We are, like millions of people over the world, coffee lovers. Not only is it a civilized weekend ritual for us; meeting friends in town on a Saturday morning and sharing the events of our week over a flat white, it has also become a weekday addiction too. The daily commute incorporating a stop off at Costa to grab a takeaway, an expensive habit, that we justified as a necessity. An essential caffienated kick start to our day.
That is until Covid-19 turned the world on its head. With every coffee shop being forced to close, and the daily commute becoming bedroom to kitchen table, the costly habit has been broken for us. This however, is definitely not a bad thing, far from it. Let us explain.
Despite religiously handing over our hard earned cash for our flat whites, we have more and more frequently moaned about their quality; too milky, too watery, too bitter. The days we took a sip, to be pleasantly surprised, were few and far between. This can’t be right; what has happened to the properly trained baristas, to the pride taken in producing the perfect micro foam, latte art and more importantly a consistently good product?
So here’s the technical bit…In a coffee shop there’s more to making coffee than just pushing buttons. Baristas should understand the basics of extraction. This is the process by which coffee flavor compounds and aromas are extracted from the ground coffee by the water. Different compounds are extracted at different points in the brew enabling baristas to control the flavour of the final cup of coffee. The rate of extraction is affected by the grind size ratio of coffee to water, water temperature, roast level, and more. And don’t even get us started on the milk…
Now, don’t get us wrong, there are still excellent baristas out there and if you are lucky enough to find one, let them know that their skills are appreciated. But in our humble opinion, in certain outlets, hard sell of additional products has become the priority rather than staff training. Profits over quality. What have been your experiences? Good or bad, we would really welcome your comments.
Realising that this was the perfect time for us to make another ‘lockdown’ change, we dusted off the espresso machine, sitting neglected on the kitchen counter. ‘We still love you, we were just being lazy!’ Ours happens to be a Rancilio Silva, which is an excellent workhorse with no whistles or bells, which we will review at a later date. Soon the house was filled with that delicious unmistakable real coffee aroma. Love affair back on, we have enjoyed perfect cups of coffee every morning since and despite the effort of getting up 10 minutes earlier, won’t be returning to the game of takeaway coffee roulette, anytime soon.
WHAT WE LIKE…
One of our favourite places to spend an enjoyable Saturday afternoon is Borough market, one of the largest and oldest food markets in London. Step through the art deco entranceway to be met by the mingling aromas of the many food stalls selling a huge variety of fresh & speciality produce, and an amazing array of delicious street food. You are invited to sample before you buy and with such choice definitely visit the market hungry!
Borough Market is also the home of London’s Monmouth Coffee Company and to our mind the home of one of the best cups of coffee that you will taste. Monmouth source and roast coffee from single farms, estates and cooperatives. They spend time building a relationship with the growers ensuring fair, equal and sustainable trade.
Monmouth currently have 13 varieties of coffee to buy online as well as in store. Whole beans or ground to suit every type of machine or simply for using in your cafetière.
OUR PICK OF THE WEEK…
Monmouth Sítio Grota São Pedro – Produced in Brazil by Claudio Caneiro Pinto
A fantastically smooth medium to dark roast with low acidity. This blend gives an initial nutty caramel hit, almost praline like, with a pleasant bittersweet after taste of cocoa truffles.
We used this coffee to prepare a flat white, starting with a ristretto. This is a shorter extraction and a finer grind to give a more intense flavour. A normal espresso shot may look like a ristretto but would in reality be a weaker diluted pour. A double espresso can be used to give similar results. Correctly steamed milk with micro-foam, not a great big bubbly mess on the top like a cappuccino, (steamed to a temperature of 68-72 degrees). Made to a ratio of approx. 50ml coffee, and a 100ml to a 150ml milk, depending on how milky you like your flat white.
Now for the good bit…
“SHAUNS BAD HABIT” ESPRESSO MARTINI
(did you see what we did there “bad habit” as in Frangelico…invented by monks !!!!!! ohh never mind)
There are many variations on the classic espresso martini, this is one we have mixed especially for “The Edge” readers. Although I am sure that somewhere in the worldwide web there is someone who has used exactly the same ingredients, we did a quick search and couldn’t find anything, for all intents and purposes this is ours…to you… feel free to use and abuse however you see fit, copyright free
20 ml Vodka
20 ml Kahlua
1 shot (30ml) chilled espresso, if you don’t own an espresso machine a good alternative is an espresso powder such as Nescafe Azera
Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker half filled with ice.
Shake well for a minute or two.
Strain into a martini glass.
WORLDS PANTRY TIPS
Chill your martini glass with ice or pop in the freezer for a couple of minutes before making your cocktail.
Don’t worry about shaking the cocktail vigorously, it’s this that will give you a beautiful coffee cream on top, but remember not to shake for too long because this will dilute the alcohol as the ice will start to melt, a couple of minutes will be fine.
If you don’t have Frangelico, although you should because it’s great for loads of different cocktails, you can either replace with an extra shot of vodka, vanilla vodka, or sugar syrup to sweeten the mix. Honey is fine, maple syrup is fine, just go ahead and experiment.
Garnish your drink with coffee beans or a dusting of chocolate.
As always any questions/comments regarding this or any of our recipes and articles, contact us at email@example.com We would love to hear from you.