5000 coffees

An awful lot of coffee

If it’s good enough for Mo Farrah, it’s good enough for me. Mo confesses he has a caffeine hit before training and let’s face it, it hasn’t done him any harm. In fact, evidence shows that caffeine can help achieve that illusive PB!

I am partial to a good coffee, emphasis on the good. No Mellow Birds or Nescafe Gold Blend for me, in fact we don’t have instant coffee in the house. Even the workmen get the real stuff, though one poor plumber bounced his way out of the house juggling his spanners after drinking four double-shot cappuccinos.

One of our first major purchases was a decent and rather indecently-priced coffee maker, well, who needs furniture? You have to get your priorities right. It has lots of shiny chrome, a pressure tank that goes up to 11 and a serious-looking frother. It’s Italian, of course, so is very stylish, even the sound of the click of the ‘on’ switch is a thing of beauty. And we don’t just let any old coffee grace the grounds basket, our selected blends, ground to fit the machine, come all the way from that there London. Coffee’s too important to leave to the chance of the supermarket shelves.

While I wouldn’t call it an obsession, I certainly do  insist on good coffee, and I like to remember where I had that coffee, making a mental note on whether or not to return. So for the past few years, I’ve kept a pictorial coffee diary, photographing most of the coffees I’ve drunk, and a couple I’ve send back because they’re undrinkable. For a bit of fun, I’ve made them into a mosaic, using Andrea Mosaic,  a rather natty open source product. This mosaic is made from 5000 coffees, I’ve drunk them all. I’m still waiting for them to improve my running performance, I think it may be a delayed reaction, I’ll ask Mo.


Coffee flavours the holiday

There’s a certain irony to keeping a coffee diary in the Mormon state of Utah. After all, the faithful do not drink coffee, nor any other stimulants such as tea or alcohol, though being a tolerant lot, they do serve it to others like us. Which may explain why the coffee there leaves something to be desired, it’s obvious that some of the coffee has never been tasted before serving.

I wouldn’t say we had the worst coffee ever over there. That crown is still firmly placed on the head of the appalling Espresso to Go by Ferrero, a plastic pouch with a mini straw, on sale in some  European garages next to the motor oil. I think I would have preferred the oil.

But still, we found good and bad on our ten-day trip. The best was definitely at the charming Windy Ridge Cafe in Park City, a good strong shot with thick crema. The worst, at Brigham City, I’ve already blogged about.

Still, the good and bad make a pretty picture and add to my growing collection in my caffeine-fuelled photo diary.

My Utah coffee diary


Coffee and learning

The coffee of coffees, my latest coffee mosaic

Keeping a diary has always been a bit of an ‘I’ve started so I’ll not finish’ for me. I usually get to January 18, having carefully documented the post-Christmas pre-birthday goings-on with flowery prose and witty comments. Then after that it tends to peter out and I’m left with random words scattered through the remaining weeks of spring, a couple of comments in summer months then come autumn, just a list of birthdays. I ran out of inspiration, I ran out of provocation, I just ran out.

Then came caffeine, nectar of the gods, fuel for the body and food for the brain. Actually, there had always been coffee, I just hadn’t appreciated how it could drive my diary-writing. That realisation came about the same time I came to the conclusion that instant coffee was an abomination and a crime against coffee cups everywhere. Time was when I would happily sip Mellow Birds, which, according to the publicity, would ‘make you smile’. I can tell you, there was no smiling, it was all about frowning and unladylike spitting. No more Mellow Birds for me. No Nescafe Gold Blend and absolutely no Camp Coffee.

The pop pop popping of the percolator and permeating aroma of Lyons Fresh Ground Coffee had whetted my appetite for ‘proper’ coffee as we called it in our house. But that soon gave way to espresso and the House Blend, perfected after many experimental mixtures and quite a few sleep-deprived nights as the caffeine kicked in.

The coffee inspired my diary, in fact, it became my diary, With the help of the camera on my phone, I began a photo diary, taking pictures of coffees wherever I went, each telling a story.

When I started work at the University of Bradford, I took my coffee cup with me. Much to the amusement of staff, colleagues and students, I’ve placed the sparkly Starbucks mug in all kinds of settings. It’s been fun it’s been a challenge, it’s been yet more pages for my caffeine-fuelled photo diary.

I’ve taken all my coffee photos from the past three years and made them into a mosaic using a clever piece of software from the cuddly open source community.