Tag Archives: cappuccino

Effortless Weekend Breakfast

8 May

I have never been that great at maths, but this is one equation that guarantees I start the weekend with a smile.

Weekend Newspaper + Coffee + Fresh Croissants = 1 Very Happy Mummyinahurry

One of my favourite weekend pleasures is a leisurely breakfast and curling up to read the newspapers. After the arrival of my son, David, almost 4 years ago, my lazy weekend breakfasts were a hazy, distant memory. By the time he was one, I could have told you the opening times of every coffee house within a 5 mile radius of our house. Aside from the comfort of seeing other dishevelled looking parents in Costa at 7am, every attempt to enjoy my weekend ritual in a coffee shop was thwarted by having to constantly chase a toddler running off in all directions. In the end I gave up on my quest for my former life, finding it easier to stay at home, where I know the children can play safely .

This led me to thinking about how I could recapture that ‘lazy weekend coffee shop experience’ from the comfort of home with minimal effort, and preferably while still in my pyjamas.

The Paper

Initially I booked a weekend newspaper delivery from our local paper shop, and from 7am would be

Weekend Papers

optimistically scanning the street to see if paper was on its way. Obviously, our paper delivery boy liked his lie ins and rarely arrived before 9am, by which time we were usually fed,washed, dressed and out. After that disappointing start, I then discovered The Times delivery service. Guaranteed delivery before 7am (although it is often on the doorstep by 6). Fantastic.They make only a minimal delivery charge, and if you have the paper delivered daily there is no charge at all.

The Croissants

Croissants fresh from the oven

Initially I bought the type of croissants that seem to be available on the bakery aisle of every supermarket, but the compromise of quality for convenience was evident at first bite. Then I discovered the far superior ready to bake variety in the freezer section of the supermarket. These take under 20 minutes to cook, and are just as good (and much fresher tasting) than the offerings available in most of the high street coffee shop chains. And the children love them too, so the bonus is that there is no need to make a second breakfast for them.

The Coffee

Weekend Coffee

Buy some good quality coffee. Add ‘just off the boil’ water. Or use one of the myriad of coffee preparation contraptions that I referred to in the tale of my caffeine addiction last week.

And there you have it. A perfect start to the weekend. The unexpected bonus of this stay at home, low effort start to the weekend, is that it costs next to nothing. Something else to make me smile….


Wake up and smell the coffee….

30 Apr

Since my teenage years I have had a caffeine addiction that I have been unable to break. It started with diet coke, then moved on to fresh coffee. For a few years I tried to fight the addition, with no success, so now I simply embrace it, and enjoy my morning fix.    

I drank strong coffee all through my pregnancies (which these days attracts similar looks to a pregnant lady drinking a g&t or smoking), while breastfeeding and beyond. In fact, my son was such a little wriggler that unknown to me, the other mums in my ante-natal group wondered if he would calm down once I stopped breastfeeding! (He didn’t – he was crawling at 6 months).    

I probably have had more coffee machines and coffee related gadgets than most people I know. So I have pretty much tested everything on the market, from the bottom of the range plunger, to my top of the range Elektra machine.    

It is possible to achieve coffee shop quality in the comfort of your own home, at a fraction of the cost that you would pay on the high street. And while the weather is good, what could be nicer than relaxing in the garden with a freshly made cappuccino or latte?    

Now the holy grail of home-made coffee (to me at least) is getting the perfect foamy milky froth on top of the coffee. I worked out many years ago that a cafetière did the job just as well. But more recently I discovered the bialetti milk frother. This is so consistently successfully at creating a good froth that I bought a job lot to hand out as gifts. And it complies with the house rule that it is dishwasher proof.    

Then, there is the business of making the coffee.    

At the bargain basement end of the spectrum is the standard cafetière/plunger coffee. I dont like the glass versions of these, as I have a knack of breaking them. So I discovered a fantastic stainless steel version. Insulated so it keeps the coffee hot, and dishwasher proof too. And mine cost under £20 at Amazon. John Lewis sell one that looks remarkably similar but with a brand name and it costs a whopping £55.  I kid you not.    

Stove top espresso makers are also a great budget choice. I would recommend buying a large size. Mine makes 6 or 8 espressos I think but in reality makes only 2 or 3 cups of coffee. I bought mine from the monmouth coffee company, but these are widely available.    

Moving up a price band is the hand-held handpresso.After watching the u-tube video of how this works I just had to have one (essentially for holidays when the quality of the coffee cannot always be guaranteed). If you want a traditional style espresso, but don’t have the room for a machine, then this is the one for you.    

Next up are the capsule coffee machines. Simple, generally quite small and make consistently good coffee. I do have issue with a wide range of these, as they tie you to a brand of coffee made by a company that I have issues with. But last year lavazza launched the a modo mio machine that I purchased for my sister as a 40th present. She loves it.They cost about £120 and come in a range of colours. Again they are widely available. The one drawback with these is that the capsules are quite expensive, so if you drink a lot of coffee it can get a bit pricey, but still considerably cheaper than a coffee shop.    

At the more expensive end of the market are the automatic or semi-automatic machines.. I have the Elektra Nivola which I purchased for its Italian good looks and the fantastic coffee it makes. This is not a cheap option, and it expensive to fix if it goes wrong, but if you love your coffee, then I can recommend it. Its drawbacks are that it is a bit fiddly and messy. In fact, if I was to choose again now, I think I would go for a bean to cup machine, which is pretty much at the top of the list for any coffee connoisseur.    

My friend Victoria owns a magimix robot machine. This is a bean to cup machine. To the unitiated that means that you put the beans in, and it grinds them freshly before making your coffee. In the interest of quality control I have tried coffees from this machine. She has also reported that it is very tidy and clean and quick to use which I can’t honestly say for my good-looking but slightly high maintenance machine.    

If, like many people, you buy your coffee from one of the high street outlets, you could end up spending a minimum of £50 a month. That is the equivalent of a few bottles of good wine, or a meal out, or a couple of nights at the movies.  So, my tip of the day is make your coffee at home, and with the savings you have made treat yourself to a little indulgence elsewhere.    

My morning cappuccino. Bliss


My Elektra Nivola