Mug Shots #coffee

Steve LeightonIt’s a slight departure from beer talk today, looking at coffee, more specifically at Stephen Leighton‘s weekly video blog “In My Mug” for his Staffordshire based coffee company Has Bean.

It is fair to say that I am a bit of a coffee geek, and I do think that there are lots of similarities to be found in picking out the aroma, flavours, mouthfeel and sometimes bitterness of a decent fresh brewed coffee as there are in beer, they sort of go hand in hand. Which sort of explains one of Steve’s other online activities with a weekly podcast with roasting pal Roland, SARBP (Steve and Rolands Beer Podcast).

Two reasons for this today, one is revenge! 😉 “Well, not really”. Purely a bit of fun (I hope), which came into my head after Steve invaded my dreams last night. He turned up at my house in a white van driven by a tall, bald, moustachioed chap. He handed me five white 100g bags of mystery coffee, he wouldn’t tell me what it was or how much it was going to cost, but I handed him a £100 note and he disappeared. Damn that coffee must have been special!

The other thought that spurred me on to post this was after watching this weeks In My Mug, which has become a bit of a Monday morning ritual for me when time allows. To explain, the show forms part of a subscription service offered by Hasbean, the coffee turns up on Saturday morning and the weekly show airs on the following Monday, talking coffee news, focussing on the delivered coffee’s origin country, farm, various tastings using different brewing methods and the infamous “map bit”. There are lots more to it than that, but you get the idea.

This week (episode 347), looked different somehow, at first I thought it was just a lack of the seemingly obligatory Sunderland outfit, but no, a new video camera upgrade it seems was the reason. But it got me wondering though as to what these shows looked like in their infancy as I only started to subscribe in the latter 200’s, so I started to do a little digging into the YouTube and Vimeo archives…

The results are really interesting, yes it’s funny watching Steve, younger obviously, but nervously pulling the first few shows together, especially when you see the confident flamboyant presenter he has become today. But seeing the show developing over time as that confidence grew along with the Has Bean company is where things really come into focus. Showing what a great idea, blogging and a good social media presence can really do for a business. Ideas come, and either stay and improve, or are discarded. Simple graphics and themes developing over time into a highly polished professional “tour de coffee”. It really is a remarkable transformation.

So, go grind some beans, brew up some “tasty and delicious drinks”, and take twenty minutes to reminisce, chuckle and most importantly see how it’s done.

Episode One…

Episode 7 (so many changes already)

Episode 100

Episode 156 – purely because I liked the opening sequence.

Episode 200 – Another milestone, more format changes and shiny new furniture

Episode 299 – with a great “Map Bit”

Steve will probably kill me for this (I hate reading my really old blog posts), and I expect a bottle of Camp Coffee with chicory in the post next Saturday instead of my usual delicious coffee beans. But if nothing else, please check Has Bean out, I’ve learned so much following this journey and drank some absolutely fabulous coffee, you should try some.

Here’s to episode 400, CHEERS!


Cascara Malt Loaf

For a slight change from the normal stuff I’ve been writing of late, I’m returning to a bit of cookery on here as I haven’t done any for a while. I want to tell you about a malt loaf I made yesterday. It does have slight beery connections so I hope that counts…

Just to be upfront from the outset, this is a recipe from Paul Hollywood’s new book and TV series BREAD, but I’ve tweaked it ever so slightly and so I hope this is ok to put out there. If not, I’m sorry Mr Hollywood, but at least I posted a link for you.  😉

IMG_5988Before we start let me tell you about cascara. I was introduced to cascara by Steven Leighton of Hasbean.

“Cascara is the dried fruit from the coffee ‘cherry’, the seed of which is the coffee ‘bean’ as we know it. Normally cascara is a waste product or at best is used to fertilise the ground by being broken down. But it can also be used to brew a delicious and refreshing caffeinated drink.”

He didn’t say that of course, it’s from his website but Steve gave me a sample to try and I have to say I am hooked. It’s a really tasty drink, has a nice caffeine hit and is really easy to brew. With that and drinking proper coffee now, I have almost given up sugar and milk completely with the obvious health benefits. You really have to try it.

There are a few different types of cascara, for this recipe I have used Bolivia Finca Illimane Anastacio Cadena, which is a bit of a mouthful in more ways than one. I chose it as it has a subtle marmalade flavour and sweetness that I thought would work well and hey, it does..



  • 25g of unsalted butter or a good quality alternative, I used Bertolli
  • 1 tbsp of soft dark brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp of malt extract (see, a beery link)
  • 2 tbsp of black treacle
  • 350g of strong white bread flour
  • 100g strong wholemeal flour
  • 8g Salt
  • 14g fast action bread yeast
  • 225g sultanas
  • 500ml of brewed, cooled cascara (NOTE: you only need 250ml in the loaf)
  • 1tbsp of warmed runny honey (NOTE: Buy something a little special if possible it does make a difference, I used orange blossom)

IMG_5980Step one: Place the sultanas in a bowl and pour over 250ml of the cascara, leave to soak for about 45 mins or until the sultanas look soft and slightly plump. Drain them and then top the remaining cascara up to the 250ml mark to use later.

Step two: Put the butter, sugar, malt extract and the black treacle in a pan and warm slightly, stirring all the time until the butter has melted and sugar dissolved. Warning: this smells absolutely delicious, do not be tempted to dip in the spoon and have a taste, it’s hot..

IMG_5981Step three: Mix the flours in a large bowl, add salt to one side and the yeast to the other. Scatter the drained sultanas, then pour over the cooled malt/syrup mixture, add the remaining 250ml of cascara and stir well until combined and you have a sticky gloopy consistency.

Step four: Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently. Depending on the size of your loaf tins, roll the dough mixture into either one or two loaf tin sized pieces and place into the pre buttered tins. Cover with a plastic bag or bowl, large enough to allow enough space without letting the dough when risen, to touch the top. Leave for two hours. (Hint: this is a slow process, don’t worry if you see little movement at first, it should just rise to above the edge of the tin. Like the barman in De Garre as he serves you your foaming house triple says, “wait, it will come“.

Step five: Bake on the middle section of the oven at 190°C for 25-35 minutes for two small tins or nearer 45 minutes for a large loaf, check with a skewer that it comes out clean to make sure the inside is cooked through.


Step six: As you take the loaf or loaves out of the oven, brush with the warmed honey and leave for five minutes, before turning out on a wire rack to cool.


Step seven: The best bit, dive in when still slightly warm so the butter or chosen spread melts, of course you can only do this for a short time, but it’s still delicious cold too.

As I said at the beginning, the only real change I’ve made to the original recipe, is to add cascara and use it to replace the water and to soak the fruit in as that part wasn’t a requirement. To me though, it just adds that little bit extra to the malt loaf in terms of flavour and juices up the fruits.

originalAs with most foodie posts on a blog like mine, it’s traditional to either use beer in the recipe or to recommend a pairing.

So I’m going to go with Old Tom from Robinsons, it’s readily available pretty much everywhere for starters, but I think the warming treacle and fruity port like notes will really compliment to flavours of the loaf.

Hope you enjoy


What no beer 2? (The alternative edition) – The Session #59

I Almost Always Drink Beer, But When I Don’t…

This months Session topic is brought to you by Mario of Brewed For Thought, he knows we love to talk about beer, but wants to find out what else tickles our taste buds.

But hang on, I love beer, I want beer, he said “I almost always DRINK beer, but”…. Hmmmmm he said I can’t drink it but…?

Well my first thought was absorption, in a beer bath maybe?

My first attempt failed, after several hours of lying there waiting for the effects to kick in..NOTHING. I wasn’t remotely tipsy and gathered no real enjoyment from the experience whatsoever. I ended up with a bad back and a Rogue Dead Guy crown cap stuck in a place I’d rather not go into further..

Trying again, I opted to try a more commercial approach as a larger more comfortable vessel was obviously required. Sadly a larger vessel means more beer was required and the costs had to be shared in a communal fashion…

FAIL!! Have you seen the colour of that stuff? All those bubbles too, something tells me this beer is SKUNKED!


I couldn’t see the point in this one….

Trying another method, through the nose, achieved slightly better results.  Well I snort of got the hang of this after a few attempts, initial hop aromas disappeared quite quickly, flavours were good until the sneezing started. This then had a detrimental effect on the colour of the beer in the bottle though, maybe one to try with Floris Cactus?

Instillation then a partial success but not overly pleasant, next up, perhaps I could try getting my beer fix via food?

Initially all the signs were promising, it smelled lovely (although it wasn’t the best looking can of Brewdog Punk Porn IPA I’d ever seen). However this method is seriously flawed, the grease from the chicken ruined any carbonation the beer had for starters. I’m also a bit of a sad do about drinking beer from the correct glassware so drinking beer through a dead chickens neck hole was a step to far. Lastly temperature control was a major issue….

On return from the burns unit at the North Staffs Ear, Nose and Throat Unit, I realised that during my spell under their expert medical care, I’d stumbled across another method that had previously eluded me, the dreaded BEER ENEMA!!

Sadly (what am I saying, of course it wasn’t sadly), I didn’t get past the preparation stages here.

From reading up on the subject I’d been led to believe the liquid was meant to be warm, this brought flashbacks from that goddamn Punk Ass Chicken to my mind. Bugger that I thought (excuse the pun) I need my beer cold. So I made my preparations, as shown above and it took me right back again to that damn crown cap from Rogue which still hasn’t seen the light of day.

Time for a mug of tea methinks… 😉