.: Exploring Coffee – Nespresso Capsules :.

You know by now I’m crazy about coffee right? (I wonder if baby will be as crazy for coffee as I am, to be discovered later) And although I love to explore new coffee shops, like I’ve been doing around my area (you can read all about it here), I also like to have coffee at home, mostly for breakfast with milk and after lunch as an espresso.

Even though I intend to buy a professional coffee machine at some stage, I use a lot my nespresso. And ever since the patent for the capsules have expired, there are a lot more brands offering their own variety. You can even buy re-usable capsules (such as sealpod), so you can have any coffee as you fancy.

I always have a good Ristretto or Roma at home,

as well as the Vanillo and Caramelito for my morning capuccino, or also to use for cakes / puddings.

But I also like to try a few other options.

What I have tried:

Nicola – Rossio

I always have these at home for my Portuguese friends. Nicola for me is a perfect coffee for milk. It has the flavour of a good “galao” (our latte). You can only get them in Portugal or maybe in some of the Portuguese shops spread in UK.

Cru Capsules

This was the first capsule service I’ve subscribed and I’ve been keeping it ever since. (you can read the review here). I love the fact that the capsules are really consistent and they have really good packaging, not to mention the coffee quality which is really good. They are also really good value for money!

Pact Coffee 

I knew Pact already for their coffee offer, so when I’ve discovered they were doing a kickstarter campaign to release their nespresso compatible capsuled I had to give it a go. Although I’ve really enjoy the quality of the coffee, it felt too inconsistent. Not all the capsules would work correctly and the taste would be a bit of surprise. When it worked it was good though. Also in terms of packaging, they come in an open box, meaning once you open it you have no way of ensuring all the capsules are sealed in a better environment. They are working on a second release of their capsules, after working on all the feedback of the first bunch, so I’m expecting to try them again soon.

Cafe Pod

We found this one in Sainsburys the other day (£2 a box!), so we had to give it a go. We’ve bought the “supercharger”, so he could have a strong punch in the morning. While baby is inside I’ve been avoiding stronger coffees, so the review is based on his feedback

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He says it’s really easy to drink and it doesn’t feel as strong as it claims to be (again take this with a pinch of salt, since we’re used to really bitter and punchy coffee). From the smell, it tastes strong indeed. But we won’t try this one again most likely. Will try their other capsules though.

Taylors

I had seen this one at supermarkets and at amazon, so was quite curious to try. I’ve selected the Brazil variety.

It came out quite creamy, but the cream didn’t last enough. Also after having the first try, I’ve noticed it felt quite a smooth coffee, so I’ve added a bit of milk to my espresso and the flavour was really enhanced. Sounds it’s a good option for my morning capuccino.

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The best relationship ever: Coffee & Dark Chocolate:

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Have bought 2 other brands of capsules, but haven’t tried them yet. Do you use nespresso? Any favourite capsules apart from the branded ones?

.: A coffee week :.

Since I have been on holidays, waiting for baby to be born, I have been staying more often on my area (and that means Chiswich / Kew / Richmond), as I couldn’t risk to go that far (in case baby would decide to get out). But in a way that meant I could visit some of the places I had on my wishlist for a while, or revisit some places I really like.

One of the things I’ve been trying to do over the last few weeks is to finally catch up with my photos – you probably noticed the posts from Japan popping up recently when I went there in April. Also I’ve been writing and reading a lot more often. When home, I’ve been baking and cooking a lot more often than I ever did, being the carrot cake the winner of the week.

Apart from my daily meditation, I’ve also been doing a couple of hours detox, and by that I mean just not touching either my phone or my computer and spend more time in old-fashion pleasures such as a reading. A good way of doing that is to visit a cafe, order something nice and enjoy a book or if I feel inspired, just write – you can read some of those texts here and here.

Here’s some of the places I’ve been visiting recently:

Angie’s Little Food Shop, Chiswick 

This is a small food shop with a really good bakery selection. They are quite known for the brunch and the delicious salad options, but since I went after lunch was not that hungry. Having read the reviews though, I already knew what I wanted: the toasted banana bread with espresso butter. Such a good option I can tell you! Really tasty banana bread! Coffee was quite good as well

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They also sell their own ceramics, which are quite adorable (you can check the whole range here)

Angie's Little Food Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Outsider tart, Chiswick

This is not my first time here. It’s actually one of my favourite places to enjoy a good brownie/ cheesecake and write. On the weekends it’s really busy, as they have really good brunch options, but during the week it feels so quiet (my last review here). I’ve already tried the pancakes and they are absolutely delicious.

Photo from google

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I can’t be bored of this place. Love it every single time I go there.

You can also buy some really interesting groceries there

Photo from google

Including their own American Bakery book

(Also available on amazon)

Outsider Tart Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Muriels Kitchen, Richmond

I actually went to Muriel’s Kitchen the first time for their afternoon tea (you can read all about it here), and because I loved the scones so much I knew it was just a matter of time before I would be back again for more.

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Again, was positively impressed by the friendly staff. They really make you feel welcome! Just for that alone (and because they still have a lot of cakes for me to try) I’m sure I’ll be back.

Nikki’s Bakery, Chiswick

This was also one place on my wishlist for a while. Located in Chiswick High Road, it always felt like a lovely place to get a good cake and coffee. As I can’t have that much coffee, I ended up going for a tea instead. Having read the reviews in advance, I was planning for a Carrot Cake, but as they didn’t had it that day went for the lemon cake instead.

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The cake was really fresh and delicious, although I have to say the icing was a bit too sweet for me (note that I’m the type of person that always reduces the amount of sugar in any bakery recipes I do at home)

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It was a really good place to enjoy a bit of reading in a summer day. Love the china as well. Before going back home, I’ve bought one of their breads which was quite fresh and tasty.

Nikki's Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

What is your favourite place to go for a coffee and something sweet?

.: Childhood food memories:.

If there’s one thing I truly love that is food. It’s one of the main reasons why I like to explore around (and again you know my definition of exploring means both next door as well as travel away). I guess this is also a reflection of the country I grew up: Portugal. Food is part of our culture. It’s always a reason to gather friends and celebrate.

I was actually shocked by the fact that in London English people rarely invite others home and cook together a meal. From one hand I suspect that’s because of the lack of space, not everyone can afford to rent a flat, and a flat that allows some space for friends to come over. I recognise that. But after talking to a few guys at work, it’s simply not so much the culture either. When people want to see friends they will go mostly to a pub or a nice restaurant. I admit it’s way more convenient! The other thing that took me a while to guess used to was drinks after work: how can one stand hours standing and drinking and no food? Once I’ve finally learnt it, I’ve started to eat before going to the social drinks and not to stay that late so I could still grab a proper dinner.

One of the things I missed the most about living in Lisbon, is to gather friends around in my flat, have a meal together and some drinks too. I’ve started to do that over the last few years, but if I circle around my group of friends most of them are expats same as me! Although I love to try new restaurants (and London is such a paradise for that!!!) I find myself craving for the simplest foods and again that’s because at home we would eat simple. No fuss, just using ingredients from our backyard (which my granddad still maintains!). There was a point my grandma also had chickens and ducks, so I was spoiled with this amazing fresh food all around me. We would also go to the city and buy fish as it would arrive from the fisherman. And whatever my grandparents didn’t have they would exchange with the neighbours. They still do that and I find it’s absolutely beautiful! Oh, I feel that I’m being teleported back in time, to my own childhood memories.

Scrambled Eggs

So I was absolutely spoiled food-wise, mostly by my grandma and there was a point I was a bit picky with the food. On the days they would cook grilled sardines (which I hate since I remember even if I really love the smell), my grandma would always prepare scrambled eggs for us. And I can’t think of better scrambled eggs than those with fresh eggs! (probably those available since the morning from her chicken!) It’s no wonder scrambled eggs is one of my favourite brunches! My sister is crazy about them as I am. In the meantime I’ve upgraded her version by using chopped cherry tomato, but it still makes me smile as both of us would try to finish soup or whatever so we could then get our hands on the eggs!

Spaghetti Tomato

My grandma, my dad and me are crazy about spaghetti tomato. Seriously, if there’s a food I crave quite often this is it. And I mean, it’s literally just that, fresh pasta and tomato sauce using the tomatoes from our garden (which up to this point, I never found any better than those out there!) I could eat this every single day! She would then sparkle it with coriander… ah so delicious! My mom says I really love pasta because at the time she was pregnant of me she was working at an Italian restaurant and she would have access to delicious pasta, pizza, coffee and ice creams. I suspect she’s right because I crave all of that.

Pizza

And I’m not talking about any pizza, I’m talking about the memories of making pizza with my dad. We would prepare everything from the scratch, from the dough to our own sauce creations. We would do a mess in the kitchen and my mom would most likely complain about it, but it was so nice to spend a few hours together in the kitchen talking and preparing pizza. Later on, we’ve ended up using the hand-mixer to make it easier to prepare the dough (with the swirls)

Once I didn’t connected the “swirls” very well into the machine, so when the dough was almost ready, one of the swirls disconnected and went flying straight to the bin with the dough attached to it. We’ve giggled loads on how stupid that was and we had to restart. We had quite a late dinner that night. It still makes me giggle after all these years.

Bread and Olive Oil

I love love love bread. Crunchy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. I still remember the sound of the baker’s van as he would deliver fresh bread into our house every day. I would come running down the stairs and feast in the bread, either with butter or after lunch with olive oil. Let’s just say I was not very hungry at the main meals, because I couldn’t resist the bread! My favourite meal was the afternoon one (let’s call it afternoon tea). I would have a glass of fresh milk and 2 huge slices of bread with butter and cheese. Or in some of the festivals we would have access to the stone baked chorizo bread.

Oh so good! Give me bread, good olive oil and I’m happy.

Almond roll

Forget the Swiss roll, this is way way better! My grandma’s bakery is something that will always give me found memories. All her cakes are absolutely amazing, but I have a special place in my heart for her almond roll. In Algarve, most of our sweets have a link to almond, typically almond and eggs, and her roll… ahhh so moist and good! If we would go on a picnic, she would always prepare one. If it was someone’s birthday, she would do it as well. Oh yes, our birthday parties were legendary. I’m sure most of my friends would only come because they would have access to so many good cakes. We would have cakes for weeks around our birthdays. It’s quite silly that I have never attempted to prepare this one, maybe because I don’t want to spoil the memory. Maybe next time will try to skype with her so she can guide me through, as her recipe book is like Mary Berry’s instructions, it doesn’t say almost anything!!!

Coffee

I’m sure I’ve shared this a million times, but one of the things I crave the most if coffee. Anything coffee flavoured! My mom would give me a small cup full of milk and add a drop of coffee and I would delight on it. I’m not sure when I’ve started to drink espressos, but way before I had any cravings for wine. Every weekend we would always go out after lunch to a nearby cafe so my parents could have espresso and I would have my milk with coffee (and ice creams in summer time). It’s mostly after lunch that I miss a good strong espresso as it does help digest. And I just love the flavour 🙂

Does food brings you back childhood memories? What was your favourite dish back then?

.: Nespresso Cafe :.

As he went to stock coffee for us the other day, he arrived home with a voucher for the new Nespresso Cafe. I had no idea it was already opened. I’m quite a fan of the nespresso concept. Even though I’m really craving to have a proper professional coffee machine at home:

Maybe something like this (Bean to cup) – where pretty much everything is automated

(Delonghi Bean to Cup link to amazon)

Or even one like this (as I still enjoy the manual process)

(Available from amazon here)

But indeed if you want convenience, the nespresso capsules are pretty good. The best part is that since the patent for the capsules expired, there are loads of brands out there offering capsules as well (although not as reliable as the nespresso ones).

I have one of this at home

Bundled with my beloved aeroccino

You can buy the coffee machines with the aeroccino included, but they tend to be a lot more expensive than if bought separately. Plus it makes a lot easier to have them separately to organise the kitchen space. I used my aeroccino at least once daily and it still works. Love it!

So yap, once we’ve discovered there was a new Cafe in town we had to try it. For example, our portuguese brand Delta, has this concept for more than 7 years now. The stores are really beautifully decorated (Delta Q)

So it was about time for Nespresso to pick up the boat as well. Similar to the concept in Portugal. Nespresso Cafe is conveniently located near St Pauls, which makes it a perfect escape over lunch in the city (not so great for the weekend), but hopefully this will be just the first if many cafes. The store is really well decorated (it’s Nespresso, so what else?) They also have some sandwiches in case you want something more consistent to go with your coffee.

Photo from official website

We’ve tried the coffee creations. He had the Wake up wonder (Coffee, Muesli and Caramel)

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Really tasty and perfect for the any time of the day to be honest!

I went for the Chocolate Dream (which is ultimately an affogato). I couldn’t resist chocolate. (Ristretto + ice cream and cream on top), I would remove the cream and leave it as a classic affogato, but that’s just me.

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He couldn’t resist to try the sweet temptations as well. He went for the Ricotta blueberry cheesecake. 13932803_10208041957701532_2655497728167855411_n

I went for the brownie. But hold on that this wasn’t a regular brownie, it was actually an avocado one (so a healthier option). There’s a similar recipe here. It was really creamy and I could still feel the avocado flavour, so really enjoyed it.

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It’s not a cheap option, but the prices are not that far from what you would get in a starbucks and you get better flavours. The plus side is that you can even stock up on your coffee, as you have the nespresso cubes where you can buy your favourite capsules (card only, apparently it doesn’t accept cash).

So overall really enjoyed my visit. Would feel bad to pay £1.90 for a ristretto though, knowing it’s £0.27 a capsule at home 🙂

.: In search for the best coffee in London :.

First of all it’s Friday and it’s finally summer in UK!!!!

For those of you that follow me for a while you’ll know I love coffee. There are photos of me, as a 3 year old, holding a small cup of coffee in my hands (it was mostly a small cup of milk with some drops of coffee). But I really love coffee since I can remember. The smell of roasted coffee in the morning, the taste of it and anything coffee related. Maybe one day I’ll be crazy enough to become a Barista and open my own space (or maybe not). I don’t drink coffee for the sake that it wakes me up, I drink purely because I love it. And I wish it would wake me up, but it doesn’t work!

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This is how I like my coffee, short, strong, no sugar!

For those of you that live in London, I’m sure you’ve noticed the growing trend over the years around the coffee culture. Whereas before it was all about the Starbucks of this world (horrible expensive coffee btw!), now we have competitions for professional Baristas and lots of independent chains. Here’s something I have to praise the hipsters, thanks guys!

The only downside of coffee culture being so linked with the hipster culture is that most of the really cool chains are located in East London. Being a South Westerner by heart, this means I normally need to wait for a small shop to start opening other branches so I can give it a go (I can’t be asked to cross the whole city because of coffee, even if I love it that much).

This week the latest discovery was the Workshop Coffee (Holborn branch)

This is a really spacious place and I was surprised to find it really quiet! Perfect to enjoy a nice coffee and sit on the coach.

I went for a flat white rather than my usual espresso, so delicious!

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Also had a small brownie which was very tasty too! Will come back more often, since it’s just a 5m walk from the office.

Workshop Coffee Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Other good places I’ve already tried:

I have loads more on my wishlist!

You can also visit the list from the Cosy Coffee Shops for more inspiration.

What is your favourite coffee place in London and how do you normally drink your coffee?

.: Exploring Coffee – CRU capsules :.

For those of you that follow me for a while you will know I’m crazy for coffee. I would say coffee is one of the things I crave the most, more than spaghetti (hum… though choice here) or more than Gin tonics.

And I don’t crave coffee because of the caffeine – actually I wish coffee would work in that sense for me – but it’s really about the smell and the flavour.

Legend says when I was very very small I was already craving for coffee, but was only allowed to taste a drop of it with milk. That’s me right there and my great-grandad (ohhh I miss you!)

Moreover, I grew up in a coffee culture, and by coffee I mean Italian way.

This is coffee for me (I love coffee in a glass or in a ceramic cup)

This is black tea (aka americano)

My favourite coffee (espresso) will be very short, creamy, strong and tasty and no sugar or milk added. In UK, I mostly drink cappuccinos because I don’t like the flavour and that’s the option with less milk or a macchiatto.

Did you know that: in some parts of Portugal we order coffee by asking for a cimbalino, which comes from the first modern coffee machines Cimbali?

My favourite coffee brand is the Delta (portuguese)

Love the morning coffee with Nicola (which also produce nespresso compatible capsules)

Best international brand for me is illy’s (and has nothing to do with my name, well…. after all I have 2 coffee names: Lilly & Costa)

The best coffee I had in UK so far (or let’s say the first) was at Boston Tea Party in Bristol, in London was probably Flat White . I’m actually quite happy to notice that the coffee culture in UK is changing and it’s no longer just about starbucks or terrible water from the office machines (the worst coffee I ever had was in the office in Watford, although the american airlines coffee even beats that!). So I have lots to explore. I’ll be doing dedicated sections in the blog about coffee places.

This time, however, want to go back to drink coffee at home. As per above, one of the first things I bought in UK was my Nespresso machine and the lovely aeroccino.

I’ve been a fan of the concept since it started. I was actually quite surprised that there were no boutique stores in UK when I moved (whereas in Portugal there are loads of them). Now there are a few in London. It’s so simple and convenient! Although what I find is that I miss the chance to explore all the different coffees available if you had a more traditional machine. But even that is changing! There are more varieties available now. In Portugal for instance, even the supermarkets have their own brands and machines. In UK there are small companies entering this market as well.

One of them is CRU. I don’t really remember how I found them, probably through advertisement on facebook. But I remember I really loved the concept so I’ve applied for the demo box which arrived a few weeks back. Loved it! Really tasty coffee! Today I just received my first order.

Love the message on the box “we might not be quite attractive as George, but we definitely taste better“. Brilliant!

The capsules are 100% recyclable. The coffee itself is a good compost

Obviously, couldn’t wait to prepare morning coffee 🙂

As someone said, life is too short for bad coffee and I couldn’t agree more!

How do you like your coffee? What’s the best one you ever had?

.: A walk in Chiswick High Road :.

Well after that gorgeous pizza (Franco Manca), I felt that I needed a walk, and since I was in Chiswick High Road why not explore it a bit more?

First stop:
Find a good coffee. Then I remembered I had visited this lovely placed called the Artisan

You know you’re in Chiswick when:

More good stuff (Happy Calories as I call them)

I had a ristretto and a brownie. Ah, they really understand what Ristretto means!!! What a bless

After the refill of happy calories ready to continue my walk.

There’s quite a few little markets around

I really love Chiswick, can’t imagine living too far away from here. It’s definitely the place I feel home (and Richmond too!)

What’s your favourite place in London?

Click here for more Chiswick related posts.