Give Blood

A bit of a treat for us today.  Lunch time I headed out to my favourite coffee shop to relax, read and of course drink lovely Hasbean coffee.

I left work early today to give Timmy an extra early teatime walk as we were headed up to the hospital as it was time to give blood, my sixty second donation.

When we got home we ordered a Chinese from the village next door which was promptly delivered by them in there nice new electric Nissan Leaf, nice car and with a 107 mile real world range perfect for local commuting and delivery duties.

1940’s Weekend

Lincoln 1940's Weekend-2Once we hit August it seems almost every weekend there is something going on here in Lincoln.  This weekend just gone was a 1940’s weekend, so lots of people dressed up, vintage vehicles and vintage stalls selling anything from 1940 – 1970.

I am sure that at some point someone is even going to start selling stuff from the 1980’s as ‘vintage’.

We parked up on the outskirts of the city and then had a very enjoyable walk with Timmy the Greyhound along the tow path of the canal.

Lincoln 1940's Weekend

Once in the city we had a look round the stalls before finally heading to the best coffee shop in Lincoln, Coffee Aroma.

Lincoln 1940's Weekend-3 Lincoln 1940's Weekend-4

 

Coffee accessories – Tamper

Tamper

Over the last few years, I have really gotten into high-quality coffee. During my free time, I have even started to experiment with the coffee I drink to get the best taste and have even got a milk frother from this link after reading through the various frothers reviews available on it. For home and office use, I generally drink brewed coffee.  At home I make it in a Chemex.

Chemex

While when at the office I use an Aeropress.

Aeropress

I have a cheap basic expresso machine at home but tend not to use it much, getting much better results with my brewing methods.

But I enjoy a good espresso, and espresso based milk drinks, and I would like to make that at home, so this past few weeks I have been practicing my technique using my basic espresso machine.

The internet is a wonderful tool for learning, I have fixed my plumbing from watching YouTube videos, so I have been researching and learning how to make reasonable espresso using basic equipment.

Tamper-2

I have mastered the milk and can now make wonderfully sweet creamy steamed milk with lots of microfoam.  So now I have been experimenting with the espresso itself.

While changing the grind and dose has improved things, I was getting too much expansion blocking the flow of water so it was time to buy a real tamper.

Tamper-3

Tonight it arrived so I have been experimenting with different pressures, grind and dosing, so far its looking good and it will be interesting to see how far I go with this.

Cameras and Coffee

Leica M8 & 50mm Summilux ASPH
Leica M8 & 50mm Summilux ASPH

Well its taken some finding but I finally own a Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH Lens.  A full frame f/1.4 50mm standard lens.  I wanted the latest model but not at Leica new prices, I also wanted it boxed with a leather case.

Leica Summilux

One did appear a few months ago but we were in the middle of moving house and I just good not justify buying an expensive lens while purchasing a new home.  Its taken another three months to find another one but finally I have one.

I have not done much with it yet, a few low light snaps of my lovely wife and the above shot at a local coffee shop.  I am loving the out of focus details, and I look forward to trying it out in decent light and in the studio.

Make your own Coffee

Inventors Blend

 

I have to admit to being a bit of a coffee geek.  In the office I make good coffee with an aeropress, I hand grind all my coffee fresh each morning.  At home I tend to use a Chemex but also sometimes a Kalita pourover, and when the mood takes me even a Turkish Hob Coffee pot.

I like to support the local coffee roaster but also buy coffee mail order from great online shops like Hasbean.

Recently Hasbean have being doing monthly specials, coffee blends that are a bit risky, a bit different, some you will love some you will hate but always different and educational to the palette.

This month they are being different again and offering you the chance to make your own blend, four very different beans, which you can mix to produce your own, looks like I am going to have a fun month!

 

 

Presents for the Birthday Boy

It was my Birthday recently and I asked for a few unusual presents.

Now me and Chris have an interest in coffee as well as cameras and a few weeks ago Chris emailed me a link to a blog from a guy mad about Leica’s and Coffee; just like me.

The site was CoffeeGeek.

It was while reading this site I spotted an interesting post about shaving. As you may be able to tell in the photograph above, I usually have a few days of stubble showing. Shaving has always irritated my neck and whether I use one of the latest multiblade cartridge shavers or an electric razor, I still get a sore neck.

The post linked to a few shaving forums, and these guys are real shaving geeks. Very knowledgable and trying to put a bit of fun and ritual back into what most consider a chore.

So after a bit of reading up and learning how bad for your skin modern canned saving cream and multi-blade shavers are, I had family members buy me a new shaving kit.

It consisted of a Badger Hair Shaving Brush, a Merkur 34C DE Razor, Traditional Saving Soap, Bowl, Stand and a multipack of different blades ranging from Derby Blades from Turkey right up to Japanese Feathers, some of the most fearsome and sharp razor blades money can buy. While the products are a little more expensive then the standard, the soap is very concentrated and will last a long time. The blades can be found for as little as £11 for 100 blades which means after a year you are saving money.

Though its not the money saving I am interested in. It is whether this stops my sore neck and makes shaving a pleasure instead of a chore. If it succeeds then it will be one of the best birthday presents yet.  If I get on well with the DE razor I might take up Caroline’s offer to buy me a straight (ie a cut throat) razor; maybe for my next birthday.

If you are interested in finding out more then you ever wanted to know about shaving, check out www.badgerandblade.com and sharpologist.com.

Oh and thanks for The Shaving Book Andrew, an interesting but also very funny read.

Coffee, Coffee, Everywhere

Today I had to pop down to London for some business meetings.  It was one mad rush from train station to train station and underground station to underground station.

I remember a time when it was difficult to find a good cup of coffee, now any major city has a Starbucks, Cafe Nero or Costa Coffee.  Even MacDonalds sells real coffee now, though I have yet to try one.

But when it comes to trains it seems we are still limited to instant.  Come on guys, the main train down there had a buffet car, serving wines and beers and a good selection of food but only instant coffee.

At least the train station at real coffee.

Coffee and Shopping

Today we went on a shopping trip to Norwich, clothes and quilt shops for Caroline and for me a visit to The Window, the smallest coffee shop in the world.

The shopping and coffee went well, though Caroline did not buy any quilting material we did manage to get some clothes and Coffee.

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Hayley our champion Barista served me one of the best Espresso I have had this year.

I’ll certainly rate Coffee Aroma in Lincoln and The Window in Norwich as the top two coffee shops I have visited this year.

While walking round the city I also did a little street photography, always fun.

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Coffee – Coffee Makers: The Chemex

As I have in the past mentioned I love the finer things in life.

Good Coffee, good wine, good whisky and good chocolate. This week I have been indulging in my coffee habit again, not with more coffee but much to my wife’s displeasure a new coffee maker, to join our growing collection of French Presses, Coffee Percolator, AeroPress and Expresso and Filter Coffee machine’s. Its not like she dislikes my coffee habit, its just the sheer number of coffee making devices and different styles of coffee cups littering our kitchen. I had to admit we did not really have room for more!

The problem was since buying the AeroPress for work, I had become somewhat spoilt. It really did make one of the best coffee’s I had every tasted at home. It really make my filter coffee machine seem poor quality. I enjoy a French Press at home but sometimes you want something with a little more clarity, that lets the clean notes of the coffee shine through, and a French Press just cannot do that.

From frequenting a few coffee internet forums (yes I really am that sad), I quickly learned that for the cleanest cup of coffee you need either a vac pot or a Chemex. Well a Vac Pot I feel is something for later, so I went and bought a Chemex from those lovely people at Hasbean Coffee.

My first attempt yesterday was nothing special, while better then my filter coffee machine I felt it was not as good as the AeroPress. Well after a search on Youtube for different ideas on using this type of Brewer, I had another go this morning. This time I nailed it. Possibly the best filter coffee I have ever tasted. Though the excellent El Salvador San Rafael Bourbon 2011-2012 may have helped.

AeroPress – a new way of coffee making

For the last few days I have been trying out my Aeropress coffee maker.  Not exactly an expresso but not a french press either.

I have been using the reverse method to make coffee, and I have to admit, it does make wonderful coffee, and it is ideal for an office environment.  Easy and quick to use and very easy to clean afterwards.

I can definitely recommend it. I think I like the coffee from it better then from my home filter coffee machine!