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Blog Posts (62)

  • So Which Coffee System is Best For Me?

    As you can imagine I get asked this question a few times in a week and in fairness for the person just getting into their coffee it is a fair question. Also as you can imagine there is not a direct answer as we all like our coffee differently. I prefer a Cortado or Cappuccino with a double shot, some prefer a Latte, some an espresso and others a long black. If you like to make coffee on the go an AeroPress or V60 could be your preferred method whereby you take a small hand grinder and coffee beans or you grind coffee beans prior to going out and take them with you along with your Yeti of hot water or a Jet Fire system. I deal for Long Blacks, an Americano or an Americano with a splash of milk. In the home or office many people use a Clever Dripper or Drip system to make black coffee that they either drink black, add a splash of milk or add some heated & frothed milk from a frother to their drink. The Drip machines have an advantage of either making the coffee into a thermal carafe or by keeping the carafe warm on a hot plate so that there is always hot coffee on standby. A fully automatic espresso system makes a variety of coffees at the touch of a button, just add water, beans and if necessary milk, press the right button and out comes your drink with a minimum of setting up. I prefer the art of the espresso and making coffees based on this drink using a manual espresso machine and separate espresso quality coffee bean grinder. Why? I believe it is the most versatile coffee system once mastered, there is always a trade off. Most coffees made from grinding fresh beans taste better, more bodies and sweeter than coffee made from pre-ground beans. Dialling in grinds for a pour over system is fairly straight forward and although the wrong grind can be detrimental to the taste it has to be a fair way out to do this. Grinding for espresso can be tricky and requires an espresso grade grinder but when done right it is a rich, silky smooth delicious cup of coffee that can be made into a number of equally tasty beverages such as Cortado, Cappuccino, Latte, Long Black or an Americano. So which system is right for you? Do you want to spend time prepping a coffee puck and fine tuning your coffee into the finest drink you have ever had? Buy an Espresso Machine. Are you looking for quality coffee on the go? AeroPress. Do you just want a nice coffee without the faff? Look at a Pour Over system or Drip Machine or do you want a system that does it all for you? Buy an Automatic Coffee System. There is no right or wrong answer, many coffee lovers have more than one coffee system to suit the current situation. A Hario V60 costs just £5.95 so is an easy system to have for a quick Americano. The Drip System is fairly automated and just gets on with making your coffee whilst you get on with your day. Still unsure, pop in and see us or give us a ring on 01626 834233 and have a chat and we can point you in the right direction on which coffee system is best suited to you and your needs.

  • Who Wants an Americano?

    So with the introduction of The Coffee Shack to The Barbecue Shack business I thought I would run a quick demo on making an Americano on our Gaggia Classic demo machine. I would make my usual latte but that involves you guys watching me steam milk, I'm okay at it but wouldn't say I was a barista so maybe later! Back to the Americano, a drink for our cousins across the pond that either couldn't handle the strength of an espresso or just didn't get a drink that small, I suspect a bit of both! Either way it has grown in popularity and does provide a tasty beverage if done right, or my way it's up to you. So I have taken to pouring the hot water first and then shooting the espresso into it. Do I think it makes a difference? No, I just don't splash coffee everywhere doing it this way, plus I do like to see the espresso disperse into the cup. I also like to use the Brewista Pouring Kettle as this will stop heating just before the boil and then hold it at whatever temperature I set it at until I need it, clever. I do prep my puck (ooh 'er misses) as I feel that a properly prepared puck makes a perfect espresso (try saying that three times quickly). This is something that I have experimented with, I use a WDT Tool (Weiss Distribution Technique) to de-clump the coffee grinds as clumps are the enemy of a smooth coffee. Water will force its way around the clumps rather than through them meaning that you will not get the full extraction from your shot. I also use a coffee distributor (I know, they are all called distributor but they distribute the coffee in your portafilter in different ways) and because I'm stupid I didn't catch this bit on the video but basically it spins in the portafilter and ensures a flat even distribution with a touch of tamping to ensure that there are no thin areas within the portafilter. So above from left to right is the WDT Tool, the Distribution tool and a Tamper. Are all these necessary? Certainly the first two so as you get a more consistent shot and if you have bought quality coffee beans and an expensive grinder to grind the beans to espresso perfection why not finish the job properly for the sake of buying a few inexpensive accessories? Was this the best Americano I've ever made? One of yes!

  • Steaks From a Topside of Beef

    "What?" I hear you cry. "Why?" I also hear people crying. Why not I say. My Father-in-Law insists on buying meat from dubious sources and bringing it home for me to deal with, almost like a challenge! He brought home a large topside of beef and presented it to me stating that he thinks we could get minute steaks from it. "Wait a minute" says I (get it) I think we can do better than that so I cut half hour steaks from it instead! So what do I mean by half hour steaks? I like to smoke my steaks low and slow to get them to an internal of around 52 Celsius which usually takes around twenty minutes. Once at this temperature I like to rest the steaks under some aluminium foil to allow them to relax and get the juices back in to the steak before searing them. Whilst resting get your barbecue nice and hot and sear for around 45 seconds to a minute per side directly over the hot coals to give them that lovely Maillard reaction that adds so much flavour. If you are feeling brave take your grill off and put them directly onto freshly raked coals, this adds another dimension. Once cooked I always slice my steaks against the grain (I think it is a criminal offence to slice with the grain) before serving so that people don't cut it wrong and then moan that there steak is tough. This way the steak is always served correctly and tender. As you can see I also cooked some Hasselback Potatoes on the grill alongside some 'shrooms and onions which is a must for steaks in my opinion. Why no sauce? My steaks don't need it!!

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