101 Things To Do Before Next Thursday: Number 3
101 TTDBNT: Number 3 - Drink excellent coffee
Great coffee is readily available all over the place now. Starbucks, Pret a Manger, M&S Cafe, Caffe Nero, Costa... forgive me if I stick to the obvious ones. You can walk into any one of these and more and get a fix of caffeine and improve your Italian while you scan the menu.
You should know me well enough by now to understand that my first paragraph was a little playful. Drinking at any of the above outlets is certainly an occasion. Maybe you are enjoying the company of good friends or family, using free Wi-Fi for work or leisure; perhaps even talking and sorting real business with a real business associate in a relatively relaxed situation. All these can be positive, productive experiences. Of course, the one element which will be sadly missing from this experience is any suggestion of decent quality coffee.
I am perfectly at ease with that situation. All the compensatory things I've mentioned can be enjoyed completely free... just as long as you have paid for a mediocre cup of coffee.
A quick flick over to the HasBeans folder in my photos will tell you where I get my coffee kicks. That is, it shows just two years of bean orders from the magnificent HASBEAN.CO.UK. Their site reflects the wealth of enthusiasm and hard work which owner, Steven Leighton, brings to the world of coffee... a world in which he has become a bit of a celebrity. For a taste of his style why not start with his latest caffeine-fuelled offering over at InMyMug. Enjoy the crazy delivery and try to keep up with the barrage of information given. Oh, and don't let that accent bamboozle you... Steven is, along with the rest of them, a sad, bewildered Sunderland A.F.C. supporter!
Steven and the rest of his crew are utterly wonderful at dealing with enquiries. Emails are sometimes answered within ten minutes of sending! My most frequent dealings are through coffee orders but my kitchen set-up reflects a lot of 'previous' for equipment and sundries.
As far as I'm concerned the beans are always greener on the other side of the coffee shop chains. For complete accuracy, my beans are ordered freshly roasted and I just grind them when needed... but they were definitely green before that.
My exploits with 'proper' coffee are relatively young. I have still drunk more cups of instant at home, during work breaks and at other venues than the single estate varieties available through a good supplier. I now remain faithful to all things HasBean but I am aware that other classy coffee is available. You can extract flavour without the purchase of an expensive machine but do get hold of the best beans you can. It's their quality which grabs you. Look past the delightfully confusing tasting notes and just recognise huge, honest increases in the flavours they offer. Experience it at home courtesy of good suppliers or go off the beaten track to discover a coffee shop run by knowledgeable enthusiasts. Happily, more of these continue to appear.
Take my suggestions with a pinch of salt (or some bloomin' chocolate sprinkles if you must) but a world of full-on coffee flavour does exist out there. If you remain unconvinced, it will take me about ten minutes to fire up 'Miss Silvia' and pull you a shot of mind-changing espresso delight.
And you don't have to desert the chains... they will always be there for emergencies.