A Brief History of Coffee

Coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia, West Africa.

According to popular legend a local goat herder going by the name of Kaldi, was watching his flock as usual when he noticed that his goats were acting unusually frisky and were very alert. Further observation revealed that the affected goats were eating berries from a certain type of bush that he has never noticed before. Kaldi's curiosity led him to eat some of the berries himself and he found that these berries gave him renewed energy and concentration.

The news of this energy-giving fruit quickly spread throughout Africa. Monks, hearing about this amazing fruit tried it for themselves and were keen to distribute it to other monasteries far and wide. Unfortunately the berries would not last the long journeys involved. The monks soon discovered that if they first dried the berries they would last much longer and would survive the long journeys to distant lands.

Upon reaching their destination they reconstituted the dried berries in water, ate the fruit, and drank the liquid. They found that consuming the beverage and fruit gave them more energy enabling them to pray for longer periods of time.

Coffee berries were transported from Ethiopia to the Arabian Peninsula, and were first cultivated in what today is the country of Yemen. From there, coffee travelled to Turkey where beans were roasted for the first time over open fires. The roasted beans were crushed, and then boiled in water, creating a crude version of the beverage we enjoy today.

A Quick Guide to Speciality Coffees

Have you ever heard someone order a macchiato or ristretto in the coffee shop queue and wondered what it was? Don't know a doppio from a mocha? Never fear, help is at hand with our quick guide to speciality coffees below.

All speciality coffees can be made from a standard espresso machine.

Espresso - The base from which all speciality coffees are made - Hot water is forced through finely ground coffee to produce a maximum of 1 to 1.5 fluid ounces of beverage.

Crema – Thus is the golden head of the espresso, which is made of the oils extracted from the coffee during the brewing process.

Doppio - A double shot of espresso. (doppio is Italian for double)

Espresso Con Panna - A shot of espresso topped with whipped cream.

Romano - Espresso served with a twist or slice of lemon.

The Ultimate Micro Brewery.

Home brewing, that is, making your own beer at home, is an increasingly popular activity for many people. There is an absolute wealth of information, supplies, and equipment to be found on nearly every high street, and of course the internet.

Hardly surprising in this age of advertisement driven sales, where often the manufacturing costs of a particular beer are dwarfed by the advertising budget of many of the large breweries. Giving rise to a common complaint of bland, overpriced beers with little, or no taste.

So lots of people are turning to home brewing to regain the quality and taste of old. You have control over every stage of the process, and of course these days it certainly doesn't hurt that your finished product, as well as being tasty, is considerably cheaper than the mass produced varieties.

Beer has been with us for thousands of years. It can be traced back at least 6,000 years when the Mesopotamians were known to have drunk a fermented bread mash. Via various routes it eventually arrived in Northern Europe. From where it rapidly spread all over the civilised world.

Early fermented drinks, made with grain, the early forerunner of our modern beers, made use of honey as a source of sugar. These drinks were always referred to as "ale". The term "beer" did not come into common use until much later.

Most early ales were brewed from malted grains such as barley, oats, and wheat. They were simple beers. The addition of such ingredients as hops, which we now think are pretty much indispensable were only introduced in the early 1500's when Flemish settlers broght over their recipes, which rapidly proved popular.

Choosing the Right Espresso Machine for your Establishment

This article is aimed at commercial caterers to help them decide which type of espresso machine to go for.

A properly commissioned and maintained traditional commercial espresso machine will be an asset to any catering establishment and keep customers contented and coming back for more.

One of the most convenient ways of supplying this insatiable demand is with a traditional espresso machine.

Unlike bean to cup machines, the use of a commercial espresso machine in the making of espresso-based drinks is a more elaborate, time consuming and skilled process. This however adds to the charm and uniqueness of the drink as the customer can usually see each stage of the process and the care taken to produce it.

Watching a skilful and experienced barista operate an espresso machine can be entertaining as they go through the process of making the final delicious beverage.

There are basically two main things to consider when buying an espresso machine; how many group heads and whether to go for semi-automatic or automatic.

Most models come in 2, 3 or 4 group head varieties (occasionally just 1) with a corresponding increase in price. As each group head is capable of producing two drinks at a time (by using a double spout filter basket) machines are capable of producing 4,6 & 8 drinks correspondingly at the same time. This enables different operators (baristas) to use the machine at the same time and with training several operators could keep an almost continual supply of coffee flowing at busy periods although this is a very labour intensive process.

Generally the busier you expect to be at peak periods then the more group heads you should consider on the model of machine. Bear in mind though that if you only have one operator then they are unlikely to be able to operate more than two groups at a time.

A Primer on Barbecuing Seafood

Use the seafood rule when barbecuing; measure fish at thickest point and allow 10 minutes per 2.5 cm (1 inch) of thickness. Whole fish may take up to 12 minutes per 2.5 cm (1 inch). Barbecue over moderately high heat. Fish is done when it turns opaque and starts to flake when tested with a fork.

Marinades and basting sauces add flavour and moisture to seafood. Commercially prepared barbecue sauces, salad dressings and mixes are perfectly acceptable or you may wish to try making your own. Remember sauces with a high sugar content tend to burn, so should be added during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Marinades can be made by combining any acid, such as fruit juices or vinegar, with your favorite herbs and a small amount of oil.