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Monday, June 05, 2017

What's In Your Coffee Kit?

Since moving to Israel 14 years ago, I have been commuting about an hour each way to my job in Beer Sheva.

Almost as soon as I started doing this commute, word got around among the Army and University crowd and I began getting requests for 'tremps' (rides) from people in my community (I've written about this at length in the past).

After some time, I began to get 'regulars'; students who had to go south every Sunday morning for the week's classes as well as soldier's serving at bases throughout the Negev desert.

I've mentioned this because at the end of the first academic year, three young women who had been my 'regulars'; traveling with me almost every week, chipped in and presented me with a touching gift:  A 'Pakal Cafe' (פק''ל כפה).  That three letter Hebrew acronym stands for פקודת קבע לחייל which very roughly translates as Standard Equipment for a Soldier.  In the US military it would be General Issue (GI).

So what is a 'Pakal?  Technically it can be anything that is standard equipment for a given task, role or setting.  But if you copy and paste פק''ל into a Google image search, most of the results will be for coffee kits.  And that's what those girls gave me.

Despite its name, Israeli coffee kits are anything but standard.  The ones sold commercially share certain commonalities in that they contain at a minimum:

  • A small camping stove
  • Fuel for the stove
  • Containers for sugar and coffee
  • At least 3 small cups for serving the coffee
  • A pouch of some kind to hold it all

In case you didn't have the patience to do the Google search I recommended above, here are a few commercial offerings that show the range from simple to elaborate:

Coffee kit 1

Coffee kit 3

Coffee kit 2

The reason these girls settled on a פק''ל as a thank you gift to me was that they'd noticed that every morning I brought a thermal travel mug full of coffee with me for the drive, and assumed (correctly, as it turned out), that coffee played a fairly central role in my daily routine.  Giving me the ability to fix a hot cup of coffee while camping or on a day trip was indeed a very thoughtful gift.

Over the years, my daughter Ariella has 'borrowed' most of the components such as the little butane stove and the coffee/sugar containers.  But despite my having made so many modifications and substitutions in the contents of my פק''ל that it doesn't contain a single item from the original gift kit... in my mind, what I use is still the פק''ל I got from the three University students.

Today my kit includes my venerable old Svea 123R stove (which I've had since the mid '80s);

Svea 123 1


Instead of the fragile glass cups, I have substituted collapsible silicon cups (which are also easy on the fingers when the coffee is piping hot):

Coffee cups

And I use a range of tiny Tupperware-style plastic containers for coffee, sugar and Splenda.

I've been toying with the idea of adding a little hand grinder to the kit, but the expense (about $25 bucks) and extra space/weight has kept that out of the kit so far.

But given that people love to customize and modify their 'Pakal Cafe' (e.g. travel size French Press, mini espresso maker, etc.), I am wondering what's in yours?  Anything unique or interesting?

Posted by David Bogner on June 5, 2017 | Permalink


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Depends. For day trips a standard kit. Only coffee with cardamom. For extended stays in the "bush" I add a machinatovfor "bush espresso ".

Posted by: quietusleo | Jun 5, 2017 1:57:13 PM

If I had a coffee kit, I would want it to include a container for carrying the water. A small space for a stirrer/spoon and a couple napkins would also be nice. :-)

Posted by: Sarah Bronson | Jun 5, 2017 3:55:49 PM

PS A friend of mine told me that part of her "integration" into Israeli society was coming to understand that part of a hike, for Israelis, is that after your car trip to the start of your trail, you walk up about 50 meters or so, and then stop for coffee, and THEN go on the hike. This is standard. At first she was like "why are we stopping for a rest already? We just got here!" And they were like "you can't start a hike without having coffee first. This is just how you do things!" :-)

Posted by: Sarah Bronson | Jun 5, 2017 3:58:05 PM

This brought back a memory from the early 1970s. I and the Boyfriend were on a mini 'road trip' through France, on the way home, We were in pretty solid countryside, very hungry, looking out for somewhere to stop to eat. No luck. Then I had the idea of stopping at the only small shop we had seen in quite some time, buying eggs, bread, and butter, which we did, and drew off the road, got the Wee camping stove out, and had one of the best meals I have ever had. 40 plus years on I still taste it when I think of it. Boiled eggs, French bread and butter and tea(hey, we're Scots. Tea's the thing)

Glorious sunshine, countryside, the simplest of food, and us with the battered old Ford Cortina which wanted to be a Cadillac(oh, the tail lights!)......a good memory.

Thank you!

Posted by: Alex | Jun 7, 2017 1:20:39 AM

David, sugar is food, splenda is pure poison.
Take care of yourself Yid, and stop using it.
Pikuach nefesh!

Posted by: Nobody | Aug 27, 2017 6:57:32 PM

Hello, can you tell me what the name or brand of the top "orange" kit is please?


Posted by: Scott Randolph | Jul 19, 2020 10:01:16 PM

Scott Randolph... it's from a company called 'Amgazit'

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 20, 2020 7:41:47 AM

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