Egg hog

Dec. 15th, 2015 10:14 am
millionreasons: (marnie)
After the wild success of my home-made pumpkin spiced latte, I've decided to try Starbucks other seasonal fave; the eggnog latte. I followed the Jamie Oliver eggnog recipe, but without the booze, waiting three days, and the Jamie Oliver guff.

My ingredients (that lump is nutmeg):

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I heated the milk, spices, sugar and cream.

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I whisked the egg, separately.

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I made the coffee and then whisked egg yolk into the milky mix. Coffee, then milky egg, then egg white, then an abundance of cocoa powder went into the glass.

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Delicious! And not £5.40 for a venti, neither.
millionreasons: (wine)
Last year, I taste-tested some of the chain coffee shops' novelty autumnal/Xmas flavours. Most of them were pretty dire and they cost quite a lot - £3.25 for a small pumpkin spiced latte; I imagine a Venti costs around the same a small house in Sunderland. So I decided to make my own PSL, sans pumpkin. From what I understand, pumpkin spice has nothing to do with actual gourds, it's just the name of the spice combo (nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves) that goes into pumpkin pie (and pumpkin spiced cookies, Hallowe'en candy bars etc). In Britain and Ireland, we used to carve swedes for jack o'lanterns. Fortunately, Costa Coffee don't do a swede spiced cappuccino.

Here are my tools:

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Grinder, espresso maker, milk frother.

Here's my coffee (half-caf blend):

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Here's my pumpkin spice:

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I made a sugar syrup with the spices so I didn't get a mouthful of cloves, I put the coffee onto brew and frothed the milk:

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I poured sugar syrup (minus cloves and cinnamon stick), coffee and frothy milk into my latte glass (yes I have a latte glass) and then added squirty cream:

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The finished product, with sprinkled all-spice and some tiny pieces of fudge that were in my graze box. Not only did it cost about 50p in terms of ingredients, but it wasn't as sugary and with the unpleasant bitter after taste of the Starbuck's version. Next up: egg nog latte!

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millionreasons: (pankhurst)
This is my last stupid-flavour coffee. I haven't tried them all, but praline/nut/toffee are pretty much the same thing and anyway, I'm running out of Tuesdays before Xmas (plus they're expensive and full of Bad Sugar). I went to Starbucks and bought a tall Eggnog Latte for £3.45 (I was conned into paying 20p extra by the smiling girl for the "Christmas blend" espresso). It works surpisingly well: the creamy eggnog mixture and nutmeg combine nicely with the milky coffee without too much sweetness, or sour aftertaste. I'm afraid, although I hate to say it and I will never buy another one, it wins.

So in order:

1. Eggnog Latte
2. Sticky Toffee Latte
3. Praline Latte (too sweet)
4. Orange Spiced Latte (too orangey for Rachels)
5. Pumpkin Spiced Latte (just weird)


Idiocy rating: 9/10
millionreasons: (pankhurst)
Caffe Nero isn't really into all the Xmas drinks thing. It offers two: Praline Latte and amaretto latte, a grudging sop to tinsel and reindeer. However, at £2.30 for a small one (I chose praline), it's the cheapest of the Christmas cawfee drinks, almost a quid less than Starbucks. It's hella sweet though, it tasted like pouring a bag of caster sugar into my mouth, probably because it had both nut and caramel syrup in it (no squirty cream).

Idiocy rating: 5/10
millionreasons: (pankhurst)
I thought that I would be making my purchases of stupid-flavour coffee at The Big Three ('Bucks, Costa, Nero), but it turns out that all chains now have an Xmas flavoured cup of joe to sell to people with very little in their lives. Even Upper Crust, who usually purvey three day old sandwiches to commuters, has a squirty cream topped festive drink. What's next - Greggs doing a turkey and cranberry cappuccino?

So it was that I bought* an Orange Spiced Latte from Pret a Manger. The orange flavouring was very strong, overpowering the coffee. It wasn't very nice at all, but I kept sipping it because I was on a cold bus that took ages to get through Camden.

*It would have been £2.45; however, I quibbled when the man tried to charge me 25p more (you can take the girl out of Donny...) - the price for an orange spiced hot chocolate, which I think I would have enjoyed more. So he gave it to me for free.

Idiocy rating: 7/10
millionreasons: (pankhurst)
It's mid November, i.e the bit of the year when Christmas is far away in terms of actually having a fortnight off work, but near enough for Xmas shopping, Xmas songs in the charts, Xmas-flavour coffees in the chain shops. Which brings me to Sticky Toffee Latte from Costa. I find Costa less objectionable than Starbucks; I'm not sure why, as they are in or on every high street, every Spar, every service station on the motorway. There were four on the Middlesex University main campus, staffed by underpaid and underhappy East Europeans. This one (at St Pancras station) just had one man taking orders, making coffee and taking payment, which seemed to work better than Starbucks' production line.

Anyway, the coffee tasted pretty similar to the pumpkin spice latte: sweet with a bitter after-taste - the syrups they put in them are probably all the same thing. It didn't taste much of toffee, more caramel. It was OK. I liked the snowman cup, better than Starbucks' stupid red cups.

Cost: £2.95 for a small one.
Idiocy rating: 6/10
millionreasons: (wine)
As previously noted, I like stupid flavour crisps. Well, I don't like them, I just want to know what they taste like. Curiosity gave the cat a bit of a stomach ache. So I'm doing the same with the bizarrely flavoured coffees you get from chains in the run up to Xmas for no other reason that I am easily fooled by marketing.

First up is Pumpkin Spice Latte, Starbucks. This was not too bad, I thought it'd be horrifically sweet, but it had a bitter note: nutmeg? cloves? arsenic? I don't think it has any pumpkin in it, the whole point is just to sell you something grown up for Hallowe'en. My main problem with Starbucks should be the globalisation, the poor wages, their decision on when "the holidays" start (the red cups), the moving in on established coffee trade, but my issue is really the busyness. Starbucks is stressful. In the indie coffee shops that I favour, the same person takes your order, makes your coffee, brings it over, takes your payment. Here is Henry Fordism - they have several different people for ordering and taking money, but only one actually making coffee, so you're lurking around the counter, next to the noisy espresso machine, hoping another Rachel hasn't ordered the same as you. It wasn't helped in this instance by someone taking back their drink and demanding a new one (Starbucks will make North Americans of us all).

Cost: A horror-ific £3.25 for a small ("tall") one.
Idiocy rating: 8/10.

Cuppa joe

Apr. 29th, 2013 04:18 pm
millionreasons: (billie)

Sunday, we went to the London Coffee Festival at the Truman brewery. As Dave put it, it was like a beer fest for speed freaks. For the first half an hour or so, we didn’t actually have any coffee, too tempted by all the freebies on offer: various teas, matcha, juice, oat juice, chai latte, popcorn, brownies, fudge, biscotti, muesli bars, chocolate (Green and Blacks did the largest sample sizes), yoghurt, cheese, milk, granita, German fizzy pop (inc coffee flavoured cola), and hot ginger juice. The big boys of coffee (*$, Costa, Illy, Lavazza et al) were all handing out free samples, but as some of the independents were charging, we had to pick our coffee carefully (I am nowt if not a Doncastrian). I had an Illy, a Vietnamese made with condensed milk, a Columbian filter, an Ethiopian espresso, and a macchiato made with Alpro soya milk which was surprisingly, creamily nice. Then I had to have a camomile tea to calm down, as I felt a bit mental. We looked at coffee art, promised to tell our local stores about sip cups and the oat juice, talked to a woman from the Goodwood estate about cheese, watched a demonstration of a ROK, and saw Gwillym Davies, UK Barista Champion 2009 making Turkish coffee from sand and pear juice (I may have been hallucinating by this point). He made an impassioned speech about how we can stick to our laurels, play it safe, or we can move forward, leave our comfort zone and embrace the new. Coffee we can believe in. People posed to have their photos taken with him. I learned a new word ("updosed").



The caffeine bouncers started clearing the decks at 1 p.m. and we left to go to Rough Trade. I hadn’t heard of any of the bands featured on the listening stations, except for Miss Kittin, who seems to be doing dub in mono rather than techno nowadays, and Frank Turner, and that's only because he’s a dick. Looking at the 15 year old girls trying out different tracks, the boy in the cardigan wandering the aisles, the graffiti from bands on the walls, I felt glad RT still exists, but I didn’t feel part of it any more. Looking at the LP section in Rough Trade I was convinced that American-O referred to coffee and not American bands whose names begin with O.

We meandered through the markets, but I couldn’t wander, I zipped through the crowds. Caffeine concentrates the mind, but only for 10 seconds or so, I couldn’t do anything for very long for the rest of the day.

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