Drippy Americans in an Espresso World

Italians may have invented coffee and the French may have perfected it, but the Americans have streamlined the brewing process with the automatic drip machine.

The ingenious process of heating the water, pouring it over the coffee grounds and filtering it to create a delicious cup of coffee can be attributed to the US.

With an easy brewing process, it’s no wonder that the US leads the world in coffee importation and consumption. The US also leads the world in drip coffee maker sales.

How Drip Coffee Makers Work

There are three basic principals at work with all brewing methods – heat, time and grind.

With a drip coffee maker, the heat and grind do most of the work, saving on time.

All home drip coffee makers have a water reservoir somewhere, usually opening on the top of the maker. Using the ceramic or glass coffee pot as a measuring cup (see header image above), you fill the pot with water equal to the amount of coffee you would like. Pour the cold (and filtered, if you are a purist) water from the pot into the reservoir.

Next, you look for the filter basket and place a filter in it. There are two basic filter shapes, a cone and a bowl. Within each shape there are sizes and material variances as well.

Once the basket and filter are loaded, add fresh coffee grounds.

In a perfect world, you will use beans roasted within the last 48 hours and grind them just before placing into the filter. If you don’t live in a perfect world, buy just enough fresh roasted beans to last you until your next trip to the store and grind enough for one pot just before you begin brewing.

You can usually buy a blade grinder for $20 or so from discount and department stores. The least preferred grounds are those that are sold in gallon tubs, but even these will make a cup of coffee far superior to instant granules.

Place the filter and basket into the coffee maker and replace the carafe or pot under the drip hole.

Finally, press the ON or BREW button. This begins the internal machinery to begin heating the water by running it over hot, electric coils. The nearly boiling water is then sucked up through tubes and over the grounds held in place by the filter and basket.

Gravity pulls the water through the grounds and down into the coffee pot. Many coffee makers include a heating element under the carafe to keep the coffee warm. Be careful, though, this element can cause the coffee to get too hot and burn – a very unsavory cup indeed.

How to drip coffee maker travel

Drip Coffee Maker Options

Walk down the coffee maker aisle of any discount or department store in the United States of America and you’ll find a ton of different options to choose from with price tags to match. The most expensive isn’t necessarily the best and the cheapest isn’t necessarily the worse one for you. It all depends on how often and how much you will use your coffee maker.

You can usually find a dumbed-down coffee maker that does nothing more than brew java for about USD$20. Add a clock and heating plate, you can find a few for less than USD$30. Throw a timer, heating plate shut-off or an insulated carafe and you’ll find the price tags reach USD$50 or more.

There are some coffee makers that do far more than prepare a cup of coffee for you first thing in the morning. Some have integrated espresso makers, bean grinders and milk heating reservoirs for those of you that like that sort of thing.

Before shelling out a bunch of money on a drip coffee maker, look for product reviews online to find out the ups and downs other users have reported.

You can do this by using a search engine to look for “MANUFACTURER MODEL user reviews”, replacing the words in capitals with the appropriate maker and model.

But, even better, because we are a travel site, you may be better off getting a portable coffee maker and leaving the drip-style coffee for when you are staying in decent hotels–most rooms have them available for free.

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10 Intimidating Facts About Scaling the Seven Summits

If you don’t think you have the strength, willpower or mental fortitude to climb the highest peaks on every single continent, you’re not alone–only around 350 people, as of January 2012, have actually had the guts–and money–to accomplish this formidable task.

Adding to the challenge is the fact that, depending on whom you talk to, there are actually eight summits to climb if you want to have truly mastered this feat. If you dream big about mountaineering, wait a tic–scaling these majestic peaks is much more intimidating than you might have ever imagined.

1. The Eight Summits (Or Is It Nine?)

Disputes about geographical boundaries mean that the Seven Summits have evolved into eight summits–when Dick Bass first completed the challenge in 1985, he climbed these seven peaks:

  1. Aconcagua (South America)
  2. McKinley (North American)
  3. Vinson (Antarctica)
  4. Kilimanjaro (Africa)
  5. Kosciusko (Australia)
  6. Elbrus (Europe)
  7. Everest (Asia)

This is known as the “Bass List.”

However, Pat Morrow, another climber to scale the mountains early on, determined that another peak, Carstensz Pyramid (also known as Puncak Jaya) was the highest point on the Australian continent–not Kosciusko.

Puncak Jaya 4884 meters tall Papua New Guinea

Carstensz is reputed to be significantly more challenge due to its steep vertical incline.

Morrow justified his decision by saying that the continental shelf on which Carstensz Pyramid resides is part of the Australian continent.

Reinhold Messner, a noted mountaineer, agreed with Morrow, and this variation become known as the “Messner List.”

Of the 350 people who have laid claim to completing the Seven Summits, just 30 percent have climbed both Kosciuszko and Carstensz–meaning they’ve done all eight summits. The latter is a more technically challenging climb and at 4,884 meters (16,023.6 feet), it’s more than double Kosciuszko’s 2,228 meters (7,309.7 feet). 

There’s another controversy about the European mountain; however, it’s not widespread enough to make a switch on either of the official lists:

Mount Elbrus, Europe’s highest peak at 5,642 meters (18,510) feet, is located on the Asia-Europe border as part of the Caucasus Range.

The majority of geographers place the peak in Europe; however, a few claim it’s actually in Asia–and that would make Mount Blanc Europe’s highest peak at 4,810 meters (15,781 feet). Therefore, you might someday have to scale nine mountains to truly be victorious.

Mount Elbrus

Mount Elbrus, Europe’s highest peak at 5,642 meters (18,510)

2. You Need Around $200K

The total sum to climb all Seven Summits varies widely based on your approach, your gear, your team and other factors. Generally speaking, though, it’s a pretty hefty chunk of change — a ballpark resides anywhere between $130,000 to $220,000.

The most expensive peak to climb, by far, is Mount Everest, which the website estimates at around $60,000 to $87,000. Time magazine places the price tag even higher at up to $100,000. The least-expensive is Aconcagua at just $850 to $5,000.

Aconcagua

Aconcagua, reputedly the most affordable of the 7 summits to climb.

However, that’s just for the luxury of stepping foot on the mountains; don’t forget to add in $8,000 to $13,000 worth of gear, not just hiking poles, and clothing, another $5k to $8k for training and $9,000 to nearly $23,000 in airfare, depending on where you’re coming and going from.

On top of the costs, it takes a lot of your time to go on these expeditions.

Mount Everest alone takes an average of six to seven weeks to climb, even though it only takes five days to reach the summit–you must acclimate to the thin air for safety purposes.

Therefore, holding down a job can be quite difficult unless you have the most understanding of employers–or a whole lot of vacation time.

4. You Just Might Die

There’s no official report as to how many people have died climbing all Seven Summits.

However, as of 2013, nearly 250 people had died trying to ascend Mount Everest alone–and then in April 2014, another 16 were killed in one day in one horrific avalanche.

Africa Mt Kilimanjar Summit Sign

Kilimanjaro summit, the roof of Africa.

Every year, 10 deaths are reported on Mount Kilimanjaro, though the numbers are conflicting. In January 2009, five people died climbing Aconcagua. In other words, these mountains are deadly.

Death comes from altitude sickness, falls and hypothermia, to name a few possible maladies.

On some mountains, such as Everest, the risk and cost of recovering a dead body is too high–meaning future climbers can still see the eerie forms lying in the ice as they make their own ascent.

In fact, more than 200 dead bodies are still on Everest. Climbers have to maneuver past them on their way to the summit.

5. The Summits Total 150,000 Feet

The total elevation of all the eight summits put together equals 45,592 meters (149,580 feet). That’s approximately five times the height of the average airliner’s cruising altitude of 30,000 feet.

The highest elevation is, naturally, Mount Everest at 8,848 meters (29,035 feet), while the lowest is Kosciuszko at 2,228 meters (7,310 feet). If you exclude this mountain from the list, the lowest is Carstensz Pyramid at 4,884 meters (16,024 feet).

6. It’s Pretty Cold Up There

You know that $8,000 to $13,000 you spent on gear and clothing to climb? It just might be worth it, as you’ll need warm clothing in these conditions.

It’s best to climb Mount Elbrus in July and August, but even then temperatures at night average a balmy 18 F (minus 8 C)–but that’s downright warm compared to some of the other peaks.

At night on the Carstensz Pyramid, the summit can be around 14 F (minus 10 C) and it rains for several hours a day.

On Everest, summit temperatures range from minus 4 F to minus 31 F, with wind speeds of up to 175 mph.

At Mount McKinley, also known as Denali, temperatures in early May–the earliest time of year you can begin to safely climb–can hover around minus 50F.

7. Getting to the Mountain

In some cases, it’s no easy feat to simply arrive at the base of the mountain to begin to climb.

To reach Carstensz Pyramid, for example, you have to make your way through West Papua New Guinea’s tropical jungle.

Add in government issues, political instability and tribal wars and it’s no wonder that it’s one of the least-climbed of the Seven Summits.

Even the trek to the base camp of Everest means getting to 17,590 feet–higher than the summit of some of the other mountains on the list. Some climbers choose to simply make the journey to the base camp, a difficult hike with a rewarding payoff that’s significantly less dangerous than going to the very top.

Everest Base Camp

Everest base camp, some climbers only venture this far and have no intention of reaching the peak.

So many of the mountains are remote, as well, meaning that getting medical help in an emergency can be difficult. As you might expect from its location in Antarctica, the area surrounding Mount Vinson is entirely undeveloped. While Vinson’s not a technically challenging climb, the cold and location make it extremely risky.

8. There’s actually a “Death Zone”

That’s right–a death zone.

This is where the altitude is so high that the risk of death increases substantially.

It’s found on Mount Everest above approximately 8,000 meters (26,246 feet). Your body cannot replenish its oxygen store at this height, as there’s only one-third as much oxygen in the air as at sea level. If you have asthma, you might want to skip this one.

9. You Won’t Be the Youngest

If you thought you might be able to break a record due to your age, think again.

After scaling Vinson in Antarctica on December 24, 2011, then-15-year-old Jordan Romero became the youngest person to officially scale the seven peaks. The American-born Romero beat the previous record, set earlier in 2011 by a 16-year-old Brit.

Moun Vinson

Mount Vinson, one of the Seven Summits located in Antarctica.

Setting records wasn’t new to the teen; he conquered Mount Everest at age 13.

Unlike some other climbers, Romero has scaled both Carstensz Pyramid and Kosciuszko.

It took Romero six years to achieve all Seven Summits, compared to the record-holding 134 days achieved in 2010 by Vern Tejas–who once held the record as the youngest Seven Summits climber.

10. Next Up: The Second Summits

The final intimidation factor of climbing the Seven Summits is realizing that, despite this achievement, some serious climbers might still scoff at you for not having done the harder versions–that is, the more technically challenging, albeit slightly lower, second-highest summits on each continent.

This is comprised of the following more difficult and deadly mountains:

  1. K2 (Asia)
  2. Ojos del Salad (South America)
  3. Mount Logan (North America)
  4. Mount Kenya (Africa)
  5. Mount Tyree (Antarctica)
  6. Dychtau (Europe)
  7. Puncak Trikora (Australia)

However, you’ll be in good company, as all seven Second Summits weren’t scaled until 2012 when Hans Kammerlander completed the challenge. He remains the only person to have completed this feat.

The difference in danger between K2 and Mount Everest, both located in Asia, is particularly notable; in 2009 and 2010, nobody attempted to scale K2 at all because of potential death. Additionally, while Everest has a 4.14 percent death rate, K2’s is 26.47 percent. That means that approximately 1 in every 4 climbers that attempts K2 loses their life doing so.

Do you have the mental fortitude to scale all Seven Summits?

Do so, and you’ll go down in history as one of just a few hundred who have been able to do so.

Adventures Await – What Mountains Will You Conquer?

Don’t be a Chicken, Try the Turkish Method of Brewing Coffee

Turkey (the country, not the Thanksgiving bird) isn’t necessarily known for their delicacies to the general population.

For connoisseurs, however, Turkey is known as one of the original coffee brewing countries. The people of Turkey have so much know-how, in fact, that they have their own method and serving style.

Turkish coffee is different than all other kinds (save a few primitive recipes for Cowboy Coffee) because there is no filter involved. Instead of filtering the grounds, Turkish coffee is ground to an almost-powder consistency and allowed to settle after brewing.

Like an espresso a Turkish coffee will be very strong and full of flavor. It is typically served with sugar and the spice cardamom, something the espresso-drinking French simply abhor.

How to Make Turkish Coffee

Start with super fine coffee grounds, even finer than espresso. The grounds should almost be a powder consistency. Use flavored beans if you like, or try a purist cup.

Next, you need an ibrik or another small metallic pot, preferably one with a narrowing at the top of the pot.

Turkish Coffee Pot

This should have a long handle and not be too wide (it’s better to have a tall, skinny pot than a short, fat one.)

You will also need a heat source (stove), some quality water, sugar that dissolves easily and the optional spices like cardamom, anise or cinnamon.

Finally, you’ll need a coffee cup.

Sprinkle between two and six teaspoons of sugar into the coffee cup. Alternatively, you could add a helping of sugar-free sweetener of your choice.

Add very finely ground cardamom, anise or cinnamon to the cup as well.

Add a little water and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Add water to your pan or up to where the ibrik’s neck begins, careful not to fill into the neck.

Grind one heaping teaspoon of coffee grounds for each ounce of water (10 ounces of water would require five teaspoons of grounds.)

Place the grounds ON TOP of the water, do not stir them, even a little.

Turn the heat on your stove to medium-low and place the ibrik onto the burner. Stay with the coffee, as the magic happens very quickly.

It will begin to foam and the foam will start to crawl up the neck of the pot or ibrik. Just before it reaches the top of the neck, remove from heat.

Stir the coffee now then bring back to the heat source to foam again. Do this once again, for a total of three foams. The final foam should not be stirred but rather spooned into cups or dumped down the drain if you don’t care for it.

Let the coffee settle for up to a minute and then pour your Turkish coffee into cups.

Recipe for Turkish Coffee

Conclusion

As you can see, the process of making Turkish coffee differs greatly from the standard American drip or French espresso. It should come as no surprise that the resulting cup of liquid gold is unlike either of those. Rather, it is a savory-sweet cup of rich java.

Turkish coffee is a great choice if you want to experiment or enjoy a very strong cup of Joe with the chance of some floaties.

Look at second hand stores for an ibrik before shelling out the thirty or so dollars most sell for in Turkish and Russian specialty stores in large cities and online.

As you sip your Turkish coffee, remember this old saying about the beverage:

“Coffee should be as black as hell, as strong as death, and as sweet as love.”

Most purists would not even consider adding milk or cream to Turkish coffee, but it’s your cup, so do as you wish.

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Buddhism and the Mysticism of Emptiness

Buddhism is historically, doctrinally, and philosophically diverse.

Theravada, Mahayana, Zen, and other forms of Buddhism all have different ideas on life, death, the cosmos, and even the nature of the Buddha.

Monks in these traditions live by different monastic codes, practices, rules, and philosophies.

So what makes all of these traditions Buddhist?

One could perhaps point to many different examples, but the strongest element tying all of Buddhism together is its deep mysticism of emptiness.

Buddhism is an intensely mystical religion. It is based on the mystical experience and revelation of one man, the Buddha.

This experience was one in which he attained nirvana, an indescribable and fundamentally empty state. Nirvana is empty because it is unconditioned and free of all distinctions.

In nirvana, the self is released of all desires and thoughts. All Buddhist mysticism, no matter how diverse, stems from this one initial mystical impulse, from the quest to emulate the Buddha and find emptiness.

Theravada

Theravada continued on this initial quest for nirvana, presenting it as the ultimate goal for Buddhist monks.

Monks strive to attain the supreme enlightenment so that they may finally bring an end to the conditioned existence of desire and suffering.

Once they have reached this stage they may be called “arhats,” meaning that they have become “perfected ones.” One can attain nirvana through meditation and “right concentration.”

In other words, a monk must cultivate the correct mystical consciousness in order to realize a perfect state of emptiness.

Monks Strive for an End to suffering

Mahayana

Mahayana Buddhism changed the ultimate goal from nirvana to attainment of Buddhahood itself.

Important Mahayana literature such as the Perfection of Wisdom texts focuses on the Suchness of the Buddha, and describes it as the ultimate reality, the inexhaustible essence within each and every single one of us.

Most importantly, this Suchness is also “empty.”

Emptiness is neither existent nor non-existent. It is nothing and everything at the same time. It is paradoxically only attainable by Buddhas, and yet each and every single being is at every single moment already fundamentally empty.

Japanese Zen Buddhism

Japanese Zen Buddhism takes this one step further by arguing that the desire for enlightenment, whether as nirvana or Buddhahood, must ultimately be abandoned as well.

The pursuit of emptiness means that one must be willing to let go of absolutely everything. Depending on or following the words of the Buddha will not lead one to true emptiness.

Zen does away with all logic and reason and instead attempts to provoke in the mind a sudden moment of illumination through the use of paradoxical sayings.

Buddism Travel

Different Buddhist would disagree on where and what emptiness actually is.

Is it nirvana, Buddhahood, or can it be found only by letting go of these sorts of concepts?

The answers to these questions vary, but in whatever way it is conceived it is emptiness that drives Buddhist mysticism.

More Mystical Travel 

Explore History and Nature at Mesa Verde National Park

Home to 4,500 archaeological sites–including the 600 cliff dwellings that have made it world-famous–Mesa Verde National Park offers visitors an unparalleled opportunity to step into the past.

Located in southwestern Colorado, Mesa Verde is easily reached via U.S. Highway 160 either from Cortez to the west or Durango to the east.

Because Mesa Verde mixes both a treasure trove of archaeological wonders with natural splendor, it is unique in the National Park System and does require a fair bit of planning in order to be enjoyed fully.

Visiting the Famed Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings

The highlight of any trip to Mesa Verde National Park is a visit to the cliff dwellings, built by the Ancestral Pueblo People during the 13th century.

The most famous cliff dwelling, the Cliff Palace, is a sprawling complex of sandstone walls, rooms, and towers nestled precariously underneath a massive overhanging cliff.

During the summer months, visits to the Cliff Palace–as well as to the Long House and the nearby Balcony House–are by ranger-guided tours only, which require a ticket that can be purchased at the Visitor Center at the park entrance.

Since the drive from the park entrance to the cliff dwellings can easily take an hour depending on traffic, be sure to purchase these tickets beforehand.

best preserved cliff dwelling

Not all cliff dwellings require a ticket, however, and some are open to self-guided tours.

Spruce Tree House, for example, is the best preserved cliff dwelling in the park and is free to visit as is the Step House, which includes a restored pit house.

Other archaeological sites are strewn throughout the park, including the Square Tower House and the Sun Temple.

The latter site, in addition to being an impressive archaeological site in its own right, also gives visitors exceptional views of the Cliff Palace.

Timing your Visit

Also remember that although the park is open 24 hours, the cliff dwellings and many archaeological sites are not, with most closing before dusk. Also, the Wetherill Mesa area, which includes the Long House and Step House, are closed October through April.

The rest of the park is open all year.

What else?

While the cliff dwellings are the main draw of Mesa Verde, it quickly becomes apparent to most visitors that history isn’t the only thing this park has to offer.

Welcome to Mesa Verde

The road from the park entrance to the cliff dwellings, for example, snakes its way over mountains and through canyons, affording visitors spectacular views of the Mancos Valley and Montezuma Valley to the north.

Bicycling is also permitted on the main park road between the park entrance and Chapin Mesa, although it can be grueling even for experienced bikers and the narrow and twisting road make distracted drivers a problem.

While Wetherill Mesa Road is closed to bicycles, the Long House Loop, located at Wetherill Mesa itself, is open to bikes and, thankfully, closed to motorized vehicles.

Hiking is also a popular activity in the park, with many trails taking hikers through scenic landscapes and past historic sites.

Although many trails are relatively short, most of them include steep elevation changes that can make them difficult in hot weather or after rainfall.

Because of the sensitive archaeological nature of the park, hikers are required to stay on marked trails at all times.

Two trails, the Spruce Canyon Trail and the Petroglyph Point Trail, require hikers to register beforehand either at the trailhead or at the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum.

Accommodation in Mesa Verde

While the main sights can be done in one day, those looking to visit at a more relaxed pace will probably want to stay a night or two.

Far View Lodge is the park’s only hotel and has restaurants, gift shops, groceries, and other amenities. Located at the junction of the main park road and Wetherill Mesa Road, it is also a prime spot for exploring the various attractions in the park.

The park also has a large campground, Morefield Campground, located near the park entrance, which has hookups, a gas station, grocery store, RV dump station, amphitheater, and laundromat.

Camping in Mesa Verde

Many of the park’s best trails are also located here. While the campground is first-come, first-served all year round, space is almost always available. Both Morefield Campground and Far View Lodge are open only from spring to fall.

Backcountry camping is not permitted.

Mesa Verde National Park is one of the few places where history and nature combine to provoke awe and wonder in visitors.

One of America’s first World Heritage Sites, Mesa Verde continues to be an inspirational place entirely unlike any other in the world.

Get Your Hiking Adventure Trekking

Cappuccino Coffee: A Rich & Colorful History

Cappuccino coffee is one of the most popular coffee drinks in the world.

It’s made from a freshly prepared espresso that has its flavor enhanced with hot milk and steamed milk foam. Then, more often than not, cappuccino is topped off with a sprinkling of chocolate or cinnamon.

Yet, the drink so many people know and love has not always been served the way it is today and the true origin of cappuccino coffee remains unknown.

double sided coffee glass with cappuccino and spoon

A History Shrouded in Mystery

Cappuccino coffee originated in Italy and is believed to be named after the “cappucio” hoods worn by Franciscan monks.

Cappuccino translates as “little hood” and the color of the monks’ hoods bears a striking resemblance to the shade of brown that results from the mixing of coffee and milk in a cup of cappuccino.

Although there can be little doubt about the reason cappuccino coffee received its name it is unclear how long ago the drink was invented.

One popular story states the drink is the invention a Capuchin Monk called Marco d’ Avaiano and that he produced the world’s first ever cappuccino coffee in 1683, after the Battle of Vienna. It’s a great story, but there is no historical evidence to back it up.

Capuchin Monk & Cappuccino

Cappuccino From a Machine

Cappuccino coffee drinking grew in popularity in 1901.

Up until then coffee was made in small batches.

This changed when a young man from Milan, called Luigi Bezzera, decided the coffee making process was too slow and invented the world’s first espresso coffee machine. Bezzera’s machine made it easy to make a cup of strong, black espresso in around 30 seconds and the fact that an espresso could be produced so quickly made it easier to produce other coffee drinks, including cappuccino.

Bezzera’s creation may have made it easier to make a cappuccino, but early cappuccinos lacked the thick texture that modern-day coffee drinkers know and love.

The milky foam was a later addition that came about when enterprising coffee machine manufacturers decided to add steam wands to their machines.

After the foam was introduced to the drink adding sprinkles of cinnamon or chocolate was an easy next step.

la marzocco coffee machine

Cappuccino Coffee is Introduced to America

By the 1950s, Cappuccino was a firm favourite with coffee drinkers all over Europe.

The drink did not become popular in America until the early 1980s.

Drinking coffee was already an important part of American culture, but many Americans preferred to take their coffee black and a visit to a coffee shop was often more about the food than the drink that accompanied it.

Things changed when a few entrepreneurs noticed how things were done in Europe, where coffee drinking was as much about the experience as the beverage. This was very different to America and the entrepreneurs realized coffee had a potential that was yet to be taken advantage of in America.

However, when it came to coffee drinking, the cultural differences between America and Europe were significant. It was the norm for American’s to pop into a coffee shop, grab a quick coffee and then go, only staying longer if they wanted something to eat.

The entrepreneurs needed a way to encourage customers to stay longer and order more drinks. They achieved this by offering a wider variety of options including lattes, caffè cremas and, cappuccinos.

One only has to look at the present popularity of Starbucks to see how successful the move turned out to be.

American Coffee Culture

Cappuccino: A Coffee Conclusion

These days anyone who wishes to do so can pop down to the local supermarket and buy a sachet of cappuccino coffee to prepare at home and the hardest part of a coffee shop visit may be choosing to opt for a cappuccino or taking one of the many other coffee options that are on offer.

Enjoying a cappuccino has become so easy to do it has become equally easy to take the drink for granted. That is a pity because the beverage has a long and interesting history.

The modern-day cappuccino is not just the result of a monk’s experimentation with coffee beans, water, and milk; or a Milanese man’s desire to speed up the coffee making process.

Cappuccino is a drink that has evolved and improved over the years. In fact, the history of cappuccino is as rich and colorful as the drink itself.

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A Short Guide to Hiking in Slovenia’s Triglav National Park

The best of Slovenia’s Alps are contained within Triglav National Park, which is named for Mt. Triglav, the park’s highest peak (2,864 meters).

The mountains in Slovenia’s borders are somewhat smaller than those found in Italy or Austria. However, they are no less scenic.

There are plenty of challenging climbs and breathtaking viewpoints that will satisfy the most avid hiker.

Here are a few tips to help you make the most out of a trek through Triglav National Park.

Church of St John the Baptist

Church of St John the Baptist, Bohinj Lake, Slovenia

Plan at least two days on the trail to reach the summit.

Slovenians consider it a rite of passage to stand atop the country’s highest peak.

The summit can be approached from several directions, but in most cases, a round trip will take an experienced hiker 16-18 hours.

Basically, hiking Triglav in one day is doable, but you will wear yourself out.

Do yourself a favor and plan to stay overnight in the park.

where to stay when trekking in park

Julian Alps in Triglav National Park

You will enjoy the hike a lot more since you won’t be rushed.

Make reservations beforehand at one of the mountain huts. Camping in the park is illegal, so you’ll need to reserve a spot at the Alpine Club’s mountain huts to stay overnight.

A dorm bed will run you 20 euros (less if you can show an Alpine Club card). Hot food is available, but generally expensive. It’s a good idea to bring extra snacks.

You can obtain a comprehensive list of hut phone numbers from any tourist office. You will need to reserve by phone at least a few days in advance for the more popular huts.

It’s often easier to get a spot mid-week as more locals head to the park on weekends. Some hikers show up without a reservation, which is risky and tends to annoy the hut managers.

Ascend by way of  Voje Valley towards Mt. Triglav and descend through Seven Lakes Valley.

If you want to ascend Mt. Triglav and get a proper tour of the park, this is by far the most scenic route.

When you take this route, plan for a two-night trek.

The best hut to stay at for the first night is Dom Planika pod Triglavom (aka “Planika”).

You can check in, drop your bags and ascend Triglav on your first day, or save the ascent for the morning of your second day.

Reserve your second night in one of the huts in the Seven Lakes Valley region.

From Seven Lakes Valley, you will descend into the Bohinj Lake Valley on your third day.

Breaking up this route into three days will give you plenty of time to enjoy the scenery.

waterfall in Triglav National Park, Julian Alps, Slovenia

Pericnik waterfall in Triglav National Park, Julian Alps, Slovenia.

Check your shoes before commencing your hike.

The alps contain rocky, steep and difficult terrain. When your shoes fall apart mid-hike, you may have a very difficult time continuing your journey and getting back to town.

If your shoes are more than a few years old, you may want to consider replacing them before taking on the Alps.

See how to break in hiking shoe to prepare for better comfort during your Triglav National Park hike.

Bring hiking poles.

Even if you’re young and spry, poles can help enhance both safety and stamina.

Hiking poles are useful for traversing slippery rocks and steep slopes. They will also greatly ease the strain on your knees during steep descents. The alps are serious mountains, so bring serious equipment.

Don’t Forget a Good Map

Buy a good map.

Topographical trail maps are easily purchased from the tourist offices.

A map with full detail will help you plan your route, learn more about the area, and locate nearby huts should you find yourself in an emergency.

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Chill Out with Iced Coffee from Around the World

No matter the season, no matter the reason, iced coffees always hit the spot.

Americans aren’t the only ones enjoying iced coffee beverages, around the world iced coffees and espresso drinks are popular. There’s more to an iced coffee then, well, ice and coffee.

In the northwest, where American fascination with coffee was born, an iced coffee includes very little flavoring or sweeteners. Seattleites will pour a shot of hot espresso over a cup of ice and add a bit of coffee to fill it to the top.

In California, iced coffee drinks are often created by filling a cup with ice, adding milk about half way up the cup then topping off with strong coffee. A squeeze or two of caramel and whipped cream topping finishes it off.

Ice Coffee California Style

Coffee lovers on the east coast dig coffee martinis. Cold brewed coffee is mixed with vodka and a splash of coffee liquor, shaken in a martini shaker and served in an iced martini glass.

Italians have been known to serve iced coffee drinks on hot days by placing a cup filled with ice under the espresso maker nozzle. They claim espresso begins to turn bitter if cooled slowly.

In France, they like their iced coffee sweet and syrupy. After brewing a strong cup of Joe, they add sugar cubes and spices before stirring and adding ice.

Iced Coffee 101

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that if you add something hot, like coffee, to something cold, like ice, they both end up diluting and becoming lukewarm. There are a couple ways to counter this rule of science.

Making cold brewed coffee is one way to combat the ice melting issue.

Don’t confuse the cold brewed coffee described below for cold, brewed coffee – the leftovers from this morning’s pot.

Ice Coffee and Straws

When made properly, cold brewed coffee serves as a refrigerated coffee concentrate that can make hot beverages as well as cold.

  1. Start with a pound of freshly roasted, high quality, coarsely ground coffee beans.
  2. Place the beans in the bottom of a one gallon pitcher.
  3. Fill the pitcher with ten cups of filtered water.
  4. Leave at room temperature for twelve to fifteen hours.
  5. Place folded cheesecloth or other fine mesh filter over another pitcher that is one half to a full gallon in volume. Secure cheesecloth with a rubber band around the lip of the pitcher. It doesn’t have to be tight, just secure.
  6. Pour the cold brewed coffee and sludge over the filter, filling the bottom pitcher with a filtered concentrate.
  7. Squeeze the remainder of the essence from the beans by wadding the cheesecloth or filter around the beans and compressing tightly over the pitcher.

Cold Brew Recipe

You can use cold brewed coffee to make a plethora of iced coffee drink favorites.

Fill a glass one quarter full of milk. Stir in two tablespoons of chocolate beverage syrup or Ovaltine. Fill with ice. Pour concentrated cold brewed coffee to the top of the glass. Substitute strawberry beverage syrup or protein shake powder to make a tasty iced coffee treat.

Another way to combat the melting issue is to use the low temperature of your other ingredients to temper the coffee or espresso, making the melt far less obvious. When you will be using milk in your iced coffee drink, you can mix the shot, milk and anything other than the ice before adding your ice cubes.

With a little forethought, you could also place your iced coffee drink glass in your freezer until you’re ready for it. Pour the hot coffee or espresso shot into the frozen glass. The liquid from the coffee or espresso will absorb the cold temperatures, making for a cool cup of coffee in just a minute.

Keep cool. Keep caffeinated. Travel far.

More Coffee Adventures Await

What You Need to Know About Italian Coffee Culture

I’m sure you are already familiar with the words espresso, cappuccino and latte by now, as are most people around the globe.

Italian coffee drinks have now gained worldwide popularity, especially because of international coffee shop chains such as Starbucks, Lavazza and Costa Coffee.

But when you travel to Italy, will you be enjoying your daily brew in the same way as you would back home? Chances are you won’t. Italian coffee culture is unique to the world, and an integral part of Italian everyday culture.

Before you go and sip an espresso in a Milan coffee shop, there are some very interesting things you should know about Italian coffee culture:

The origins of Italian coffee culture

How did coffee become so popular in Italy in the first place?

Coffee was first introduced to Italy in the 16th century via Venice from Istanbul. It was at first only consumed by the wealthy, who viewed it as an exotic treat.

However, coffee was seen as a subject of controversy for religious reasons, as it had originated from Muslim countries. Only after being reviewed and approved by Pope Clement VIII, did it see a large boost in popularity.

Coffee houses started to pop up in the late 17th century, and it became more and more common to go out for coffee.

Italians only consumed regular brewed coffee until the evolution of the espresso in the early 20th century.

visual of consistency percentage of whats in a cafe latte

The espresso machine was patented in 1903, and since then the modern day coffee culture has evolved and flourished throughout the 20th century until today.

The common Italian coffee drinks

Italian coffee drinks are limited to a few fundamental choices.

These are the most common choices:

  • Un caffè – A shot of espresso served in a small cup.
  • Caffè corretto – A caffè which has been ‘corrected’ with a shot of liquor.
  • Cappuccino – Made up of ⅓ coffee, ⅓ steamed milk, ⅓ foam.
  • Macchiato – Consists of one espresso shot with an added few drops of milk and some foam.
  • Marocchino – Espresso combined some type of chocolate (hot chocolate, cocoa, etc.).
  • Caffè latte – Made up of ⅓ espresso, ⅔ steamed milk, and a small amount of foam on top.
  • Shakerato– A shot of espresso shaken on ice.

what is the percentage content of cappuccino visual

Some unique aspects of Italian coffee culture

Drinking coffee standing by the bar.

Italian coffee shops include both a bar area and a seating area, and the price you pay for your coffee will depend on whether you sit down at a table or have your coffee standing by the bar (by the way, the word barista literally means bartender!).

Sitting at a table will incur a higher price than standing, so if you’re a budget conscious person you might consider sipping your coffee by the bar. But, why standing you might ask?

This brings us to the next point about Italian Coffee Culture:

Fast consumption.

Unlike the typical Italian food culture of slow and relaxed eating, it’s coffee culture emphasises finishing your drink quickly and moving on. So if you’re standing by the bar while having your shot of espresso, you’re likely to finish it in 2-3 sips and be on your way.

No “to-go” coffee.

While the culture of international coffee shop chains has enabled you to bring your coffee with you out in a paper cup with lid, the coffee in Italy is meant to be consumed in the coffee shop.

Since it’s also meant to be finished quickly anyway, there would be no point of bringing the same cup of coffee around all day.

Only one coffee in one sitting.

According to Italian coffee norms, you’re only supposed to consume one coffee during your visit to a coffee shop. If you crave more caffeine later in the day, you can just have another coffee then.

Milk only in the morning.

Coffee drinks that contain milk, such as cappuccinos and caffè lattes, are usually only consumed in the morning. Ordering one of these drinks in the afternoon might be seen by the locals as a bit unusual.

Lattes.

While we’re on the topic of milk: If you want to order a latte, make sure you specify that you want a caffè latte, as the word ‘latte’ by itself in Italian just means milk. If you actually do want a cup of milk, feel free to just ask for a latte.

Milk Pouring into Latte creating leaflike design on froth

When in Italy don’t forget latte means milk, while caffe latte is espresso with milk.

Italian coffee in the 21st century

People around the world can’t get enough of Italian coffee these days, which is why we now have a growing number of coffee machines for home use.

Why go outside (or travel to Italy) to get a great cup of coffee, when we can now get it as soon as we roll out of bed and step into our kitchens?

Modern coffee machines, such as the Nescafè Dolce Gusto have made coffee preparation even easier, with the use of coffee pods or capsules instead of ground coffee beans.

When you’re travelling somewhere where you do not have easy access to a good caffè, there are now portable, travel sized espresso makers you can bring with you on your travels!

An example of this is the NowPresso, which is compatible with Nespresso® capsules (and other reusable coffee pods) and can boil water during coffee making.

The NowPresso is the the world’s first portable coffee machine that runs on a rechargeable lithium battery, which is detachable for air travel. The battery takes 2.5 hours to fully charge, and one charge can make 100 cups of espresso when using hot water and 3 cups when using cold water.

Italian style coffee is here to stay, and it’s now accessible almost anywhere in the world. No matter if you’re lucky enough to be in Italy to enjoy a caffè corretto standing by a bar, or when you happen to be somewhere else in the world where they only drink tea, a good cup of Italian style coffee is something to be enjoyed every single day.

espresso for travel

Will Travel For Coffee…

More Posts to Help You Keep Caffeinated on Your Next Heroic Adventure

The Absolute Best Ways to Make Killer Coffee on the Go

Let’s talk about coffee. The nectar of the gods. The wake up juice that keeps you going, morning, noon, and night. One of the few stimulants that is legal/doesn’t destroy/rarely makes you hallucinate.

Us coffee drinkers have been accused of having an “addiction”, but they’ve got it all wrong: we have a blessed, symbiotic relationship.

We get the crackling energy and the coffee gets the pleasure of tobogganing through our digestive system. It’s been said that you can have too much of a good thing, but those haters have clearly never felt the sweet bliss of hot coffee in the morning. Or at lunch time. Or in the afternoon. Or really, any time.

Of course, there is one challenge…

cup of coffee

How do you keep yourself constantly supplied with good coffee?

It’s a well known fact that coffee quality tends to dip when you travel. You find yourself gagging down hotel coffee, which often tastes like melted linoleum, except with less flavor.

If things really get bad, you may be forced to drink gas station coffee, which is the equivalent of scooping sludge out of a septic tank.

It’s not an option to go without coffee, any more than it’s an option to go without food or water. You LOVE coffee, and the thought of going a single day without is unfathomable.

Thankfully, you don’t have to go into coffee rehab in order to survive when you travel.

There are a number of portable solutions that will allow you to drink astoundingly good coffee wherever you go. You won’t have to settle for McDonald’s sock water or Maxwell “Sweet mother, what is this?” House. You can have your coffee, and drink it too.

In this post, I’m going to break down the best portable coffee makers. No, I’m not going to suggest you lug around a drip coffee maker. You’re going to get the best of the best. And you won’t have to deplete your savings account either.

Let’s get started.

What You May Need For That Perfect Cup 

Before we dive into the best portable coffee makers, we need to talk about what you may need to make the most glorious, soul-shaking cup of coffee.

  • First, you’ll need great coffee. That goes without being said. If you’re buying coffee that comes in giant cans, please exit this article and don’t let the browser hit you on the way out.
  • Second, you’ll need a way to grind the coffee. If you’re using coffee pods, this won’t be a problem. However, some of the devices below require you to grind your coffee.
  • Third, you need a way to heat water. You’re going to need to heat your water if you’re going to make a decent cup of water that doesn’t taste like goat urine. There are lots of different options, like a portable kettle, a campstove, your car radiator, etc. Some of the best portable coffee machines (se below options) will boil the water for you.

#1 – The NowPresso Portable, Lithium Powered Espresso Machine

If you are an espresso fiend, the NowPresso is your go to>>>

This baby is the world’s first lithium powered portable espresso machine, and it’s basically like having a personal Italian barista named Roberto.

Using Nespresso Cups, and NowPresso’s own reusable capsules–which allow you to prepare your own coffee mixtures–you can literally create silky smooth, flavorful espresso with the touch of a button.

It has an air vent lid to allow steam to escape, a water cavity for simple cleaning and measuring the water, a vacuum sealed capsule cap, ensuring the perfect pour, and a heat resistant silicon cup. It will even boil the water for you.

The NowPresso is every coffee drinker’s fantasy:

portable coffee machine

It also comes with a slick travel bag, allowing you to transport the NowPresso without losing things or dumping them on the ground.

Whether you’re a traveler, camper, hobo, or nomadic camel herder, this is a fantastic solution to get a quick fix where you have control over the quality of your coffee.

To be one of the first coffee drinker to own one of these curious coffee contraptions, you better act fast because the NowPresso by XSPROFIX reached it’s Kickstarter goal of AU$75,00 AND it’s only available on Kickstarter.com until July 5th, 2017.

Update July 6th, 2017: NowPresso remains available for order on Indiegogo’s InDemand store:

Get the NowPresso on Indiegogo here >>>

#2 – French Press Travel Mug

body french press mug

If you like your coffee like your soul (dark, slightly gritty, acidic), the French Press method is perfect.

You grind your coffee to a coarse texture, then let it soak in boiling water for 3-4 minutes. This method produces a full-flavored, somewhat smoky flavor (like kissing your girlfriend who smokes two packs a day).

There are plenty of travel mug options available, including the Bodum French Press Mug as well as one from Starbucks.

One downside of the French Press method is that there’s usually a bit of grit/coffee sludge in your coffee since the plunger doesn’t usually filter out all the coffee grounds. It’s usually not a big deal though, especially if you’re the kind of person who likes crunching on coffee grounds in their spare time.

You could also pretend you’re a cowboy, minus the horse, leather chaps, overt masculinity, and constant Marlboro cigarette. Your call.

#3 – The Aeropress

Aeropress Plunger

Fun fact of the day that you can use to impress/turn off dates: the Aeropress was invented by the same guy who created the Aerobie.

When you want to further impress/turn off, you can point that Aeropress and Aerobie begin with the same four letters, which is a clue to their creator.

You’d think that a frisbee inventor wouldn’t know much about coffee making (a common stereotype), but you’d be wrong. The Aerobie makes a fantastic cup of coffee that’s smoother than a politician avoiding questions about financial impropriety.

The Aeropress is placed on a mug and finely ground coffee is placed in the press on a filter. Hot water is poured on the coffee and you immediately begin depressing the plunger. A vacuum seal is created and the coffee is forced down through the filter, resulting in a flavorful, smooth cup of coffee that makes you smack your lips in a slightly creepy way reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter.

It works so effectively because the coffee and water aren’t in contact that long – usually 20 seconds or so – which results in very little acidity. It’s a pretty amazing feat of engineering actually.

It only has a few parts, which makes it perfect for traveling. The only downside is that you’ll need to have a way to heat your water. Some options include:

  • Burning your hotel room sheets
  • Using a portable stove
  • Using a burn barrel

#4 – Pour Over Coffee Dripper

Pour Over Coffee

Osaka Stainless Pour Over Coffee Filter

The pour over method of coffee making is a great, all around option.

It’s like a middle ground between all other other methods. It gives you a well rounded flavor that’s not overly smooth like the Aeropress but also not brutally acidic like the French Press. You grind the coffee finer than the French Press but coarser than Aeropress.

If this were (trigger warning) high-school, the pour over would be the guy who everyone kinda liked but who didn’t get the hot girls. The guy voted most likely to work as a mid-level manager at IBM. Right down the middle. Granted, this would be a private school, since the pour over still makes great coffee. It’s still an elite snob.

The cone is placed on the coffee cup, the filter goes in the cone, the grounds go in the filter, and the water seals the deal.

If you’re hardcore, you can use the “bloom” method, where you initially just wet the grounds enough to let the carbon dioxide escape and the flavors expand.

All you need is the cone, the filters, and coffee, all of which can be easily transported in an a bag. It’s easy to clean, takes up minimal space, and delivers a great cup of coffee.

#5 – The Impress Coffee Brewer

Hot Coffee Anywhere Cordless

It’s a well-known saying that the you can judge a man by the coffee he drinks.

Actually, no one says that, but it should be a saying. Never trust a guy who drinks crappy coffee.

Regardless, the Impress Coffee Brewer allows you to impress (see what I did there?) people with your taste in coffee.

It’s essentially like a French Press, except it has a finer mesh filter, meaning you won’t find yourself accidentally munching on coffee grounds. It only has three parts and doubles as a travel mug, so it’s insanely portable as well.

It should be noted that the lid IS NOT LEAKPROOF! In other words, if this thing is full of coffee/liquor, don’t throw it into your bag next to your laptop.

Nevertheless, this is a good solution that lies somewhere between the Aeropress and the French Press travel mug.

#6 – Lichti Portable Espresso Maker

wacaco minipresso look alike

If you’re an avid camper or hiker who also has a deep passion for espresso, this could have some potential.

The Lichti Portable Espresso Maker is battery free, meaning that the only way to create that espresso shot you’re craving is to use the hand pump that’s built in. Think of like pumping water from a well, except the water gives you immortality and boundless energy.  

The pump puts the appropriate amount of pressure on the water and espresso, resulting in a well-crafted espresso shot to soothe your jangling nerves.

The downside here is that you’ll need to grind your own coffee beforehand. If you find yourself in a situation without a grinder, you’re only option will be to grind the beans with your teeth, which doesn’t work particularly well.

Portable Coffee Machines Options Keep You Caffeinated On The Go

Coffee is life and life is coffee.

As the great Dalai Lama said, “The only way to survive in the crazy-ass world is to drink a ton of coffee.” Well, he might not have said that, but it sounds like something he would say.

Thankfully, you don’t have to go without coffee when you’re traveling. You won’t suffer the crippling darkness that befalls you when you go without your coffee. Rather, every step will be sunshine and energy. You will go about your day with a bounce in your step and a vibrating caffeine buzz.

So get to it. Get your coffee on. After all, it’s been about 5 minutes since you had your last cup.

More For Your Coffee Adventures