getting the most from your cup of jo

Getting the Most from Your Cup of Joe

With around 400 million cups of coffee a day being drunk in the US, it’s relatively safe to say that America loves a coffee. But, there’s a drastic difference in the quality of coffee available on the market, whether it be in the supermarket, from a street food vendor or from a specialist coffee house. So, how do we go about making sure we get a really great cup of Joe, just the way we like it?

The Groundwork.

There are over 50 different coffee-producing nations. Some of the countries that provide the best environmental conditions (both in soil type and temperature) for coffee trees to thrive, lie across what is known as “The Bean Belt” around the Equatorial zone. Each of these nations tend to cultivate a variety of different bean, alongside growing conditions, the way the bean is picked can even have an effect on the way the coffee then tastes, meaning that its possible for beans from the same plantation to even have quite drastically different tastes. As popularity and availability of coffee has increased, we also have to consider how our tastes have become more discerning, it’s much less common to reach for the boring old jar of instant than it is to choose a coffee that we really enjoy and see as a treat.

There is such a variety in the types of beans grown across the world that it always for an amazing level of innovation in the blends we have on offer. Each country tends to have their own ‘trademark’ so if we were working with a bean from Mexico, known as Altura (due to its growth at high altitudes), we would expect to be faced with a bean great for dark roasts and blends due to its depth and sharpness. If we were to move over to Asia, an Indonesian bean would provide us with a full bodies, mildly acidic and beautifully rich bean.

If you want to know more and really are a coffee fan, you might be interested in some of the amazing tips given in the clip below from professionals at The London Coffee Show. You’ll even get a glimpse of some beautifully innovative speciality coffee producers.

Pointing you in the right direction.

So with such a vast array of coffees to choose from, how on earth can we expect to know what to expect when what types of coffee’s to choose? Well a really good tip is simply to check the blend ‘story’, you’ll find this on most if not all coffee’s and it’s a fantastically quick and easy summary of what you can expect. Also we think it’s really important to make sure you select one of the growing number of fair-trade providers like Honest Coffees. But if you’re a little nervous about going it alone picking your first speciality coffee, here are 3 great recommended brands to start you off; Honest Coffees supply ethically sourced coffee from a small independent producer where quality is high on the agenda, Grumpy Mule are a fun brand with a real dedication to their ethical standards and Larry’s Beans from Raleigh, NC with a home-grown personality who go all in on environmental projects.

Putting it all together.

We have only scratched the surface, and after all that we have still only selected a coffee, we haven’t even thought about how we can make those beans/grounds into the taste sensation we so deserve. It’s not easy to brew like a pro without the right equipment so the final stage for us (well almost, unless you are in for all the fancy barista art) is selecting the right tools for the job. If you are feeling really innovative you could check out some new counter top brew systems, but, for the basics, we need to think about coffee machines, grinders and peculators.

There are some amazing coffee machines to choose from on the market and selecting the right machine for you will help you get the most enjoyment out of you newly selected beans/grounds. Not using coffee beans, not having your water at the correct temperature, not grinding your coffee properly and using incorrect measurements can all be factors in ensuring your cup of coffee isn’t up to scratch even after all that hard work selecting the perfect type of coffee for you. Luckily, this is where a good coffee machine comes in! Note* there are a number of filter, pod and espresso machines out there, but here I’m talking about a great bean to cup machine. A good quality, high end, bean to cup machine with all the extras will allow you to make the freshest coffee, froth milk ‘till your hearts content and really experiment with what you like, allowing for a beautiful and personalized ‘cup of Joe’.

Moscow Mule

From Russia With Love 

When you start talking about Moscow there are lots of things you think about – amazing architecture decorated in snow, fascinating people and the Moscow Mule. This is one of the most famous cocktails served around the world and like many of the most popular drinks, has also been reinvented in a number of new ways.

Creating an Icon

Despite its name, the Moscow Mule was actually invented in 1941 by John G Martin of GF Heublein Brothers Inc. a spirits and food company based in Connecticut. Alongside ‘Jack’ Morgan, the president of Cock ‘n’ Bull Products, who made ginger beer, the two created the drink in the restaurant of the same name on Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles. The combination of the ginger beer and the Smirnoff vodka came about when neither of the two items were selling well so the men put them together to make something different.

From the start, the drink was always served in a copper mug, which were bought from an immigrant called Sophie Berezinski, who came to California with 2000 of the mugs from her father’s shop in Russia. Her husband wanted to toss them but she travelled around the city, looking for someone to buy it – she found them at the Cock ‘n’ Bull, who wanted something different to serve their new drink.

Traditional Drink

The Moscow Mule is a drink served on the rocks – meaning it is poured over ice. As well as serving it in the copper mug that has become synonymous with, the drink has set ingredients for its traditional version. It is served with 9 parts vodka (also known as 4.5cl) to 1 part lime juice and 24 parts or 12cl ginger beer. The vodka and ginger beer are added to the glass with ice then the lime juice is added. It is stirred gently and a lime slice and sprig of mint is added for garnishing.


The fun part of cocktails today is changing the ingredients and making something new and different – and the Mule is no exception, with lots of different Moscow Mule recipes. Take the Orange Mule for example. This takes the Moscow Mule recipe and gives it a modern and refreshing change. It uses a cup of ice, 2 ounces of vodka and the same of fresh orange juice, 1 ounce of lemon juice and half a cup of ginger beer. Made in the same way as the traditional recipe, it is garnished with a piece of candied ginger, slice of orange and sprig of mint.

The Garden Mule cocktail is a very fruity variation. Four slices of cucumber, 16 blueberries, 6 mint leaves and 1 ounce of lime are used alongside 2 ounces of vodka and half a cup of ginger beer. The fruit is muddled in a cocktail shaker until crushed and juicy then the vodka and lime is added with ice. It is then strained into a mule mug and garnished with candied ginger.

Finally, the Pineapple Moscow Mule uses pineapple juice as well as lime juice, vodka and ginger beer. It is made the same way as the traditional recipe and uses candied ginger, a slice of pineapple and a sprig of mint for garnishing.