Coffee Adventures in the Eastern Sierra

Words and photos by Coalatree Ambassador Ben Canevari

I've been a barista for ten years, and ever since I bought my grandparents old 2000 Jeep Cherokee, I've always been in love with the idea of setting up my espresso machine on the back and being able to make whatever drink I wanted while on the road. No more Starbucks, no more searching high and low for good cafes in unknown areas. Although, I do love exploring new coffee spots so maybe not that! Anyway, I recently opened up my own coffee roastery and called it Gallery Coffees. I've got the desire, I now have the Land Cruiser, I have the coffee, it's time to make this thing happen!

We used a small portable generator to power all the equipment. I was going to rig up a big inverter to the battery, but, testing out the day we were going to leave and, guess what, it didn't work. Apparently 1500 running watts isn't enough to power 1200 running watts. Explain that to me. Anyway, the generator worked great. A little loud, but really not all that bothersome, it kind of faded into the background while we worked.

Because of all the issues with the power, we got out to our first campsite super late. Lucky for us though, our friend Abbey, Dave, and Alex all got out there early on and were able to snag a spot for all of us! After a cold night, I managed to drag everybody out of bed at sunrise so that we could go claim a spot at the hot springs. We ended up with them all to ourselves for over an hour! Always nice having a little privacy!

So with all the issues around the power for the Land Cruiser, I hadn't actually tried the new generator or fired up the espresso machine yet. So even though we were here, we had no idea if this idea would actually work. Moment of truth...

We had to add the motor oil and gas into the generator and fired it up. Plugged everything in...IT WORKED! 

Still a little underpowered, the machine finally heated up and we got to work making our morning coffees.

After coffee we got all our stuff packed up and hit the road for the next location. On to June Lake! 

We were looking for a place to crash for the night and settled on a nice clearing in the trees. But after a bit of research we realized there were fire restrictions in place and we couldn't light a fire unless we were in an established campsite. So...we went and found a site because it would have been miserable without a warm fire. 

We cooked up some dinner and I did a little work on the computer. We stayed up late talking and drinking beer and making S'mores. Even though we had to deal with being in close proximity to a ton of other people, and their music, it was a great night.

Our friends Tim and his girlfriend, Isabel, showed up with their pup, Ally around midnight that night. Just in time to hop in bed and grab a few hours of sleep before we got them up for sunrise.

We made our way over to Grant Lake and we were able to drive out onto the beach and set up the coffee machine for some coffee with a view! 

Jack and the other dogs were getting very antsy and ready to get out of the cars and get some exercise. We agreed with him, so a quick hike up to Parker Lake was in order. Shoving our packs full of water and snacks, we made our way up the hill to one of the most beautiful lakes I've been to yet.

Alpine dunks are a must. Hot and sweaty from the hike, nothing is more refreshing than rinsing off in the icy lakes in the mountains.

It was time to head back and find a place to camp for the night. Next stop were the Benton Crossing Hot Springs. So we made our way back down the hill and found the perfect spot to set up near a spring.

We chilled out for the night and made dinner, drank, and relaxed by the fire. 

A group of people came in the middle of the night to enjoy the hot spring. When they left, they moved the pipe that feeds hot water into the spring off to the side. So when we got up in the morning all the water was running along the ground and the spring was nowhere near as hot as it should have been. We were here to enjoy it though! So we put the pipe back in the spring and let it warm up while we set up the espresso machine and then hopped in. Not a bad way to enjoy your morning coffee honestly.

I'm already scheming on where to go next with this. So much fun to shoot and awesome to get to enjoy third wave coffee while out and about on our adventures!

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