This Swiftmas we’re showcasing 9 standout gift guides from community members from Seattle to Manila.

On the Third Day of Swiftmas…. Steve Kirbach

Hiya Steve! Tell us a little about yourself: Coffee and bikes together have been a huge part of my life since I moved to the Pacific Northwest. Some of my first friends were part of the messenger and cyclocross scene here in Portland. Cycling and coffee have been instrumental in how I navigate our city, see nature, and just experience things in general. Both are heavily rooted in community, and that speaks to me personally as I love to share experiences with people. As a coffee professional, part of my role is to be an ambassador, to help bridge the gap from a producing area to the final cup one is enjoying. In 2015, I did my first overnight bikepacking trip with old friends from both industries and I was instantly hooked. Being part of Swift Campout here in Portland has opened my eyes even further to the potential of riding with a group of new people and the excitement of sharing with others. I often use Ethiopia as a great example. The country and coffee are massively intertwined. The Ethiopian “bread” injera, made of teff flour, and coffee are both referenced as examples of equality. They are both shared regardless of class, culture, country. A traditional Ethiopian meal has people ripping off pieces of injera to scoop up various dishes with it. Coffee is typically a shared experience. Coffee stands line the streets, and you just pull up a stool as someone roasts coffee on the spot, then prepares it, and it is distributed amongst anyone there and shared. Often by visitors this is called the “coffee ceremony,” but the reality is that this is the way it is just made. Coffee ceremony implies a preciousness or event-like aspect that is off the mark. While you wait you eat popcorn or toasted barley, again just a shared bowl. Depending on the region there are also sometimes multiple steeps(3). It’s about being in the present, there is no “to-go”. The “ceremony” IS actually in the normal everyday interaction. To thoughtfully pause and partake of something with a fellow human. Know that as you are drinking this coffee you are literary tasting a place, the terroir, the water, and how this plant has evolved with it’s forest counterparts. Coffee and cycling are community, how many friends have you met over coffee or riding. It really is just lovely when you think about it.

What are you riding here? I am riding a Boltcutter High Country Gravel with HiFi wheels. The bike has a Zeitgeist bag on the back, a Kestral bag with a sidekick
pouch and Rando pocket on it, and occasionally a holdfast frame bag.

What are your favorite Swift bags for this ride and what are you packing in them at this time of year? The Zeitgeist Pack is my everything bag. It’s just so useful. Additionally the Kestrel Bar Bag and Rando Pocket are such a great combo. My Zeitgeist usually has rain gear, a little sea to summit ultra-sil bag in case I need extra space, my pump and a few zip ties, and a little mug. The Kestrel always has my bandana, a hex tool, and my leatherman. The rando pocket usually has my phone/keys but sometimes my glasses. And a Sidekick Stem Pouch usually has snacks rather than a beverage.

Tell us about a highlight of riding in 2023? I live off a paved bike trail that runs along a creek and then the river. So my commute to and from work is pretty awesome. It’s about 7 miles and allows me just enough time to get lost in thought and see some amazing sunrises and sunsets throughout the year. One morning this year I saw a mink peeking over the railroad tracks as I passed this little wetland area. I stopped, we took each other in ( in my mind I was pretty convinced we made a connection, hahaha) and then it went back down the bank. I had no idea minks were
even in that area. What an awesome discovery and something I’d only notice because I commute in by bike. I also personally love just watching the landscape change throughout the seasons and the years. The different light, this past fall was particularly magical light wise.

2023 Favorite Ride Snack? I truly have no idea. I just love snacks, I really do, maybe Trader Joes sweet and salty trail mix?

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