Shopping For Hanging Baskets.

So there we were my wife and I, at a popular garden centre on the outskirts of Leicester, UK, queuing for lunch before looking for a couple of suitable hanging baskets for the front garden.

”Make mine a large black coffee”, I said in trepidation as my experience in tasting ‘non coffee outlet’ brews has been less than good mostly. After finding a table, my beloved provided me with a decent size cup of their filter coffee. Finding its way to my parched lips, I was taken aback,  

“Hey, this is pretty dam good coffee” I blurted our. And so it was, I gulped it down. And was about to enquire where it originated when I noticed an increased amount of human traffic, and a steady stream of overworked staff. I kept my seat. 

Its experiences like this, a decent cup of coffee to accompany my lunch that gives hope to my mind, that in house caterers are slowly getting their act together, about providing decent brews, not the stomach churning crap of not too long ago. 

Thank you Palmers Centre, the hanging baskets are pretty good as well.:) 

 

Excellent coffee at Palmers Garden Centre, Enderby, Leicester, UK. 

Excellent coffee at Palmers Garden Centre, Enderby, Leicester, UK. 

Self Contained

Packing ones own personal coffee/tea mug to haul to your favourite outlet is becoming a popular feature for beverage junkies like me. Not wanting to deeper than necessary into my pension, I went prospecting into the depths of our kitchen cupboards and found my old, metal food container, purchased several years ago from a popular chain store.

Its perfect for my needs, coupled with the fact that my hands are becoming arthritic, necessitating the need for pressure gloves, I can grip the can and sip the brew perfectly while observing the to n’ fro of everyday life. 

I began this week with a visit to 200 Degrees, and was delighted that I obtained a discount for bringing my own vessel, which was filled with the most delicious Black Americano. Later when hooking up with a friend in my ‘local’ (96 Degrees), I had more of the same.  

The mission now is to find out just who does and who doesn’t accept personal drinking vessels and who gives discount. It’s a truly fabulous idea, reminiscent of the pubs of old who used to have regulars tankards hanging over the bar, in readiness for a Merry night and an unsteady walk home. I know, I used to be one of them. 

 

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At 200 Degrees with my personal drinking can. 

 

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The ravages of old age, pressure gloves to battle the arthritis. 

Time Out

The last couple of weeks have been something of a lean time in the frontiers of coffee appreciation. Continuing back pain and arthritis in both hands have kept me housebound for the most part, so my own coffee mines have been rather plundered of late. 

This enforced house arrest has however, given me the chance to sample and tastes the various packs of beans and airtight packs, stored up for last Christmas, and I estimate that I’ve consumed well over and above my daily intake - whatever that is. 

Ive also had the opportunity to read up on coffee, listen to podcasts and get to know some like minded souls, baristas, brewers, grinders on Instagram. The latter being my favourite social media platform.  

Soon I will be out on the frontline again, visiting new and old established outlets, and chewing the cud with fellow coffee lovers. Gotta dash, another pot is on the boil. 

 

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Dishing out at home. 

 

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My favourite coffee relaxing location at home. That chair is as comfortable as it looks. 

On Spec!

Last Thursday, my wife an I were in Northampton, for the funeral of one of my most treasured friends. As one would expect, I was feeling pretty low, so on the way to the church we made a pit stop at a small, independent cafe and I opted for a regular cappuccino, minus the chocolate lid. 

Its just what I needed to steady my resolve and prepare me for an emotional farewell. My friend taught creative writing and I know he would appreciate this blog type tribute. We did sink an awful lot of coffee together, in times gone by, boy do I miss him. Goodbye Stephen, here’s to you my irreplaceable buddy!. 

 

Saying goodbye to my dear, departed friend Stephen Loveless, at the Dreams Coffee Lounge, Northampton, UK

Saying goodbye to my dear, departed friend Stephen Loveless, at the Dreams Coffee Lounge, Northampton, UK

Floating

Last Sunday lunchtime, I had my first ever floater coffee in Bistrot Pierre, Leicester, UK. At first I thought the three ‘floaters’ motionless in the creamy surface, was chunks of chocolate. To my delight and surprise they were coffee beans, slightly bitter, but interesting to crunch and munch. 

Now Bistrot Pierre is a popular restaurant, not a coffee outlet as such, but this was a delicious moment and over the coming year, I will be in pursuit of different ‘floater’ menus and concoctions. I may even have a go at making my own, but I would probably cave in to my weakness, and add chocolate covered coffee beans. Heaven! 

 

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Floater Coffee at Bistrot Pierre, Leicester, UK an amazing coffee moment experience. 

 

Welcome Return

A few days ago, I returned to one of my favourite Leicester coffee outlets from several years ago, St Martins Coffee Shop. It was lovely to be there again although many of the faces have changed. It’s been a popular venue for some time, it’s reputation built on great service and good, good products. 

This time around I settled on a regular cappuccino, loaded with chocolate flakes, it was pure comfort drinking, an indulgence that laid waste to my abb crunch routine, some hours earlier:). 

The relaxed atmosphere was easy to hook into, and it made me realise how much I have missed coming here. Still highly recommended, the decor is bright and modern, great place to relax or my case, write and blog. 

 

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Writing in the balcony of St. Martins, Leicester, enjoying a regular cappuccino. 

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Just Walking In The Rain

Having been holed up for most of the week due to the crappy climate, I had to get out today before I went nuts. 

Mall week I’ve been grinding beans at home from various outlets, enough to accommodate my six to eight cups per day, but the time had come for somebody else to prepare the brew, so I pitched up at 200 Degrees, ordered a decaf cappuccino, sat down at one of the spacious tables, and marvelled at the Swan froth sculpture, that adorned the brim. 

This small luxurious moment was most welcome, and it was superb. Might stay for another, oh what the hell....

 

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Coffee at 200 Degrees, complete with froth swan sculpture. 

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Coffee At The Museum

The wife and I embarked on a longish walk today, dropping in first at the New Walk Museum, to make a donation to the ‘Save The Hogarth’ painting for Leicester. 

By the time arrived I needed a caffine fix, but opted instead for a decaf Latte, which accompanied with a mighty fruit laden flapjack, gave me a sugar rush at light speed. 

The last time I was here the coffee (Americano), was less than average. But this latte was a cast improvement. It’s  Costa franchise, not an independent, but nevertheless, it was a pleasurable if not memorable coffee moment. 

 

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Decaf latte with the tail end of a delicious flapjack at the New Walk Museum, Leicester UK. 

In The Chain

Leicester UK can boast some of the best independent coffee outlets I’ve ever been to. So why would Cafe Nero, who has several outlets in the city, choose to open another one in the city centre? Simple, demand.

i went for the first time recently, to this prime location newbie, and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the service and the product. This was early morning and there was a sizeable que, waiting for their various preferences. I was served swiftly and with good manners. 

Time will tell of course, but with the ever increasing student population, mostly from overseas, I doubt that places like the new Cafe Nero will have a short life span. 

Cafe Nero is located on the corner of Silver Street and High Street.

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Very nice interior design at the new Cafe Nero in Leicester, UK

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Sunday Best

I can Remember a time when next to nothing opened on a Sunday, those bleak days came flooding back today as I sat in 96 Degrees Coffee Shop today, enjoying a very strong double espresso, while making notes and enjoying the eclectic mix of clients coming and going, purchasing all manner of brews to keep the biting wind away from their bones.

The place was packed, like any working week day, but the service was fast and efficient. A larger kitchen has been constructed, I guess to accommodate a bigger menu choice. Always a pleasure to drop into my ‘local’.

 

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My delicious double espresso. 

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Good Start

I’ve had a very good start to my coffee year, visiting and spending time in several excellent coffee outlets here in my hometown of Leicester UK. But one of my priorities this year, is to drink and sample a range of brews at home, both solitary and with invited guests and fellow coffee lovers.

Another home project is to shoot more coffee studio type images, coffee packs, vessels, pots and all manner of coffee items. Busy times to come, but I’m well out of the starting blocks and on the move at a good pace. 

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Platform Oasis

Two days into the new year, after a fabulous 48 hours in the city of Ely, Cambridgeshire, UK, we (the wife and I), found ourselves sitting on a freezing railway platform waiting for the train home.

i needed a double shot, badly and made tracks to the excellent little coffee kiosk, that I've used many times before, and I wasn't to be disappointed. Can't be certain, but the lady who served me seems to be the same person that has taken my cash for the last five years, when I've been in transit. 

Situations like this I find very comforting, and this place is one of the best small coffee hangouts I've ever used. The product too has always satisfied, and I honestly think I could hop the train to Ely from Leicester, just to sit here and watch the rythem of life shuffle by.  

Small coffee outlets are essential in my view to balance out our experience in consuming and experiencing the black brews. Ely is one of the best.  

 

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Travelling Man

On my way to catch the train to Ely this morning, for a new year away trip with the wife, I grabbed a coffee and croissant at the Gourmet Cafe Bar just inside the station entrance.

served up by Richard, the coffee (regular black), was delicious with an amazing aftertaste, I wanted more but time did not allow. The croissant was fresh and tasty. Perfect for the short journey to the Fens.

Give the Gourmet a try, perfect for when you're on the go, or sit for a while and marvel at the human traffic arriving or departing. 

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A Time For Sharing

Christmas has come and gone and over the period, I spend a good amount of time, grinding beans and brewing pot after pot of delicious brews with our guests. 

I also gave away a pack of beans to my relatives, from Leicester's newest coffee outlet - Leicester Coffee House, located on Granby Street. They have a fine and decent selection of beans for sale, and the atmosphere of the place is magic.  

There was also 'gifts' of coffee for yours truly, so one of our cupboards is now stuffed with different coffees from all over the world. Whether that will prevent me from early new year purchases is debatable. 

At the moment I'm very busy preparing notes for new year blogs with a huge mug made from Starbucks beans. It's 07:14 on a Sunday morning, and guess what, I need another fix.  

Happy New Year to coffee lovers everywhere. 

 

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The Best In The West

Here in Leicester’s West End district, we are rich in the variety of shops and cafes, the best in my opinion is 96 Degrees located on Braunstone Gate. The service has always been tremendous and the variety of coffees (and teas), is tremendous. 

At the moment, they are preparing for Christmas. And as the images show they are have done a fabulous job. A more in-depth description of 96 Degrees will follow in the new year. In the meantime, if you happen to be in the area, drop in and experience a great coffee moment.  

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Looking Back

When I was a boy, decent coffee shops in my home town of Leicester UK were in the minority. So when Brucciani came on the scene in the early 1960’s, it was a magnet for everybody who wanted to try decent coffee. This place in Fox Lane is very special to me, for on Valentine’s Day, 1989, I shared a beverage there with a man who was to change my life forever. His name was James, and he said something to me I shall never forget.

“Tony there’s only one thing you have to change in your life”,

“What’s that?” I enquired.

“Everything”, said James.

For that day on, I never took another drink, or use another drug. And I’ve been clean and sober ever since. This images were made almost a decade ago for a writing project, and only just been recently been found. I’ve not been inside Brucciani for a very long time, but I always stop for a moment or two when I’m nearby, and think about that day, almost thirty years ago, which led me into the world of re-hab, here EVERYTHING, got much better.

An old favourite with the Leicester Public

An old favourite with the Leicester Public

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Dishwater!

Today, I had the worst cup of coffee I’ve had in ages. With friends over from Nottingham, I suggested that we try ‘this place’, as I’d never been there before and from the outside, it looked quite decent. 

Never judge a book by its cover so the saying goes. Once inside I ordered a simple, no nonsense black coffee for myself, white for my friend. It was atrocious, bitter, tasted more like the crap we used to get served in in cafes, back in the 1960’s. 

I won’t name the establishment, only in private to other coffee lovers, but I will never enter this taste bud torture chamber ever again. 

Awful coffee in the heart of the city. 

Awful coffee in the heart of the city. 

Leicester Coffee Co. Cafe - Deserves Support

Me and my good friends Art and John have pitched up several times at the Leicester Coffee Co. Café in Granby Street, Leicester UK, several times since my last blog post. It was an easy decision to meet there, the product is excellent, the place itself is beautifully designed and the service first rate. Why wouldn’t we go back!.

I would urge anybody who hasn’t been to drop in and give it a try. With Christmas on the horizon, it’s the perfect place to relax either pre or post Christmas shopping. I’m heading there this coming Friday morning to try one or two amazing brews, relax and to do a little work on my iPad.

Go on, treat yourself to some delicious coffee (or tea).

My good friends John and Art enjoying delicious coffee at the Leicester Coffee Company Café.

My good friends John and Art enjoying delicious coffee at the Leicester Coffee Company Café.

New Coffee Outlet In Leicester UK

There is always for me, a delight in discovery. So when I found out that an old bar had been gutted and transformed into a new coffee outlet I headed straight for it. The Leicester Coffee House serves up a delicious brew, and well positioned to catch the footfall between the town centre, and the railway station, a few minutes away on London Road. It’s smallish’ but very comfortable and very welcoming. I like the sparse decorations, letting the coffee and free and easy atmosphere do all the talking. Highly recommended.

Sign pointing towards a great new coffee outlet on Granby Street, Leicester UK

Sign pointing towards a great new coffee outlet on Granby Street, Leicester UK

Inside Leicester Coffee House

Inside Leicester Coffee House

Clean and Neat.

Clean and Neat.

Taking time out to enjoy a delicious coffee in a new outlet

Taking time out to enjoy a delicious coffee in a new outlet

Sanctuary

On Bank Holiday Monday, I needed to get away from home for a while. So packing my journal and Kindle Fire, I walked into Leicester City Centre and made my way up Granby Street to the BRU Coffee outlet. Sitting inside with a medium Americano, waiting for a good friend, I noted down just how at home I feel in the popular coffee culture of the 21st century.  

As the traditional pub continues to die (quickly) in this city at least, the coffee outlet thrives and since retiring in 2013, I’ve immersed myself in the culture. So many conversations about books, life, politics etc, over one or two cups of the ever expanding range of brews. Occasionally, i have (dare I say it), tea, but not that often I have to admit.  

I love this life, and feel much more in tune with daytime coffee drinking than ever I did in a pub or club from times past.  

 

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Bru Coffee Shop, Leicester UK, on Bank Holiday Monday, August 2018