, always leads to great encounters. Beginning one particular morning without a set destination in mind, let alone a place to sleep, and knowing it would be my highest cumulative day of climbing of my journey, I was relieved to hear back from a guy on CS halfway up the mountain, but didn't quite know what to make of his message:
"Hey Brodie, unfortunately I'm not there, but if you are riding along El Camino de Santiago my house is in a village called Montán. There will be people there and it should be open. Big doors with table full of food and a Donativo sign. You're welcome to swing by, and if it feels good, stay there. Have a great day!"
As I descended through the mountain paths, and passed cow fields, I finally rounded a bend and came across Montán itself. I made it all the way through the small village to actually find exactly what was described, "Donativo" sign and all. It took a bit of dialogue to figure out somewhat how it all worked, but I decided to stay the night, showered under a garden hose, we cooked a nice dinner together, and in the morning I was excited to discover their coffee program in full swing as they served weary pilgrims Moka pot cappuccinos for donation. I made a few Minipressos for my new friends in the back kitchen and ground up some of my bean stash from La Fabrica's custom roasts as part of my donation for their hospitality. They were immensely grateful for a break from the supermarket grounds they had going on, and promised they wouldn't waste it on the pilgrims. I continued on my way, maybe to never see them again, but lasting memories and great coffee impressions were made.
Anything else you’d like to share?
It was a real pleasure partnering up on this trip, and I had a fun time trying out different roasts, grinds, and showing off my new toy to every coffee person I met. I'm looking forward to fine-tuning my methods now that I'm back in a more controlled environment before heading back out into the wild world that awaits.