Coffee and Cake in Clwyd and Cut Price Cafetieres

Well, I got to Liverpool (my bother Jim’s place) in about five and a half hours with one stop at Oxford services, and this, despite my wretched Sat Nav suggesting a short cut down the A54, and then changing its mind and sending me back whither I’d come. For a Friday afternoon, the worst time to attempt this sort of thing, I thought not too bad.  

On arrival I was presented with a glass of Bordeaux, already poured, and breathing. Good conversation followed, which was accompanied by one of Babs’s delicious chicken casseroles and then pud. Difficult to imagine life a lot better.

I happily hit the hay about 10ish with the prospect of an early start the next morning as Jim had planned a “short walk” and he likes to start our early. My brother is somewhat eccentric, can’t imagine where he gets it from as the rest of us (well me…the only survivor, now) are perfectly normal. But he’s a bit different and one of his eccentricities is that when he goes on holiday (in this country), he takes his Sage Barista Express with him.

Failing that, on a trip such as the one we were about to take, he’ll whip out his Trangia camping stove, his “AeroPress to Go”, grind some fresh coffee beans to make fresh coffee on the summit of any mountain he’s likely to encounter.

If you’ve been reading my emails for a while, you may be having a slight feeling of déjà vu, because 2 years ago in May 2022,  I reported on this eccentric, but endearing behaviour on another of our Welsh walks. 

If that’s the case, but you thought I was exaggerating on that occasion, you might reasonably have thought “no one in their right mind really takes a stove and a coffee machine up a mountain side”….well here is further photographic evidence to the contrary, albeit on this occasion we were on our way down, below the tree line, when we paused for this ritual.
As you can see it was accompanied by (Babs’s) Chocolate Brownies, beautifully underbaked, so almost uncooked in the centre and her flapjacks, which contain more sugar than you could shake several sticks at. 

I’ll ask you for the second time in less than a hundred words, “does life get any better than this”. 

Well, I suppose, if the Welsh hill side we’d just climbed, hadn’t been vertical (small exaggeration for effect) that might have made my life a little easier, but on the other hand, we really needed to walk off the brownies and the flapjacks….

Upon our return, we turned our attention to modifying a small wall hung oak bench which Jim and Babs have at the end of their dining room table. 

The aim was to make it deeper from back to front (it was too shallow for anyone other than a child to sit on comfortably) and Jim had thought of slicing up the existing oak plank length ways and then separating each section up by an inch or so. 

This is exactly what we did. To do this we borrowed the company’s Festool Circular Saw and Rail System (originally for producing more shelves in our shops and without which you haven’t lived. 

The Demeyere or Studio William of the electric tool world one might say). 

We then added some folding legs to the font of the bench, which it now needed, and the finishing touch was a simple device that holds the legs folded for storage. Neat!

Over the course of these endeavours, during which we had more coffee, suitably accompanied, Jim, who is a good amateur photographer mentioned an article he’d read in the RSA Journal about the health benefits that come from just a 20 minute walk in nature. But also, that even pictures of nature in your home or work surroundings reduce stress therefore having a positive effect on the viewers wellbeing.

So, the connection here is his enthusiasm for displaying his photographs. He takes a lot of very detailed close ups of nature generally, and then at the other end of the scale, landscapes and seascapes. In many cases they are very large, covering a substantial part of a wall. It caused me to think a bit more about the kitchen and office areas in our shops where we make drinks, sit and eat lunch and relax. Could we make them more relaxing, cosy, and positive places to be in? 

I’ll let you know what comes of this idea.  

La Cafetière Pisa Coffee Presses.

At some point last year, I was persuaded to look at La Cafetière Pisa range of 8 & 3 Cup Coffee Presses. The reason was, that we’d eventually had to give up trying to get the Bodum ones that we’d been stocking since the early 1970’s, due to difficulties in their supply chain. And indeed, on closer acquaintance, I really rather liked the look of what I saw. At this moment, I’ve lined up on my desk, the 6 colours we do in the range, Red, Pink, Navy, Green, Black & Latte (putty cream …!), and very good they look.

They come in the two well established sizes of 3 Cup and 8 Cup. As you can see the handles are wood, beech in fact, and I’ve noticed that whilst the handles are all an upside down L in shape, they do in fact have quite a variation and have an individual, handmade look to them, which is not unpleasant. They come with a Coffee Scoop and a Spare Mesh (the bit that filters out the coffee grounds) as well, which is a rather nice touch, as they do wear out eventually. And, if you are a heavy user, we also stock these as spares too, along with the spare liners, but at present I believe the supplier is out of stock of the liners.

Anyway, a very nicely made very attractive product and some good, quite subtle colours.

This weekend you can buy one of these presses at 20% off our normal price. Tell us who you are if coming into the shops, or use code LACAFE20 if shopping online.

One thing to remember about the caffeine content of coffee is that the longer you steep the coffee grounds in water, the greater the amount of caffeine is extracted. 

This is why an Espresso is probably the lowest percentage of caffeine (typically 7-8%) that you will drink. 

And coffee made in a coffee press can have as much as 70% extraction of caffeine. So, depending on your love of caffeine, it may be best not to leave your coffee steeping for hours.

The last word this week, goes to one of my favourite artists.

"Apart from painting and gardening, I’m no good at anything…"

Claude Monet

Monet was a specialist, only any good at two things.

This reminds me of a shrewd observation that Jimmy Carr made in an interview a year or so ago. “…maybe schools teach us the wrong thing”, he said  “They teach us to be allrounders, but unfortunately the world doesn’t reward all rounders”.

He continued, “Maybe we need to specialise more, do more of what we really enjoy and are really good at”.

It may well be that you completely disagree with him, and me, on this point, but from my experience of life so far, if I hadn’t been given this company to play with, firstly I don’t know what I might have done in life. And secondly, I wouldn’t have discovered that I actually quite liked people*

And to my utter surprise, I am really enjoying learning how to lead them. Leadership, teamwork and people skills don’t seem to be a priority in modern education, and certainly weren’t in the past.   Rather than teaching children technical skills, that are obsolete by the time they reach the workplace, maybe these ‘soft’ skills might be of more genuine, lasting value?  

* I was a rather antisocial so and so, until I married Babette!


I hope you have a pleasant and peaceful weekend.

Warm regards,


Andrew Bluett-Duncan



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