Thursday, 26 November 2015

Taste of London 2015... A Review

It feels like Christmas 2015 has got off to an amazing start with The Taste of London this past weekend at the incredible Tobacco Dock. 

Photo copyright: Couva Ltd.

The event took place from Thursday through Sunday, and was literally the epitome of Foodie Heaven. Everywhere you looked in each of the rooms, there were incredibly delicious things to tempt your taste buds... Delicious main dishes, gorgeous deserts and chocolates, and an over-abundance of alcoholic tipples to keep everyone happy! 

Photo copyright: Couva Ltd.

It was our first time at Taste, and it was a new type of show for us to exhibit at. We were positioned in the Small Producers Area that welcomed, as the name suggests (!), independent producers of a range of quality items. We were fortunate to have some lovely neighbours.

Photo copyright: Couva Ltd.

 To one side, we had Sip and Learn, the wine subscription service that provides you with educational tasting notes about the wines they send so that, over time, you are developing your wine knowledge. On the other side, we had ChicP Hummus, who produce the most delicious sweet and savoury chickpea dips made from fruit and veg that are surplus, or normally get thrown away by markets and supermarkets. The Carrot, Ginger, & Cumin was my favourite! 

Photo copyright: Couva Ltd.

Other friendly exhibitors included Yorkshire Drizzle oils and vinegars, Mallow and Marsh marshmallows, Smith & Sinclair alcoholic sweets to name but a few... 

For the first time, we decided to sell some products that compliment our range of Couva Coffee Covers. We were offering a range of lovely things from the Brew Tea Co - loose leaf English Breakfast and Earl Grey tea, a yummy scrummy Christmas blend, as well as their gorgeous little glass teapot that fits our small Couva Cover perfectly! 

Photo copyright: Couva Ltd.

We also featured the amazing beans from RoundSquare Roastery. The real hit of the weekend was their Whiskey Cask Coffee... If you haven't tried it yet, you MUST. 
It's just the most delicious thing to come to your cup. Imagine the most delicious, complex, rich roast of coffee with hints of whiskey cask wood smoke and earthiness on the finish. Just divine... and THE perfect thing for a coffee connoisseur's Christmas stocking!! 

Photo copyright: Couva Ltd.

We will have all these lovely things up on the website very soon.

One thing I will say is that Taste of London seemed to be lacking "REAL" food... I found that a lot of the food on offer at the show was very overdone. Don't get me wrong, it all sounded delicious, but not to everyone's taste. There is so much wonderful local produce around at the moment, that it seemed a shame that there weren't more dishes that highlighted the goodness of the ingredients rather than trying to be fancier and schmancier than the competition. 

I also found it incredible how few places there were for a good cup of coffee! I looked high and low for someone who could make me a gorgeous cup of something delicious... and nothing. There wasn't even anywhere to get a really great hot chocolate. Towards the end of the day, all I really fancied was a nice warming cup of something delicious with maybe some whipped cream and maybe a marshmallow. But nothing... Maybe next year?! 

Photo copyright: Couva Ltd.
We had a great time this weekend... Thanks Taste of London, and HUGE thanks to all of our new customers! We hope to see you again really soon :)

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Red cups and the scrutiny of Christmas

Photo credit: Starbucks

 For many, the festive holiday season starts once Halloween is done, the candle in the jack-o-lantern has fizzled out, and the last trick-or-treater has fallen quietly into a sugar-induced slumber.
For the fans of large coffee chains, the festive season marks the arrival of a holiday-inspired drink menu with LOTS of sugary, syrupy goodness (although did you see my last post about the pumpkin spice latte?!),  and beautifully decorated cups...Oh, the holiday cups!

It seems like each year,  each coffee chains tries to out-do their competition ,  making their cups more colourful,  more festive, well, just MORE.

On November 1st this year, Starbucks launched their holiday season with the arrival of their much-awaited Red Cups...and you could say the response was less than great.  In fact,  the cups were so boring that people have started digging for hidden meaning behind the simplicity of the design (or lack thereof!). 

Seriously,  it's become this great big 'thing' where some people believe that there is a hidden agenda to the lack of festivity on the cups. In a nutshell,  some are trying to claim that Starbucks is trying to sanitise the Christmas out of the holidays. 

If you don't believe me,  you can read more about the argument here.

I feel badly for Starbucks... According to the head of design for the company,  the simple design was meant to encourage people to express themselves by drawing on the cups,  adding their own creativity. 

Personally I think that's rather a bit over ambitious for the average harried coffee drinker, rushing in for their life support beverage first thing in the morning to expect people to whip out their colouring pencils and start creating on the side of their scalding hot cuppa joe.

Now, I may be relatively new to the game of business branding and promotions, particularly around the holiday season, but what I do know is that, at this time of the year especially, people like things to be familiar, easy, comfortable, and dare I say,  nostalgic of years past.

You know what they say... There is no such thing as bad publicity! 

At the end of the day,  they're cups...for coffee. Coffee cups.  Coffee cups meant to add a little bit of holiday cheer (as well as demonstrate your allegiance with a coffee shop!). But really,  they are cups.

And, actually, I happen to think that the plain red cups are THE perfect blank canvas to compliment our new festive range  Couva Coffee Couture Cup Covers! Not only do they keep your coffee hotter for longer,  but they'll cover up some of that boring redness!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Pumpkin Latte Underwhelm

If you've been reading this blog, you'll know I'm something of a coffee purist.  I'm not one for all the fancy, frothy drinks with the whipped cream and sprinkles that are on offer in a lot of coffee shops these days. Don't get me wrong,  occasionally I'll get a bit wild and crazy, and I'll add a bit of vanilla syrup to a latte, but that's normally as far out as I'll stray. (I can literally feel my husband rolling his eyes at my tendencies to stay within my comfort zone!!)
For weeks I've been hearing everyone going on and on (and on!) about Pumpkin Spice Lattes with the arrival of autumn. I was beginning to feel like I was missing out on something. There is even a secret Pumpkin Spice Latte club called the "Orange Sleeve Society"! Seriously - it's a thing!
Photo credit
Maybe I'm a sucker for strategic marketing, maybe I'm easily swayed by public pressure,  or maybe I was feeling feisty that morning, but while walking with my big bean, we popped in to a well-known coffee shop for a treat. He ordered a kids hot choc, and I (against my better judgement!) ordered my first Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Well,  I don't think I've been so underwhelmed in a long time.

First off, are they meant to be so sweet?! Honestly, I needed a drink of water halfway through because it was making me thirsty!
Next, I couldn't taste the coffee...Was it even in there? Between the clawing sweetness, the overabundance of cinnamon (not sure what other "spice" was meant to be in there!), and the mountain of whipped cream, I'm not sure there was coffee in there!

Photo credit
Finally, I seemed to have missed any hint of pumpkin. Although, that said, pumpkin doesn't really taste of much anyway - just sort of earthy and sweet.

Not to be completely negative about the whole experience,  I have to say that this coffee connoisseur is not a fan of the much-acclaimed Pumpkin Spice Latte.

For now, I'll stick to my flat white (maybe with some vanilla syrup in it on a crazy day!).

I guess I'll just have to find another bandwagon to jump on!  

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Mona Lisa is a coffee lover!

How fantastic is this?! Who knew that the Mona Lisa was such a HUGE fan of coffee! 

3,604 cups of coffee were used to create a giant Mona Lisa in Sydney , Australia .  Each cup of coffee was filled with different amounts of milk to create the different shades to recreate this masterpiece!

Now,  if each of the 3,604 cups of coffee was wearing a Couva Cup Cover, none of that delicious coffee would have gone to waste!

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Shhh...Sneak Peak!

I don't know about you, but it feels like Summer is already a distant memory. With the welcome of Autumn, there is a slight chill in the air, and the leaves are slowly changing from the luscious green to golden yellows, sultry amber, and rich reds. 

I realise that things have been a bit quiet on the blog lately, but we've been busy behind the scenes here at Couva HQ with lots of new and exciting things that we can't wait to share with you. 

First, our snazzy new website and webshop is nearly ready! We can't wait! Now you'll be able to get your very own Couva products delivered right to your door, no matter where you live.

Second, we've started to think about Christmas (shock! horror!). 

It's only a matter of weeks until we're going to be at the Taste of London Christmas show at Tobacco Dock from the 19th to the 22nd of November.

We're going to have lots of lovely new Couvas, gorgeous accessories, and terrific gift ideas for the coffee connoisseurs on your list! Here is a sneaky little peak to tempt you... but we don't want to give too much away ;)

Watch this space for more exciting Couva news!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

12 ingenious new uses for coffee

It's no secret that I love coffee... I mean I LOVE coffee. 

But the longer I've been running Couva Coffee Couture, the more I'm learning about these wonderful little beans!

Did you know that coffee's not just for drinking anymore my lovely friends?! 

These magical beans have so many other wonderful uses around the house, in the garden and for beauty!

1. Exfoliating scrub

Using a few items around your kitchen, you can make some of the most wonderful exfoliating scrub. Using some used coffee grounds, some olive oil and essential oils of your choice, you can gently buff away the dead skin cells, leaving your skin soft and smooth and delicious! 
Photo Credit

Take 1 tbsp of used coffee grounds, 2 tsp of sugar, 2 tsp of olive or almond oil, 2-3 drops of essential oil (optional). Mix everything together and apply to the skin. Rub gently (particularly if you are using it on your face, avoiding the eye area!), and rinse well. 

2. Face mask
I know most of us start the day with a great cup of coffee to kick-start the day... But how about doing the same for your face? 
Check out this recipe for a wonderful facial treatment that your face is sure to love! 

3. Coffee Soap
And what about some soap with the wonderful benefits of black gold?! There is a wonderful recipe here that shows step-by-step how to make some fantastic coffee soap making use of used coffee grinds!

4. Flavour enhancer
I've already written about how coffee is THE perfect addition to chocolate recipes. There is just something about the intense richness of coffee that brings out the flavour in chocolate. You don't need to add much... a few tablespoons of some very strong brewed coffee or espresso, or even about a teaspoon of fine ground coffee beans really picks up the chocolate flavour, making it more rich and more chocolate-y. 

Photo Credit
But it's not just sweet recipes that benefit from adding the goodness of coffee. 
Adding a bit of coffee to meat also adds an incredible depth of flavour. In stews, add one cup of strong black coffee about halfway through cooking to add richness. You can also create incredible meat rubs for beef, pork or other red meat using coffee grinds. 

Check out this Coffee BBQ Rub or this Dry Coffee Rub. Deelish! 

5. Deodorizer
You can use ground coffee to get rid of stinky smells all over your home like your car, your fridge, or even your cupboard. Place a bowl of dry coffee grounds where the air isn't at its sweetest (best to put them somewhere they won't get knocked over!). Just like magic, the air will be neutralized smelling sweet once again! (This works using the same idea as sniffing coffee beans at the perfume counter to cleanse your sense of smell!)

6. Cleaning and Scouring

Place a few teaspoons of coffee grounds on a thin cleaning cloth to scour away grease and grime. The grounds provide a gentle abrasive to help lift stubborn stains and stuck on stuff. Finish up with a thorough rinse.

7. Hide scratches on wood furniture

Dip a cotton swab into steeped grounds and dab on scratches in dark wood furniture to minimize them. You may want to try it out on a less.visible spot to be sure the results are what you want!

8. Repel bugs and insects in the garden 

Build up a ring of coffee grounds to create a protective border around plants that will help deter ants and slugs.

9. Grow blue hydrangeas
Dig some coffee grounds into the soil at the base of hydrangeas to increase the acidity level of the soil. This helps the shrubs to absorb aluminum, which can also be added to the soil to keep the flowers a vibrant blue colour.

10. Fertilizer for the garden 
Coffee is high in nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, potassium and other trace minerals, which help nourish plants, especially roses or azaleas.
Spread a small amount of coffee grounds  directly to top soil, or added to your watering can. 

11. Composting

Rich in nitrogen, coffee grounds are great for composting and a firm favourite of worms. If you have a compost pile, use one part fresh  grass clippings to one part leaves to one part grounds. Coffee increases the bacteria in the compost and help both soil and compost break down faster.

12. Paint
Artists and crafters have used coffee and tea as a form of 'paint' for ages. Regular brewed coffee can be brushed onto paper and it will dry with a faded, browny, textured look. With repeated applications you can build up the depth of colour to your creation.

There are loads of other great ideas over on our Pinterest page - Why not have a look at some other great coffee-inspired ideas?! 

And don't feel that you need to use your precious beans for these wonderful new uses for coffee... Check if your favourite coffee shop will give you some of their used grounds!

Do you have any other uses for used coffee grounds? 
Please share below!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Cold brew coffee

With the temperatures in Britain reaching a record-breaking 36.9oC yesterday, it really was one of those days where all you wanted to do was drink ice cold drinks all day long. 

By nature, I'm not an iced cold drink kind of person - I'm more inclined to drink lovely warm drinks, regardless of the weather. 

But today, it was hot... I mean HOT! And nothing but iced cold drinks would do. 

It got me thinking about the latest trend that is cropping up all over the place - cold brew coffee. 

What is cold brew coffee you ask? 

I'm not talking about the typical iced coffees we've seen in years past. Those frothy, whipped concoctions full of cream, flavours, and sugar. 
Even "iced coffee" that you see in high-street chains is typically hot-brewed coffee chilled and then poured over ice. Generally, the coffee is brewed much stronger to account for the ice that will ultimately dilute it. What you end up with tends to be more bitter and intense because of the extraction of the beans with hot water. 

Photo credit
 What I'm talking about is "cold brew" - a way to brew coffee by steeping coarse coffee grounds in room temperature or cold water for about 18-24 hours. You end up with a concentrated coffee essence, which is generally diluted and served chilled.  The lack of heat means that there isn't the same harshness and acidity that you can get with hot brewing methods. As you might imagine, the process is much gentler to the bean, meaning that you end up with a much softer and sweeter brew, allowing for the subtle flavours of the beans to really shine through. 
Photo Credit

There are all sorts of snazzy contraptions that you can buy designed specifically with brewing iced coffee in mind, like this very swish cold-brew coffee bottle from Hario

But you don't really need any special kit to give it a try. Try this recipe for super easy, and super delicious cold brew coffee:

Photo credit

Cold Brew Coffee (makes 4 cups of concentrated cold coffee, which gives about 8 cups of finished cold coffee to drink)

You'll need: 
1 1/3 cups ground coffee (*you want the grind to be coarse...If it's too fine, you'll end up with powdery, grimy coffee - and that's bad!)
4 cups water (cold or room temp)
Big jar or pitcher
Fine mesh strainer (or a clean dish towel, a coffee filter, or anything to filter out the grounds)

What to do: 
1. Put your ground coffee in the jar or pitcher. Pour the water over the top.
2. Stir gently to combine.
3. Cover it and let it sit for at least 8 hours at room temperature. Ideally, you're looking to leave it for 18-24 hours to get a good, strong brew. The longer you leave it, the stronger the brew becomes. 
4. Carefully, pour the mixture over a strainer into another pitcher or a large bowl. Clean your original jar or pitcher because you'll need it again. 
5. Carefully pour the strained mixture a second time into the clean jar or pitcher.
6. There you have it - Cold brew coffee concentrate!  

To serve:
The 4 cups of cold coffee concentrate will make about 8 cups of iced coffee. This should keep in the fridge for up to a week (if it lasts that long!).
You'll want to dilute this before drinking, roughly 2 parts of water for 1 part of cold brew coffee concentrate (i.e. 2 cups of water + 1 cup of cold brew coffee). Add more or less water, depending on how strong you like yours! You can add some milk (almond, coconut, dairy) if you'd like, and something sweet to taste. You could even get really snazzy and  create some really interesting coffee cocktails... coffee martini anyone?! 

And of course, if you just can't wait 18-24 hours for an ice cold brew, there are many brands of ready-to-drink proper iced coffee now on the market. 

At the London Coffee Festival, I had the pleasure of trying a few. Personally, my fave from the show was Good Beans

Photo Credit
Another really deelish off-the-shelf brew is Jimmy's Iced Coffee. I have to be honest, I'm not entirely sure if it's a cold-brew or simply a hot brew coffee made cold...Either way, it's yummy!
Photo Credit

With some more hot & sweltering days on the way, why not give cold brewing a try?!

If you do, let us know how you get on! Leave us a comment, or share with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! We'd love to hear from you!