On Having a Manual Coffee Grinder

I twisted the handle on our manual coffee grinder and dumped the beans into a French press. The hand grinder made a lot more sense when we were waking up in the back of a truck most mornings without the convenience of a kitchen outlet.

For the first time since I left Utah after high school, I am staying in one place for a year—a whole, consecutive 12 months. Over the past several years, home has been a tent in a little Colorado mountain town, beat-down guide housing in Alaska, a non-insulated cabin on the outskirts of Summit County, and, of course, a truck bed. Now, for the next year, it’s a basement lock-off at 10,600ft in Breckenridge, with a wood-burning stove and kitchen outlets where I can use an electric coffee grinder if I want to.


But most mornings I use the hand grinder anyway—for one, because it does a better job than the cheap electric one in the cupboard, and also because some mornings I wish I were still waking up in the back of a truck on Snoqualmie Pass or Red Rock Canyon or the Cassiar Highway.

It’s hard to slow down and be still when you’ve been on the move so consistently. You long for new places perpetually, while simultaneously wishing you could stay in each one just a little longer. Well, I guess I am getting the latter part of that wish, in an increment of 365 days.

So one day in October we sat at the back of the truck in our obnoxiously purple Walmart camp chairs, cooking risotto on the tailgate. We sipped our beers as the setting sun colored the sky above the Tenmile range. The orange clouds faded to black and we crawled under the truck cap and zipped ourselves into our sleeping bags for the last time in a while. The next day we strung the keys to our new basement home on the ring next to the truck keys.

That’s when it all felt real. Home was this singular place now, at least for the next year. Life wasn’t moving every few months and switching jobs every season and taking semi-frequent multi-week road trips anymore. It was going into the same office every day, waking up in the same bed each morning, cooking dinner on the same stove with the same view out the living room window. At first it all felt like a sudden sting. Had I given up on chasing adventure? Was I giving up on pursuing my passions? What’s the point of a manual coffee grinder when you live in a house with electricity?

That “same view out the living room window” isn’t so bad.

It took me a month or so of being back in Colorado, but I eventually began to realize that staying put and growing some roots is an adventure all in it’s own. Leaving here at the end of each season always left me wanting more. There’s so much I’ve yet to explore, just in the county I’ve spent almost three winters in now—new ski lines to find, more trails to backpack, more breweries to grab a pint at and watch the summer sun set; friendships to cultivate, new passions to discover, a community to be a part of.

There’s something beautiful about actually getting to know a place and the people that reside there. And I’m realizing that can hardly be done in the span of a year. Perhaps I’ll end up staying here longer than I expected, or maybe I’ll find myself making coffee with a different view a year from now. But either way, this chance to grow some roots and cultivate richer soil in my life will stick with me wherever I end up next—whether it’s back to the truck bed, in a new mountain town, on an airplane, or right here with this same, damn-good view of the Tenmile range. Either way, I’m still going to use the manual coffee grinder–to remind myself that there is plenty of exciting adventures waiting right out my front door.