Do you remember your first cup of coffee? That magical brew that all the big kids thrived on; warm, full bodied and simply pleasant on all the senses – especially when that little hint of caffeine kicked in. The coffee addiction has certainly swirled a fair few of us, or rather the millions of us in the UK who drink coffee at home or visit coffee shops on the regular.
For every coffee lover, it’s safe to say that not only are you a coffee fan(atic) – but that getting a coffee from your favourite independent coffee shop, Starbucks, Costa, Pret A Manger, Nero whatever – is an experience to love and cherish just as much as the brew itself.
We are constantly being hounded with coffee alerts on how too much isn’t good for our health, and now it has come to light more than ever that our indulgence in coffee To Go is having a huge impact on our country’s waste as well. Caffeine is excess does have its negative effects, but let’s not negate some of the lovely benefits from coffee both decaf and regular as it’s full of antioxidants and other nutrients too. Just as buying into coffee on the run has a negative effect on the environment and our bank balances, however the coffee house is a still a wonderful place where you can go to relax with a newspaper or meet friends whilst you indulge in a coffee masterpiece.
Don’t Blame the Bean
We’re hoping to inspire you to get more from the humble coffee bean, in terms of money and experience. From making amazing coffee in your own gaff to getting the most from your coffee house of choice – here are 5 fabulous reasons to always toast to Joe.
1. Back to Basic Coffee
Now that gourmet coffee is so accessible around and about town, it’s easy to forget that making your own is quicker thank you think. People often steer towards instant coffee but this is a thing of the past when you can get strong coffee results in all senses of the word and with minimal faff.
There is nothing better than fresh coffee. Whether you want it on a Sunday morning or during the working week, there are lots of different types of coffee machines which we can choose to suit our budget, lifestyle and above all, taste.
Although pod or capsule machines are popular, the coffee in the pods could be fresher and we favour the following classic methods for both their agility in brewing and for the quality of the coffee result.
The Cheap and Chic Cafetière
Simplicity is bliss, the French Press is a glass container teamed with a plunger – all you require is ground coffee, hot water and 4 minutes. This is one of the cheapest options also, plus a real time saver when in those 4 minutes before plunging into goodness you could heat your milk, brush your teeth, put on your trainers and maybe even feed the cat.
For the ultimate coffee indulgence, be sure to adhere to those sacred 4 minutes as different flavours are released during these precious moments; also ensure that you use fresh/ preferably filtered water each time that isn’t boiling as this will burn the poor coffee.
Your Perfect Percolator
Because every drink will start with an espresso, an espresso biglietti or other moka is the authentic Italian option to your straight up espresso, latte, cappuccino or espresso martini depending on what time of day it is of course. Be sure to use fine ground beans here so that you get the créma on top.
This is again an inexpensive method of brewing with minimal preparation; cold water in the bottom, then fill the grounds container with your coffee before assembling the pot together and brewing slowly on a low heat to release more flavour. This will take 5-10 minutes so is more weekend friendly as hob use is involved. Both Amazon and John Lewis have some nice options on both of these coffee gadgets.
2. Increase your Coffee Knowledge
Once you’ve chosen your gadget of choice, the materials will then make all that difference in taste. Ensuring that your coffee comes directly from small holder growers is a good start; if not, finding a Fairtrade option is key. 100% Arabica beans will give you better quality coffee, plus by using premium beans you will experience all kinds of flavour sensations and know what to look for when you are grabbing a coffee on the go.
Get to know your strength, and build your own coffee profile. If you like a zesty finish then going for a lower roast will give you that lighter taste and leave the palette feeling brighter – think hints of light plum. Higher strengths are darker roasted and make for a more intense experience, think chocolate overtones which are perfect for your moka.
You can buy coffee pre-ground or the beans to grind yourself for added freshness; Pact Coffee is a great company who pack their coffee within 7 days of grinding and roasting the beans.
3. The Great Uses of Coffee Grounds
Waste not want not, you’ve seen bags of the stuff being given away in your local coffee store and now you’re accumulating your own stash too. You can put your coffee grounds straight into your food waste bin, but you just won’t want to when you know about their many other positive uses.
Beneath the Flowers
By stirring some into your soil as a fertiliser this is perfect to give seedlings a boost of nitrogen and to increase the acidity levels of the soil.
By the Sink
Keep some in a pot next to the kitchen sink as a handy exfoliator to eliminate garlic or fishy smells from your hands after cooking.
In the Fridge
Putting a little pot in the fridge too will absorb and neutralise bad smells. Coffee really does win on all fronts for keeping your house smelling sweet.
4. Minimise your Coffee Cup Waste
We consume 70 million cups of Joe per day in the UK – it’s safe to say that we’re hooked on the stuff! Although, the fact that many of us choose to go to our favourite coffee shop and get our lattes To Go, means that a 10th of our consumption results in the classic paper cup going to waste.
Despite our attempts to recycle these cups by putting them in the correct bins, it’s now come to light that the cups themselves are not as recyclable as we think, which means that both our efforts and the cups are going to waste. We can point the finger at the giant franchises of the coffee industry for the misleading marketing on their cups; but the blame can also be shifted onto our pure overindulgence and overconsumption.
When you make your coffee at home you can choose which ever mug, cup or bowl you would like to suit your morning mood. If you don’t have time chill with Joe then you can invest in one of the many travel cups available to transport your beautiful coffee with you on your day’s adventures. Plus if you need a refill during the day, you can often save a bit of money when you visit coffee shops like Starbucks who currently offer 25p off your hot drink when you take in your own mug. The latest goss is that this will soon increase this to 50p off – win.
If you get caught out when you’re commuting and you can’t sit in for a coffee because you’ll miss the bus, here are a couple of fun ways to make your coffee cup reusable for as long as possible at home. Give it a good rinse of course and then you could use it to make:
A Pencil Holder
Organise your desk with a few cups grouped together. You could paint them to add a bit of colour and tailor them to you room’s décor; you could even paper maché them before hand to make them a little more robust.
If you pop a few holes in the bottom, you can fill them with soil and plant a few seedlings for cress or other herbs. Keep them on a plate to catch any dirt or water that falls through and watch it grow.
For soil and dry pet food (best not together).
Just because gift boxes are done. Paint them, cover them in sequins, glitter and ribbon – whether or not you’ve got kids, this is the coolest and cheapest craft session you could hope for!
5. The Crazy Cost of Coffee
What we tend to forget or may not be aware of is that the cost of the actual coffee is less than the cup itself and other ‘packaging’ such as the napkin, lid, stirrer and sugar you may or may not use. Therefore it seems that we are part of a vicious circle with the coffee and it’s cup. Most don’t (always) think twice about spending the average £2.20 on a cappuccino To Go, which excludes the surplus tuppence for dairy alternatives like soy milk in some places (can you believe?). When you buy your own coffee beans to make the magic happen at home, you will instantly see how far one pack of coffee can take you. You could get 15+ mind-blowing cups of coffee for the price of 3 coffee shop brews. That’s a fair save and just think of what you could do with your spare change!
Show your Coffee Love
Let’s not turn the war on waste into the war on coffee, as we can certainly come to a level ground where we drink the perfect amount to achieve our optimum functionality, without filling up rubbish and recycling bins with unrecyclable material and lastly, without roasting our bank balances.
Bad jokes aside, getting your hands dirty at home for a little coffee luxury can be done with minimal effort and minimal money with heaps of other rewarding benefits along the way too. Let’s still support our coffee houses and enjoy the craft that they put into every glorious flat white or simple americano; but perhaps think twice about getting it To Go and look to embrace coffee, the cup and all that it has to offer that little bit more.