05.07

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B E T T E R   M A K E   M I N E   A   D E C A F . . .

There’s this great little cafe in Guildford I’ve been meaning to tell you about for ages. It’s called K.Cafe, and I realised how fab it is whilst doing a little filming project for them a couple of months back.

The food’s delicious and all made from scratch (think cakes, pastries- both sweet and savoury- a salad bar to die for, and fresh juices too), AND the coffee is *fantastic*.

And even though you know I do love me a trip to Starbucks every now and again (mainly just at Christmas time, because those red cups are marketing genius and I just HAVE to have one) it’s such treat to visit a cafe that’s totally independent and unique.

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Jason and I nipped up there the other morning for a slice of cake and a coffee a piece, and were totally spoilt for choice in the sweet department. I opted for the banana loaf (a slice, not the whole thing, though to be honest I could have made quite the dent in it…) which came drizzled with honey and served with yoghurt.

It was DELICIOUS. And now I’m wondering why I don’t always serve the banana bread I make at home so frequently with a drizzle of my favourite acacia honey?!

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I mean, have you ever seen such a pretty slice of cake?! I also bought a salad box to take away for my lunch later that day, which was equally as delicious.

The sweet potato muffin was pretty tasty, but not a patch on the pomegranate and pistachio tabbouleh with hummus and seeds. The veggie options at the cafe are so fantastic (did I ever mention I’ve been veggie for a full year as of this past weekend? I’m not sure I ever mentioned it here!), so that makes it a total winner in my book!

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And speaking of things that make me super happy (like delicious cake, and menus that offer a great choice of vegetarian options), I need to talk for a minute about this ultra-girly dress here!

It’s from Seraphine, and is probably my favourite maternity dress I’ve worn so far this pregnancy. I love that it’s not got any ruching or excess material over the bump part, and that it doesn’t scream ‘this is a maternity dress!’ at first glance!

And, the fact that it pairs so cutely with those blue gingham slingbacks makes me pretty happy indeed.

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I’ve popped a few alternatives in the widget below, in case you’re in the market for something gingham-printed and girly!

Oh, and do swing by K.Cafe if you’re ever in the Guildford area. It’s our new favourite place!

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01.11

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T H E   A R T   O F   T H E   B R E W

At a little before 1pm on Thursday of this week, I found myself wandering through an industrial estate over in East London, trying to sniff out a good cup of coffee. You see, I’d been invited along to spend the afternoon learning about the art of coffee making at Union’s roastery, and had been promised that I’d be able to smell the aroma almost as soon as I left the station.

My eyes were glued to the map on my phone as I walked past shipping company warehouses and anonymous grey-fronted offices, and I began to doubt whether I’d even left the station via the correct exit.

But, as promised, a waft of coffee drifted across my path just at the right moment, and led me straight to the Union headquarters!

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T H E   ‘ S N I F F ‘   T E S T .

Our masterclass began with a lesson in ‘cupping’, or, in layman’s terms, ‘the art of tasting coffee’!

Set out on the table in front of us were an array of glass cups, each filled with an inch of so of ground coffee. Before getting stuck into the coffee itself, we learnt a little about Union’s passion for their beans.

This passion was what struck me the most during the day with Union, and encompasses everything from dedication to creating a working relationship with their growers that goes beyond a fair trade stamp, and instead is something more reciprocal and evolved, to their assurance that every bag of beans they sell has been hand roasted to bring out the coffee’s nuances and idiosyncrasies.

Every person we met was so passionate about their work, and I have to say, it was infectious!

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Our first task was to breathe in the aroma of the dry roasted coffee grounds, and see if we could identify any of the ‘notes’. They each smelled so very different- one was dark and chocolatey, another reminded me of the tobacco my Grandpa used to smoke, and the next was fruity and sweet.

Once we’d had chance to smell them each in turn, next came the brewing! And the tasting too, but we’ll get to that a little later…

Water, heated to a precise temperature just below the boil and measured out to an exact quantity, was poured into each cup, and the coffee then was allowed to brew for four minutes exactly.

Are you beginning to see a pattern of precision, here? Who ever knew coffee could be so very exacting!

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You’d not believe how amazing the smell was, as we ‘broke the shell’ of each cup of coffee and put our noses to its surface.

Everything I love most about a lazy Sunday morning, all contained within one heady hit of aroma!

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We then set about tasting each cup in turn, sucking tiny spoonfuls of coffee across our teeth (it aerates the coffee and helps bring out its flavour, so we were told!) and talked a little about its flavour characteristics. Was it bitter, like the peel of a lemon? Dark, like cocoa, or sweet like raspberries and cherries?

I’ll tell you though, this whole thing about being able to identify different flavour notes? It’s harder than it sounds!

It sort of reminded me of wine tasting, except instead of getting more and more light-headed, you get more and more jittery and wind up with your heart pounding up against your ribcage as though it might burst out any moment ;)

I regretted not having had a bigger breakfast, I can tell you!

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E S P R E S S O .

My favourite part of the afternoon came next- time to brew up espresso!

Now, I’d been pretty happy with my at-home coffee brewing set up, up until we made (or rather, ‘extracted’, as is the term!) espresso using that spectacular machine you see in the photos here. Isn’t she a beauty?

I just can never quite get my espresso at home to be as rich and thick as the kind we made at Union. How much coffee do you reckon I’d need to drink for a top of the range espresso machine to become a justifiable expense? ;)

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^ ^   T A M P   I T !  ^ ^

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Barista trainer Geoff taught us about the correct ratios for a cup of espresso (roughly 1 part coffee grounds to two parts water), and about the importance of cleaning out the ‘basket’ (where the coffee grounds get packed into) so as not to mess with the flavour of each cup.

There’s something so therapeutic about watching an espresso pour, isn’t there? And would you look at that beautiful golden crema?

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^^ Taste test. ^^ The verdict? Delicious, of course!

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Next came a form of coffee brewing I’ve had no experience in whatsoever- pour over brewing.

That fancy looking piece of glassware above, the darling of the Instagram world, is a Chemex, and the team at Union told us that it makes the loveliest coffee to serve at the end of a dinner party!

I suggested using it as a vase for flowers in between times, and the idea didn’t go down all that well, I can tell you…;)

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The coffee drips through slowly the paper filter, and the result was some of the most delicate and light coffee I’ve ever had.

You can pick up a Chemex for around £40, which seems so reasonable a price for making fantastic coffee at home!

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Our final, and most anticipated lesson for the day was in everyone’s favourite- latte art!

And I feel like now’s the time for me to tell you that I’m actually giving up blogging and becoming a full time latte art professional instead, because I absolutely *nailed* it.

Okay fine, that’s not true in the slightest. But it really is harder than you’d imagine!

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Espresso was made, and milk heated just so in order to get a glossy, ‘stable’ foam. Geoff had given us a demonstration of how it’s done, and I felt confident that it didn’t seem all that tricky. (Oh Rosie, what were you thinking?)

I carefully began to pour right into the centre of the espresso, and then as the thicker foam started to flow, brought the jug right to the surface of the coffee and then pulled the milk ‘through’ the white dot that had formed to make…

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A swan!!!

Okay okay, what I actually did was wind up with milk spilling over the sides of my cup (because for some reason the pressure got to me and I forgot how to pour a liquid like a competent adult), and was left without so much as a hint of a heart shape on the top of my coffee.

Dan, who is Union’s resident latte art pro, made that beautiful swan design above. Isn’t it spectacular?

The afternoon really was such a fun one, and had I not already been a diehard coffee lover, Union’s infectious love for their craft would have convinced me for certain that coffee is where it’s at!

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And what’s really exciting is that for those of us who like our coffee made easy, Union are launching a their very own subscription service on Tuesday 3rd November, delivering roasted to order coffee right to your front door!

If you love the idea as much as I do, you can claim £3 off your first order using the code ‘ROSIE’! Pretty great, hey?

I’ll be sharing the link to the Union’s CoffeeClub site when it goes live this coming Tuesday, so keep your eyes peeled on my Twitter and Instagram accounts!

~ ~ ~

Thank you to Union for sponsoring this post.

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21.07

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I’ve clearly been spending too much time on the internet over the past year or so. Why? Because the non-stop exposure to All Things Coconut (oil! water! milk!) has turned this coconut-phobic individual into someone who actively spent a good couple of weeks perfecting a coconut mocha recipe! I blame  Instagram. And the food bloggers…

To be honest with you though, it’s probably less the power of the internet and more the power of PR. CocoCafe (Vita Coco’s little sister brand) sent me over a parcel of their coconut coffee drinks about a year or so ago, and though I was pretty tentative about trying them at first (drinking coconut water is NOT my idea of a good time), they had me hooked at first sip. There’s something about the faintly fruity flavour of the coconut water that pairs so well with the dark chocolate, and, well, you know my stance on coffee. Add it to pretty much anything, and I’m well on the way to falling in love!

So that was that- one parcel of coconut lattes and mochas down, and I was a fully fledged convert. I mean, it’s not likely you’ll be catching me grabbing bottles of coconut water on the fly any time soon, but after a solid 23 years of only eating coconut when it came swathed in chocolate and wearing a wrapper saying ‘Bounty’- it’s progress!

In order to keep my coconut mocha-buying habits down to an acceptable level (it was getting kind of ridiculous…) I decided to see if I could get close to replicating the recipe at home. ‘How hard can it be?’ I thought. And wonderfully, it turns out that ‘not very hard at all!’ is the answer to that question!

Here’s how…

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The recipe makes two mochas, with the serving sizes shown above. I find you only want a small serving since the mocha is intense and dark and sweet, but feel free to scale up if you’d like!

A note too about ingredients- the chocolate syrup needs to be the all-natural kind. The type you find with the icecream toppings in the supermarket will likely be synthetic and overly sweet- I use one by a brand called Sweet Freedom, which is dark and delicious and vegan to boot!

Ingredients ::
1 shot espresso
1tbsp *best quality* chocolate syrup
200ml coconut water {I use one called ‘Go Coco’}
75ml milk
2/3 ice cubes

- Make an espresso, and whilst the coffee is still piping hot, stir into it the tablespoon of chocolate syrup. Add a few cubes of ice to both glasses.

- Mix together the milk and coconut water, and divide between the two glasses. Pour half the espresso and chocolate mixture into each of the glasses, add a straw, and serve!

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Do let me know if you give them a go! You know the drill, find me here on Twitter, and here on Instagram!

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Posted in COFFEE, DRINKS, FROM MY HOME TO YOURS, RECIPE

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25.11

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Continuing on in our little theme of lunchtime dates in Guildford, Jason and I headed out Friday in search of coffee (always) and doughnuts (a sometimes treat). Guildford’s looking pretty swish these days, all lit up for Christmas. My favourite lights are the ones strung up and down the lanes that connect North Street and the High Street, and the beautiful wreaths and garlands in Angel Gate.

We had a few errands to run first of all, and then went in search of sustenance. We’d never been to the little coffee shop on North Street called ‘Harris + Hoole’ but had heard good things, so decided to make that our spot for the lunch hour. It’s the cutest cafe- not least because there’s already a (real!) Christmas tree in the window! That tree made me very, very happy. And also excited to get our own in a couple of week’s time!

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^^ Just my handsome man, in my most favourite jacket of his, walking through a picturesque little cobbled lane <3 ^^

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The coffees at Harris + Hoole were good, and the place itself completely charming. Friendly baristas who take your name for the order but then continue to use it whilst serving you, rustic decor, leather sofas to stretch out on. We snagged a window seat, and spent a while talking and drinking and watching the crowds of harried-looking Christmas shoppers rushing past the windows. I also spent a lot of time stealing Jason’s raspberry lemonade whenever possible, because it was totally delicious and I regretted not getting one for myself ;)

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Once our drinks had all been drunk, I decided it was time to fix the doughnut craving that’d been bothering at me all morning long. So, to Krispy Kreme! I realised whilst we were there that my favourite doughnut (the vanilla cruller) has been discontinued, and it’s kind of broken my heart. That doughnut was the BOMB. Understated and plain and kind of doughier than a regular doughnut, and basically just straight up delicious. We settled for a couple of original glazeds in the end, which did hit the spot but not quite in the way the good old cruller would’ve done.

Speaking of doughnuts, we’ve been talking over honeymoon destinations and possibilities a lot lately, and one of the ideas we keep coming back to is a trip to Canada (you’ll see where I’m going with this whole doughnut-honeymoon connection in a sec, just bear with me). We’re thinking a getaway in a lake cabin somewhere beautiful and tranquil, and then some road trippin’ and maybe a visit out East to the cities. It would be completely amazing! But also, what I keep secretly thinking to myself, is that I reckon we might be able to score a box or two of Tim Bits at Tim Hortons whilst we were there, if we mentioned we were on honeymoon ;) And I mean, doughnuts are never the reason to opt for one honeymoon destination over another…but there’s nothing wrong with at least adding them to the ‘pro’ side of a ‘pro vs. con’ list, right? ;)

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^^ The cutest pink bike spotted on our walk back to the office! I wanted to take it home with me. But then I guess I’d have to try and relearn how to ride a bike. They say you never forget…but I definitely have. ^^

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And that was it, lunch hour up! We moseyed back to the office in the rain, eating our doughnuts and talking about plans for Christmas and wedding things and what’s in the diary for the couple of weeks ahead. It was a happy way to while away an hour in my favourite little town, with my favourite man.

What I wore ::
Coat
Jumper
Scarf {past season Aubin + Wills, similar here}
Jeans {I’m obsessed, can’t stop wearing them!}
Shoes
Doughnut eye mask optional, but delicious.

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Posted in COFFEE, DATE, GUILDFORD, JASON

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