The cherry on the top

They say it takes 7g of coffee beans to make 1 espresso.

 

This has always intrigued me so today I weighed out 7g of our beautifully roasted SOHO coffee beans and counted them.

 

My 7g came to 50 beans, which is more than I’d expected. 

 

Given each coffee cherry contains 2 beans, that’s 25 coffee cherries that have been picked by hand from the coffee bush to make a single espresso.

 

Not to mention the care and attention required to transform these from cherry to the rich, smooth coffee nectar that so many of us depend on to kick start our day.  These 25 coffee cherries are as precious as they’ve ever been as coffee is a commodity in crisis. 

 

As our climate changes, increasing extreme weather patterns are altering the flowering and fruiting cycles of coffee and increasing pests and diseases. It also hasn’t helped that, for some time now, coffee has traded on the open futures market below the cost of production for many farmers, which may lead many to abandon growing coffee in favour of other more lucrative crops.

So, these 25 coffee cherries really are as precious as they’ve ever been. Little nuggets of pure gold.


And, an important reminder that our commitment to our certified coffee farmers has never been so essential.  By ensuring a fair price for their crop, we demonstrate how much we value them, the land they work, the challenges they face and the high quality of coffee they produce, every cherry.

 

Through purchasing from Fairtrade, Organic and Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM farms, we are guaranteeing our certified farmers receive a much higher price for their coffee than beans bought purely on the open futures market.  This allows them to plan for the future and re-invest in some of the poorest and most remote communities, supporting local health and educational services.

 

The organic matter from the tree canopy that naturally shades our arabica coffee bushes, provides an ecological mulch that reduces the need for weeding, naturally controls bugs, reduces the need for fertilisers, controls erosion and helps build the soil. And, our farmers know how to filter clean water naturally through straw and re-use coffee bean husk in their organic fertiliser. 

 

It’s no surprise that this environment creates a healthy eco-system, one that attracts migrating birds and allows farming to co-exist alongside rainforest without leading to its devastation.

 

We’re fully committed to serving you the best tasting and most ethical coffee we can. We don’t pretend to be perfect, we’re just doing what we can.

 

This is why we’re super proud to partner with the first coffee roastery in the world to achieve the Carbon Neutral Gold Standard. 

 

It’s also why we then proudly hand over our precious SOHO blend to our trained baristas to carefully craft the perfect flat white, cappuccino or latte, made with organic dairy milk.

 

This way, we can all continue to enjoy our delicious daily fix with a slightly clearer conscience.


Christmas Round Ours

Okay, so I know I said I plan to be more flexitarian and include more plant-based meals in my diet, but I’m afraid I’m a sucker for the traditional Victorian Christmas, and for me that means full on nostalgia and indulgence.

 

My lead up to the big day started 3 weeks ago when I made my plum duff beer. I take the same elements of a plum duff; the dried fruits, spices and just a little bit of chilli to make a really good heavy beer with the perfume of Christmas. I tend to add chocolate malt to my base malt of maris otter. This gives great bitter notes, rich colour and a nice, dark porter-style beer. It will be ready perfectly in time for Christmas Day.

 

I’ve already got all my chutneys ready that I’ve made throughout the year – apple chutney from the garden, home-made piccalilli and pickled red cabbage. All will go brilliantly with my good fine cheeses, which I’ll enjoy picking out at my local cheese monger, not to mention the ham.

 

I tend to do a glazed ham for the evenings over Christmas. A smoked gammon to be precise. This fills me full of evocative nostalgia for the days as a child when Christmas started in our household 12 days before, with the arrival of the ham, wrapped in brown paper and tied with string, sent by my great Aunt who owned and ran a butcher’s shop in Limerick. I like to bring my ham to the boil in home-made cider, with cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon, leaving it to stand and removing the skin once its cold. I then score the top and bathe in honey, good English mustard and demerara sugar. Whack it in the oven to let it caramelise into a lovely dark mahogany colour…and I’m transported back to the wonderful earthy smells of the familiar, well-used family smokery.

 

On the Big Day

 

Knowing where our meat comes from is important to me. This Christmas I’ve decided it’s got to be locally sourced fore-rib of beef, matured and dry aged for 32 days. I tend to sear it and smother it in butter, thyme and rosemary, maybe a bit of mustard – then in the oven for 20 mins @220 so it colours up, down to 180 until the meat probe reads 54 degrees in the centre - the perfect medium beef!

 

I’ll make the gravy for this on Christmas Eve. I always make a natural jus with veal bones. These I roast off before putting into my large stock pot with carrots, leeks, onions, bay leaves, peppercorns, and loads of a good red wine which I bring to the boil and reduce to a slow simmer for about 6 hours. This pulls the marrow goodness out of the bones to enrich it. Having let it sit all night, I remove the bones and reduce it by three quarters which makes a really intense jus.

 

Christmas Day, and while the beef is resting for a good hour, the gravy takes shape. I tend to put a little bit of flour in with the fat from the roasting juices, cook out and then add a good glug of port, red wine and then add the veal jus. Reduced just enough to coat the back of the spoon and then great to dip yorkies in.

 

Best Yorkie recipe was given to me by Brian Turner years back on a cooking evening together; 1 cup of each: plain flour, milk and eggs. Add salt & pepper, and then simply whisk, it’s okay to have a few lumps, and leave out at room temperature. I use a muffin tin and lard if I’ve got some, into a really hot oven and then watch the kiddies’ faces as you present them.

 

If you want to go veggie this Christmas, use good quality cold pressed rapeseed oil in place of animal fats and maybe go for a vegan suet pudding of slow cooked confit of white onions, roasted field mushrooms with thyme, garlic and oil, layered and wrapped in vegan suet pastry. This is one of my favourites. Sourcing the freshest veg I can find in the local market means I know I can keep it simple and they’ll pair with this or the beef, brilliantly.

 

 

My top tips

 

Whatever you do and however you choose to spend Christmas this year:

  • Keep it simple
  • Don’t feel pressured, it’s your Christmas too.
  • Cook what you want to cook
  • Prepare as much as possible in advance
  • Freezing is a great way to keep Mother Nature’s goodness locked in

(all the veg can be prepped, blanched and frozen, as can gravy)

  • Ask people to bring something to help, if they offer, say “yes please”
  • Don’t go crazy with veggies… but…make sure you have enough roast potatoes
  • Don’t take my word, play around and do your own thing

 

And have a very Happy Christmas!

 

Martin, Head Foodie