Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Pao de Queijo

Eve (aged 3) used Isabel's Dough Ball Mix to make scary eyeballs for her Halloween party. And Eve's Mummy took photos to show how much fun it was.

Thank you Eve (and Eve's Mum) for your beautiful photographs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Is this our most energy efficient product?

Apparently, for every kilocalorie of energy the bees expend, they bring in 29 kilocalories! By the time the honey is processed and packed the energy efficiency falls, but even so honey production is generally regarded as 2.5 times more energy efficient than sugar production. Windsor honey, more so, as the extractor is powered by solar panels and the finished product delivered to us by bicycle (powered by Stephen, who is fueled by honey!). Thank you bees (and Stephen)!

The Windsor bees are now taking a well deserved break and have plenty of their own honey stored in the hive to feed on over the winter months. When spring comes, I am hoping Stephen will post guest articles on this blog to keep you up to date with all the action in and around the hive. It really is fascinating.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Coffee Break!

Last week I met Edward Grace, from the new Beanberry Coffee Company. He eulogised about coffee; was passionate, knowledgeable and fascinating. So impressed was I with Edward, and his coffee, that this week I have started stocking the coffee Edward sources and roasts.

The Beanberry Coffee Company source organic arabica coffee from around the world. This is roasted in a traditional small batch drum roaster using Edward's skill and scientific knowledge to adjust the roast to suit the beans, resulting in coffee which captures the unique aromas and flavours.

All of the Beanberry coffees are organic, grown naturally in the shade of taller trees which offer protection and homes for migrating birds (who in turn see to the pests). The organic ecosystem works well and makes it economically viable for small growers to produce coffee.

What excites me most about the Beanberry Coffee is the freshness. Edward roasts to order to ensure the coffee I receive is at its very best. So insistent is Edward that the coffee must be fresh, that it won't be kept on the shelves here for more than a few weeks. To further ensure this freshness, the coffee is only available as whole beans. Apparently it takes only 15 minutes from grinding, for the flavour of the coffee to deteriorate. So we are also selling grinders! Edward has recommended a ceramic burr coffee grinder. A small but powerful hand grinder which will allow you to easily and cleanly grind up the beans whilst the kettle is boiling.

And because the coffees are so good, and need to be brewed with the respect they deserve, I'm also selling manual drippers. Have I gotten a little carried away? These ceramic devices fit on top of your coffee cup and allow you to add water to the ground coffee beans, but rather than then pressing the grinds and pouring the coffee like a French press, the coffee drips through the filter into the cup below.

The range of coffee we carry will vary throughout the year, with Edward supplying beans from whichever regions are at their very best at the time. We are starting with these four:

Finca Valentin Coffee Beans – light to medium roast, sweet almonds and figs with a touch of spice and syrupy mouthfeel.

Grower, Valentín Choquehuanca is a three-time Cup of Excellence finalist, who bought his farm in the small village of Loayza in Caranavi province of La Paz department in Bolivia in 1990. The ten hectares of land were already planted out with two hectares of coffee, to which Valentín added a further hectare of Caturra trees. The farm extends over steep, fertile hillside in Caranavi region, north-east of La Paz, and is also planted with lime and mandarin trees.

Valentín works the farm with the help of his wife and, during the school holidays, their two children - Soledad and Kevin. Some 10,000 coffee trees grow in the shade of indigenous ‘Inga’ trees.

Harvest on the farm runs from June until September, when the ripe cherries are picked by hand. The coffee is fully washed at a local processing centre, and machine-dried until it reaches 12% humidity. It is then hand picked once again to remove any defects.

San Antonio Coffee Beans - light to medium roast, buttery with dark chocolate and mild orange citrus notes.

Finca San Antonio lies near Municipality of Villa Canales in the mountains of Central Guatemala. Coffee is planted out over 91.5 hectares - much of which is steep, mountainous terrain, meaning all work is carried out on the farm by hand.

The coffee grows in the shade of a diverse mix of native trees. Finca San Antonio has been organic certified since 1992. The farm produces its own organic fertilisers using vermiculture (worm farms) and left-over coffee pulp, leaves, remnants from pruning, cow dung etc. Finca San Antonio also operates its own organic weed control - based on a combination of shade cover, good plant density, weeding by hand and thick ground coverage with organic mulch.

San Antonio is haven for native flora and fauna, and is an excellent spot for bird watching thanks to its extensive natural forest and non-invasive organic farming practices.

All of the farm's permanent workers are provided with housing - equipped with drinking water, electricity and modern bathrooms. San Antonio also runs a school for its employees' children.

The main harvest on the farm runs from November until February. The coffee is picked by hand when it is fully ripe, pulped on the same day, fermented and fully washed. The wet parchment coffee is then moved to the farm's extensive patios where it dries in the sun until it reaches the optimum humidity level. All of the waste water from the wet mill is treated at the farm's three oxidation lakes, in order to keep its water courses free from pollution.

Sidamo Coffee Beans - medium roast, clean and sweet with subtle roasty notes, a hint of brioche and a bright lemon acidity.

Sidamo covers a large area in south western Ethiopia spreading through the fertile highlands south from Lake Awasa in the Rift Valley. Sidamo region is made of over twenty different administrative areas known as 'woredas' that are scattered over its territory at varying altitudes ranging from 1550 to 2200 metres above sea level. Each woreda has its own unique micro-climate resulting in a variety of grades and cup profiles of grown coffee.

Most of the growers are small farmers, organised in fifty or so cooperatives. For the farmers, coffee is the main source of income, usually covering from half to one and a half hectares. Coffee is usually planted alongside a second cash crop – usually enset plants, a large-leafed tree, which provides shade for coffee plants. Enset tree looks like a banana plant but it is not – instead, its thick stem is used to produce a nutritious flour and a fermented paste that are staple ingredients across southern Ethiopia.

This coffee comes from Kersha Inshe cooperative that is one of the members of Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union. This coffee is Fairtrade Organic certified.

Yirgacheffe Coffee Beans - light to medium roast, tea like body with floral jasmine notes, a touch of apricot jam and milk chocolate in the aftertaste.

Yirgacheffe is one of the most prized Ethiopian coffees. Yirga Cheffe region is a lush, deep soiled area of high rolling hills in south western Ethiopia. Altitudes range from 1770 to 2200 metres above sea level. Coffee, grown in Yirga Cheffe, is famous for its extravagant, almost perfumed aromatics. Tracing the exact origin of Yirgacheffe coffees can be difficult, as it is what Ethiopians refer to as “garden coffee”, grown on small plots by villagers, often organised in tiny co-ops, using centuries old traditional methods. This coffee is sourced from Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU), which represents some 217 cooperatives with over 200,000 members. OCFCU aims to help small holder coffee farmers to take advantage of the Fair Trade market. OCFCU returns 70% of its net profit back to the cooperatives, and cooperatives back to their members. This coffee is Fairtrade Organic certified.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Almond & Citrus Olive Oil Cake

Great British Bake Off final tonight and I need cake to consume whilst viewing. Knowing I'll be cutting it fine to make it home in time tonight, here is one I prepared earlier! With the help of a recipe from Zaytoun, the producers of fair trade Palestinian olive oil (which we happen to stock at Tastes, in case you're interested)!.

You can find the recipe published as part of the Big Fair Bake on It's a delicious moist citrusy cake, and happens to be dairy free for anyone with an intolerance. Mine was a little squat, but only because I don't own a 9 inch cake tin.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Cheese Wedding Cake in "You & Your Wedding" Magazine

One of our cheese wedding cakes appeared in the September edition of You and Your Wedding magazine! (Which explains a few of the phone calls I've received this week!).

I couldn't find the magazine in the shops, but called the publisher who very kindly sent me a PDF of the article the cheese tower appeared in. You can read the entire Readers Wedding article or click on the photograph to enlarge the page showing the cheeses.