Regular readers know that having good coffee on my travels, particularly when there are no speciality coffee shops, is important to me. I’ve written about my travelling coffee kit, and also documented making coffee on planes and at airports, making long journeys bearable. At the start of last year, I wrote Travels with my Coffee: Part I, which documented, from the perspective of all the places I took my coffee, my trip around Florida and Phoenix.
The title, with its “Part I”, implied that there would be a Part II (possibly more), but the year went by and although I took plenty of photos, time got the better of me, and I never did write up Part II. However, this year started off with a flurry of travel, with three month-long trips, first to the US, then to China, and now back in the US, so I thought it high time that I continued Travels with my Coffee, beginning with this post. This covers the first of this year’s trips, an extensive road trip around southern Arizona and New Mexico. As you’ll see, with good coffee shops in short supply, my Travel Press and Therma Cup saw plenty of use.
You can see what I got up to in the gallery.
For the longest time, travelling when there were no good coffee shops meant, to all intents and purposes, travelling without good coffee. However, acquiring my Travel Press at World of Coffee in Dublin in 2016 changed all that. Now, when I know there aren’t any good coffee shops along the way, I make my coffee in the Travel Press before I set off, then take it on the road with me, meaning I can enjoy great coffee wherever I am.
Of course, it’s not as simple as that, since I also need a grinder, scales and a few other bits and bobs. Perhaps most importantly, for travelling in America, you really do need a kettle. I’ve yet to stay in an American hotel that has one and even though many have coffee makers and/or microwaves, they don’t really do it for me. After last year’s kettle debacle, I’ve invested in a good US travel kettle, which now accompanies me on all my US trips.
This trip was part of a larger visit to the US that saw me fly out to Phoenix at the very start of January for work. After that came my ten-day road trip, before I flew from Phoenix to Chicago, arriving in time for the polar vortex and the second coldest spell in Chicago’s history! Finally, at the end of the month, I flew back to the UK.
While I enjoyed my continued exploration of the speciality coffee scene in Phoenix and experiencing Chicago during the polar vortex was, shall we say, interesting, in many ways, the highlight of the trip was my ten-day road trip. This took me on a big loop, heading east through Arizona and New Mexico as far as Las Cruces and the Rio Grande, before returning west via Tucson.
If you’re interested, my precise route was as follows. I avoided the major freeways wherever possible, instead keeping to the back roads (which were still, for the most part, straight, open and uncongested) which took me through some amazing mountain ranges.
I started with Highway 88, the Apache Trail, through the Superstition Mountains, then down Highway 188 to Globe. From there, I took US 70 east, before turning off for US 191 and then Highway 78 through the mountains straddling the Arizona-New Mexico border. That led me to US 180, which I followed to Silver City. After a day trip north in the Gila National Forest and the amazing Gila Cliff Dwellings, I carried on east, taking Highway 152 through the Black Range, passing over Emory Pass at an elevation of 8228 feet (2,508 m), the most spectacular part of the drive. From there, it was down Interstate 25 and along the Rio Grande to Las Cruces, the furthest point of the trip.
After a day hiking in the Organ Mountains, I returned west along Interstate 10 through the southern New Mexico desert, a fascinating landscape of island mountains, rising suddenly from the desert floor (I had passed this way the year before, but that time it had been on the train, I10 following the tracks for much of the way across New Mexico). I took a detour south along Highway 80, past the east side of the Chiricahua Mountains, crossing back into Arizona along the way. Highway 80 took me right down to the Mexican border at Douglas, before carrying on to Bisbee, where I stopped for the night.
The final leg of my trip saw me briefly visiting Tombstone, then taking Highway 82 through the mountains to Nogales on the Mexican border. From there, it was back on the Interstates, taking I19 to Tucson, where I spent a few days, taking the chance to further explore its excellent speciality coffee scene, as well as getting in a day hiking in the Saguaro National Park. Finally, I drove back to Phoenix along I10 for my flight to Chicago.
It really was a magical trip: down in the desert, it was like a cool, British summer’s day, while up in the mountains, there had recently been snow and it was close to freezing. The scenery was stunning and varied widely, and, thanks to my Travel Press, there was good coffee to be had every day!
If you’ve enjoyed this instalment, check out where else I’ve taken my coffee in my Travels with my Coffee series.
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