Friday, 9 July 2010

Juicy Pickings

I just had to share a picture of my lovely strawberries with you. I put in some plants last year and only got a small bowl full, but after they had finished fruiting, lots of runners shot out and found their places in the soil. As there was plenty of space for them to spread, I let them grow where they pleased, and with amazing results.

I was surprised that I got so much fruit from them this year, as I have to admit that I neglected them. They had no protection in winter and had to survive on only natural rainfall for moisture, during the spring.
Maybe "treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen" can be a applied to strawberries too.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Full of Beans: Union Hand-Roasted Coffee

I don't know about you, but my day hasn't truly begun until I've had a good cup of coffee. It doesn't have to be so strong that you could stand a spoon up in it, but it does need to be smooth and good tasting.
I've always loved coffee, for as long as I can remember – the smell of it being roasted, as it wafted through many a high street, is such an evocative aroma. Coffee ice cream was a favourite flavour of mine, as a child. So much so, that I was inconsolably upset when a dish of it landed on the hotel floor during a holiday in Marazion, Cornwall. The ice cream was unbelievably solid and when I eagerly plunged in the spoon, it just slid off catapulting the dish off the table!
Anyway enough of my nostalgic ramblings.

Recently I've had the good fortune in being the recipient of some very fine coffee beans from Union Hand-Roasted. They sent me a box containing four types of their new whole bean blends.

Although their coffees can be found in supermarkets, they are far from mediochre. Being a small, privately owned company, their true dedication to their products is immediately noticeable. Such care and attention to detail can only produce the best coffee.
Hand roasted in small batches, everyday, using beans carefully and thoughtfully sourced from farmers all over the globe, each coffee blend has its own unique character and distinctive quality.
In their quest for the best coffee beans, their travels can take them to the most remote regions, where they work with the farmers, building strong relationships, investing in sustainable livelihoods and farming practices. In fact, many of their coffees are either organic or fair trade or often both, which is a plus point for the conscience.

It's taken me some time to slurp my way through all four blends and I couldn't even say which was my favourite, as they are all as equally good in their own way.
The tasting notes on each bag, I would say, are a very accurate flavour guide, which would make buying something suitable to your own tastes an easy task.
On opening, it was obvious the beans were really fresh, as they glistened with natural oils. The smell too, was gorgeous and almost intoxicating – enough to make me pour them into the grinder right away.
I opted to use the same brewing process for all of them, which was in a filter coffee maker. It might not be the recommended practice for some of the blends, but that is how I like to make my coffee.

The following notes and flavour guides are Union Hand-Roasted's own and taken from their bags.

Fair Trade, Rwanda, Maraba coffee beans
Grown by Abahuzamugambi Ba Kawa Co-Operative, Maraba
4 – Medium Strong
The very first gourmet coffee out of Rwanda, that's re-shaping the country's future with its uniquely irresitiable sweet citrus taste. A zesty sparkle makes this the perfect breakfast pick-me-up that's so special it won a Great Taste Gold award.
This is a coffee with some bold highlights and delicate notes.

Fair Trade, Organic Natural Spirit Espresso Beans
Grown by COCLA farmers, Peru, ISMAM farmers, Mexico and Yiracheffe farmers, Ethipoia.
5 – Strong
Rich and powerful, a cup of choice if you enjopy a full bodied coffee. Blending the sweet citrus highlights of Mexico, with the floral notes of Ethiopia and underscored with the caramel finish of Peru.
Dark roasted to develop a rich body.

Organic Sunatra,Takengon, coffee Beans
Grown by Gajah Co-Operative, Aceh
5 – Strong
There's a certain character only a truly great Sumatran arabica coffee can have. You'll find it here: a deep peaty tone and a velvety rich smoothness make this perfect for after-dinner to enjoy with an equally robust single-malt.
Triple hand selected, these beans are known as 'Extra Fancy'.
This artisan roast adds an amazing note of caramel with a bitter chocolate dimension.

Revelation Blend TM Espresso Beans
Grown by San Jeronimo micromill, Costa Rica, Asensio family, Guatamala, and the small farmers 
co-operatives of Rianjagi, Kenya and Gajah Mountain, Sumatra.
6 – Extra Strong
Revelation is the core belief – a blend should be more than the sum of its parts and an experience on many levels. The intricate composition harmonises: San Jeronimo farm and Finca Santa Ana for sweet red berry notes, Rianjagi beans offer juicy vibrancy whilst dark roasted Gaja Mountain underpins with deep chocolate flavour tones. Revelation has the strength to wake you up for breakfast or provides a blissful after-dinner moment with a heavenly dessert.

For more information or to buy online, visit the website: www.unionroasted.com

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