It’s time to come clean.
For the past four years I have been maintaining a lie. Every single time we’ve been invited out to an Englishman’s castle for a little hospitality, I’ve trotted out this lie. Without even blinking. Not even with a hint of shame, or a blush that would belie my duplicity, I’ve calmly said..
“No thank you. A cup of tea will be fine.”
A. Cup. Of. Tea.
That’s like me turning down a glass of wine for a glass of Raro, or squash.
You see, I love coffee and have done so for decades. Ever since I realised that a few cups of coffee could keep me awake through the essay-writing-night at University, I’ve been fond (a little too fond, some might say!) of Java. But it has to be the right kind of coffee. Not the marmite-y liquor of an instant coffee!
I learnt very early on in my stay in England that if I was offered a cup of coffee in someone’s house, there was a 5/10 chance that I would be given a cup of instant coffee. I’ve never been able to figure out why this is, but to preserve my tastebuds I’ve learnt to just say ‘tea please.’
Yet, England has a long coffee history, and has some great cafés and coffee merchants. In fact, coffee houses were considered the centre of English news and commerce in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Lloyds bank of London even started as a coffee house, and King Charles 11 became so concerned about the power of all the caffeine fuelled free speech he attempted to outlaw the coffee houses, though the law never passed. Although the coffee houses died down in the 18th Century of their own accord, and tea became the nation’s eponymous hot drink, coffee has never lost favour.
With great coffee merchants like Taylors of Harrogate around (established in 1886) I can’t figure out why I’m always offered instant coffee.
Is it because a good cup of coffee is considered hard to make?
Some people do seem to believe that unless they are on the 3rd day of their cycle, and are wearing virgin wool garments, and have offered victuals to the Goddess Hera, they are not able to make a decent cup of coffee.
Not so! As we learnt at Taylors of Harrogate’s coffee Masterclass on Friday.
It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.
No funny faces or ritualistic dances required, despite the photographic evidence in the gallery below!
1. Choose the best coffee you can get your hands on. Taylors carefully chooses their coffee suppliers from around the world. They focus on growers who produce coffee cherries that are perfectly ripe, picked first thing in the morning and are quickly processed on the same day to ensure maximum freshness.
2. Grab coffee from the freezer (where it is best stored once opened) and put into the bottom of a cafétiere. Pour over hot almost boiling (but not quite) water. Stir, and then leave to brew. Prayers to the coffee gods are not required.
3. After three minutes or so, pour. For best results sit down with a friend and right the world’s problems.
Other things I learnt.
- Robusta has twice the amount of caffiene as Arabica. So if you’re looking for a real hit a blend with a lot of Robusta is worth looking out for.
- Coffee must be stored in oxygen free packets or the coffee will go stale
- The valve on the front of the packet of coffee is not a packaging error but rather a way of encouraging the coffee to gas-off, so that it doesn’t explode the packet! (A case of really explosive, Hot Lava Java, perhaps?)
- Hard water can leach coffee of its acids and reduces flavour
- All Taylors’ coffee is fairtrade certified so it not only tastes good, but it’s good for your soul as well!
- The pigs in North Yorkshire are fed on the chaff, a by-product of the coffee production process. Does Yorkshire then have the most wired pigs in the country?
It was an interesting day at Taylors, but I think my favourite learning from the day is this – Rich Italian is now the number one Taylors of Harrogate coffee in the UK, booting Lazy Sunday from the top spot.
I can understand that. After all, who doesn’t want a Rich Italian?
I made a little video of my trip. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed my day with Taylors in Harrogate.
Disclaimer: Taylors of Harrogates covered all my expenses for the day trip to Harrogate! Thank you Taylors it was briliant being able to sup coffee with a group of true believers.