Food and Drink Week — Pt 1 — Coffee



This time last year I didn’t drink the stuff.  Couldn’t stand it.   Avoided the likes of Starbucks and Costa because I felt a fraud asking for a mug of Earl Grey.   One Earl Grey teabag in a gallon of boiling water in a paper cup is never going to the be taste sensation I want it to be for £4.20.

And then a thing happened.

We went to the London Coffee Festival.   You know that festival for the thing you don’t like.  Yeah that’s the kind of logic I work on.  Getting out of bed to go to an event that you will not really get any enjoyment from.   But you know your husband and your friends will, so you go along.

And that’s when the thing happened.

I learned more about these clever beans, and that it is not just the instant stuff.   Or made in the silver plunger thing with the grounds you buy in a supermarket.   I was introduced to the proper stuff.   And the amazing array of blends and machines, from small pod type machines to top of the range professional espresso types.  Such as the Sage Appliances Dual Boiler that we fell in love with that day and that made a cup of coffee I was assured I would love and not drink under sufferance.

It was the best I have ever had.   Not difficult when I have only had a dozen or so in my life but have hated every one of them.   As we chatted to the Sage team we learnt that:

Fresh bags of beans should have a roasting date on it.

That it has oil in the beans because that is the bit that makes it taste amazing

Or make it taste bitter and nasty when the oil is non existent

That the optimum temperature is 93 degrees.  Not boiling as that can scald the beans grounds.

That it is made to be drunk pretty much immediately, not by the bucket load and mulled over with the paper in a coffee shop for hours.   In Italy they have bars and really don’t encourage people to sit.   You drink your thimble of espresso and you sod off basically.   The notion of sofas and big buckets and chatting is entirely American and not about the drink, but about the social (which is no bad thing, don’t get me wrong).

To be honest I have always found the idea of going into Starbucks and sitting down whilst nursing a bucket slightly odd.   I don’t find it at all relaxing.  They seem to be noisy and almost frenetic.   Either groups of mums with push chairs / people congratulating themselves for going to the gym by having a large Danish / commuters dashing in for human petrol / or people working on the free wi-fi.   I never really “got” it.

The coffee sort of felt secondary.  It isn’t about the coffee, it’s about the social and given that I was not a fan of coffee sitting in a coffee shop seemed a bit odd.   And the coffees themselves always seem to have ridiculous names and a hundred things added to them so they don’t actually resemble a coffee at all anymore anyway.  And as I said at the beginning, the tea in these places is hopeless too.

And that is when it hit me.   I am now a coffee snob.     Like not drinking cheap wine by the glass in a pub because I like good wine (not necessarily expensive wine, my favourite wine is £7 a bottle in Sainsburys) I have swerved cheap mass produced coffee because I just don’t like it.   And don’t like skinny soya mocha frappucino with an extra shot of vanilla either.   In a cup that taller than a two year old.

I thought I didn’t like coffee full stop.  When in actual fact I do.   It transpires that I like real coffee, done properly.

PS I will talking about the Dual Boiler in more detail soon.  It really is the most amazing coffee machine.

I am doing a week of food and drink related posts, this is part 1.   Tomorrow is all about the Sodastream!

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  • Ha I just started some drinks posts on my blog too 🙂 I’m a huge tea drinker. Always loved the idea of coffee – in fact wrote about the fact that I really WANT to like it just recently but I just can’t find one I like. But I WILL make myself. It’s on my must do list which I realise seems pretty sad. My other half just started drinking coffee last autumn and he now loves it. I’m waiting till I stop breastfeeding so I can drink the proper full of caffeine goodness but coffee.. You better watch out.

  • I am an absolute coffee snob and proud of it. I shy away from gatherings at the coffee shops preferring to sip away at my proper coffee at home… I steer clear of the stewed coffee at stations, or at conferences. Often I dream of sipping on those proper cappuccino’s that can only be found in Italy or Greece – the ones with the proper whipped froth on top x

  • Really, really interesting and informative post T. I love coffee in all it’s forms; it also goes better with my job than the ‘wobbly inducing liquids’.

    *starts saving for a Sage Dual Boiler*