Next to water, coffee is the lifeblood of sailors, whether you’ve served in the Navy, worked on a commercial ship or cruised a yacht in the Caribbean. At sea or on land most will agree the best way to start the morning is with a cup of hot joe. And, since you’re at The Teak Rail, not just any coffee will do. You want the best.
Step one — perfect beans. The best coffee will not come from beans purchased at a local market or from a nearby franchise coffee shop playing the latest John Mayer album. Nix also the shop right across the street. The best cups of coffee are brewed from carefully processed beans perfectly roasted no more than three weeks before you plan to indulge. If your beans don’t have a roast date on the bag, just slide them to the back of the pantry for when the in-laws visit.
Our choice for the best coffee is Tonx. Tonx’s team is obsessive about selecting only the finest beans from around the world. Owner Tony Konecny, trained as a barista in Seattle and in Intelligentsia Coffee’s legendary Black Cat Project (www.intelligentsiacoffee.com), has mastered the art of roasting. Now, Tony and his team have made it extremely easy to get freshly roasted coffee delivered to your door every other week, and that’s what separates them from other great coffees we tried.
The only way to get Tonx is by subscription on its website, which offers three options. The Half-Sack option delivers one 6-oz. bag every other week. The Standard option delivers one 12-oz. bag every other week. We have found this allows the solo coffee drinker roughly two cups a day. Tonx’s Double option delivers one 24-oz. bag every other week. Prices for the Half-Sack, Standard and Double options are $24, $38 and $68 per month, respectively. Tonx also offers additional pricing plans for business subscribers.
Tonx roasts every other Sunday and sends subscribers emails with tracking numbers the Monday after each roast to alert them their beans are on their way. My beans show up on Wednesdays, only three days after roasting, and it’s like having Christmas twice a month. There’s nothing better than seeing that box of Tonx waiting to be brewed.
Three things inhabit each box — a square card with a photo and information about the farm your new coffee is from, a letter from the Tonx team, and a silver bag of awesome beans. First things first: cut open the bag and take a big whiff. Next, go back to the materials. The card has a great photo on the front. The back describes the farmer who grew the beans, what coffee is like from that part of the world, and what to expect in the flavor of the coffee. The letter, always a good read, usually stresses that now that you have the beans its time to enjoy the ritual of making the coffee.
I suspect you’re thinking this sounds great, but what about the coffee? Simply put, the coffee is amazing! Since you will receive a new bag every two weeks from a different part of the world, you will taste the unique flavors from each region and soon acquiring a sensory education your palate didn’t know it needed.
Most coffee you buy in a store or at a coffee shop are blends. And blends are fine. They can produce great cups of coffee. But once you experience the bright berry flavors of an Ethiopian package or the chocolate and cherry flavors of one from Latin America, everything else just tastes like something you used to drink that people called coffee. Tonx coffee is generally a light roast, which allows for the coffee’s flavors to come through, instead of being masked by over roasting. Just as an ice cold IPA from the fridge is best after it’s had a chance to warm a little, Tonx coffee flavors assert themselves best if you let the coffee cool. But not too much. Extreme temperatures, in either direction, mask the flavors of both the IPA and the coffee.
There are, of course, other great coffee roasters. We sampled many a cup from companies like Intelligentsia, Verve Coffee Roasters, Noble Coffee Roasting and Stumptown Coffee Roasters, among many more. All offered great coffees. But Tonx beans were as good or better than all the others we tried, and its subscription model makes getting perfect, fresh beans incredibly easy.
I know you’re thinking that Tonx sounds fine for the anchorage, but what about cruises away from home? Subscribers can pause a Tonx subscription anytime, as Tonx does not deliver outside the Unite States.
Those who sail farther offshore may wonder: How long will my beans stay fresh? And how do I store beans to maximize freshness over a multiweek cruise? Stay tuned. We’ll soon be offering The Teak Rail guide to The Best Coffee Bean Storage, in which we’ll provide helpful tips on how to lock in the freshness while far out to sea.