Tag Archives: Coffee

Pact Coffee

Pact produce delicious coffee which is roasted in small batches at the Pact Headquarters in Bermondsey (UK) and shipped within 7 days. The coffee isn’t ground until the last possible moment before being sent out which ensures it is as fresh as possible.

I no longer have my own coffee grinder but that’s not a problem as Pact will grind the beans for you, they do this minutes before it’s sent then seal the coffee in special valve bags that keep the coffee fresher for longer.

pact coffee

You can select how you want Pact to grind the beans to suit the coffee machine you’re using at home (fine for espresso, coarse for cafetiere and everything in between).  You will be presented with a selection of coffee to suit your personal tastes and you can pick the one that suits your tastes.

Pact Irmas Pereira

My first pack of coffee was the Irmas Pereira Espresso – Chocolate chip cookie.  Mr Gourmand thought that the coffee was too mild for him the first time he tasted it, I do think this was down to a measuring issue as we had previously been using a very strong coffee which knocked your socks off and I used the same amount with this one which is milder.  The second time I made the coffee I added more and we were both rather impressed with the creamy taste.

The coffee has a mellow creamy flavour and reminds you a bit of eating biscuits as there is a sweetness without it actually being sweet if that makes sense? There is a slight chocolate aftertaste with a small amount of acidity which balances the coffee out really well.  I don’t use this for my morning coffee as it just doesn’t have the hit I need first thing in the morning after a broken sleep thanks to Baby Gourmand but I do have a couple of cups during the day once I’ve woken up and I’m ready to enjoy the taste.

pact coffee

Each bag of coffee will cost you £6.95, except the limited edition bags, which are £8.95, postage and packing is included in the price.  Pact is technically a subscription service however you can cancel at any time. You can pause, reschedule and even bring forward deliveries and Pact will email you at least 24 hours before they send out your coffee to give you a chance to cancel the delivery.

Pact are customer focused, I have received several emails and even a phone call although I was out when they called and couldn’t take it, this proves that Pact really want to make sure you are happy.

After you receive a coffee delivery from Pact they will send you an email asking whether you enjoyed it, if you didn’t let them know why and what you look for in a coffee they will send you a replacement or, if you’d rather, they will give you a 100% refund. Now that’s good customer service!

Pact deliver to any address in the UK with a postcode and the packs fit through 90% of UK letterboxes, meaning no waiting around for the postman.  I’ve subscribed to quite a few different coffee companies in the past and 9/10 I had to go to the sorting office to collect my package as it just didn’t fit through the door which can become rather annoying.

If you fancy ordering a bag you can visit the Pact website here

 

Disclaimer: I wasn’t asked to write this, I love the brand and the coffee and thought my readers might too!



Zou Bisou

Zou Bisou is a lovely little place on Regent Court, Leamington Spa.  Its sits happily alongside some big chains like Nandos, Yo Sushi, and Turtle Bay, but is so relaxed and welcoming, it has a feel about it that you only get with an independent place.  The interior is nice, big chairs, little chairs, quirky, funky, but doesn’t try too hard.  It just feels happy.  Does that make sense??  Anyway, myself and Mini Gourmand decided to pop in for a light breakfast on Sunday morning and I thought I would share the experience.

zou bisou scrambled egg

I wasn’t really hungry so decided to order scrambled eggs on toast, a fairly safe bet, and it really hit the spot, in fact, probably a slightly larger portion that I was expecting so I had to leave some, which I hate doing!! Baby Gourmand tucked in and helped me out whihc was nice, as he usually doesn’t like scrambled eggs – a break through!!  I had wished I hadn’t bothered ordering him his own side of toast as he really didn’t need it with my mammoth breakfast to help me with.  The scrambled eggs were creamy and cooked to perfection and the toast was hot, what more could you want?

zou bisou full english

Mini Gourmand didn’t hesitate to order the full english; a guy sitting not far away had one, and as the waiter took his order book out Mini Gourmand’s greedy eyes followed his sausages from plate to mouth!  Just like my scrambled eggs, Mini Gourmand described the breakfast as exactly what she wanted. Quality ingredients, nicely cooked, and a good amount.  What more can you ask for!

Interesting that Mini Gourmand recently walked past Zou Bisou late at night and they are open until 10, and offer 2-1 coffees, defintley a nice place for a late night drink if you don’t fancy going to the pub.  Zou Bisou has also started offering Sunday lunches, lets see if we can sneak one of them in, in the not too distant future!



Shou Shou Leamington Spa

Shou Shou has only recently opened in Leamington Spa so we decided to go on Saturday to have a little look and hopefully sample something delicious.  We didn’t actually know what sort of edible treat to expect as we had only seen a couple of interior pictures on facebook so we entered with open minds, when I first saw pictures of the interior of Shou Shou I originally thought it was  sister branch of another of Leamington Spas vintage style coffee shops and was pleasantly surprised to find out it was a new venture.

shou shou

 

From the outside Shou Shou looks very pretty and chic, the sort of place you would visit for afternoon tea surprisingly this didn’t put Mr Gourmand off as he’s quite in touch with his feminine side!

plate decoration

 

I love the vintage plate decoration adorning the wall, it seems really popular with coffee shops at the moment to have vintage crockery and I’m certainly not complaining as I love it.  There are a lot of pastel colours used in Shou Shou which really do add to the chic feel I assume they are trying to portray, the lilac painted chair was a winner for me.

menu

 

The menu is quite simple but contains something for all tastes, there is a good selection of breakfast items, cold sandwiches, paninis, salads and of course Afternoon tea, we were too late for breakfast and too early for lunch so decided to sample a cake instead.

cakes

 

The cakes on display all looked delicious and I was torn between the Frangipan or Zucchini and Lime cake, Mr Gourmand was saving himself for lunch so suggested I pick a cake we could both try. Don’t you hate it when this happens? I knew that half of my cake would be eaten so if I’d been clever I should have picked something he didn’t like just to prove a point!

zucchini and lime cake

 

We both went for an Americano and I selected the Zucchini and Lime cake which was delicious and tasted home made, the cake was moist but didn’t fall apart when you put your fork in it.  There was a layer of lime curd sandwiching the cake together and buttercream icing topped off the cake.  Mr Gourmand originally turned up his nose when he found out the cake contained a vegetable but quickly realised you couldn’t taste it and the cake was too delicious to even care about the ingredients.  The owner of Shou Shou asked how we were enjoying the cake so I took my chance to ask if they were made in house which is always a big bonus for me, they are actually handmade but by a lady who supplies to the coffee shop which is great as I love small business supporting other small businesses.

You can find Shou Shou Cafe at 135 Regent Street, Leamington Spa



Bandstand Tea Room – Leamington Spa

Myself and Mr Gourmand recently got caught out by a freak thunderstorm close to the Pump Room gardens in Leamington Spa and decided to jump into the first coffee shop we good which was the Bandstand Tea Room. As you can tell from the photographs, The Bandstand Tea Room, named after the band stand across the road, is a quaint little place with decorative wallpaper and delicate ornamental features fitting for a fine tea room in York or Edinburgh.

interior

There was a great selection of teas all housed in pretty silver jars, I particularly liked the shabby chic cabinet that housed them.

cakes

There wasn’t huge variety of cakes, but the ones on offer were home made, nicely presented and looked delicious.

chocolate cake

I went for the Chocolate Cake as recommended by the waitress which was an incredibly indulgent, rich, chocolaty delight, that truth be told I struggled to finish – at this point Mr Gourmand jumped in to finish what I plainly couldn’t! The ratio of buttercream to cake was good, this is something that some places get so wrong but on this occasion it was perfect.

latte

Mr Gourmand went for a Latte to wash down the chocolate cake he stole from me and his own cake.  Next to the latte you can just see a glimpse of the Victoria Sponge Mr Gourmand ordered. He does order some odd cakes, but I think he chose wisely this time as it was beautifully light and delicious! although it looks like the cake was filled with just a bit too much buttercream it was actually a perfect amount and very light and airy.

arthur coffee

Look at Baby Gourmand’s face, even he was glad to get out of the cold rain!

Overall we had nice cake and coffee which is all you can ask for, however it was a little pricey and certainly fell into one of the most expensive coffee shops in Leamington, but for those special occasions when you really fancy the best cake, I would go again. The chocolate cake was a bit special!



Sip – Leamington Spa

sip

Sip is a fairly new addition to Regent Street in Leamington Spa, we don’t often venture this far when shopping on a Saturday so it was just by chance that we stumbled upon it.

Sip_inside

With exposed brickwork, fancy lighting, bare wood and glass cabinets the interior is very appealing.  Jazz music played in the background and staff are very friendly.

sip

We ordered a flat white, an americano and two pastries.  The coffee was delicious, the best we had tasted in a while.  We were both served a glass of water which NEVER happens anywhere else! The pastries were good also and overall this is somewhere I would chose to go to again.

I like coming across these little places and wish SIP all the best and look forward to visiting again very soon!



Beanies Flavoured Coffee

Beanies Flavoured Coffee

I’ve spoken about my love for Beanies coffee in the past, it was the ground variety in this instance though and I’d not had the pleasure of trying the instant coffee until these three little jars popped through my letterbox.  I was sent 3 delicious festive flavours which are perfect for this time of year.

Beanies Mulled Spice

The aroma that came from the Mulled spice coffee was amazing but the taste wasn’t for me.  I’m not a fan of mulled wine, and I assumed that because I love coffee I would love it regardless of the taste, but I was sadly wrong.  Even though this coffee didn’t suit my personal taste, I was extremely impressed that it was so flavourful because usually when you buy flavoured coffee, you get  all of the coffee taste but very little of the flavouring which can be a little disappointing. Beanies coffee is so well made that when they say a coffee is going to taste like a particular thing it really does.  I’ve made this coffee for friends who love mulled spices and they have adored this coffee and thought that I’d actually added spices myself which I hadn’t – it was all Beanies coffee.  This coffee has a strength rating of 3/5 which is medium.

Beanies Christmas Pudding

Although the Christmas pudding coffee tasted like it contained similar flavours to the mulled spice coffee I enjoyed it, especially when made with hot milk making it taste like a Christmas inspired latte.  However, I’m not sure I could drink too much of the Christmas pudding coffee as i was starting to feel quite full after half a cup! This coffee has a strength rating of 3/5 which is medium.

Beanies Cinder Coffee

The cinder toffee coffee was my favourite by far, I loved the toffee flavouring and the scent was amazing.  It actually tasted like a very expensive cinder toffee syrup had been added to a very expensive filter coffee – quite staggering for an instant coffee! Unlike the other two, this one really hit the right spot with an exquisite moorish aftertaste, you know, the type of taste that makes you go “mmmmm” out loud!  This coffee has a strength rating of 3/5 which is medium.

I don’t think I could say one coffee was better than the other, it was more like one of them just really appealed to me. This is not to say the other flavours might appeal to you, I would suggest you go out and try one or all of them.

Do you buy flavoured coffee? What flavour is your favourite?

 

* I received the products mentioned free of charge to review from my own perspective. All words, experiences and opinions are entirely my own*



Christmas Gifts For Food Lovers

christmas-logo

Over on my Lifestyle blog I’ve been compiling some Christmas gift guides and didn’t want to leave my readers over on this blog out so I hope you enjoy some of the selected items I have for you to either give to loved ones or write down on your Christmas list.

Brewdog-Christmas

Regular readers may remember my post about the Newcastle opening of Brewdog in April which you can view here.  I had the most fabulous time sampling the drinks on offer and I’m very pleased to announce that Brewdog have unveiled their Christmas beer range.

Christmas Paradox is an impressive 15% imperial stout which has spent 12 months maturing in rum casks, housed in a fetching gold and black gift box it will make the perfect present for an alcohol loving recipient!. If that doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit, then the single hop simcoe IPA named  Hoppy Christmas at 7.2% definitely will.

Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to sample either of these drinks and wont be able to until after my baby is born so I’m refusing to buy alcohol related gifts for people this year! Bah Humbug.

cloudberry_living

Cloudberry Living is an online boutique offering you a range of high-quality designer gifts and contemporary home accessories from Scandinavia, I’ve picked some of my favourite items which are ideal for the person who loves food and drink but doesn’t want a perishable food or drink gift.

RetroTeapot.114658

Sagaform’s beautiful Retro print ceramic tableware is reminiscent of the 1950s and Sweden’s heritage of richly patterned ceramics.  This retro print teapot (£24.95) reminds me so much of a dinner set that my grandparents owned, I would love to wake up on Christmas morning to find some of the Sagaform range under my tree!

Kastehelmi_Cake_stand_315mm_clear.115127

Nearly everyone I know bakes or knows someone who bakes their own cakes  so I know this Iittala Kastehelmi cake stand (£49) would be welcomed by a huge number of people on Christmas morning (you could even use it to serve your Christmas cake!)  The Kastehelmi range of glassware was designed by professor Oiva Toikka in 1964. Kastehelmi was one of Toikka’s most popular designs and remained in production until 1988. To celebrate Toikka’s 50 years at Iittala, Iittala reintroduced the range in 2010.

FermLIVINGTeaTowelsSS11_NL.115335

The eye-catching FERM tea towels (£9.95) are made from 100% organic cotton and packaged in 100% recyclable cardboard envelope. My favourite is the ‘Copenhagen’ tea towel designed by Danish designer Trine Andersen  which features artwork that is good enough to frame.

hot_headz

For gift recipients who like their gifts to have a bit of spice I may have found the perfect stocking filler!

 The Single variety range comprises seven chilli sauces, each made from a different variety of chilli using wholly natural ingredients and to traditional artisan recipes. Chillies are as much about taste as they are about heat and the Hot-Headz range is dedicated to bring out the full flavour and unique taste of each variety of chilli as well as providing a complete range of heat to suit every palate from very mild indeed (Pasilla) through to extremely hot (Red Savina). Hot-Headz firmly believes in letting each chilli ‘speak and not scream’ and they are recommended to put in food, on food or on the side.

Chilli_Sauce

The sauces are not at all expensive at just £3.49 each. A selection of two will cost well under £10, five well under £20 and the whole collection of seven just under £25.

The range comprises the following seven sauces (each scored out of 5 for heat level):

  • Pasilla – Very Mild 1/5 The Pasilla chilli is one of the holy trinity of chillies used for many Mexican recipes, particularly Molé sauces. Its complex, deep and smoky dried fruit flavour makes it ideal for a multitude of uses. Perfect for those who do not like heat.
  • Jalapeño – Mild 2/5 The Jalapeño is named after the town of Jalapa in Mexico. This sauce has a distinctive, fresh and grassy flavour with zingy undertones. Perfect with fish, vegetables and in salsas.
  • Chipotle – Mild/Medium 2.5/5 The Chipotle chilli is a large smoke dried Jalapeño. Medium thick fleshed, smoky and sweet, with a subtle, deep, rounded heat. Great with grilled meats and in bacon sandwiches and hot dogs.
  • Serrano – Medium 3/5 The Serrano chilli is common to mountainous regions. A distinctive tang and clean heat with hints of pepper and high acidity. Excellent with oysters and in salsas.
  • Habanero – Medium/Hot 3.5/5 The Habanero chilli (meaning from Havana) is one of the world’s hottest chillies. This sauce has a tropical fruit aroma and taste with a lasting, but not over burdening, tingle of heat.
  • Scotch Bonnet – Hot 4/5 The Scotch Bonnet is a fiery, fresh and fruity, ‘full-on’ flavoured sauce with a very distinctive aroma and yellow/orange colour. A native of the Caribbean that gives the classic West Indian jerk taste to food.

       Red Savina – Very hot 5/5 Developed in California (a relation to the habanero), the Red Savina chilli held the record as the world’s hottest from 1994 to 2006. Delicious fruity citrus flavour known to add balance to many dishes.

Douwe_Egberts

Coffee lovers like myself  would undoubtedly love a Douwe Egberts gift in their stocking or under their tree.

Flavour_Colletion

The master blenders at Douwe Egberts have created a brand new range of premium instant coffee infused with a variety of tantalising flavours – The Flavour Collective.  Available in Delicate Vanilla, Smooth Caramel and Roasted Hazelnut.  I love nothing better at Christmas than a cup of coffee with a flavoured syrup but as we all know syrup is full of sugar and callories, at just two calories per serving this coffee makes a perfect treat without the calories.

The Flavour Collective range from Douwe Egberts is available in Sainsburys and Tesco –  RRSP £2.99 for a 50g jar.

senseo_Twist

When we moved house in August I left my beloved Coffee maker behind so Mr Gourmand if you’re reading this I’ve put the Senseo Twist on my Christmas list!

The Master Blenders at Douwe Egberts have poured their coffee expertise and passion for great tasting coffee into their latest machine, SENSEO ® Twist, providing coffee lovers with the opportunity to add a different twist to their coffee moment. The launch comes as Douwe Egberts introduce two new ranges of delicious SENSEO ® pods, offering a richer, more aromatic tasting coffee to drinkers in the comfort of their own home.

Available in crisp white and lime yellow or chic black and cobalt blue colour combinations, SENSEO ® Twist delivers great tasting coffee to delight the senses, in a stylish kitchen appliance that will add a modern touch and elegance to any home.

Appealing to the contemporary coffee aficionados seeking a bold, design-forward and intuitive coffee appliance, the SENSEO® Twist simplifies coffee preparation, while enhancing users overall coffee experience. Intuitive features such as the smart guided touch panel and adjustable strength setting,  allow users the added freedom to create and personalise their own perfect cup of coffee, accompanied by the ‘direct start’ functionality, which delivers the desired strength and number of cups at the touch of a button.

The SENSEO ® Twist coffee machine is available in Argos & Amazon, RRSP from £150.00*. Milk range pads RRSP from £2.99 and Lungo pads RRSP from £3.59.

Look out for my next installment of Christmas Gifts, Hampers, Home made items and my own wish list!



Cafe Royal – Newcastle

My last visit to Cafe Royal was a bit of a disaster so when my mum asked me to meet her there for a coffee and a chat I was a little dubious. My parents frequently visit Cafe Royal (my mother loves the scones) and neither of them have had any complaints, so I figured I might as well pop along to see if my opinion would change.

As we had visited the Cafe early morning we had no problem getting a seat, if you visit anytime after 11am on a weekday you should expect to wait to be seated.

My Mum had her usual Cappuchino (£2.10) I personally find this drink contains more foam than coffee but Mum seemed to be happy with her chosen drink.

I had a Filter Coffee (£2.10) which was nice and hot, quite often a filter coffee will be just drinkable which is a bit rubbish if you’re planning on having a chat whilst you drink.

My Mums treat was a warmed up Raspberry scone; heating up a scone is a hate of mine. Apparently the raspberry scones are a favourite of my Mum and Dad as they tend not to crumble when cut (another hate of mine).

I played it safe and had a Cheese and Chive scone left cold exactly as I like it.  There was a good amount of flavour in the scone with just a hint of chives.  I love the fact that you get 2 packs of a decent butter, so many places suffer from butter rationing and 1 pack is the maximum they will offer!  I like a nice salted butter at home with scones and although the butter I had at Cafe Royal wasn’t particularly salted it suited the scone well.

I’m actually really pleased that Cafe Royal has redeemed itself in my estimation, I think my bad breakfast experience must have been a one off as I couldn’t fault my latest visit.



Chalk & Paper

Chalk and Paper is a small cafe situated within the Savannah LifeStyle Salon & Spa, 11-14  Nelson Street, Newcastle upon Tyne.

I recently visited with Chelsea during a break from university for a quick bite to eat.

As I needed a big caffeine Kick I went for an Americano, it was hot and strong and just what was needed to wake me up enough to get through the next lecture.

Chelsea went for a hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows.  I personally think the cream cools the hot chocolate down too much and makes it more of a dessert than a drink but each to their own I guess!

My baguette contained roast chicken and hummus with roasted peppers served with a side order of Greek salad.  I would have never thought to put chicken and hummus together but it’s delicious!

Chelsea went for the meatball melt with the Greek salad.

I made a huge mistake by forgetting to write down prices for everything but in my defence I had just come from a 3 hour lecture and had another 3 hour one to go to after lunch so my mind was on other things!



Graze – Royal Quays

Graze is a fabulous little cafe situated within the Land Rover shop at Royal Quays.  Royal Quays is perfect for bargain hunters and hosts a number of discounted shops such as Clarks, M&S, Thorntons, Gap, Next and many more.  International readers may be more familiar with the DFDS International passenger terminal at North Shields which is a stones throw away from Royal Quays.  If you ever visit the North Shields area I suggest you pay Graze a visit!

The Graze cow is probably the first thing you will notice whilst walking through Royal Quays, both children and adults were seen using the cow as a photography prop, children were feeding the cow grass and babies were being sat on the cows back.

At the time of writing the cow will be fenced into a barrier, unfortunately the sheer amount of traffic going up to the novelty cow has resulted in foot imprints in the grass, sitting your child on top of a fake cow is also not a very good idea people, the cow may be there to look pretty but let’s not be silly, you wouldn’t sit on a real cow so lets respect the graze cow and view from afar!

The lights are probably one of my favourite features, sleek and stylish and also looking like an upside down feeding trough which keeps in with the ‘Graze’ theme.

The Steel counter is something I really love, I’ve seen something similar in an art gallery cafe where the steel had actually been left outside to rush the rusting process and it looked amazing.

I’m sure you will agree that the steel and glass counters work really well together.

The tables are chic and the chairs surprisingly comfortable

Ok enough with the decor let’s get on with the good stuff!

The glass display cabinets are a great idea, I don’t know anyone who would be able to resist something to eat after looking into them!

Graze offers a good selection of Hot and Cold food, cakes and pastries.  Prices are very reasonable and the portion sizes are good.

Both Myself and Mr Gourmand had an americano coffee, surprisingly many places get coffee so wrong, it’s either too strong, not strong enough too hot or not hot enough.  The coffee from Graze was both hot and flavoursome.

The lemon sponge slice was moist and tangy with hidden jam inside making this a delicious treat.  So often sponge cakes are dry and have either too much icing or not enough, the ratio here was perfect.

We decided to share a Chilli Beef Panini, I’m glad we opted to share as this was a monster, filled to the brim with minced beef , mexican beans and cheese, hot and delicious, more than enough for two people.

The Frangipane tart was delicious, I think the picture speaks for itself to be honest, it tasted as good as it looked!

Next time you’re in the North Shields / Royal Quays area I urge you to try Graze!