For the last year or so Victoria and I have been harboring a secret desire. We hoped to combine our love of coffee and our new nomadic lifestyle and create from the union a more perfect coffee. Over the last week that dream has slowly become a reality, but it has been a long and trouble fraught journey.
The project really took form when I discovered that there was a guy, in Georgia, making a small (4 lb) coffee roasting drum out of 304 stainless steel that was designed to fit into a backyard bbq. I started fantasizing about custom ordering one for my little SeaBQ, but got a little overwhelmed by the details.
A few months later our electric roaster caught on fire and we were suddenly faced with a not-so-difficult decision; drink Charbucks the world over (or Nescafe when Charbucks couldn’t be found) or invest some serious time and money into our own roasting plant. You don’t have to know me well to know which way I went.
I called up Shane at RK Drums and found him to be about the most enthusiastic, pleasant guy you could ever wish to collaborate with. To say that he was enthusiastic about my project would be a dramatic understatement. Through a series of phone calls and emails (the last of which delayed his family vacation by at least 15 minutes) we came to an agreement on a seemingly simple design. I measured and remeasured my bbq, and sent the dimensions in. A few weeks later I had my drum and a few custom parts that Shane had scrounged, fabricated, or sourced for me.
Then came the disappointment. The drum didn’t fit my BBQ. I’m going to take full responsibility for this, I’m not sure how I mis-measured, but the drum was a standard size, so it clearly wasn’t their fault. Too late to do anything before leaving Emeryville, I threw the drum in a lazarette and nearly forgot about it until we got to San Diego… and we ran out of roasted coffee.
I stopped by Downwind Marine and picked out (amongst many other things) a truly colossal BBQ. I had the drum with me and verified that it would fit, just as soon as I took it to a metal worker to customize a rotisserie slot. Luckily for me, there was just such a guy across the street. I pitched my project to them and got the owner excited enough about it that he authorized overtime to get it done that day (at no additional charge). The end result, as I hope you will agree, is perfectly functional and pretty nice looking too.
You would think that with all of this kit, I would be roasting up a storm. Sadly, no. When the time came to fire it all up, the grill wouldn’t start. I finally figured out that my propane hose was broken, and the safety mechanism was preventing gas to flow, but oddly, it is very difficult to find a Type 1 propane hose in Baja.
As a result I have borrowed a hose once and begged two camping canisters of propane from another cruiser. The good news is. the coffee is spectacular. I bought 30 lbs of a Costa Rican estate that I love and have made two batches so far, both great. Once I source a good mexican varietal, Convivia Coffee will be “in business*.”
- of course, this is a metaphore. As American citizens, we aren’t allowed to sell anything but we might be able to trade for coconuts… or margarita fixins.