Tag Archives: Coffee

Bandstand Tea Room – Leamington Spa

Myself and Mr Gourmand recently got caught out by a freak thunderstorm close to the Pump Room gardens in Leamington Spa and decided to jump into the first coffee shop we good which was the Bandstand Tea Room. As you can tell from the photographs, The Bandstand Tea Room, named after the band stand across the road, is a quaint little place with decorative wallpaper and delicate ornamental features fitting for a fine tea room in York or Edinburgh.


There was a great selection of teas all housed in pretty silver jars, I particularly liked the shabby chic cabinet that housed them.


There wasn’t huge variety of cakes, but the ones on offer were home made, nicely presented and looked delicious.

chocolate cake

I went for the Chocolate Cake as recommended by the waitress which was an incredibly indulgent, rich, chocolaty delight, that truth be told I struggled to finish – at this point Mr Gourmand jumped in to finish what I plainly couldn’t! The ratio of buttercream to cake was good, this is something that some places get so wrong but on this occasion it was perfect.


Mr Gourmand went for a Latte to wash down the chocolate cake he stole from me and his own cake.  Next to the latte you can just see a glimpse of the Victoria Sponge Mr Gourmand ordered. He does order some odd cakes, but I think he chose wisely this time as it was beautifully light and delicious! although it looks like the cake was filled with just a bit too much buttercream it was actually a perfect amount and very light and airy.

arthur coffee

Look at Baby Gourmand’s face, even he was glad to get out of the cold rain!

Overall we had nice cake and coffee which is all you can ask for, however it was a little pricey and certainly fell into one of the most expensive coffee shops in Leamington, but for those special occasions when you really fancy the best cake, I would go again. The chocolate cake was a bit special!

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Sip – Leamington Spa


Sip is a fairly new addition to Regent Street in Leamington Spa, we don’t often venture this far when shopping on a Saturday so it was just by chance that we stumbled upon it.


With exposed brickwork, fancy lighting, bare wood and glass cabinets the interior is very appealing.  Jazz music played in the background and staff are very friendly.


We ordered a flat white, an americano and two pastries.  The coffee was delicious, the best we had tasted in a while.  We were both served a glass of water which NEVER happens anywhere else! The pastries were good also and overall this is somewhere I would chose to go to again.

I like coming across these little places and wish SIP all the best and look forward to visiting again very soon!

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Beanies Flavoured Coffee

Beanies Flavoured Coffee

I’ve spoken about my love for Beanies coffee in the past, it was the ground variety in this instance though and I’d not had the pleasure of trying the instant coffee until these three little jars popped through my letterbox.  I was sent 3 delicious festive flavours which are perfect for this time of year.

Beanies Mulled Spice

The aroma that came from the Mulled spice coffee was amazing but the taste wasn’t for me.  I’m not a fan of mulled wine, and I assumed that because I love coffee I would love it regardless of the taste, but I was sadly wrong.  Even though this coffee didn’t suit my personal taste, I was extremely impressed that it was so flavourful because usually when you buy flavoured coffee, you get  all of the coffee taste but very little of the flavouring which can be a little disappointing. Beanies coffee is so well made that when they say a coffee is going to taste like a particular thing it really does.  I’ve made this coffee for friends who love mulled spices and they have adored this coffee and thought that I’d actually added spices myself which I hadn’t – it was all Beanies coffee.  This coffee has a strength rating of 3/5 which is medium.

Beanies Christmas Pudding

Although the Christmas pudding coffee tasted like it contained similar flavours to the mulled spice coffee I enjoyed it, especially when made with hot milk making it taste like a Christmas inspired latte.  However, I’m not sure I could drink too much of the Christmas pudding coffee as i was starting to feel quite full after half a cup! This coffee has a strength rating of 3/5 which is medium.

Beanies Cinder Coffee

The cinder toffee coffee was my favourite by far, I loved the toffee flavouring and the scent was amazing.  It actually tasted like a very expensive cinder toffee syrup had been added to a very expensive filter coffee – quite staggering for an instant coffee! Unlike the other two, this one really hit the right spot with an exquisite moorish aftertaste, you know, the type of taste that makes you go “mmmmm” out loud!  This coffee has a strength rating of 3/5 which is medium.

I don’t think I could say one coffee was better than the other, it was more like one of them just really appealed to me. This is not to say the other flavours might appeal to you, I would suggest you go out and try one or all of them.

Do you buy flavoured coffee? What flavour is your favourite?


* I received the products mentioned free of charge to review from my own perspective. All words, experiences and opinions are entirely my own*

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Christmas Gifts For Food Lovers


Over on my Lifestyle blog I’ve been compiling some Christmas gift guides and didn’t want to leave my readers over on this blog out so I hope you enjoy some of the selected items I have for you to either give to loved ones or write down on your Christmas list.


Regular readers may remember my post about the Newcastle opening of Brewdog in April which you can view here.  I had the most fabulous time sampling the drinks on offer and I’m very pleased to announce that Brewdog have unveiled their Christmas beer range.

Christmas Paradox is an impressive 15% imperial stout which has spent 12 months maturing in rum casks, housed in a fetching gold and black gift box it will make the perfect present for an alcohol loving recipient!. If that doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit, then the single hop simcoe IPA named  Hoppy Christmas at 7.2% definitely will.

Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to sample either of these drinks and wont be able to until after my baby is born so I’m refusing to buy alcohol related gifts for people this year! Bah Humbug.


Cloudberry Living is an online boutique offering you a range of high-quality designer gifts and contemporary home accessories from Scandinavia, I’ve picked some of my favourite items which are ideal for the person who loves food and drink but doesn’t want a perishable food or drink gift.


Sagaform’s beautiful Retro print ceramic tableware is reminiscent of the 1950s and Sweden’s heritage of richly patterned ceramics.  This retro print teapot (£24.95) reminds me so much of a dinner set that my grandparents owned, I would love to wake up on Christmas morning to find some of the Sagaform range under my tree!


Nearly everyone I know bakes or knows someone who bakes their own cakes  so I know this Iittala Kastehelmi cake stand (£49) would be welcomed by a huge number of people on Christmas morning (you could even use it to serve your Christmas cake!)  The Kastehelmi range of glassware was designed by professor Oiva Toikka in 1964. Kastehelmi was one of Toikka’s most popular designs and remained in production until 1988. To celebrate Toikka’s 50 years at Iittala, Iittala reintroduced the range in 2010.


The eye-catching FERM tea towels (£9.95) are made from 100% organic cotton and packaged in 100% recyclable cardboard envelope. My favourite is the ‘Copenhagen’ tea towel designed by Danish designer Trine Andersen  which features artwork that is good enough to frame.


For gift recipients who like their gifts to have a bit of spice I may have found the perfect stocking filler!

 The Single variety range comprises seven chilli sauces, each made from a different variety of chilli using wholly natural ingredients and to traditional artisan recipes. Chillies are as much about taste as they are about heat and the Hot-Headz range is dedicated to bring out the full flavour and unique taste of each variety of chilli as well as providing a complete range of heat to suit every palate from very mild indeed (Pasilla) through to extremely hot (Red Savina). Hot-Headz firmly believes in letting each chilli ‘speak and not scream’ and they are recommended to put in food, on food or on the side.


The sauces are not at all expensive at just £3.49 each. A selection of two will cost well under £10, five well under £20 and the whole collection of seven just under £25.

The range comprises the following seven sauces (each scored out of 5 for heat level):

  • Pasilla – Very Mild 1/5 The Pasilla chilli is one of the holy trinity of chillies used for many Mexican recipes, particularly Molé sauces. Its complex, deep and smoky dried fruit flavour makes it ideal for a multitude of uses. Perfect for those who do not like heat.
  • Jalapeño – Mild 2/5 The Jalapeño is named after the town of Jalapa in Mexico. This sauce has a distinctive, fresh and grassy flavour with zingy undertones. Perfect with fish, vegetables and in salsas.
  • Chipotle – Mild/Medium 2.5/5 The Chipotle chilli is a large smoke dried Jalapeño. Medium thick fleshed, smoky and sweet, with a subtle, deep, rounded heat. Great with grilled meats and in bacon sandwiches and hot dogs.
  • Serrano – Medium 3/5 The Serrano chilli is common to mountainous regions. A distinctive tang and clean heat with hints of pepper and high acidity. Excellent with oysters and in salsas.
  • Habanero – Medium/Hot 3.5/5 The Habanero chilli (meaning from Havana) is one of the world’s hottest chillies. This sauce has a tropical fruit aroma and taste with a lasting, but not over burdening, tingle of heat.
  • Scotch Bonnet – Hot 4/5 The Scotch Bonnet is a fiery, fresh and fruity, ‘full-on’ flavoured sauce with a very distinctive aroma and yellow/orange colour. A native of the Caribbean that gives the classic West Indian jerk taste to food.

       Red Savina – Very hot 5/5 Developed in California (a relation to the habanero), the Red Savina chilli held the record as the world’s hottest from 1994 to 2006. Delicious fruity citrus flavour known to add balance to many dishes.


Coffee lovers like myself  would undoubtedly love a Douwe Egberts gift in their stocking or under their tree.


The master blenders at Douwe Egberts have created a brand new range of premium instant coffee infused with a variety of tantalising flavours – The Flavour Collective.  Available in Delicate Vanilla, Smooth Caramel and Roasted Hazelnut.  I love nothing better at Christmas than a cup of coffee with a flavoured syrup but as we all know syrup is full of sugar and callories, at just two calories per serving this coffee makes a perfect treat without the calories.

The Flavour Collective range from Douwe Egberts is available in Sainsburys and Tesco –  RRSP £2.99 for a 50g jar.


When we moved house in August I left my beloved Coffee maker behind so Mr Gourmand if you’re reading this I’ve put the Senseo Twist on my Christmas list!

The Master Blenders at Douwe Egberts have poured their coffee expertise and passion for great tasting coffee into their latest machine, SENSEO ® Twist, providing coffee lovers with the opportunity to add a different twist to their coffee moment. The launch comes as Douwe Egberts introduce two new ranges of delicious SENSEO ® pods, offering a richer, more aromatic tasting coffee to drinkers in the comfort of their own home.

Available in crisp white and lime yellow or chic black and cobalt blue colour combinations, SENSEO ® Twist delivers great tasting coffee to delight the senses, in a stylish kitchen appliance that will add a modern touch and elegance to any home.

Appealing to the contemporary coffee aficionados seeking a bold, design-forward and intuitive coffee appliance, the SENSEO® Twist simplifies coffee preparation, while enhancing users overall coffee experience. Intuitive features such as the smart guided touch panel and adjustable strength setting,  allow users the added freedom to create and personalise their own perfect cup of coffee, accompanied by the ‘direct start’ functionality, which delivers the desired strength and number of cups at the touch of a button.

The SENSEO ® Twist coffee machine is available in Argos & Amazon, RRSP from £150.00*. Milk range pads RRSP from £2.99 and Lungo pads RRSP from £3.59.

Look out for my next installment of Christmas Gifts, Hampers, Home made items and my own wish list!

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Cafe Royal – Newcastle

My last visit to Cafe Royal was a bit of a disaster so when my mum asked me to meet her there for a coffee and a chat I was a little dubious. My parents frequently visit Cafe Royal (my mother loves the scones) and neither of them have had any complaints, so I figured I might as well pop along to see if my opinion would change.

As we had visited the Cafe early morning we had no problem getting a seat, if you visit anytime after 11am on a weekday you should expect to wait to be seated.

My Mum had her usual Cappuchino (£2.10) I personally find this drink contains more foam than coffee but Mum seemed to be happy with her chosen drink.

I had a Filter Coffee (£2.10) which was nice and hot, quite often a filter coffee will be just drinkable which is a bit rubbish if you’re planning on having a chat whilst you drink.

My Mums treat was a warmed up Raspberry scone; heating up a scone is a hate of mine. Apparently the raspberry scones are a favourite of my Mum and Dad as they tend not to crumble when cut (another hate of mine).

I played it safe and had a Cheese and Chive scone left cold exactly as I like it.  There was a good amount of flavour in the scone with just a hint of chives.  I love the fact that you get 2 packs of a decent butter, so many places suffer from butter rationing and 1 pack is the maximum they will offer!  I like a nice salted butter at home with scones and although the butter I had at Cafe Royal wasn’t particularly salted it suited the scone well.

I’m actually really pleased that Cafe Royal has redeemed itself in my estimation, I think my bad breakfast experience must have been a one off as I couldn’t fault my latest visit.

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Chalk & Paper

Chalk and Paper is a small cafe situated within the Savannah LifeStyle Salon & Spa, 11-14  Nelson Street, Newcastle upon Tyne.

I recently visited with Chelsea during a break from university for a quick bite to eat.

As I needed a big caffeine Kick I went for an Americano, it was hot and strong and just what was needed to wake me up enough to get through the next lecture.

Chelsea went for a hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows.  I personally think the cream cools the hot chocolate down too much and makes it more of a dessert than a drink but each to their own I guess!

My baguette contained roast chicken and hummus with roasted peppers served with a side order of Greek salad.  I would have never thought to put chicken and hummus together but it’s delicious!

Chelsea went for the meatball melt with the Greek salad.

I made a huge mistake by forgetting to write down prices for everything but in my defence I had just come from a 3 hour lecture and had another 3 hour one to go to after lunch so my mind was on other things!

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Graze – Royal Quays

Graze is a fabulous little cafe situated within the Land Rover shop at Royal Quays.  Royal Quays is perfect for bargain hunters and hosts a number of discounted shops such as Clarks, M&S, Thorntons, Gap, Next and many more.  International readers may be more familiar with the DFDS International passenger terminal at North Shields which is a stones throw away from Royal Quays.  If you ever visit the North Shields area I suggest you pay Graze a visit!

The Graze cow is probably the first thing you will notice whilst walking through Royal Quays, both children and adults were seen using the cow as a photography prop, children were feeding the cow grass and babies were being sat on the cows back.

At the time of writing the cow will be fenced into a barrier, unfortunately the sheer amount of traffic going up to the novelty cow has resulted in foot imprints in the grass, sitting your child on top of a fake cow is also not a very good idea people, the cow may be there to look pretty but let’s not be silly, you wouldn’t sit on a real cow so lets respect the graze cow and view from afar!

The lights are probably one of my favourite features, sleek and stylish and also looking like an upside down feeding trough which keeps in with the ‘Graze’ theme.

The Steel counter is something I really love, I’ve seen something similar in an art gallery cafe where the steel had actually been left outside to rush the rusting process and it looked amazing.

I’m sure you will agree that the steel and glass counters work really well together.

The tables are chic and the chairs surprisingly comfortable

Ok enough with the decor let’s get on with the good stuff!

The glass display cabinets are a great idea, I don’t know anyone who would be able to resist something to eat after looking into them!

Graze offers a good selection of Hot and Cold food, cakes and pastries.  Prices are very reasonable and the portion sizes are good.

Both Myself and Mr Gourmand had an americano coffee, surprisingly many places get coffee so wrong, it’s either too strong, not strong enough too hot or not hot enough.  The coffee from Graze was both hot and flavoursome.

The lemon sponge slice was moist and tangy with hidden jam inside making this a delicious treat.  So often sponge cakes are dry and have either too much icing or not enough, the ratio here was perfect.

We decided to share a Chilli Beef Panini, I’m glad we opted to share as this was a monster, filled to the brim with minced beef , mexican beans and cheese, hot and delicious, more than enough for two people.

The Frangipane tart was delicious, I think the picture speaks for itself to be honest, it tasted as good as it looked!

Next time you’re in the North Shields / Royal Quays area I urge you to try Graze!

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Cafe 1901 Jesmond

Cafe 1901 is situated in the old church hall on St Georges terrace in Jesmond.  I must admit I wasn’t very pleased when this cafe first opened as the youth club my daughter used to attend was closed down because of the cafe, I guess money is more important than community for the owners of the church? Anyway I digress, that was a few years ago and I’ve visited the cafe a few times with my mother and always been on the fence about the place so I decided to take Mr Gourmand for a coffee.

The cafe has huge high ceilings which are very impressive, I do apologise for the darkness of the photographs, the hall has very low lighting and it’s really difficult to get a good photo.  This kind of place always makes me feel really tired, they could do with some natural light lightbulbs!

There is a large range of drinks, cakes, hot and cold food on offer but if I’m being honest I think it’s rather expensive!

Mr Gourmand ordered a flat white coffee (£2.00) an odd choice for him as the Filter Coffee is usually the coffee of choice for the Gourmands!

I had my usual filter coffee (£2.00) it was nice coffee but nothing special as coffee goes.

I decided to have a slice of coffee and walnut cake (£3.00)  unfortunately the sponge was rather dry, I would have liked to have more buttercream sandwiching the cake together rather than the inch of icing on the top (yes an inch, I measured it).

Mr Gourmand had a cheese scone (£2.20) I can never understand why cafes serve microwaved warm cheese scones, I’d rather have mine cold as the microwave makes a scone taste like cardboard which this one did!

On this occasion I wasn’t impressed with Cafe 1901, there are many better places out there to go for a quick cup of coffee and a cake!

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Greggs Moment

Greggs Moment is a cafe situated on Northumberland street in Newcastle’s city centre, blink and you will miss it as it’s situated on the same stretch as Costa, Starbucks and Pret, you also have an M&S cofffee shop just a couple of doors down.

As far as I know there are no other Greggs Moments cafe’s open anywhere else in the country, this was a trial cafe to see how it worked.

Everytime I pass it’s very busy, the cafe is open until 10pm which is something that Newcastle has needed for a long time, not everyone wants to go to a pub for a sit down and a chat after 7pm when everywhere else is shut.

My favourite part of this whole cafe are the door handles, I would love door handles like this on all of my doors!

With only 30 minutes between lectures to spare and because Greggs moments is only 5 minutes from uni Mr Gourmand and I had a filter coffee each, the coffee served here is actually really good and not as expensive as some of the competition on the street.

I had a Cherry and White Chocolate scone which was nice but a little artificial tasting

Mr Gourmand had a Bacon and Cheese Scone, I love cheese scones and I don’t like the fact that Greggs moments stick Bacon in theirs which spoils the scone meaning I can’t eat them!

If Greggs happen to read this, please sell plain ones too for us non pork eaters!

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Artisan Delights at Grants

Grants Bakery of Hexham is not your usual bakers, inside you will find a unique array of bakery products that emphasize commitment to both standards and local pride. They constantly strive to retain the skills of craft baking as well as the traditional bakery creations that the British public have come to love, a trait epitomized by owner and award-winning continental patisserie chef, Andrew Cotterell.

From the outside you would be fooled to think that this was an ordinary bakers, it’s only when you walk up to the window and look inside that you realise this bakers is a little bit special!

There are a huge range or cakes and artisan breads available (look out for separate blog posts) and at the back of the shop is a delectable little coffee shop selling a range of hot and cold food.

The Coffee shop opened in late March 2012 and there are two seating areas, one up a small flight of stairs and visible from the shop and the other upstairs.  There is ample seating but in my opinion this is a place that will soon become very popular due to the quality of the goods on offer and seats will be difficult to find.

Grants have hired a trained barista to assist them with the coffee making, as you know a trained barista can make coffee FAST!

We had not long had breakfast but being the gourmand that I am, my philosophy is that there is always room for cake, who can resist a cake trolley?

The coffee was hot, medium strength and delicious, it’s amazing how many places get coffee so wrong, not here.  The choice of cup and saucer used should be applauded, a delicate bone china cup makes coffee taste so much better than the thick rimmed mug often provided in other establishments.

Who can resist a Peach Melba?  This is a cake that so many bakers get wrong, the pastry is often hard, you often only get a sliver of peach and quite often the cream is not fresh.

This Peach Melba is the King of Peach Melba’s, not only because of its gargantuan size, the pastry tasted like shortbread, soft and buttery, there were ample peaches and the cream was fresh.

For me the test of a good Peach melba is how it holds itself, I don’t like to have a crumbly mess that explodes once you cut into it, this did not disappoint, as you can see I managed to eat half of the cake and the other half stood perfectly until I was ready for it!

I urge you to visit Grants Bakery!  I have a whole host of fabulous blog posts featuring the items I brought home with you so stay tuned!

Grant’s Bakery of Hexham: 13 Cattle market, Hexham, NE46 1NJ

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