Cupping Vs French Press

I like cupping coffees, especially delicious ones. I am occasionally guilty of liking a coffee so much that I swipe the bowl after we’re done for drinking. This is obviously a disgusting and shameful habit, but hey – tasty is tasty.

Cupping is something that occupies a constant pocket of my mind – the process, the purpose, the results and everything in between. Like many people who often fall in love with coffees on the cupping table I also like full immersion brewing a lot. Often that means the french press. Continue reading “Cupping Vs French Press”

Recommended Coffee Reading List – Part 1


Back in 2006 I published a recommended reading list. Since that time my collection of books has (worryingly) increased so I thought I should probably update it. I could easily write a list of coffee books that one should avoid (having learned the hard way) but I suspect that would get me into rather a lot of trouble, so I shall leave that for now. I’ve broken it down into two parts and then down into sections, and have indicated which are nice to have, and which I would consider are essential on that subject.

I will try and keep this one updated – if you think I’ve missed something obvious then let me know.  I haven’t recommended books I don’t own, so this means some books may be missing that you would expect to see here.

Continue reading “Recommended Coffee Reading List – Part 1”

Making coffee with snow

Once again pulled from Mark Prince’s twitter 1 , I loved this idea and with a few inches outside it seemed inevitable the inner child would take over…

Continue reading “Making coffee with snow”

  1. Yes, yes – I know we are all bored to tears with hearing about Twitter, but sadly we are stuck with it so we might as well embrace it and microblog ourselves into a stupor  ↩︎

I’m very excited!

Got a phone call this evening about a little machinery project that we embarked upon with Marco, telling me that they will be debuting the machine at CatEx – Ireland’s HORECA tradeshow – between the 9th and 11th of February.  It was an idea we had that they agree to R&D, and the data coming back from testing was impressive.

At the moment I still can’t give much away, it is nothing to do with espresso, it isn’t a coffee brewer either but I hope it will be great.  I have yet to see a finished unit, and I gather the aesthetic side is still quite open.  I’ll likely be heading over on the 1oth for a quick play with it, and to make coffee for people at the show and to talk about the project a little more.

Like a kid in a candy store…….

Videocast #4 – Stovetop/Moka Pot

I wanted to tackle a tricky brewing method for this videocast, and it will probably cause some debate – people saying that I am using it wrong etc etc…

I wasn’t trying to recreate espresso with the little brewer – I just wanted to find a way to use it so it made clean, sweet and tasty coffee with no bitterness or astringency.  It took a while and I ended up grinding coarser than even I expected.  There aren’t a lot of good brewing guides around for stove top brewers – but credit to the Stumptown one for ideas and inspiriation.

Continue reading “Videocast #4 – Stovetop/Moka Pot”

Christmas Coffee Gift suggestions

In a short break from my current series of articles I thought I’d have a go at answering and pre-empting a few questions that I usually get this time of year.

So – stuck for what to buy the coffee lover in your life?

First off – don’t buy them an espresso machine unless they’ve speicifically asked for one.  Seriously – do NOT buy it.  I started my coffee career off retailing domestic coffee machines, and I know that most end up in a cupboard.  Making espresso is a messy time consuming business, and while the idea of a lazy Sunday morning cappuccino appeals in theory it doesn’t happen in reality.  Pay someone else to make espresso drinks – if the drinks are good they are worth every penny.  This includes bean to cup machines and especially Nespresso machines.  Get that thought out of your head!

So – if not an espresso machine then what?


Well – every coffee lover needs a grinder.  If they love coffee but don’t have a proper burr grinder then this is the best possible thing you can buy them.

At the low budget end you have:

Dualit Burr Grinder

Bodum Antigua Burr Grinder

Don’t go cheaper than these for an electric burr grinder.  They are a bit noisy but they do the job across a range of grinds (though some aren’t great at espresso)

In the mid range you have:

KitchenAid Grinder

This is by no means the perfect grinder – but it is quieter, quite pretty and is good value for money.

If they want an espresso grinder then I would suggest heading to a suitable coffee forum like TooMuchCoffee, Coffee Geek or Home-Barista and having a search through which grinders and which vendors are recommended.  (Though please remember to have a good search before posting – chances are someone has already asked the same question!)


If they have a grinder then maybe a nice way to brew coffee.  I’ve already waxed lyrical about the Bodum Columbia French presses, because they are beautiful, unbreakable and double walled.  Amazon’s pricing is great (thank god for the New and Used links!)

Bodum Columbia French Presses

I remain fond of my one swiss gold brewer which is the

Bodum Kona

If you really, really feel like treating someone then you could buy them a nice pouring kettle (great for making pourover filter coffee, or Chemex coffee – and VERY hard to find), or maybe a nice Vacpot from they guys at Barismo in the US.  (Don’t forget to scroll down the page to see all the items)

I wish I had some links to some nice Cloth brewers but I don’t!


Of course they need something to brew – sorry for the plug but I can’t help but recommend a nice 6 or 12 month subscription (UK only)

Whatever coffee you buy – make sure you buy it as close as possible to Christmas from whichever great coffee roasters is most local to you.

Any suggestions for things I have missed then let me know in the comments and I will update this as soon as I can!