Motorcycle Lubricant: Oil. Motorcyclist Lubricant: Coffee.

Motorcycle Lubricant: Oil. Motorcyclist Lubricant: Coffee.

How to Caffeinate on the Road

I can do without a lot of stuff. I lived in Japan for about 17 years, and while I did plenty of very memorable motorcycle trips throughout Asia, I can’t remember ever stopping for a slice of pizza.

Not only that, I don’t remember ever having even one bagel for 17 years. I had rice balls galore, but not even one plain bagel during all that time. I survived.

There is, however, one thing. If I don’t get it, the veterans’ hospital just might get a call about a man in a motorcycle jacket standing by a window on a ledge.

Coffee. It is my one indulgence. If you empty out my motorcycle tool kit, there is not only a ratchet set and a small pocket blowtorch, but also a small portable coffee maker.

Sounds extreme, doesn’t it? However, I like old motorcycles, and that means I have to be prepared for when my classic ride just quits.

It isn’t paranoia. I have broken down on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere twice., Only one thing could have transformed the catastrophe into a hilarious motorcycling comedy of errors, and that would have been a micro coffee maker.

I had to learn the hard way, so I looked for a coffee machine that would fit in the pocket of my motorcycle touring jacket. Here are some options for making coffee by the side of the road when you are so far out there that your insurance company has to send a mechanic by camel.

Gronk Make Fire!

First, I always travel with plenty of water. Like our paleolithic ancestors, we are also going to need fire to make coffee.

There are companies now that make stoves small enough to slide into your pocket. They use fuel canisters that can be stored separately and aren’t much bigger than a typical cat food can. Some examples include:

MSR Gear PocketRocket

GSI Glacier Camp Stove

Jetboil MightyMo Stove

There are other options for deploying compact stoves to set up your own impromptu highway catering service. Yet, these examples burn a cocktail of isobutane and propane which means that, on average, they will boil two cups of water in an appropriately sized pot in about two minutes. They don’t cook, per se. If you have never used one, they feel more like they are getting ready to launch.

Pick Your Brewer

Next, we’re going to need coffee. The question is—instant or ground?

Let’s assume that we have packed some actual coffee grounds. Now that we have rediscovered fire, we need a pot or coffee maker.

GSI and Esbit make handy options that will enable you to pull a French cafe, Italian bistro, or an American diner right out of your tool bag. Some of my favorite coffee maker options include:

GSI MiniEspresso Set (1 Cup)

Esbit Coffee Maker

GSI Ultralight Java Drip

Do you remember that map pocket in your jacket that you no longer use because you went hog-wild with electronics? The GSI Ultralight will probably fit in that.

Cool, isn’t it? Not every hobby enables you to pull a weekend in Milano out of your pocket.

Best to Be Prepared

My first serious breakdown was in a neighborhood where they used AK-47s as deer rifles. I confess it was a little traumatic.

Accordingly, after my second breakdown years later—which wasn’t too bad, although I was in Texas with a California license plate—I nevertheless decided to prepare for the worst-case scenario and do something to prepare for when oil comes flying out of my primary clutch cover.

My approach is essentially this—before I cut up my $500 leather motorcycle jacket to see if I can make a gasket, let’s make a cup of espresso. At least one of these two projects might go right.

These stoves and coffee makers aren’t something that you will find in your typical neighborhood motorcycle gear shop. This is backpacking gear.

Find a store that will give you a screaming deal on a high-end ultra lightweight sleeping bag and you’ve found the right place.