Keeping Coffee Beans in the Freezer

A bag of Ethiopia Rocko Mountain from Rebel Bean in the Czech Republic, which I enjoyed after keeping it in my freezer for almost two years...I want to tackle a subject that is, to some speciality coffee people, anathema. No, not decaf, I did that already. Today, I’m talking about storing coffee, long-term, in the freezer.

There’s a wide consensus on how coffee should be ideally stored: as whole beans, in an airtight container, in a cool, dark place. Never store ground coffee (ie always grind just before you use it) and never store your coffee in the refrigerator. But what about the freezer?

You see, I have a problem. These days, I’m never short of coffee, with people regularly send me things to try. More often than not, though, the bulk of my coffee is given to me at festivals, where I usually return with two or three kg of coffee, many times more than I can drink in a reasonable timescale. Some I will use immediately, some I will give away, but the question is, what to do with the rest?

Since I can’t face letting it go to waste, my solution has been to store it in the freezer, something that’s created a bit of storm on twitter, if the impromptu poll I put up last night is anything to go by…

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The Coffee Spot Christmas Gift Guide 2018

Rob Reeves settles down to read my book, The Philosophy of Coffee over a cup of coffee, brewed with a stove top espresso machine. Picture (c) Rob Reeves and used with permission.It’s that time of the year, when everyone publishes Christmas gift guides. This year, due to all the travelling I’ve been doing, I’m a little bit behind, but if you’re looking for some last-minute presents, here’s the Coffee Spot’s entry into the fray, an eclectic selection of gifts for your coffee-loving friends/relatives.

The coffee-loving community can be awkward to buy for, particularly if, like me, they’re towards the far end of the coffee-geek spectrum, when any choice runs the risk of being ill-informed. Do you get them coffee? Or coffee-related kit? Or a book about coffee perhaps?

Never fear, the Coffee Spot’s here to help you out, whether you’re a novice, looking for pointers for gifts for your coffee-obsessed friend, or if you’re that coffee-obsessed friend, looking for a handy guide to point your friends towards. There’s also a few suggestions for presents to help your coffee-loving friends who’re at the top of the slippery slope of coffee-geekdom and just need a helping nudge to begin the headlong descent into the rabbit-hole of speciality coffee.

While this is a Christmas gift guide, feel free to return to it throughout the year. It serves just as well as a birthday/anniversary gift guide…

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The 2019 Coffee Spot Calendar

Barista skills in action: pouring two Kalita Wave filters simultaneously at Verve Coffee Roasters in Omotesando, Tokyo.It’s that time of year again! The Coffee Spot Calendar is now into its sixth year! As always, the calendars are professionally-printed on glossy paper, each month featuring a landscape, A4 picture from one of my favourite Coffee Spots of the last 12 months. This year I’ve been ridiculously busy, so when it came to selecting the pictures, I relied heavy on my friend Keith, a long-time supporter of the Coffee Spot Calendar, who has an excellent eye for a good picture.

Indeed, it was touch-and-go as to whether I’d actually produce a calendar this year, so thanks to Keith, Amanda and everyone else who has encouraged and cajoled me into action. The calendars cost £12.00 (£10.00 for the desktop version) with a flat £2.00 postage and packing charge, regardless of how many you order. If you think we’re likely to meet up in the near future, I’ll waive the postage and hand your calendar over in person! You’ll find prices if you’re ordering from outside the UK after the gallery.

Unfortunately, work commitments have meant that I’m very late (again) in producing this year’s calendars, so while I’ll do my best, I can’t guarantee that they’ll arrive before Christmas.

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Reusable Cups: Eco To Go Cup / WAKEcup / HuskeeCup

A flat white from the Lazy Coffee Cart in my Global WAKEcup.Regular readers know all about my obsession with reusable cups. I wrote extensively about them at the start of 2017 and again at the start of this year. I’ve even gone as far as to produce my own Guide to Reusable Cups. I’m quite picky though, not really liking plastic and only going for cups that are 9oz or smaller in size.

The initial gold standard was set in 2014 by the glass KeepCup. Since then there have been other glass cups, most notably the SoL Cup, another Australian product. However, I’ve also enjoyed using my ceramic Therma Cup from the UK, still pretty much my go-to cup, while in recent years, various other materials have come along, including recycled coffee grounds (Kaffeeform cup) and bamboo (Ecoffee Cup).

This year, innovation has continued apace and I’m pleased to say that I’ve receive three new cups (all gifts from the manufacturers/distributors). The first, Eco To Go, from the UK, is made from rice husk, a by-product of rice processing. Similarly, the HuskeeCup, an Australian product distributed in the UK by Eco To Go, is made from coffee husks, a by-product of the milling process. Finally, there’s another UK product, Global WAKEcup.

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When in Rome…

A typical espresso in a typical Italian espresso bar, Dami Bistro, near the Spanish Steps.I’ve just returned from 10 days in Rome, five for work, followed by five days of sight-seeing. It’s a city that I adore, but I must confess that I approached the trip with more than a little trepidation, looking forward to the sight-seeing far more than I was the coffee. I last went to Rome almost 10 years ago, long before the Coffee Spot, back when I thought that Italian espresso (and Italian espresso culture) was the pinnacle of coffee. It’s also the city, where, almost 20 years ago, I first gained my love for espresso.

Since then, many things have changed, including my taste in coffee and my opinions of it. I feared that I wouldn’t enjoy the coffee, which in turn might spoil my memories of Rome. Coffee in Rome, and Italian coffee more widely, divides opinion. There are those who dismiss it, saying that Italy has not moved on, that the coffee is rubbish, while at the other end of the spectrum, there are plenty who still hold Italian espresso as the pinnacle of coffee culture.

As is often the case, the truth lies somewhere between these two extremes.

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The Coffee Spot is Six!

An espresso, made by my Rancilio Silvia espresso machine, in a classic white cup and saucer from Acme & Co., New Zealand, distributed in the UK by Caravan Roastery.Another year, another post wondering where all the time has gone! The Coffee Spot celebrated its sixth birthday on Friday, a milestone which took me even more by surprise than usual. I launched the Coffee Spot six years (and two days ago) on another Friday in September, 28th September 2012 (at 14.15 to be precise) with a vague idea that it might become a useful resource for coffee (shop) lovers and an entertaining way for me to spend (some of) my spare time. Little did I know just how much the Coffee Spot would come to define my life!

In the Coffee Spot’s sixth year, I published 219 times, covering 147 Coffee Spots of various sorts, with the remaining posts covering coffee events, roasters, my travels and the Coffee Spot Awards. I’ve been getting around even more than ever, with six major overseas trips, and a short jaunt to Amsterdam, leadings to a large increase in the number of Travel Spots I’ve published. Despite this travel, I only visited five countries outside the UK, including a first visit to Thailand, although I did visit the USA three times.

In turn, you’ve been visiting the Coffee Spot in ever greater numbers. In the last year, more than 91,000 people visited the Coffee Spot and between you, you’ve looked at almost 150,000 pages. So, thanks to everyone, whether you occasionally dip into the Coffee Spot, or read every single post/page. Without you, there really would be no point in my doing this.

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A Passion For All Things Coffee

My Favourite Coffee Story with Aniko Somogyi (used with persmission)Last week I received an intriguing e-mail from Aniko Somogyi from the Anikona coffee farm in Hawaii. Aniko hosts a show called My Favorite Coffee Story on VoiceAmerica, an internet-based talk radio station. I must confess that I’d not come across My Favorite Coffee Story before (or VoiceAmerica for that matter), but I was intrigued. Each week, Aniko interviews someone from the world of coffee and they spend an hour talking coffee. The shows are pre-recorded and broadcast, unedited, every Tuesday at 4pm Pacific Time (midnight in the UK), with all the previous episodes available on-demand on the VoiceAmerica website or as a podcast (just search for My Favorite Coffee Story on your podcast software/service).

The purpose of the e-mail was to ask whether I’d like to appear on the show. Me? Talking about coffee? For an hour? Hell yeah! As anyone who saw my talk at the British Library last weekend will attest, I can talk about coffee for a long, long time. So, naturally I said yes, and last Wednesday I sat down (virtually) with Aniko and we talked coffee for an hour. Then, last night, the show was broadcast…

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Travels with my Coffee: Florida & Arizona, 2018

My Travel Press and Therma Cup stand in awe at the magnificence of Courthouse Butte in Red Rock Country, Arizona.If you have been paying attention on social media (or indeed, reading my posts!) you’ll know that for the last four weeks, I’ve been travelling around the USA, first in Florida/Miami, then in Phoenix/Arizona. In the past, I’ve written about my travelling coffee kit and I’ve also written extensively about making coffee on planes and at airports, which makes the long journeys bearable.

On this trip, I’ve been doing a lot of touring, which means not that many visits to speciality coffee shops along the way. In the past, this has meant either not having coffee or having to put up with bad hotel coffee in the morning and bad diner coffee during the day. However, since getting my Travel Press, all that has changed.

The Travel Press has meant that I can make coffee in the morning and take it with me. Then I began to get a bit obsessed (me? no! surely not!) It started with a trip to the Grand Canyon where I took a photo of my Travel Press and Therma Cup overlooking the canyon, then last year I took a picture of them on the Great Wall of China. Then it got out of hand…

May 2019: This post, Travels with my Coffee, Part I, has been renamed Travels with my Coffee: Florida & Arizona, 2018, part of my wider Travels with my Coffee series.

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The Philosophy of Coffee is Out!

Rob Reeves settles down to read my book, The Philosophy of Coffee over a cup of coffee, brewed with a stove top espresso machine. Picture (c) Rob Reeves and used with permission.On Thursday, 25th January, something very special happened, both for the Coffee Spot and for me personally. That was the day that my book, The Philosophy of Coffee, which the British Library is publishing on next year. It has been a long time coming, almost exactly two years since Daniel of Cups of London Coffee had put my name forward to the British Library as a potential author.

So, what’s The Philosophy of Coffee all about? Well, to quote from the book itself, it’s a “short, entertaining and illuminating introduction to the history and culture of coffee, from the humble origins of the bean in northeast Africa over a millennium ago, to what it is today, a global phenomenon that is enjoyed around the world.”

It’s not a big book, just over 15,000 words, with 15 beautiful illustrations sourced from the British Library collection.  It’s also, according to the blurb, “the perfect gift for coffee lovers”, so now that it’s out you should definitely buy a copy. Or two.

February 2018: The Philosophy of Coffee is now available across the UK in Waterstones and is also available as an eBook.

May 2018: I’ll be at this year’s Glasgow Coffee Festival if you want to buy a copy from me in person.

August 2018: Exicting news! After just seven months, The Philosophy of Coffee has done so well that the British Library is reprinting it!

September 2018: Excellent news! The Philosophy of Coffee is launched in America, where it’s being distributed by Trafalgar Square Publishing. It is available on Amazon and through all good bookshops.

October 2018: For any of my new Japanese followers/readers, The Philosophy of Coffee is available in Japan on Amazon .

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Reusable Cups, A Year On

A lovely flat white at Flat Cap Victoria in my Therma Cup, made with a single-origin Brazilian coffee, roasted by Notes.This time last year, I kicked off 2017 with a plea to stop using disposable coffee cups. In a piece of remarkably good timing, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee published its report on disposable coffee cups yesterday, almost a year to the day after my piece. Now, I can’t take all (any?) of the credit for this: plenty of people, some of them a lot more influential than me, have been making the point for several years now, although seemingly with little effect.

According to the report, at least 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away each year, with ½ million coffee cups being dropped as litter each day. What’s worse is that a lot of these cups are put into recycling bins by well-meaning consumers who think that they are recyclable when in fact they are not. This potentially contaminates the whole load, which means that it’s worse than just throwing them away. As the report notes, a depressingly small 1 in 400 disposable coffee cups are recycled.

In response to this, the report’s proposed solution is a minimum 25p levy on each disposable cup, something which has met with mixed reactions within the speciality coffee industry.

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