I looked out the window of my office and saw a Jeep Wrangler with the spare mounted on the back and a tire cover that says, “Not all who wander are lost.” I hate that saying. For a couple reasons, really. People seem to wear it as a way of saying that they live life aimlessly, but that they’re not doing it mindlessly. Purposeful pointlessness. Two, if you’re wandering and not lost, you might not be doing it right. And three, I’m pretty sure this isn’t what Tolkien had in mind when he wrote it. “Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
I like to wander. But I also enjoy the thrill of feeling lost. Not knowing where I am or exactly how to get back. Of discovering new places and new things. Seeing an area from a different perspective. Experiencing the unexpected. Of finding new ways.
Last weekend I wandered in the Wichita Mountains. Not aimlessly, but with purpose and direction. Wandering into the unknown, trying to reach the top of a mountain and a dead tree forest on the next plateau, through a chasm and across a wooded valley strewn with automobile-sized boulders. The type of wandering that is exploring and overcoming obstacles that lie between here and there and back again.
I wandered for six or eight seasons in the Rocky Mountains, trying to find myself as I searched trails up the sides of fourteeners, and across ridge and ravine on my trusty fat tire steed. All the while treading, plodding slowly toward distant aspirations. Constantly moving, wandering out of curiosity, but always forward. Almost always.
I’ve wandered among the ideas and ideals of coffee, and forged a path unlike anyone else. Unlike anything anyone might’ve expected. But it was all right there in my business plan. The plan I weaved together with thousands of hours of research and curiosity, and more than a few sparks of inspiration and eventually intuition. Unsettled and unsatisfied with what’s been done before and what’s the status quo, I modify and adapt and make. I’m a maker. A wanderer and a maker. A coffee maker on the move.
Several years ago I went on the biggest trip of my life, to a land I’d dreamed of since I was a child. The land of Isak Dinesen and Peter Beard. Of the Zulu and the Maasai. The zebra and wildebeest. And if our trip was a wander, it’s only because we didn’t know where we were going. Or what we were to see, which was a lot. A whole life’s worth of wildlife. And I found myself flummoxed over the difficulty of making coffee during an expedition. My unwieldy gear and imprecise methods spurned the mornings and turned the coffee into a concoction unworthy of such intoxicating environs.
I used to have my girlfriend keep a little notebook in her purse to write down all my ideas. (Put that on the list of reasons I can’t keep a girlfriend, I guess.) I’m always noticing when things don’t work precisely the way they should, or could, and my brain leaps into action, looking hither and thither for a new solution, a new product to fill the void. And that’s how it all began with what’s now called the Expedition Brewer.
It started as a nonsensical assemblage of fanciful components that evolved like the dawn of man over what seemed like eons. Evolution was a wanderer. And twelve years later, I’m wandering around coffee farms and mountaintops without the concern for coffeemaking. The Expedition Brewer is purpose-built for travel, compact and lightweight. It flies, it packs, it rides, and most importantly it makes great coffee.
Because until now, when it comes to coffee, all who wandered were lost.