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Choosing The Right Coffee Machine

From filter coffee makers to traditional espresso machines, the range of coffee equipment available can be overwhelming. However, if you have just a little essential knowledge, you can easily navigate the world of coffee machines and get the right machine for you.

Not so long ago, making a cup of coffee was no more complicated than deciding on your favourite brand of instant coffee and boiling a kettle. How things have changed! The proliferation of coffee shops throughout the world has made us all more particular in what we choose to drink. Not content with drinking lattes and cappuccinos in our local coffee shop, an incredible 20% of UK households now own a coffee machine so we can enjoy our favourite creation at home.

So here is our easy to follow guide on how to choose the right type of coffee machine for you.

There are a number of basic ways to make coffee, and depending on your own preference, some will be more suitable to you than others. Let’s take a look at the main types of coffee machine on the market.



Without doubt the cheapest way to make ‘proper’ coffee, a cafetiere is a glass or plastic jug with a plunger mechanism built in. You simply add boiling water to the ground coffee you’ve placed in the cafetiere, allow it to brew for a short time and then press down on the plunger to push all the coffee grounds to the bottom. Easy!

For:  Make decent coffee from about £10 upwards, portable, no power supply needed (other than boiling water).

Against:  You can’t make espresso, latte or cappuccinos, similar to filter coffee makers.


Filter Coffee Machines

Available for both homes and businesses, all filter coffee machines work in the same way. Cold water is poured in the top, and it’s then heated and dripped through a filter paper containing your ground coffee. The finished jug of coffee sits on a hotplate, keeping it warm so you can keep coming back for refills.

For:  Easy to use, coffee can be kept hot for hours, low price of machines.

Against:  You can only make one type of coffee – no espressos, lattes or cappuccinos. Filter coffee flavoured with syrups are not to everyone’s taste.


Capsule Coffee Machines

Available from most High Street department stores, there is now a huge range of great little machines to choose from. The coffee is pre-measured and packed in foil capsules that you place into the machine, and the rest is usually done at the touch of a button. They’re normally a doddle to clean and the coffee is often very good quality, especially if you’ve gone with a branded coffee such as Lavazza.

For:  Wide range of machines, make most types of coffee from espresso to lattes, easy to clean.

Against:  You can only use your manufacturer’s pods, and so they tend to be expensive. 


Pump Espresso Machines

These are small, normally domestic, espresso machines that contain a high-pressure pump to produce an espresso which you can then use as the base for lots of other drinks including macchiatos, lattes and cappuccinos. Available in High Street stores from around £100, though at this price don’t expect a machine that will last for years.

For:  Make a wide range of espresso-based drinks, low price, not limited to a small range of coffee

Against:  Low priced machines can have short life spans, can be fiddly to clean


Traditional Espresso Machines

These are the larger commercial espresso machines you will recognise from High Street coffee houses such as Costa and Starbucks. Designed to be used all day long and give many years of service, they are expensive and bulky, making them unsuitable for domestic use. However, in recent years, some manufacturers have made smaller slimline units that could be used at home, provided your pockets are deep enough. And don’t forget you’ll need a grinder too.

For:  This is how coffee should be made, reliable and long lasting machines

Against:  Expensive, suitable for commercial use


Bean To Cup Coffee Machines

Bean to cup machines contain an integral grinder and espresso machine that are automated in such a way that you can pour your beans in the top, press a button and get an espresso straight into your cup. This means that no barista knowledge is needed and there’s no need for a separate grinder, making them space efficient too. However, having everything in one box means there’s more to go wrong, particularly in cheaper machines where some of the internal components are built down to a price.

For:  Freshly ground coffee from one piece of kit, no barista knowledge needed

Against:  More to go wrong, can be fiddly to clean, cheap machines can be unreliable



While we appreciate that there are many other ways of making coffee not covered in this article, we’ve tried to keep it simple. Some people we speak with are unaware of which type of machine best suits them, and without doubt many people have either made the wrong decision or been given poor advice, leaving them with a machine that’s not suitable for their needs.

When choosing a machine, don’t forget to also look at the ease of cleaning, the warranty cover you will get, and how easy they are to use. Review websites and online forums are a great source of opinion from people who already have the equipment you may be considering buying, so spend some time seeing what others before you have experienced.

0 Comments | Posted By David Huggett

A1 Coffee and Clic Sargent

21 Jul 2014 15:33:42

A1 Coffee and Clic Sargent

July 2014

During July 2014, A1 Coffee teamed up with Clic Sargent, the UK’s leading charity for children with cancer. With immediate effect, we now make a 50p donation for every single box of our own Planet Java coffee that we sell, whether it’s coffee beans or cases of filter coffee.

Planet Java coffee is exclusive to us here at A1 Coffee, and is a range of coffee beans and ground coffee that includes a decaf, several Fairtrade varieties, an organic blend and many more. Of course, our existing customers will know that we take our community responsibilities seriously, and we have always strived to offer recyclable products and Fairtrade goods wherever possible, right across our range.

Clic Sargent is one of the most deserving charities we could possibly have chosen to support and we hope to raise a substantial amount towards their efforts. It’s a cause that is impossible not to have admiration for, and so we decided it was the right thing to do for so many reasons.

Clic Sargent

Today, 10 children and young people in the UK will hear the shocking news that they have cancer. Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Being diagnosed with cancer is a frightening experience and the emotional, practical and financial implications of treatment are intensely challenging for the whole family.

CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, and their families. We provide clinical, practical, financial and emotional support to help them cope with cancer and get the most out of life. We are there from diagnosis onwards and aim to help the whole family deal with the impact of cancer and its treatment, life after treatment and, in some cases, bereavement.

Please help A1 Coffee to support this excellent cause by sharing this article with your friends and colleagues. We will be providing updates throughout the year detailing our progress and we hope to be involved with further initiatives in the very near future. You can follow this on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and of course on our own blog. Our own blog also contains useful articles on how to make coffees and iced drinks, how to look after your coffee equipment, and information about new trends and what customers are looking for.

We’re open to writing articles for our customers on request, so if there is anything in particular you would like us to cover, we’re all ears. Don’t forget to join us on your chosen social networking site (we’re on all of them!) and get access to discount vouchers, special offers and some just plain funny stuff too.

Finally, we’d like to thank you all of our customers who have already given us positive feedback regarding our Clic Sargent campaign, and to thank you for helping us spread the word about their good work. It’s much appreciated.

Thank you for your support.

The A1 Coffee Team

July 2014

0 Comments | Posted By David Huggett

What’s So Special About Arabica Coffee?

Have you ever wondered why it is that Arabica coffee is mentioned as a selling point on some coffees and why it seems to attract a higher price as well? A quick online search will return hundreds of results for coffees boasting ‘100% pure Arabica beans’ or ‘blended using Arabica coffee’. 

The answer is a lot more simple than you might think. Most coffee blends are made using either Arabica or Robusta, and most of the time, a mixture of the two in varying ratios. Robusta cherries contain, on average, just over twice the caffeine of Arabica cherries (which you might think is a good thing!) and more caffeine that almost any other major coffee type. Caffeine itself has a slightly bitter taste, and this shows up in the blending process when Robusta is used, resulting in a bitter and slightly burnt taste. Arabica, by contrast, contains far less caffeine and therefore results in a smoother and less bitter flavour. 

Of course, the blending and roasting processes can correct much of this, and so there’s no need to be put off drinking coffee that is primarily made using Robusta beans, unless it’s cheap and nasty coffee anyway. Generally speaking, the more Arabica that is used in a given blend, the smoother and less bitter it will taste (assuming it has been made properly of course), with 100% Arabica coffee being particularly sought after by many coffee drinkers. 

Another factor that makes Arabica coffee more desirable than other types is that the plants it comes from are less hardy than Robusta coffee plants, and therefore they are more expensive to source. In some years with adverse weather conditions, the price will increase more than other types of coffee simply because the plants haven’t produced the same sized crop as normal. Arabica is also more susceptible to pests and needs very specific climactic conditions including soil with low acidity levels, an evenly distributed amount of regular rainfall and a temperature averaging around 20 C.  

Arabica Beans

All of these factor contribute to a higher price, which in turn means it’s not used as much in cheaper coffee blends. 

Robusta plants, on the other hand, can grow at lower altitudes and don’t require the same precise weather conditions to thrive. The are less vulnerable to pests and each tree can produce as much as double the crop of a similar Arabica tree. That’s not to say that Robustas are always inferior - like anything else, there is varying quality and the very best can produce an outstanding espresso for example, and there are also Arabicas that are of below average quality too. However, taken as a whole, Arabica is generally reckoned to be of superior quality. 

Ultimately of course, all of this is irrelevant if you prefer the taste of something else. Try a 100% Arabica blend and then try a few with more Robusta and see if you can tell the difference - it should be quite noticeable. Most instant coffee (unless it states otherwise), together with supermarket own-brand ground coffee will be made up predominantly, or exclusively, of Robusta beans.  

As with most things, you get what you pay for. So next time you see a coffee being advertised as 100% Arabica, you’ll know why you’re having to pay that little bit more for it. 

A1 Coffee

0 Comments | Posted By David Huggett

Coffee Cultures From Around The World

Here in the UK, we’ve developed a taste in recent years for cappuccinos, lattes, espressos and mochas that just a few decades ago, were completely absent from the High Street. As a result, many people assume this is how the rest of the world drink their coffee and some get a real shock when they travel abroad to find that their request for their favourite skinny caramel latte is met with a blank expression!

So how is coffee consumed in other countries around the world? We’ve taken some countries at random where coffee is taken seriously, and compared them to ourselves. Take a look and see how varied some of these coffee cultures are, and feel free to let us know about your own experiences when travelling overseas.

1.   France Café au Lait

This famous drink (simply coffee served with hot milk in a mug or large cup) made it to the shores of the UK some time ago. This is consumed at breakfast time, and is traditionally served in a cup wide enough to allow a croissant to be dunked in. Available pretty much anywhere and about as basic as a coffee recipe can be (except for the croissant of course). They have joined the rest of the world in recent years, with the familiar Starbucks outlets in every major town.

2.   Italy Cappuccino, Latte, Mocha, Ristretto, Macchiato

It’s fair to say that the Italians know a bit about coffee, and are responsible for many of the Italian-sounding concoctions you’ll see in any branch of Costa. Not that you’ll find a branch of Costa in Italy though, they don’t do chains of coffee shops, preferring family run bars and cafes instead. They don’t actually drink latte (which literally just means ‘milk’) and rarely add syrups, whipped cream and other such flavourings, preferring instead to drink mostly espressos.

Most of the best known brands of coffee beans are Italian, such as Lavazza, Segafredo and Illy.

Italy Coffee

And don’t order a cappuccino after midday unless you want the barista to roll his eyes or just point-blank refuse – it’s considered to be something only drunk at breakfast time, usually with a sweet croissant or pastry. After midday, it’s espresso or macchiato unless you’re a tourist.

3.   Turkey

Turkish coffee is rarely seen in the UK, mainly because it’s so far removed from what we here would call a cup of coffee. It’s usually served from a long-handled copperpot in small cups about the size of an espresso, and is thick, black and extremely sweet. Turkish citizens who come here to live or work in the UK won’t find any coffee widely available that will remind them of home, and so they often drink espresso or ristretto with lots of sugar, or simply make traditional Turkish coffee themselves at home.

4.   Cuba

Another nation that prefers its coffee thick and strong is Cuba. Here though, it’s very much a social event consumed in a similar way to alcoholic shots, but in no way limited to the evenings. Many Cubans enjoy their coffee first thing in the morning, throughout the day and particularly after meals. It’s not quite as strong as the Turkish brew however, and is quite acceptable to Europeans palates.

5.   Ethiopia

The Ethiopians should know a bit about coffee – their country is the birthplace of the stuff. They do take it pretty seriously too, with the traditional brewing process of ‘Buna’ as it’s known, taking anything up to 2 hours. It’s a social thing here, drunk with guests and friends and served with salt or butter instead of milk (which isn’t always available).

Many other countries drink their coffee in forms that would seem strange to us here in the UK. In Japan for instance, coffee in cans is extremely popular and has been for decades. It’s available from vending machines in both hot and cold forms, allowing busy commuters the chance to grab one on the go.

In Saudi Arabia and other Arabic cultures, coffee ceremonies follow many rules of etiquette, including always serving the elders first. It is also a common custom to serve this a cardamom-spiced coffee with dried fruit such as dates, partly to compensate for the bitterness of the coffee.

In Mexico, Café de olla is a spiced coffee brewed with cinnamon sticks in earthenware pots. Not to everyone’s taste, the Mexicans say it brings out the taste of the coffee. Each to their own of course!

Mexican Coffee

In Vietnam, they have been drinking iced coffee for years. Unlike us, however, they like theirs made with very dark roasted beans and sweetened using condensed milk.   

Australia. Ever since an influx of Italian immigrants after World War 2, Australians have been drinking coffee like the Italians and enjoying a real café culture of their own. The now world famous flat white originated here (see our article on how to make one), though don’t mention this if you are visiting New Zealand – they also claim to have invented it!

Last but not least, our cousins in the US are prolific coffee drinkers thanks to chains such as Starbucks. While the menu in a US branch of Starbucks is little different to one here, they do like filter coffee more than we do, and take their frappes and iced drinks with far more cream, sugar and chocolate sauce than many European countries.

Starbucks Frappuccino

It seems that no two countries have exactly the same taste when it comes to coffee, and this should be considered a good thing. We have absorbed a wide variety coffee drinks from Italy, France, Australia and the USA, and if we hadn’t, we might still all be drinking instant!  



0 Comments | Posted By David Huggett

Lavazza Coffee Buying Guide

25 Jun 2014 13:51:38

Lavazza Coffee Guide

A1 Coffee, June 2014

Lavazza Coffee

Shopping for espresso coffee beans can be a baffling experience unless you already know what you’re looking for. We only stock one major brand of coffee beans – Lavazza – and there are still a large number of different blends to choose from.

We therefore decided to put together this easy-to-follow guide to help you choose the right Lavazza coffee for you. Please note this isn’t an advert or a buyers’ guide, simply an explanation of the origins, flavour and suitability of the range of Lavazza coffee beans.

To be honest, it doesn’t really matter whether you are buying coffee beans for use in your coffee shop or just to enjoy at home, the principal is the same – if it tastes good to you, it should taste good to your customers too. The only thing to factor in is the price – you may be prepared to pay that little bit more for what you drink at home, for obvious reasons.

Another point to make before we describe these great Lavazza coffees is that taste can’t be measured. We are often asked whether one blend tastes better than another, and the answer always has to be that taste is a subjective thing, what one person loves another may dislike and vice versa. We can of course use quality as a guide, but as an example, my personal favourite and the blend often recommended by Lavazza is not the most expensive in their range. We’ll therefore stick with the facts rather than try to tell you how great we think it tastes to us.

Lavazza coffee beans are broadly split into two different categories, those in red bags and those in blue bags. Lavazza red tends to be found more in cash and carries, supermarkets and high street shops. Lavazza blue is a more premium range aimed at coffee shops, restaurants, hotels and so on. We only sell the Lavazza blue range so we’ll only be talking about those in this article.

Lavazza Super Crema

Super Crema has always been our best selling coffee beans as it offers the best balance between price and quality. It’s also a bit of an all-rounder in that you can make pretty much any type of coffee with it and it will still work. Make an espresso with it and you’ll get a thick crema (as the name would suggest), but try a long latte with two sugars and a shot of caramel syrup and it will still taste of coffee, unlike some other blends that get overpowered.

Super Crema is blended from washed Brazilian coffee beans to give it depth, and other varieties from Central America and Indonesia, to give it the creamy texture it’s known for. It’s medium roasted as you’d expect, so it’s neither too mild nor burnt and bitter. If you’re looking for Lavazza coffee beans, we would always recommend this blend unless you have a specific reason to be using anything else.


Lavazza Grand Espresso

This is one of the best sellers here in the UK. It’s blended from Central American, Highland South American and Asian beans to give it a balanced flavour and is medium roasted to produce a coffee that has a stronger than average taste. There are hints of spice and chocolate, brought out by the roasting process. Like all Lavazza blue coffee beans, it’s suitable for making pretty much all espresso-based coffee drinks, but is particularly suited to straight espresso or macchiatos. 


Lavazza Tierra

Lavazza don’t have a Fairtrade coffee in their range, preferring instead to have control over where the money is going and doing it their own way. Lavazza Tierra is a sustainable development project combining product quality with improved living conditions for the three small-scale coffee growing communities involved.

What they’ve done is single out three disadvantaged coffee producing communities in Honduras, Colombia and Peru and then provides technical assistance to help make their farms sustainable. The communities are in medium to high altitude areas and produce only Arabica beans, resulting in a blend that, on paper at least, is about as good as it gets. The Tierra beans instead of being Fairtrade still have that feel-good factor thanks to this initiative, and this is reinforced by their use of 30% Rainforest Alliance certified beans in the Tierra blend.

Lavazza’s own description of this blend is that it’s composed of Central and South American Arabica mild beans with the aroma and intense, liquorish flavours of Central American coffee beans combined with the delicate acidic aroma of South American beans. Mellow and thick crema.

Most opinion out there on coffee forums and social media seems to agree that it’s got a dark and high-roasted taste to it that suits drinks like macchiatos, flat whites and cortados in particular. If you’re looking for an espresso, the Super Crema will do the job just as well but at a lower price, unless of course its ethical credentials are more important to you. It’s a seriously good coffee but has split opinion amongst coffee drinkers over its taste, so we’d recommend you try it first before committing to larger quantities in case it’s not your cup of tea (apologies).  


Lavazza Pienaroma

Pienaroma is the most expensive blend of Lavazza coffee beans that we have at A1 Coffee and it’s certainly something pretty special. What they’ve done with this one is blend together just two varieties – Arabica beans from the very best high altitude Brazilian plantations, and more fragrant and mild Arabicas from the highlands of Central America. This satisfies those who only want 100% Arabica beans in their coffee, and also results in a blend that is really velvety smooth and quite mild with very low acidity.

According to our customers and to what is said on coffee forums, Lavazza Pienaroma is best suited to milky coffee drinks rather than espressos and short coffees. This is of course a matter of personal taste as we have used it to make espresso and found it to be at least as good as the Super Crema. It does work very well with milk though, so if you want to make a really outstanding latte, it’s definitely one to consider.

Lavazza Coffee

Lavazza Crema e Aroma

This is broadly similar in taste and price to Super Crema with a slightly lighter and fruitier aftertaste. Like many blends, it’s made using Robusta and Arabica beans. Unlike some other blends however, the Robusta beans are of a very high quality while the Arabicas are a mix of both washed and unwashed beans.

We’ve found this to be the nearest to Super Crema in the Lavazza range with a really classy flavour that you’d expect from a far more expensive blend. It’s got quite a heavy taste, presumably due to the presence of the Robusta, and is therefore a good choice for coffees served with flavouring syrups, and also for iced coffee. Again, this one is medium roasted.


Lavazza Gold Selection

In coffee terms, Gold Selection is something pretty special. We’ve used this many times and found it to be the best quality coffee in the Lavazza range. Common opinion out there online seems to back this up, and we know that Lavazza themselves recommend this coffee highly and with good reason. Like the Super Crema, you can do pretty much anything to it and it will still come out tasting of good coffee – even if you’re loading it with lots of milk and sugar, flavouring syrups and so on, the flavour of the coffee is never overpowered. The great balance with this one is that it also tastes good as an espresso, though it does work particularly well with milk.

The beans themselves are a mixture of natural and washed coffee beans grown on selected plantations in Brazil, Central America and Asia. These plantations have been selected for their production of sweet coffees, resulting in a rounded and well balanced flavour. Lavazza say there is a chocolaty aftertaste with this which doesn’t really do it justice – the slight taste of chocolate is there but it’s one of those that you really have to try to appreciate it. Not the most expensive in the range, but as a result, it could well be the best value.

Not such a heavy body as the Crema e Aroma or Tierra, and again, medium roasted like most Lavazza blends.


Lavazza Top Class

This one has a flavour that we’ve found to be about halfway between the Tierra and the Gold Selection, in that it has a chocolaty aftertaste along with a heavier body and stronger taste than the Super Crema. It’s what a lot of people describe as a ‘continental flavour’ (whatever that is!) and is definitely one of the strongest in the Lavazza range.

The beans are sourced from far and wide with this one, with sweeter beans coming from Asia and the milds coming from both Central America and Brazil. It’s medium roasted and seems to be best suited to shorter coffee drinks including ristretto, espresso, flat white, cortado and macchiato. We have a lot of customers who have spent time in Italy, Spain and Greece in the past who insist on Top Class as it’s nearer to the taste that they’ve become used to overseas.


Lavazza Dek Beans

Always left until last in any list of coffee descriptions, this is a little unfair in the case of Lavazza Dek as, despite being a decaf and brushed aside by coffee enthusiasts, is a genuinely great coffee in its’ own right.

Lavazza Dek is a water-processed decaffeinated coffee, meaning it’s not been through a decaf process that uses nasty chemicals, and it’s therefore not got the unpleasant aftertaste that used to give decaf such a bad name. It’s also made using 100% Arabica coffee beans, so it produces a good crema and has the aroma and taste that goes with a premium brand coffee. The Arabica content means it’s particularly well suited for espresso-based drinks with a high milk content such as lattes and cappuccino, and also works well with flavouring syrups.

Lavazza Coffee

We hope this list of descriptions goes some way to helping you choose the right Lavazza coffee beans for you. Remember you can always call us if you want more information, and feel free to read this in conjunction with other guides published online to help you build us a balanced picture. We hope you’ll soon be enjoying Lavazza coffee!

David Huggett



0 Comments | Posted By David Huggett

How To Make The Ultimate Frappe – Part 2

Thanks for reading our article. You must have noticed the huge increase in the number of outlets offering frappes and frappuccinos, particularly during the spring and summer months. If companies like McDonald’s and Costa Coffee are selling them, then you can be sure that everyone else will follow.

Whether you want to know how to make a frappe so you can serve them to your customers or just to enjoy one at home on a hot summer day, this article is designed to make life as easy as possible and have you making the ultimate iced drinks in no time!

Before we start, I should probably clear up something which we’re asked by our customers quite regularly. What is the difference (if any) between a frappe and a frappuccino? You’ll see frappes sold in McDonald’s and frappuccinos sold in Starbucks.  Put simply, a frappuccino is a fancy frappe loaded with whipped cream, syrup and sometimes chocolate sauce. Frappuccino is actually a registered trademark of Starbucks, so think of it as the difference between a burger and Big Mac, whereas the frappe was an accidental invention originating in Greece, and outside of the USA, is usually served as a flavoured, iced, milk-based drink without all the toppings.


So let’s drop the Frappuccino as it’s simply a trademark name, and concentrate on how to make an amazing, grown-up and delicious frappe…..

1.  Take a 12oz tumbler and fill it near to the top with ice cubes
2.  Pour milk over the top of the ice and up to the top of the glass
3.  Empty the contents of the glass into your blender
4.  Add a scoop of frappe mix to your blender. There are a wide number of flavours to choose from, so pick your favourite.
5.  If you want to add a further shot of flavouring syrup, then do it at this point, but don’t add any cream or extra sugar.
6.  Blend until smooth and pour back into a glass.
7.  You can add any additional touches at this point, and there are no rules – try chocolate shavings, a little whipped cream or a drizzle of sauce.

When topping your frappe, remember that sometimes less is more. A frappe served to you in America will be loaded with whipped cream and look more like a Knickerbocker Glory than an iced drink and will be impossible to consume without a spoon. European tastes are a little different, and a lot of customers seem to prefer skipping the toppings altogether, despite what you might find served in a McDonald’s or Starbucks (and no prizes for knowing the nationality of both these companies!)

There are a lot of great flavoured frappe powders available to buy that take all the effort out of making these drinks, from standard vanilla and chocolate to sticky toffee (one of our favourites). Alternatively, if you don’t have a blender, don’t worry – there are now some liquid frappes available in cartons, pre-mixed so all you need is a cup of ice cubes and just pour the frappe over them and serve.

Don’t be afraid to experiment a little too – unlike coffee, there is so much interpretation around of what a frappe should actually be that you can pretty much come up with anything based on the above recipe, and so long as you (or your customers) like it, then who is to say it’s wrong?

We hope you’ll soon be serving the best iced drinks in town, and if you happen to end up inventing something totally amazing, don’t keep it to yourself! Let us know and we’ll share it with everyone.

A1 Coffee

0 Comments | Posted By David Huggett

Sweetbird Watermelon Iced Green Tea Syrup

Sweetbird syrups contain no artificial colours or preservatives and are free from high fructose corn syrup and 100% GMO free. They are also vegetarian and vegan friendly.

Sweetbird Syrup

'Fair enough' we hear you say, 'so how on earth do you make a drink using this flavour?' Try this Sweetbird syrup recipe, it just couldn't be easier:

Get organised:

Get creative:

See? Told you it was easy! Try this on your customers - you'll be offering them something different to everyone else and before you know it, they'll be coming back for more.

0 Comments | Posted By David Huggett

How To Make A Flat White

3 Jun 2014 11:57:53

How To Make A Flat White Coffee

Flat White has been appearing in our coffee shops over the last couple of years and seems to be growing in popularity. So what is it exactly?

It’s an espresso-based drink from Australia (but perfected in New Zealand), currently spreading around the world and becoming particularly popular in the US. This is surprising as many Americans are used to Starbucks-style coffee which can taste harsh to the European and Australian palate, but it seems the Americans are coming round!

There are several things about the flat white that are in sharp contrast to Starbucks coffee. First is the rich and velvety texture of the flat white, and the second being the size of the serving, typically a 5.5fl.oz cup rather than the 20oz monsters served in some outlets. However, they say sometimes it’s quality that is more important that quantity, and this is a perfect example. The massive ‘venti’ drinks can be like drinking a pint of hot coffee-flavoured milk (this is exactly what it is after all), whereas the flat white is a far more subtle balance of smooth milk and coffee blended together.

Flat White

So how do I make a flat white?

You’ll need the following ingredients. Please beware of substituting any of these or skipping parts that you don’t think are important – the flat white is a subtle drink and needs to be made properly to avoid it tasting just like any other coffee.

  1. Use good quality fresh coffee beans, not roasted too dark (unless you have a strong preference otherwise). Something like a Lavazza Super Crema or an equivalent Illy / Segafredo will be just right. Avoid using cheap beans or anything that has been sitting around for a while, it will ruin the finished drink.
  2. Grind the coffee beans to espresso grind just before making your flat white.
  3. Heat a 165ml ceramic coffee cup – this doesn’t have to be exact but refrain from using anything that’s very much bigger or smaller if at all possible.
  4. Make a double shot of espresso, avoiding over extraction which wil result in a more bitter flavour. If you’re using a traditional espresso machine, make your espresso on the strong side. If you’re using a capsule or pod machine such as a Lavazza Modo Mio, then limit the amount of water dispensed slightly more than you normally would.
  5. Whole milk. Please don’t use semi skimmed or skimmed milk, it simply won’t work! If you’re on a diet, then avoid flat whites and stick with a skinny cappuccino.

Milk. This part is arguably the most important and is what differentiates a flat white from other milky coffees. The perfect milk for a flat white should not have any of the dry foam on top of it that is typical for making a caffe latte or cappuccino. The term used for what you do to the milk is "stretching". This is achieved by keeping the tip of the steaming wand slightly lower into the milk than usual so as not to break the surface of the milk at all. Your aim is not to introduce air into the milk. The heating of the milk and circulation of the milk in the frothing jug will result in the milk becoming stretched. The volume should more than double in size and the milk should appear somewhat glassy and shiny when done. The milk should be heated to approximately 60° C / 140° F.

If you are using a coffee machine at home that doesn’t foam milk, don’t worry. An alternative is to use a hand-held electric milk frother, though the same principle still applies – make sure you don’t break the surface of the milk, and if necessary fold the milk at the end.

If you’ve got it right first time, your milk will have no dry foam on the top. Once you’ve got your milk ready, pull your espresso. Just before pouring the milk, bang the bottom of the milk jug onto a towel or cloth on your work surface to break any large air bubbles in the milk, and swirl the jug round a couple of times. Gently and carefully pour the milk into the espresso so that the crema from the coffee sits on top of the milk.

If you’ve done this and ended up with silky milk in your cup with a crema on top, then congratulations, you’ve just made a flat white! Like most things, practice makes perfect so the more you make this, the more you will refine your technique. It won’t be long before you’re making them without thinking about it, and then you can start getting clever with latte art if you want to really show off!

If you’ve never seen latte art stencils before, ours look at our range – they’re a great investment and last pretty much forever.

Next time, we’ll be making some iced coffees so come back and visit this page again soon.


0 Comments | Posted By David

Ndulge Bars & Slices

29 May 2014 10:57:52

Ndulge Flapjacks, Slices & Bars

We are pleased to announce that we now stock a full range of the excellent Ndulge bars, made with the very best ingredients and attractively packaged. These great bars come in a variety of different flavours from chocolate brownies to granola cereal bars, meaning there is something in the range for everyone.

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

We also offer all of the Ndulge and Oh My Goodness range as individual bars so you can create a mixed box or just try them out before placing a larger order. Have a look at the range here and see the full list of mouthwatering flavours we have available. Whether you are running a cafe, coffee shop, diner or if you just want to use them yourself in lunchboxes, etc, they represent outstanding value for money for such a top of the range product.




0 Comments | Posted By David Huggett

Top 10 Uses For Coffee Grounds

1 May 2014 11:46:55

Uses For Coffee Grounds

Uses For Coffee Grounds

As I work in a coffee company surrounded by coffee all day, it stands to reason that I drink a lot of coffee. At home, I drink espresso and so I often have coffee grounds going in the bin. Not any more though.

Are there many uses for coffee grounds? Most people already know they’re good for plants, while some of these other uses might surprise you!  We’ve compiled some great information from trusted sites and sources so you can get the most out of them. The first few are gardening-related as you would expect, and then there’s some more unusual ones….

A1 Coffee’s Top 10 Uses For Your Coffee Grounds

1.       Add coffee grounds to your compost. Coffee grounds can accelerate the decomposing process in compost. Just add a teaspoon of lime for every 3 kilos of coffee grounds and keep the size of your compost heap quite small.

2.       Add coffee grounds to plants that need a pH of 3.0 to 5.0. Adding coffee grounds to blueberries, cranberries and most citrus fruits, works wonders. Other plants that love coffee are camellias, gardenias and rhododendrons.

3.       Use coffee grounds to make a liquid plant feed. Add a handful of coffee grounds to a bucket of fresh water and leave for a couple of days until you have a lovely amber-colored liquid feed. Apply to your plants as required.

Uses For Coffee Grounds

4.       Use coffee grounds to deter garden pests.  Snails and slugs hate coffee grounds sprinkled around plants, making it perfect for deterring them while feeding your soil at the same time.

5.       Make a body scrub.  Simply add some coffee grounds to coconut oil and a little brown sugar and you have a cheap and effective body scrub for use in the bath or shower.

Uses For Coffee Grounds

6.       Get rid of smells.  Scrubbing your hands with coffee grounds is a really effective way of removing the smell of onions and garlic from your hands after preparing food.

7.       Fireplaces.  If you’re lucky enough to have an open fire, sprinkling wet coffee grounds over your ashes before sweeping them up ensures you don’t end up with ash on your carpet or going into the air.

8.      Keep your fridge fresh. Strange as it may sound, coffee grounds act the same as baking soda in the refrigerator. Put a cup of old grounds in the back of your fridge to keep it fresh.
9.       Fishing bait. If you are a keen angler, you may already have heard of this one. Keeping your worms in coffee grounds keeps them fresh for longer.
10.   Dog flea repellent. Adding coffee grounds to the bath water when you’re bathing your dog is said to help repel fleas.

We’ve collated this list from a number of different sources, and as you’ll appreciate, we haven’t been able to verify all of them. Bathing a dog in the office isn’t the most practical thing in the world! So please don’t rub coffee grounds in your eyes based on anything we’ve said. I did that once by accident and it wasn’t much fun……

Read more coffee stories at

A1 Coffee - May 2014

Uses For Coffee Grounds

0 Comments | Posted By David Huggett
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