Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Caffeinating at McMurdo

September 24, 2009

Those of you who know me know that my love for coffee borders on obsession. My travelogues always seem to end up centered around it in one way or another–the espresso I got in a beautiful old shop in Alexandria, the seven-dollar iced coffee at the top of the Shanghai Tower, the caffè corretto that made nights in Venice that much more entertaining. I don’t see why this trip should be any different, so I thought I’d discuss the places I’ve found coffee around McMurdo.

The most basic coffee at McMurdo is found in the galley. The galley is a broad, open space, quite pleasant to hang out in and a nice place to catch up with friends; the food is of course free and generally surprisingly tasty given the limited ingredients with which the chefs have to work.

McMurdo's vital center.

The coffee is not what you’d call gourmet, but neither is it actively bad, and it certainly does the job.

Simple, economical brain fuel.

If you want to get a little more involved in the coffeemaking process, you can buy coffee beans at the store (roasted in my beautiful hometown of Anchorage–there are a lot of Alaskans working here, and clearly they have had some influence on the purchasing process.) If you have neglected to bring suitable equipment, you can also buy a French press, a thermos and a coffee mug or three.

One stop shopping for all your coffee needs.

Thus equipped, you can make coffee in your dorm or office with relative ease (provided you can find a source of hot water.) Or you can sponge off others who have their own coffeemaking setup; I’ve found if I’m nice to the IT guys in the science building, they will sometimes share their coffee. On no account, however, should you forget your camera in their office:

If you do, then you come back to a memory card full of this sort of thing. Thanks, Holly.

One of the best places to get coffee, of course, is the Coffeehouse. The Coffeehouse is a beautifully appointed building made from a couple of Quonset huts. It has Internet access (although not wifi–we are in Antarctica, after all) and it’s decorated with a variety of old polar exploration paraphernalia:

Just in case your coffee inspires you to go on a new expedition, you'll be set for gear.

A latte, with a hint of cinnamon. Also available for coffee enhancement: Bushmill's.

It’s really more like a combination coffeehouse and bar, with a variety of wines and liquors available. Regardless of what you choose to drink, it’s a pretty excellent place to go for a relaxing conversation with a fellow coffee-loving friend:

Rebecca enjoys her cappuccino. Stimulating intellectual conversation + stimulating beverage = win.

The best coffee, though, happens when your field safety people bring an espresso maker to the ice hut. Then Rich makes lattes:

The rigors of Antarctic camping.