There aren’t any children in our household, however that doesn’t stop us getting excited about Christmas. Christmas proper for us generally begins on Advent – this year, the 3rd of December. On that day, the tree gets erected, decorations go up and, if we’ve managed a bit of forward planning, the first door of the Advent calendar gets opened.
There’s a growing number of grown-up Advent calendars on the market – and there’s something for everyone – glamour pusses, real ale drinkers, coffee connoisseurs as well as the sweet-toothed. Here are three of our favourites…
Coffee connoisseurship keeps reaching higher and higher levels. We have become more discerning about where our coffee comes from, the taste we prefer and how we like to take it. Many people have coffee makers of one kind or another in their kitchens. The simple, classic Bialetti stove-top percolator, the coffee filter machine and the high tech bean-to-cup machines.
The obvious progression is an increase in the popularity of home coffee roasters. The basic models are surprisingly affordable and, as they don’t need electricity to run, are perfect for use al fresco or when camping. If you’re not the outdoorsy type, there are many others available – at a range of price points – for stove-top or counter-top use.
Coffee is our morning brew of choice – double shot, flat white for both of us (soya milk, no sugar, for me – cows milk, sugar for Justin). I must confess, our first mugs of the day are usually instant (the horror!). Fiddling about with coffee machines when you’re only half awake is frustrating.
When I win the lottery (once I start buying a ticket!) I’ll travel ’round the world… and buy a top of the range Jura Bean-to-Cup. It’s the height of luxury having a coffee machine that you can control remotely from your phone. Pre-program your preferences into its memory and, at the touch of a button, it can grind and brew you your perfect cuppa… just to reiterate – that’s a double shot, flat white with soya milk, no sugar, if you’re asking!
This will be my final recipe celebrating Sourdough September – fitting really, that it’s a recipe for a dessert – sourdough coffee chocolate cake. I’ve lifted the instructions from one of my new favourite websites – King Arthur Flour. Their recipes quick-convert between Imperial, metric and US cups – a really useful feature!
As well as Sourdough September, this cake also honours International Coffee Day which happens each year on 1st October… and while I’m at it, why not honour Chocolate Week which runs from 9th-15th October. There… I’ve covered all the bases and no one was left out!
Another good thing about this recipe is that it calls for ripe sourdough or discard. I love using up leftovers! It also lists espresso powder as an ingredient; I ground some espresso beans on the finest setting and that worked perfectly.
The resulting sourdough coffee chocolate cake is HUGE – almost a kilo of icing alone! You may want to halve the recipe. The two of us will be eating a slice every day for a week… not that I’m complaining. It’s soft, moist, sweet and gorgeous!
There are three separate parts to the process; the cake, the icing and the drizzle. If you don’t think you’ll have enough time in a single day to do all three, you can break it up into stages across two or even three days.
This would be a great one to make as a celebration cake. You could even divide the batter into two tins and make a layer cake if you prefer.
Last week, we featured online tea offers; this week, it’s only fair to investigate a few coffee subscriptions available. We only drink one or two cups each per day, but we like them to be made using good quality beans. Favourite of ours are full-bodied espresso beans – and decaf espresso beans for evening consumption.
Coffee-Direct: from £5.99 per 227 sample bag (save 15% when bought on subscription)
Probably the one of the three that has the most choice – there are 16 different Espresso roast coffees alone! Coffee-Direct explain:
At the checkout you have the option to choose to receive your order periodically, at any frequency that suits you. What’s more, once your subscription is set up, you’re able to amend, skip, pause or delete your subscription at any time.
Coffee REAL: subscriptions – £36 – £328 (3, 6 or 12 month coffee subscriptions, 6 – 52 bags of beans)
Coffee REAL is a company with a charitable heart. 10% of the purchase price of their espresso blend goes directly to the Born Free Foundation – and, even better, the blend is made from 2 top coffees that originate in areas where Born Free run wildlife projects.
Skinny Coffee Club: from £24.95 (28 day, 8-week and 12-week day/night programmes)
Well, I never knew that you could drink coffee in an effort to help you drop a dress size or two! According to their blurb:
Skinny Coffee Club is ideal for those looking to lose weight, fast. It’s tasty, organic and designed specifically to raise your metabolism, burn fat, fill you with energy throughout the day and leave you feeling fuller for longer.
There’s only 63mg of caffeine and 6 calories in each cup. Skinny Coffee is comprised of ground coffee, ground green coffee bean extract, green tea extract powder, Garcinia Cambogia, Siberian ginseng powder and spirulina powder. I’ve no idea how much like traditional coffee it tastes but there are thousands of reviews on their website posted by satisfied (slimmer) customers!