Top 10 Gifts for Coffee Lovers

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If you’re like me, there will be at least one coffee lover on your Christmas list. (In my case, it’s me!)

While there are undoubtedly some amazing mugs available, anyone can give a mug. Why not come up with a little something different? I think the holiday season is wonderful time of year to show friends and family that you really have put some thought into their gift, to show how much they mean to you.

To help you get those gift giving juice flowing, here are some of my top gift ideas for coffee lovers!

 

1. Couva Cup Cover by Couva Coffee Couture

Keep your coffee hotter for up to 60% longer with our wonderful cup covers! Thanks to the elastic closure, you can us them on mugs or takeaway cups. They are a great, environmentally friendly alternative to the cardboard sleeves you get in coffee shops, and they feature a pocket for your loyalty card!

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Make your gift extra special by including a gift voucher from their favourite cafe! These make great gifts for someone’s stocking or for a Secret Santa gift.

The covers are completely machine washable, and are made here in the UK.

2. Couva Cafetiere Cover by Couva Coffee Couture

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Our wonderful cafetiere covers come in a range of beautiful fabrics to suit any decor. The wrap-around design features a magnetic elastic closure which helps it to fit a variety of different sized cafetieres, and keeps your coffee hot for up to 60% longer! No more cold coffee!

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The covers are completely machine washable, and are made here in the UK.

 

3. Whisky Cask Coffee Beans from Round Square Roastery

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These beans really are something special. They are roasted using oak chippings soaked in Arran Single Malt giving this coffee an truly unique flavour – smokey aroma, with clean and crisp top notes, yet a silky smooth undertone of Arran’s world-renowned Single Malt. These guys also do an amazing House Blend too!

4. French Press Print from the Department of Brewology

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Who wouldn’t love this hanging in their kitchen or office? I know I would!

 

5. Grow your own coffee plant kit from Plants from Seed

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This fun little kit includes everything you need to grow your very own coffee plant!

 

6. Coffee molecule pendant from Poppy Kitten Designs

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What a beautiful way to show your love of the bean! It looks great, and will be a great conversation starter when people find out what it means!

 

7. Personalised Coffee Spoon from Vintage Candy 2U

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These beautiful spoons can be personalised to include a special message. Your loved one can think of you every time they use it!

 

8. Espresso perfume by The Library of Fragrance

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This Espresso fragrance captures the rich depth and attitude of a freshly ground cup. Perfect when you need a decaffeinated pick-me-up!

 

9. Coffee Scoop and Clip by The Living Lounge

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This handy little multi-purpose tool means that you’ve always got your measuring spoon right where you need it when you need it!

 

10. Personalised Coffee Stencil by Sophia Victoria Joy

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Personalise your very own stencil to add that special little touch when making coffee at home

 

For even more great gift ideas for the coffee lover in your life, we’ve got lots more ideas over on our Pinterest page

Happy Holidays everyone! Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and 2017!

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World Mental Health Day 2016


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Today is World Mental Health Day…
1 in 4 people will suffer from a range of mental health issues in their lifetime – depression, anxiety, eating disorders, among other illnesses. Many will suffer with more than one illness at a time.  Despite being incredibly common, there continues to be stigma surrounding mental illness.

We all want to be seen as strong, capable, happy… people don’t like to admit that they’ve struggled, and it’s incredibly hard to admit that we’re suffering.

Incredibly, Starbucks Canada is doing something to help. It’s not often that my two worlds collide – coffee and mental health! (Did you know that I also work as a researcher in mental health at the University of Oxford?!)

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From today, Starbucks Canada is raising the amount of money available to their 19,000 employees (who work more than 20 hours per week) to $5,000 per year for counselling and psychological therapies. Within the context of employer-provided healthcare services, this is unprecedented. It gives a clear message to their employees that they value their staff’s mental well-being, and are will to help when times are tough. What’s even better is that the initiative has come directly from discussions held in employee-led focus groups – it was the number 1 concern they raised about their work-life balance and well-being. And Starbucks Canada listened and did something about it… Gold star to them!
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If you’d like to read more about the details of their initiative, take a look at the article in the Globe and Mail here.

The chances are pretty good that you or someone close to you is currently suffering or has suffered in the past with mental health issues.

Talking is one way to feel better… If you think someone could use a friendly ear, offer it. If you need someone to talk to, ask.

If you’re feeling really low with thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please ask your doctor for help or contact your local medical services – there are people who can help you through these dark days.

 

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3 quick tips to make great coffee

3 quick tips to make great coffee

 

When you love coffee, a bad cup of coffee is really bad. Don’t get me wrong, bad coffee is better than no coffee at all, but when you’re in the mood for a cup of something really strong, hot, and delicious that is going to replenish your soul, anything less than the best coffee just isn’t going to do. (I know, 1st world problems!!).

But making great coffee is easier than you think. Here are a 3 quick and easy tips to make your coffee great.

  1. Use cold water.Â
    It’s important to use fresh, cold water when you’re boiling the kettle to make your coffee. I know it might be tempting to use the hot tap to speed things up, but trust me, fresh cold water is THE way to go. If you want to get super fancy, you can use filtered water, but it’s not necessary.
    Basically, if your water is sitting around in a hot water tank for age, waiting to be used, it’s lost a lot of it’s oxygen and has become stagnant. It’s the oxygen that helps it boil, and brings out the flavours of the coffee beans.
    Once your water has come to the boil, let the water settle for a few minutes (90 seconds to 2 minutes) to let the temperature drop ever-so-slightly. If it’s just boiled, you risk scalding the coffee and it’s essential oils, which can have a bit impact on the flavour.
  2. Use freshly ground beans.
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    It’s really important to grind your coffee beans right before you use them. As I just mentioned above, the oils from the beans add to the depth of flavour. When you grind the beans in advance (or buy them ready-ground) the essential oils change in response to the air (or “oxidise”) and can evaporate, resulting in a flatter, less flavourful coffee experience. You also want to use more coffee than you think you’ll need. Everyone has different preferences when it comes to brew strength, but generally, slightly more ground coffee in the pot is better than not enough.
  3. Keep it hot.
    Personally, there is nothing worse than a cup of lukewarm coffee. Once it loses it’s heat, I always feel rushed to get through it while there is still a little warmth in it.
    “What are the best ways to keep it warm?”, you ask? You can use hot milk for starters. If you heat up the milk before adding it to your coffee, it won’t cool your brew down. It also lends a lovely flavour to the milk which adds to the richness of your coffee. Try it, you’ll like it!
    And most importantly, keep your coffee hot while you’re making it. Use one of our beautiful Cafetiere Covers.
    Colourful Poppies Cafetiere Cover by Couva Coffee Couture
    They are guaranteed to keep your coffee warm for up to 60% longer. You can also use one of our gorgeous cup covers on your mug (or if you’re out and about!). The heat reflective lining keeps your coffee at the perfect drinking temperature so that you can enjoy your coffee, just how you like it, for longer.English_Rose_Cup2
    Try these 3 easy steps, and I promise you, you’ll be amazed at what a difference 3 little steps can make.

You’re welcome!

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Moments that matter with Mum

This coming Sunday, it is Mother’s day here in the UK.

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While the media would like you to believe that flowers, chocolates, and sparkly jewellery are on the top of mum’s wish list, the reality is a bit different.

Parenting Magazine asked some of their readers what they REALLY wanted for mother’s day, and you may be surprised to see the responses. Top of the list were things like:

  • Sleep
  • A clean house
  • A day free from “Mum Routine”
  • Dinner made for them
  • Handmade cards, handprints, or other wonderful kiddie creations

Do you notice a pattern here?? These things can’t be bought in a shop, they aren’t expensive, and they show mum that she’s cared for.

Being a mother to two wonderful “little beans” myself, I can definitely agree with every item on that list! For me, mother’s day is a great opportunity to slow down, take a step back from the busy pace of everyday life, and just really revel in everything that I love about being a mother… cuddles with my boys, happy moments, and time together to enjoy one another’s company and savour the moments that matter.

If you’re still trying to figure out how to show your mum that you really care, why not think about providing her with a moment that would make a difference to her…. whether that is a moment to herself to sleep, a moment to savour the beauty of a beautiful bouquet of flowers, or a moment to enjoy a meal prepared for her (you get the idea!).

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If my mum lived nearer, I would make her a lovely cup of tea in bed, followed by a leisurely brunch of croissant with homemade jam, fruit salad, freshly squeezed orange juice, and some freshly brewed coffee. Naturally, the cafetiere would be wearing a Couva so that we could linger over brunch for as long as we wanted, knowing the coffee would stay just as hot for the second cup.

And if you’re still thinking of gifting your mum a little something, and she’s a coffee lover, how about a wonderful Couva cover for her cafetiere or her cup, so that she feels the warmth of those Mother’s day moments for longer? We’ve got lots of beautiful fabrics to choose from in our Shop!

And if all else fails, just make sure you call her!

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Happy Pancake Day!

Happy Pancake Day!

Whether you like them thick and fluffy or thin and crepe-like, everyone LOVES pancake day!
Growing up, I always used to look forward to the one day of the year where we would have “breakfast for supper”. My mum would make the most delicious, hot, fluffy pancakes that we would smother in melted butter and sticky maple syrup, a few pieces of smoky bacon on the side… heaven on a plate.

These days, my two little “beans” LOVE pancakes… and I mean LOVE with a capital LOOOOOOVE. Every Sunday morning, our ritual is to wake up early, have tea & biscuits in bed, followed by pancakes for brunch. We make big fluffy ones that soak in all the delicious sticky goodness that you can pour on top.

My eldest is a big fan of chocolate chip pancakes, while I tend to make a slightly healthier version for my youngest with mashed bananas and blueberries. The best part is that I make lots of extras and put them in the freezer so that they can be reheated in the toaster – a perfect quick hot breakfast before school!

There is nothing better than lingering over brunch with my loved ones – delicious food, gorgeous coffee (in a cafetiere with a Couva of course!), great moments with family. It puts a smile on my face just thinking about it!
Beige Forest Couva Coffee Couture

My favourite “go-to” recipe is a slightly modified version of the one found in the Delia Smith book “How to Cook”.

The best thing is that you can adapt this recipe to suit your tastes –

  • Use less liquid to make the batter thicker for thicker and fluffier pancakes
  • Add more liquid until the consistency of double cream for thinner pancakes that are more like crepes
  • Add in lots of toppings while you’re cooking the pancake: blueberries, chocolate chips, sliced banana, raspberries, sliced strawberries, raisins… the possibilities are endless.
  • Or you can mix flavours into your batter before cooking – mashed bananas are great, orange zest and dried cranberries, raspberry jam and flaked almonds, cinnamon and chopped apples and raisins.
  • If you prefer savoury flavouries (!!), what about mixing in some grated cheese and some crumbled bacon… yum!

And pancakes don’t have to just be for breakfast or pancake day! They make a really great dessert with some ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Cooking pancakes as a family is also a great opportunity to involve little ones in cooking – measuring ingredients, learning about different textures, helping with mixing, etc.

I’m getting hungry just thinking about them!

Happy flippin’ pancake day everyone!

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Delicious Pancake Recipe (makes about 8)

Ingredients

1 ½ cups of self-raising flour
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups of milk
3 tbsp melted butter

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add in the egg, milk, and melted  butter. Mix everything together, just until everything is combined. You don’t want to over-beat the batter – it’s ok if some dry ingredients are still visible.

Heat up a non-stick frying pan or griddle pan over medium-high heat. Pour ¼ cup of batter on the pan for each pancake. (*if you are adding anything to your pancakes, like chocolate chips, or sliced fruit, add it now).
As the pancake cooks, you’ll see bubbles starting to form on the surface of the pancake which tells you it’s time to carefully flip it over. You’ll also notice that, if you sneak a peak under the edge, the cooked side is getting lovely and golden brown.

Cook the second side for about 30 seconds to 1 minute or until golden.

When cooked, serve them immediately, or you can put the cooked pancakes on a plate in a warm oven until they are ready to serve – no one likes cold pancakes!

Serve these with warmed maple syrup and butter, or some Nutella, or whatever else you fancy!

Top 4 mistakes people make when brewing cafetiere coffee

Top 4 mistakes people make when brewing cafetiere coffee

Beige Linen Couva Coffee Couture

Some people call it a cafetiere, some people call it a French press. No matter what you call it, it makes really great coffee. In a world of complicated coffee kit, the cafetiere keeps things simple, as coffee is meant to be… coffee and water!

Yet, as simple as it is, sometimes things can go wrong… and bad coffee is just such a let down (although I’d still take a really bad cup of coffee over nothing at all!!).

To get a really great brew, try to avoid these 4 common mistakes…

Mistake #4: Â The wrong grind

When it comes to making good coffee, it’s really important to get the grind right based on the brewing method you’re using. For a cafetiere, you need to make sure that the grind isn’t too fine, and isn’t too coarse… It needs to be just right to get the best brew. What you’re looking for is a coarse, even grind. See the picture below.

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If your grind is too fine, it will be quite tricky to push the plunger down. When this happens, you need to be extra careful that the coffee doesn’t bubble up unexpectedly and ‘jump’ out of the pot and scald you.
What you’ll also find with a too-fine grind is that the brew ends up being a bit silty and sludgy, with a greater than normal amount of fine coffee grinds in your cup.

If your coffee grind is too coarse, the coffee won’t extract properly during the brewing process, leaving you with a bit a thin, weak, under-brewed coffee.

Mistake #3: Using the wrong amount of coffee

The key to great coffee in a cafetiere is the extraction process, so you want to be sure you have enough coffee in the pot for the amount of water you’re pouring in.

The general guideline is 1 part coffee to 10 parts water – or about 1 tablespoon of coffee for every cup of water. Now, obviously you’ll need to adjust this if you like your coffee a bit stronger or a bit weaker. To give you an idea, I put about 4 heaped tablespoons of coffee into my 12 cup cafetiere, and it’s just perfect!

Mistake #2: Using water that is the wrong temperature

Did you know that coffee can burn? When you pour boiling water into your coffee pot, the heat of the water can actually scald the oils in the beans and ruin your brew.

The best temperature for coffee brewing is a few degrees off the boil (that’s the technical temperature reading of course!!). When making your coffee, boil your water and then let it sit for 30 seconds to a minute to allow the temperature to come down slightly before your pour it into the pot.

Mistake #1: Cold coffee

This is what I’d consider the biggest mistake for cafetiere coffee. I can’t think of anything more disappointing than a long-anticipated cup of coffee that has gone cold. Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but still mighty disappointing! And I’m not talking about a cup that has been left to go stone cold. I’m talking about that cup of coffee that is kind of hot, but sort of lukewarm, and starting to get a bit cool on the top.

Part of the brewing process is to leave the coffee grinds to extract for about 4 minutes. In that time, the glass walls of a cafetiere will let the a considerable amount of heat escape. By the time the coffee is ready to pour, the temperature will have decreased by quite a lot. Add in your milk (if you don’t take the time to heat it up), and your brew has already lost much of its vital heat.

Or what about going back for another cup from the cafetiere, only to find that the intensity of heat has gone out of the brew, leaving it warm and blah. And we all know that it’s a “no no” to pop that coffee in the microwave!

So what is a person to do?!

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Well, we’ve got the perfect solution! Our insulated covers for cafetieres and cups are the PERFECT solution to the problem of cold coffee. Our special heat reflective lining ensures that your coffee stays hotter for up to 60% longer… Lots of time to fully enjoy your cup of coffee nice and hot! And certainly enough time for a second cup!

 

Check out our newest designs in our webshop! You’re going to love them!

 

DSC_6485Â Â Â DSC_6496Â Â Â Â Colourful Poppies Cafetiere Cover by Couva Coffee Couture

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Coffee with the President…

Coffee with the President…

Last year, my dad introduced me to the wonderfully funny set of videos put together by Jerry Seinfeld called “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”. I wrote a little bit about it here.

Since then, Jerry (yes, we’re on a 1st name basis!) has conducted even more incredible interviews. Some of my personal favourites include car rides with Jimmy Fallon, Jim Carrey (playfully called “We love breathing what you’re burning”!), and a preview for the upcoming episode with Steven Martin. We’re talking some serious comedy heavy-weights!

But the ultimate caffeine passenger has to be THE president…. none other than Mr. Barack Obama. Seeing is believing!

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I hope you enjoy these as much as I do :)

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Taste of London 2015… A Review

Taste of London 2015… A Review


It feels like Christmas 2015 has got off to an amazing start with The Taste of London this past weekend at the incredible Tobacco Dock.Â

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The event took place from Thursday through Sunday, and was literally the epitome of Foodie Heaven. Everywhere you looked in each of the rooms, there were incredibly delicious things to tempt your taste buds… Delicious main dishes, gorgeous deserts and chocolates, and an over-abundance of alcoholic tipples to keep everyone happy!Â

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It was our first time at Taste, and it was a new type of show for us to exhibit at. We were positioned in the Small Producers Area that welcomed, as the name suggests (!), independent producers of a range of quality items. We were fortunate to have some lovely neighbours.

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 To one side, we had Sip and Learn, the wine subscription service that provides you with educational tasting notes about the wines they send so that, over time, you are developing your wine knowledge. On the other side, we had ChicP Hummus, who produce the most delicious sweet and savoury chickpea dips made from fruit and veg that are surplus, or normally get thrown away by markets and supermarkets. The Carrot, Ginger, & Cumin was my favourite!Â

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Other friendly exhibitors included Yorkshire Drizzle oils and vinegars, Mallow and Marsh marshmallows, Smith & Sinclair alcoholic sweets to name but a few…Â

For the first time, we decided to sell some products that compliment our range of Couva Coffee Covers. We were offering a range of lovely things from the Brew Tea Co – loose leaf English Breakfast and Earl Grey tea, a yummy scrummy Christmas blend, as well as their gorgeous little glass teapot that fits our small Couva Cover perfectly!Â

Photo copyright: Couva Ltd.


We also featured the amazing beans from RoundSquare Roastery. The real hit of the weekend was their Whiskey Cask Coffee… If you haven’t tried it yet, you MUST.Â
It’s just the most delicious thing to come to your cup. Imagine the most delicious, complex, rich roast of coffee with hints of whiskey cask wood smoke and earthiness on the finish. Just divine… and THE perfect thing for a coffee connoisseur’s Christmas stocking!!Â

Photo copyright: Couva Ltd.


We will have all these lovely things up on the website very soon.

One thing I will say is that Taste of London seemed to be lacking “REAL” food… I found that a lot of the food on offer at the show was very overdone. Don’t get me wrong, it all sounded delicious, but not to everyone’s taste. There is so much wonderful local produce around at the moment, that it seemed a shame that there weren’t more dishes that highlighted the goodness of the ingredients rather than trying to be fancier and schmancier than the competition.Â

I also found it incredible how few places there were for a good cup of coffee! I looked high and low for someone who could make me a gorgeous cup of something delicious… and nothing. There wasn’t even anywhere to get a really great hot chocolate. Towards the end of the day, all I really fancied was a nice warming cup of something delicious with maybe some whipped cream and maybe a marshmallow. But nothing… Maybe next year?!Â

Photo copyright: Couva Ltd.

We had a great time this weekend… Thanks Taste of London, and HUGE thanks to all of our new customers! We hope to see you again really soon :)Â

www.couva.co.uk




Red cups and the scrutiny of Christmas

Red cups and the scrutiny of Christmas

Photo credit: Starbucks

 For many, the festive holiday season starts once Halloween is done, the candle in the jack-o-lantern has fizzled out, and the last trick-or-treater has fallen quietly into a sugar-induced slumber.

For the fans of large coffee chains, the festive season marks the arrival of a holiday-inspired drink menu with LOTS of sugary, syrupy goodness (although did you see my last post about the pumpkin spice latte?!),  and beautifully decorated cups…Oh, the holiday cups!

It seems like each year,  each coffee chains tries to out-do their competition ,  making their cups more colourful,  more festive, well, just MORE.


On November 1st this year, Starbucks launched their holiday season with the arrival of their much-awaited Red Cups…and you could say the response was less than great.  In fact,  the cups were so boring that people have started digging for hidden meaning behind the simplicity of the design (or lack thereof!). 

Seriously,  it’s become this great big ‘thing’ where some people believe that there is a hidden agenda to the lack of festivity on the cups. In a nutshell,  some are trying to claim that Starbucks is trying to sanitise the Christmas out of the holidays. 

If you don’t believe me,  you can read more about the argument here.

I feel badly for Starbucks… According to the head of design for the company,  the simple design was meant to encourage people to express themselves by drawing on the cups,  adding their own creativity. 

Personally I think that’s rather a bit over ambitious for the average harried coffee drinker, rushing in for their life support beverage first thing in the morning to expect people to whip out their colouring pencils and start creating on the side of their scalding hot cuppa joe.

Now, I may be relatively new to the game of business branding and promotions, particularly around the holiday season, but what I do know is that, at this time of the year especially, people like things to be familiar, easy, comfortable, and dare I say,  nostalgic of years past.
You know what they say… There is no such thing as bad publicity! 

At the end of the day,  they’re cups…for coffee. Coffee cups.  Coffee cups meant to add a little bit of holiday cheer (as well as demonstrate your allegiance with a coffee shop!). But really,  they are cups.


And, actually, I happen to think that the plain red cups are THE perfect blank canvas to compliment our new festive range  Couva Coffee Couture Cup Covers! Not only do they keep your coffee hotter for longer,  but they’ll cover up some of that boring redness!

www.couva.co.uk

Pumpkin Latte Underwhelm

Pumpkin Latte Underwhelm

If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know I’m something of a coffee purist.  I’m not one for all the fancy, frothy drinks with the whipped cream and sprinkles that are on offer in a lot of coffee shops these days. Don’t get me wrong,  occasionally I’ll get a bit wild and crazy, and I’ll add a bit of vanilla syrup to a latte, but that’s normally as far out as I’ll stray. (I can literally feel my husband rolling his eyes at my tendencies to stay within my comfort zone!!)
For weeks I’ve been hearing everyone going on and on (and on!) about Pumpkin Spice Lattes with the arrival of autumn. I was beginning to feel like I was missing out on something. There is even a secret Pumpkin Spice Latte club called the “Orange Sleeve Society“! Seriously – it’s a thing!
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Maybe I’m a sucker for strategic marketing, maybe I’m easily swayed by public pressure,  or maybe I was feeling feisty that morning, but while walking with my big bean, we popped in to a well-known coffee shop for a treat. He ordered a kids hot choc, and I (against my better judgement!) ordered my first Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Well,  I don’t think I’ve been so underwhelmed in a long time.

First off, are they meant to be so sweet?! Honestly, I needed a drink of water halfway through because it was making me thirsty!
Next, I couldn’t taste the coffee…Was it even in there? Between the clawing sweetness, the overabundance of cinnamon (not sure what other “spice” was meant to be in there!), and the mountain of whipped cream, I’m not sure there was coffee in there!

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Finally, I seemed to have missed any hint of pumpkin. Although, that said, pumpkin doesn’t really taste of much anyway – just sort of earthy and sweet.


Not to be completely negative about the whole experience,  I have to say that this coffee connoisseur is not a fan of the much-acclaimed Pumpkin Spice Latte.

For now, I’ll stick to my flat white (maybe with some vanilla syrup in it on a crazy day!).

I guess I’ll just have to find another bandwagon to jump on!