As I drive for a living, I cannot take the risk of drink driving. I rarely drink alcohol these days, so I drink coffee instead & have done so since 2001. I started drinking in the chain coffee shops as a weekly treat. I bought my first espresso machine from the now defunct Woolworths for the princely sum of £35 in 2006, I bought pre ground coffee to begin with & made a latte at home every now & again, I did that for a fair few years.
In 2012, I got reading a very large forum topic thread on OCUK forums (link on the right) so I decided to ‘upgrade my now old Woolworths machine, so I sold it on ebay & replaced it with a Gaggia Cubika plus. In May 2016, I bought a Refurbished Gaggia Classic. In December 2016, I replaced the Classic with the model below, a fifth generation Rancillio Silva.
I also bought a hand burr grinder; I now buy freshly roasted coffee beans from the internet when required or I have places I buy from when I go out. The Coffee machine is cleaned daily & Backflushed regularly to make sure I get a good Coffee, which I consider to be essential these days! I bought from Hasbean on a regular basis in 2012 & 2013. In 2014 & 2015 I began to buy from other roasters. I’ve tried Coffee from South America (which I prefer) Africa & South East Asia.
A few tips I’ve learned to get a good cup of Coffee (especially a Flat White!) is to buy freshly roasted Coffee beans, store them in a dark dry place & grind only what you need before brewing. Steam the milk to a maximum of 65 degrees Centigrade. Bottled water (which keeps limescale to a minimum) & whole milk helps to improve the taste.
In October 2015, I bought a Knockbox to empty my Coffee grounds into. These make a good fertiliser and Cat/Slug repellent apparently! I buy Coffee Beans from different Coffee roasters from around the UK, mainly when I go out on a ‘Coffee Shop Crawl’ for the day or when I go away for a few days, sometimes I buy online if I can get a discount.
Below is a photo of ‘my haul’ from the London Coffee Festival 2018.
When I go out, I try to avoid the chain Coffee shops too & try the independent ones as they tend to be better. On the few occasions I go into London each year, I’ll head for the ones recommended on either my best Coffee guide app, the London Coffee guide book (pictured above) or recommendations from UK Coffee Forums, Facebook or Twitter.
I’ve attended the London Coffee Festival Four times in a row from 2015 onwards. I enjoy the event very much even though it gets Hot, Noisy & Crowded, things I don’t really like, but its worth it. I intend taking my sister & her youngest son there in the future.
I’ve also begun to travel around the Country to visit various Coffee shops recommended by renowned Coffee shop blogger Brian Williams, owner of http://www.brian-coffee-spot.com. I met him in May 2016 & April 2018, he is a knowledgeable chap of all things coffee & coffee shops. He also writes for a speciality coffee magazine called ‘Caffeine’ His site link is on the right.
UPDATES: I’ve installed an upgrade to the Rancilio Silvia, a PID. in February 2017. More about it here.
An Electric Coffee Grinder was purchased in April 2017, Read about it here.
UPDATE for September 2017: I’ve created a Google map, pinpointing all the Independent Coffee Shops I’ve visited since 2012, see below. Coffee Shops that roast their own coffee beans are pinpointed in burgundy, the others are blue. The ones marked in black are when I drunk a coffee I didn’t like, it doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t recommend them to others. The green ones I’ve been to on more then one occasion & the yellow ones are ones I visit almost weekly when I’m at work.