The perfect mug for the morning brew

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It’s been a long few weeks on the day job front, and I’m definitely counting down the days to my holiday. In the meantime, I’m relying on good cups of tea and coffee to keep me going. So I think this might be my new mug.

 

Life Begins After Coffee

 

Of course I don’t need a new mug, but sometimes there are some mornings where an added smile is going to be just a great extra bonus. From Old English Company, one of my favourites.

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Great Gifts for the Coffee Geeks

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Time for gifts for the coffee geeks

 

I hate Starbucks.

There, I’ve said it. I hate Starbucks because I like my coffee and to me Starbucks is for people who don’t like coffee as it’s just about big bowls of milky sweet stuff. The coffee is incidental.

If you’ve got a proper coffee lover on your hands then here’s some great choices for gifts for them this Christmas:

 

Chemex pour over coffee maker - great gift for a food lover who loves their coffee

 

Chemex pour over coffee maker

According to the makers, this makes the best coffee in the world. I don’t know about that, but Chemex is very stylish looking and reviews are generally positive. And when something has been around for quite some time then it has to have something going for it other than good looks.

 

Joco Reusable Coffee Cup - great gift for a food lover who loves their coffee

Joco Reusable Cup

Apparently there are 2.5 billion paper cups used for coffee each year. If they’d like to do their bit for the planet in style, not to mention not having their coffee tainted by the paper, then the Joco Reusable Cup could be for them. I also love that apparently the extra deep lid allows you to see where you’re walking whilst drinking. #firstworldproblem.

 

Bosch Styline Variable Temperature Kettle

 

Bosch Styline Variable Temperature Kettle

Because coffee is different to tea (and even different teas are different in their requirement) then a kettle that just doesn’t do boiling is perfect for brewing the perfect cup. This stylish kettle from Bosch is also energy efficient, so stylish good looks and saves you money.

 

IVV Glassware Dots Coffee Cups - perfect gift for food lovers who love their coffee

 

IVV Dots glassware for coffee

For something beautiful to pour great coffee into, I love these double walled glass tumblers from IVV. Handmade, they add a colourful, artisanal feel to your perfectly brewed coffee. Available from Divertimenti.

 

Jacob Jensen Coffee Maker - perfect gift for a food lover who loves great design and great coffee

 

Jacob Jensen Coffee Maker

For something a little more automated on the coffee making front, not to mention incredibly stylish, then how about this coffee maker from Jacob Jensen? Combining form and function, this can brew up to 9 perfect cups of coffee and hold them at the optimum temperature.

 

Great coffee through the post from Envelope

 

Great coffee through the letter box

Set them up with perfect coffee on a regular basis, whatever their preferred method of brewing, with Envelope. You choose the brew method, and whether you want to grind it yourself or have them do it, and then you’re set up for deliveries every two weeks. But the best bit I think is that you get different coffee each time from small scale roasters, supporting smaller businesses and growers. If you want an extra incentive, you can try the first one for free with the code FOODIE.

 

Bodum Bistro Electric Coffee Bean Grinder - perfect gift for a food lover who loves their coffee

 

Bodum Electric Grinder

Of course, if you’re going to be grinding your own beans then you need a good grinder. This Bodum one is quick and efficient, not to mention pretty stylish looking.

 

Learning how to brew coffee properly at barista school at 200 Degree Coffee Nottingham

 

 

Learning how to do it properly

If they’re really serious, then maybe a barista lesson might be a great idea. There are loads of places that they could try, but if you’re in the Nottingham area, then 200°Coffee would be my choice. Even if you don’t go for a lesson, go for a great coffee.

So plenty of great things you could choose for them, without going anywhere near a Starbucks!

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The Friday Five – Time for Coffee

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Three quarters latte, Manly style. Heaven in a glass for a coffee lover

 

As it’s the London Coffee Festival this weekend, and not to mention my recent obsession with flat whites, then it seemed only right to focus on coffee this week, in many of its different aspects. So, get a brew on and have a look at these:

 

How to Make Coffee - The Science Behind the Bean. A gift of a book for food lover who is serious about their coffee

 

How to Make Coffee: the Science Behind the Bean – I have someone in mind for this one, who might like all the geeky detail in this book. Or perfectionist tendencies, which means they will want to know what the perfect temperature is and why. If you’ve got a wannabe barista to buy for, this is probably a good place to start.

 

Coffee Obsession - Flavoursome Beans. Barista Techniques. For a food lover who is serious about their coffee

Coffee Obsession – well, probably sums it up for many of us! But for those obsessed, again, with the real thing, then this is a guide to barista techniques from around the world. Plenty to go at to give your coffee offerings a little variety!

 

Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee - growing, roasting and drinking. Great book to gift to a food lover who takes their coffee seriously

The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee – oh, I’d have this one, just because it brings back happy memories of a great coffee from these guys on the High Line. This book is designed to bring the artisan coffee world, with its gadgets and different brewing techniques, to life in a way that most of us will be able to relate to. Given how delicious their coffee was, I’d trust their guidance!

 

Coffee Life in Japan - a great book to gift to a food lover with a big interest in coffee culture

Coffee Life In Japan – a bit more of a read than a guide, this is a fascinating insight into Japan’s cafe society over the last 130 years. Bit different, definitely not going to help you make better coffee but going to be an interesting view of something you may not have experienced.

 

The Curious Barista's Guide to Coffee - great book to gift to a food lover who is serious about their coffee

The Curious Barista’s Guide to Coffee – this one really does it all: where your coffee comes from, where coffee shops started, how to roast your own coffee at home…no, really! Then the science and flavour, and then onto making some fantastic cups of coffee. Perfect.

The festival looks like it could be a great day out, and there isn’t just coffee on offer, so worth a look if you’re in the area. If not, just grab some great beans, and get a good brew going on!

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Brew up in a good cause

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I like my coffee, but I like good coffee. I like good coffee for good causes even better. So I love that Cherizena Coffee have a new blend with profits going to Macmillan Cancer Care.

 

Macmillan Coffee from Cherizena

 

This is a full-flavoured coffee which is apparently perfect for all-day drinking. Though possibly not all night, unless you need to be up all night! Macmillan do some amazing work, and supporting their great work through one simple swap of something you might buy and use every day has to be a good thing to do.

You can buy this to suit whatever kind of coffee maker you have, from whole beans through to an espresso.  Go on, get the kettle on in a good cause!

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Liven up coffee time!

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I saw these on a newsletter from Not on the High Street, and they just made me laugh. Imagine breaking the news like this:

 

Give them a surprise with their coffee!

 

From my perspective, I thought about inviting people round for coffee and seeing how quickly the gossip the spread! It is only a small village after all.

These are by Sophia Victoria Jay, and I love a number of the products, many of which can be personalised. There are cake stencils, so no one can be in doubt which is your slice, or if you’re thinking of Mother’s Day, then I love the mum star baker version too.

Worth taking a look.

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How do you get good coffee at work?

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I was asked to help find something for a coffee lover, who wanted to be able to have good coffee at work. But something more interesting than a cafetiere.

 

Bodum Travel press coffee maker - great gift for a food lover who loves their coffee

 

We talked about the Bodum Travel Press Coffee Maker, but apparently that one’s been bought before. Whilst it does make good coffee, there is the design drawback apparently of having the dripping push down part to get rid of before you can drink the good stuff. Now whether this has been changed in design recently, the description would seem to suggest that now you don’t need to remove it, so maybe it’s improving.

 

Aeropress Coffee Maker - great gift for a food lover who loves great coffee wherever they are

 

The Aeropress Coffee Maker gets rave reviews in terms of quality produced, and it certainly produces great coffee very quickly. It sounds simple enough, looks good enough to draw admiring glances in the office kitchen, and apparently produces great results. But again, you’ve got to work out where to put it when you’ve brewed your cup, before you get to drink the coffee!

 

Minibru French Press Coffee Mug - great gift for a food lover who loves great coffee wherever they are

 

So I think we came to the conclusion that Minibru French Press Coffee Mug was probably going to tick the right boxes. The French Press produces great coffee, and the design means nothing drippy to remove before you get to your perfect brew. Three minutes, and your caffeine levels are on the rise!

In my book though there is only one way to get great coffee at work, or least at my work. I’m lucky to have Geraldine and Kelly in Costa who can always be relied on to brew up a fabulous latte. It’s my daily treat, and I wouldn’t go anywhere else! Ladies, you’re still the best!

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Coffee to keep you going each month from Kopi

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The team at Kopi approache me recently to see if I’d be interested in trying one of their coffees. Those who know me know that there is equal love in me for tea and coffee, with each having its allotted slot in the day, so this was an offer too good to refuse.

If you’ve not come across them already, then Kopi is a subscription club for coffee lovers, sending you or a loved one delicious coffee through the mail each month. You can buy a one off, you can buy a full year, or some in between, but always delivering great coffee, with great tasting notes.

 

Kopi Coffee

 

Have to say, the packaging is well thought through, as ideal to go through the postbox i.e. no signing for it or missing the delivery, which is so annoying. I received mine in January, and that month’s was Java Jampit Estate Certified Arabica. I love that you get points of view from their inhouse experts, the back story and the tasting notes. I appreciate the recipe as well, particularly as the one on this card was for black coffee ice cream. I love coffee ice cream, well, good coffee ice cream at least!

I appreciated all of that, I appreciated the instructions on the right number of dessertspoonfuls for my cafetiere, all those things. I just decided that I’m a bit of a pleb, and don’t really know that much about coffee. I could taste that this was smooth, vaguely picked up the chocolate notes but the pine and lavender were lost in me. That said, it was a very fine coffee, and I think it is purely down to my uneducated palate that I can’t make more of this. Though I knew it was better than Kenco.

So I would say this makes a fantastic gift option for those who really like their coffee, and probably know a bit about it too. Or are prepared to put some time in to getting to know it. And probably don’t drink it quite milky. With sugar. There are options for ready ground or just the beans. I guess this is for the real enthusiast who wants to grind on demand!

If you just want to try the coffee then you can buy the bags on their own, and they also have a concise collection of brewing kit available as well, so definitely a site worth checking out. My thanks to the Kopi team for the sample.

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Spring bargains on the foodie front

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Just a quick post on online retailers of good foodie stuff with good offers, in case you need a gift but with some cash left for day to day eating! Here goes:

Kissing Birds Free Gift from Thorntons

1. Thorntons have a free gift on offer for orders over £15  between now and the 14th, so a great one for the one for them, one for you principle. The free gift is the Kissing Birds, which is cute looking, and possibly tasty. I really like the chocolate blocks they have done, colourful and tasty. Enter code THKS at checkout to qualify.

2. I love how Majestic announce their offers: 25% off South Africa. Apparently it does just mean the wines! Great saving though when you buy two bottles. Possibly champagne discounts will follow next week if Valentine’s Day sales aren’t as good as they were hoping!

3. I do like my coffee, but good coffee. If you’ve got a caffeine freak, then how about joining them up to the Coffee Tasting Club from Coffee Cavern. It’s now available for £22.50 for 3 months, rather than £30, for which they will send 4 different coffees every month from single estates and co-operatives, along with tasting notes. A perfect pick you up gift.

4. Natoora is a great source for continental goodies from Italy and France amongst others. If you need to plan a big shop, then right now they are offering £20 off when you spend £80. The offer runs until 28 February, and you just need code HT785KE at checkout. Not sure I know where to start, but I would certainly be looking at their interesting wine and beer selection, and some San Daniele ham for sure.

5. There can never be enough fabulous chocolate in a home, and Chocolate Trading Co is a great source for finding great stuff. Just to ease some of the guilt, there is 10% off everything at the moment with code love, and it’s valid through till the end of this month. Deep joy!

6. If it’s too cold, or there’s still snow, then stay warm and safe and shop at the Virtual Farmers Market. Great selection of all kinds of producers from around the UK, and for all of February delivery is completely free, so got to be worth a go. And worth staying in for! Check out goodies from Gower Cottage Brownies, South Devon Chilli Farm and Upton Smokery amongst many other tasty choices!

Six great choices of places to shop, six great discounts. Happy shopping/cooking/eating!

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November in review – all about the Christmas prep

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An alternative to the caterpillar cake

 

Another month gone, and we’re getting so close to Christmas now. After last month’s obsession with unusual foodstuffs like the Gummi Bear, this month has swung into full on gift searching, but at a more general level. And then the usual array of odd searches that cause me amazement, bewilderment and the odd giggle or two.

So, the top 5 things everyone had on their mind this month were as follows:

1. Foodie gifts and presents – bit obvious with the title of the blog, but a big switch, which suggests everyone is looking for ideas for the foodies in their lives. Over the month my ideas have included where to buy a whole pig, gifts for the tea and coffee lovers, gifts on a budget and what to serve if David Tennant pops round for dinner. Always best to be prepared. And if anyone wants to know, David coming to dinner could be the best gift you could send this foodie!

2. Cupcakes – you weren’t so much making your own as looking for two fabulous suppliers, Bedazzled Cupcakes for if you’re up here in the East Midlands, and The Kent Cupcakery for those in Kent. I would think. Great choices, and I would be getting a move on to get my Christmas order in quick with both, or your local provider. Would make a fabulous alternative to mince pies, or to a Christmas cake. For the adults, have a look at what Sally at The Kent Cupcakery is doing with Limoncello cupcakes! Definitely not one for the kiddies!

3. Hampers – these were definitely beginning to creep up the presents chart, all ready for the festive season. I wrote a piece on hampers back in October, and there are some specific posts on hampers from M&S, Not On the High Street and Funky Hampers. A number of you were looking at hampers you could put together yourself, and I’ll be posting some ideas around this shortly.

4. Caterpillar Cake Tins – wow, this really is the cake of the moment!  Don’t get me wrong, I love a caterpillar cake as much as the next mum, but this month I will be attempting a stable with three horses heads, thanks to MGG and her flicking through of Debbie Brown’s 50 Easy Party Cakes. Photos and tales from the kitchen to follow before much longer. The cake tin is a great route though to a very quick and easy cake, so to be recommended for working parents everywhere who want to turn out a great homemade cake.

5. Alcohol free drinks – some of you are getting ready for Christmas, and providing interesting options for those who don’t, or can’t, drink. I’ve written a few times about how much I like the cordials from Belvoir Fruit Farms, and I will certainly be stocking up on Spiced Winter Berries cordial this weekend. I’ll also be testing my resolve with the Bottlegreen limited edition sparkling presses, which are very pretty, not to mention very tasty.

And for entertainment value, these are my choice searches of the month:

1. Lambrini gifts – stop asking me, I still loathe all of them. Please don’t send me one.

2. Turkey twizzlers – please, I’ve told you before, not on my watch!

3. Campbells condensed soup vol au vent filler – ah, retro food lives on for another month!

4. Asda Vin du Soleil – really, once in this lifetime was enough!

5. Comedy photo aprons – just picture your face on Christmas morning if this one is coming your way!

Looking forward to seeing what comes out top of the pops on the foodie present front come Christmas time. Here’s hoping it’s both tasty, and tasteful for all our sakes!

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Not forgetting the coffee drinkers!

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Now panic, but drink great coffee

 

I wrote about great Christmas gifts for the tea lovers yesterday, and it would be very unfair to leave the coffee drinkers out. I have divided loyalties: can’t start the day without a cup of tea, and weekend doesn’t begin until the first cappuccino is brewed. But if the foodie in your life is a serious coffee nut, here’s some thoughts and ideas for you:

1. You’ve got to start with the right ingredients, so what about making sure they get fresh coffee every month? Try the twelve month subscription gift from Has Bean Coffee. You can buy unroasted beans if they have a roaster at home, or otherwise you can choose the right grind for their preferred route to making their perfect cup of Joe. At £50, I think this is a bit of a steal, as it’s a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year.

2. For most coffee geeks, they’re going to need a burr mill grinder, as two mills are definitely better than one. This has been the holy grail hunt, and have happily taken delivery today of the Kitchenaid Artisan Burr Grinder.

3. A new mug? Well, I think I am a bit over the whole Keep Calm & Carry On thing, so rather like the Now Panic and Freak Out mug. Comes with coffee to calm your nerves, and a restored sense of irony!

4. So, what if they are stuck in an office with only a terrible coffee machine for company? How about a desktop coffee maker? Make their workmates jealous with the wonderful smell of freshly brewed coffee, all from the space that might just be taken up by a dying pot plant. Fresh coffee will generate much more feel good than any peace lily!

5. For an instant perk up wherever you are, then how about a Perk Coffee Bean Lip Balm from Crazy Rumours?

So, a few ideas to get you started. If they are true coffee devotees, I would skip the Starbucks gifts. In my experience, those who love coffee don’t love Starbucks. Even at Christmas!

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