Convivia Coffee is Born!

November 20, 2011

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.


  1. Comment by Abigail

    Abigail November 20, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    I can taste it from here. 🙂

  2. Comment by Shane Lewis (Rk drums)

    Shane Lewis (Rk drums) November 21, 2011 at 6:32 am

    Tucker, I have thoroughly enjoyed helping getting you going on this journey. It certainly was a blast. Glad the drum worked out in the end, but im shocked by all your troubles getting going. Wishing you the best in your travels and looking forward to hearing more stories about coffee and the sea! Shane-Rk Drums

    • Comment by Tucker Bradford

      Tucker Bradford November 21, 2011 at 9:53 am

      Shane, It’s not so shocking if you live a cruising lifestyle. Everything we do takes longer, especially south of the border. In any case, it was well worth the wait and I can’t wait for the next batch!

  3. Comment by William Notherdinger

    William Notherdinger November 25, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Arrgh,the smell of coffee in the morning.Absolutely awesome!

    I drink coffee each day.It’s Tchibo mark,in Europe.

    Anyway,the coffee in the image looks good too.

  4. Comment by Patty

    Patty March 14, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    So awesome! I can almost smell the coffee through the web. Congratulations on your adventures.

  5. Comment by ted

    ted May 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    love that story..we too roast our own coffee, and hope to journey on a boat soon…Do you have a sample shoot?? How do you know when the coffee is done?

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