The festive blends that’ll have you full of beans this season – and how to concoct your own Christmassy cup of Joe…
Our nation’s love affair with coffee is no secret, and as the winter mornings grow ever colder, darker and more miserable, no doubt caffeine addicts are in desperate need of their fix (I know I certainly am). Even those who aren’t fans can surely appreciate the rich, comforting aroma of freshly made coffee, especially when gale-force winds are battering all and sundry outside.
But sometimes your average, run-of-the-mill café au lait – however pricey the bean – can begin to get a bit samey, so why not indulge in some seasonal pick-me-ups instead? There’s a great variety on the market at the moment, ranging from good-value to rather-posh, and all offer a sure-fire way for coffee aficionados to add cheer to a grey day.
Long-time purveyor of tea and coffee, Whittard of Chelsea sells a medium-strong Christmas-pudding-flavoured ground coffee priced at a reasonable £4.75 – although I can’t guarantee it’ll be to your taste, especially if you’re not a fan of the traditional pud. If this doesn’t sound like the infusion for you, then perhaps try their similar version with warming malt whisky flavours, for the same price.
On the other hand, if you’d simply like your usual coffee with a delicate hint of winter spice, then try Taylors of Harrogate’s limited edition Christmas blend, priced at £3.95 a bag. Dark roasted Sumatran beans provide chocolatey intensity, while Ethiopian beans strike a floral note, resulting in a subtle mélange of Yuletide flavours.
Of course, the red Starbucks cups are out in force now, which can only mean one thing. Christmas is right upon us, and so is their festive selection, which includes the classic eggnog, gingerbread and toffee nut lattes.
Those who know a coffee obsessive and want to buy them something special should head to Fortnum & Mason. Their Christmas coffee comes irresistibly packaged in a beautifully designed tin and features hints of dried fruits and hot chocolate. Is it wrong that I’m mainly tempted to buy it for that lovely packaging?
Perhaps head to www.bettys.co.uk, another great place to stock up on presents for caffeine devotees. Their thoughtfully put-together gift box featuring aromatic Christmas coffee – equally satisfying after dinner or with a helping of Stollen or warm mince pies – comes with a lovely selection of chocolatey treats to work your way through. This is definitely one I’d like to keep for myself – anything featuring my two favourite vices is always a winner.
Alternatively, if you’re a dab hand with a cafetière and fancy mixing up your very own winter warmer, then follow this simple recipe for one and you’ll be in festive coffee heaven before you know it.
You Will Need*
1 cafetière (that’s what I use anyway – I’m sure other coffee-making devices will do the job too)
1 ½ tablespoons whipped squirty cream
1 tablespoon freshly ground coffee
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon brandy
2 cups boiling water
A splash of milk
*All of the above is, of course, according to taste, so feel free to have fun and experiment a little – it is Christmas, after all.
Mix the whipped cream, sugar and brandy together in a bowl.
Chuck the ground coffee, cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg into the cafetière (and a smidgen of sugar if you’re so inclined) and gently mix it all together.
Pour in the boiling water, give it another good stir and allow those lovely aromatic flavours to infuse. I usually leave it for around four minutes before pushing down the plunger, by which point I have both a tasty coffee and a delicious-smelling kitchen – bonus!
Decant into your favourite mug, top with the whipped cream and voilà – your very own Christmas-coffee blend is ready to enjoy. Personally, I like to sip mine snuggled on the sofa with a good festive film and a mince pie – bliss.