This month we gave free reign to David to choose a favourite wine from the shelves as our Wines We Love choice. And what a belter he’s gone for! A favourite of Kate’s and one of the best kept secrets in the shop hailing, as it does, from our cousins across the pond…
Qupé Syrah 2014, Central Coast, California, £24 (just £21.60 to club members)
California has much to offer the wine lover – and in the UK we only really scratch the surface of what’s on offer, with very few exceptions. In spite of this, at BinTwo we have always had a little corner of US goodness comprising a few carefully chosen bottles that complement our strengths elsewhere. As a part-organic and part-biodynamic winery, Qupé (pronounced kew-PAY) fits that bill nicely. I’ve described the open nature and texture of such wines in previous tasting notes – and this Central Coast Syrah reminds us of that warm and honest fruit delivery.
So what then of the history here? Qupé was established by Bob Lindquist in 1982 when he was working as a tour guide for Zaca Mesa winery in the Ynez Valley and it was there that he began to develop his winemaking skills. Qupé was always going to be Rhône led in terms of variety, with Bob’s love of the French Region’s wines, in particular Northern Rhône Syrah such as Cornas, St Joseph and Côte Rôtie. Such continuous improvement for over three decades is a great source of quality, and Bob picks up regular best-Syrah-in-category awards.
A taste then….and it’s a surprise from the word go: soft supple, jammy fruit; fresh but so ripe. But how so? I expected pepper and tobacco, something to chew on, but this is lush and plush. If we’re talking winter pleasures, this is the comfy, modern armchair, and not the firm button-back chesterfield, so will especially please those seeking a silky, comforting red. Overall style and softness is primarily due to the ripeness of the harvest in 2014. It became necessary to pick far earlier than usual, by 4-5 weeks in fact and even though the wine is fermented to dryness and aged for 12 months in French oak, it remains ultra-accessible. In variety, it is Syrah 88%, Tempranillo 7%, Grenache 4% and Mourvèdre 1%. I’m not sure I can taste each variety, but it’s fun to imagine isn’t it?
Alright, I’ll admit it. “Save the world” might be stretching the headline in order to drag your attention to the article, but there are some things that we’re doing to try and help the environment that you can support us with. We may not single handedly clean the oceans or save the polar ice caps, but doing your bit is the bit you can do and all that…
So here it is. The five things we’re doing to do our bit that you can support us with.
We’ll be critically reviewing the extent to which single use plastic is present in our supply chain. We’ll encourage our suppliers to eliminate it where we find it and we’ll take simple steps such as supporting the Final Straw Cornwall which aims to eliminate the use of plastic straws (even the compostable ones which don’t break down if they make their way into the ocean). We’ll be offering paper straws on request to lovers of gin and tonic and tiny tots guzzling apple juice.
What do you need to do? Nothing – we’ve done it for you (easy innit?)
Smug rating: 1 (C’mon all you need to do is not moan about not having a straw!)
When we took over BinTwo four years ago we stopped selling bottled water (even though doing so is quite lucrative) and offered free tap water instead. The whole process of bottling, transporting and selling water in a country with safe, clean water supplies has always sat a little uneasily with me. We’ve now signed up to Refill Cornwall which means we’ll offer to refill people’s water bottle with fresh Cornish tap water. We’ve always done this when asked but now we’re shouting it from the on-line roof-tops! It’s a free service and no purchase is necessary. Through this we hope to reduce the use of single use plastic water bottles. If you turn up with a plastic Evian bottle that you’re re-using then thank you – good job! If you go one stage further and turn up with a “proper” reusable water bottle then you may even get the added warm glow that only comes with a subtle nod of approval from the BinTwo crew.
What do you need to do? Not much really (I didn’t say this was going to be a stretching list of tasks!) Just hang on to your empty bottle and come to us for a refill rather than buying another bottle of mineral water. Simple.
Smug rating: 2 (rising to 3 if purchasing a reusable bottle).
Switching to compostable coffee cups.
In theory our current takeaway cups are recyclable but the lamination that makes them (and all other “regular” cups) waterproof means they can only be recycled in specialist facilities. You’ll have seen the headlines – 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are used in the UK each year and only a tiny percentage get recycled properly. The remainder go to incinerators or landfill. So we’ll be switching over to Vegware takeaway coffee cups and lids which are made from plants not plastic. The clever thing about Vegware is that it can be recycled with food waste which will eventually produce nutrient rich compost. As an extra Brucie Bonus, the process for producing Vegware coffee cups also uses 72% less carbon than the alternatives. Imagine how much more satisfying your next flat white will be now that you know all this!
What do you need to do? Just pop your used coffee cup and lid in a food waste bin (or your own compost). Maybe enquire with your own local coffee shop if they’ve thought about switching to Vegware (don’t be all aggressive and challenging though – you don’t want to be “that” person).
Smug rating: 1 (rising to 2 if you dispose of properly and 4 if you bring another coffee shop on board).
Even better than the warm glow that comes with using one of our new Vegware cups is the smug sense of being on the cutting edge of environmental awareness AND high fashion that can only come from buying one of our funky new reusable coffee cups! Our BinTwo branded Stojo reusable cups are collapsible and fold down to a sort of hockey puck sized package that fits handily into a coat pocket or bag. They have a secure lid which, in my own field trials, means that those last few drops of coffee won’t leak into your pocket or bag once you’ve finished your drink.
We’ve opted for these over the more commonly seen KeepCups as I’ve always found that I never have mine with me when I need it due to them being a bit bulky. I’m gambling that some of you might be in the same position – particularly when you’re off to the the beach on foot once you’ve picked up your flat white from us.
To sweeten the deal when you buy one of our cups we’ll throw in a coffee for free if you have it there and then. Thereafter when you buy a takeaway coffee from us using our (or any other) reusable coffee cup, we’ll deduct 15p to reflect the saving made through not having to use a Vegware cup. We also guarantee not to roll our eyes when you ask us to rinse your reusable cup before filling it!
What do you need to do? Buy one of our reusable cups of course! But if the collapsible thing doesn’t work for you then do consider buying another brand – it’ll pay for itself in no time.
Smug rating: 5 when using a BinTwo cup (falling to 4 if using someone else’s because… well just because).
Upping the ante on our recycling.
We’re already pretty tight on this with recycling our bottles and cardboard (in vast quantities!) But we’ll be trying even harder to make sure that things than can be recycled don’t end up in general waste during the heat of service in the busy season. Call it working on the final 10% if you will. We’ll also develop a way of offering up our used coffee grinds to customers to use in their compost or as a slug repellant. I admit that this may be of limited interest to holiday makers (although you’re welcome to take some home with you) but hopefully we may be able to do our bit to keep the slugs at bay from the allotments of Padstow!
What do you need to do? Come and grab some coffee grinds… please!
Smug rating: 0 (but you’ll at least see off some slimy invertebrates so have a Slug rating of 5!)
Because life is too short to drink rank coffee – am I right? Of course I am. My dirty secret is that, despite owning somewhere that has a well-earned reputation for knocking out excellent coffee, I was very lazy about my coffee making habits at home. I even *takes a deep breath* used to say nothing…N-O-T-H-I-N-G when Mary added a bag of some awful pre-ground coffee to our Tescos shopping – I feel so ashamed.
But, praise the beans, a few months ago I went on a morning course about brewing better coffee at home run by local coffee guru, Hugo Hercod from Rising Ground Coffee. As the former UK Barista Champ and one of the top ten baristas in the world, he’s our very own Obean-wan-Kenobi if you will. A few simple tips have transformed my coffee-making at home and I asked if he could distill his teachings into five, easy to follow steps.
So here you have it. Five tips. Minimal faff. Awesome coffee. Over to Hugo…
Buy better coffee.
It sounds obvious but that means avoiding anything from a supermarket (a good rule of thumb where everything apart from toiletries are concerned). Good coffee is fully traceable; as well as its country and region of origin, it will often show farm/wash station name, bean varietal and processing method as well as a ‘Roasted On’ date, not just a ‘Best Before’. Look out for the term ‘speciality’, which is the good stuff grown, processed and selected for it’s quality. It will cost more, but you’re worth it.
(Hugo was too modest to add a link to his own coffee company, so here it is… www.risingground.coffee).
Buy a grinder.
Pre-ground coffee is stale, so buy your coffee in whole bean form and only grind it as you need it. In terms of flavour, it’s the single most important thing you can do. It’ll stay fresher for longer and you’ll be able to grind it to precisely the right consistency for your brew method. There are two sorts of grinder, Burr and blade. Burr grinders are like pepper mills, they produce an even grind which is good for an even extraction. Blade grinders smash the beans into powder and lumps which is bad, bad, bad.. and please don’t use your spice grinder.
(We bought a small Wilfa grinder available from Relish in Wadebridge. Quiet, fast and effective).
Store it properly.
The enemies of good coffee are oxygen, moisture, light and time. So buy your coffee in smaller quantities, store it like biscuits in an airtight, lightproof jar at room temperature and make sure to drink it within a month of opening the bag. Don’t whatever you do store it in your fridge or freezer, you wouldn’t do that to biscuits would you?
(This is going to sound like a blatant Rising Ground marketing pitch now, but they sell excellent storage tins with a clever one way valve to keep things fresh. They pass Mary’s “counter-top aesthetics” test too).
Follow a recipe.
Drink great coffee every morning by following a tried and tested recipe.I brew using a Clever Dripper, 25g of coffee, 400ml of water, 30 – 50 seconds of bloom and 3 – 5 minutes of brew (depending on freshness) using soft Cornish water at 93 – 95°C. That’ll change with a different coffee and brew kit but the important thing is I won’t guestimate, especially at 0630.
(Like, Hugo I favour the Clever Dripper and you can buy them at… you get the drift by now. But you can also up the ante with Hugo’s simple recipe for your cafetiere – because everyone has one of those in the cupboard: Put 49g of course ground coffee into your cafetiere. Add 100ml of water at 93 – 95°C, stir and leave to “bloom” for 30 seconds (blooming allows any remaining CO2 to gently bubble away), fill vigorously with remaining 600ml of water, leave for 2 minutes, stir gently, leave for two minutes, gently plunge then pour). (A ratio of 70g of coffee to 1L of water works well if you’d like to adjust the recipe to larger/smaller cafetiere).
Don’t buy an espresso machine.
I know you want a nice cappuccino in the morning, just like you get in your favourite café. But unless you are willing to spend a lot of money on kit, waste a lot of coffee, get frustrated, disappointed and drink lots of bad cappuccinos, don’t buy an espresso machine for your kitchen. Buy a decent grinder and accurate scales and spend what you’ve saved on better coffee. There are dozens of ways to brew coffee at home, the simplest are often the best.
(What sort of numpty would buy an under-powered, pretty little espresso machine and expect to make coffee shop grade flat whites at home! Pffft … shuffles from one foot to the other avoiding eye contact*).