Tag Archives: coffee

Announcing our all important coffee and tea suppliers at Afternoon Tease…

It’s amazing how quickly things have been moving at the cafe in the last couple of weeks. Its gone from being an empty shell to actually resembling a cafe, more so every single day! It feels really strange to see the vision that has been in my head for so long slowly become a reality! I’m constantly playing the role of jack of all trades and a typical day (not that they exist anymore) might find me baking in the morning, popping to the cafe, whilst a cake is in the oven to let a tradesman in, going to Ridgeons for more supplies, negotiating contracts on the phone, sourcing tiles and bidding on eBay…all with the grand aim of getting through that godforsaken ‘to do’ list and opening the doors to Afternoon Tease!

There’s a big update blog post coming up but here’s a sneaky peak…

Getting there...

I’ve been wanting to announce our coffee and tea suppliers to you for a while now but finding the time to sit down and write a blog has evaded me…I apologise. But I hope that you’ll agree with me that it’s been worth the wait.

I am a complete coffee fiend and from the moment that I decided that I wanted to open a cafe, the quality of the coffee has been paramount! Whilst living in London I fell in love with a newly opened cafe, close to my place of work, called Caravan (in fact I have blogged about it herehere, here and here). Firstly I loved their coffee but I also loved the atmosphere they had created, their decor, not to mention their incredible food! In a nutshell…they just get it! After I moved back to Cambridge, Caravan branched out into a second site in Granary Square, Kings Cross

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and are going from strength to strength. When it came to deciding on a coffee supplier it didn’t take me long to think about Caravan. I really wanted to to introduce a new coffee to Cambridge and one that I believe in. Miss Igs and I took a day trip to the big smoke to visit a few roasteries and I was happy to see that it wasn’t long before Ivana was won over too! We tasted their market blend espresso blend and were sold!…

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IMG_7027They roast their own beans in small batches daily and are constantly developing their seasonal espresso blend (the one we’ll be serving) to make sure the best flavour characteristics have been brought out. They are amazingly passionate about their coffee and when we visited a second time we met Estelle, their Head Barista, a lady who knows her stuff! She took us through our paces and showed us how to make the perfect coffee. After all, they want us to be able to showcase Caravan coffee at its best 🙂

We spent the morning tinkering around with their beautiful La Marzocco Linea, the exact machine that is due to be installed at Afternoon Tease in just a few days!…

La Marzocco

My 1st attempt

Ivana's beauty

The team at Caravan have been amazingly supportive and I’m proud to be representing them in Cambridge!

However, it would be a travesty to overlook our very own local coffee roastery, Hot Numbers

Hot Numbers

I love Hot Numbers and think it’s played a very important part in the development of Cambridge’s coffee/cafe culture. Simon has paved the way and shown the people of Cambridge that they don’t have to drink bad ‘chain’ coffee. My cakes have been gracing the Hot Numbers counter for a year and a half and will continue to do so even when Afternoon Tease is open. The added bonus will be that you will be able to get Hot Numbers coffee in my cafe aswell! Simon and Steve have developed a delicious decaf, so often overlooked by cafes who, when you order a decaf, get the bag out of the cupboard that’s been ground and open for months…not in my gaff! You can expect Hot Numbers decaf beans, roasted to perfection, ground to order and made into a coffee that you’d be hard pushed to differentiate from the caffeinated version.

We will also be showcasing one of their current single origin coffees to be enjoyed as a filter or aeropress. We’ll be changing the variety regularly depending on what the Hot Numbers honcho’s come up with next!

Now, all of you tea drinkers, fear not! You haven’t been forgotten. I met the lovely ladies behind local tea company, Kandula, when we worked together on a afternoon tea/teas matching event for EAT Cambridge back in March.

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Kandula

Firstly I like them because they are independent and local, but I can also vouch for the fact that their teas are exquisite! They’ve developed a range of classic orange Pekoe Ceylon teas & white & green Ceylon teas, sourced from ethical tea plantations in Sri Lanka, not forgetting their delicious natural infusions.

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Its taken me a while to decide the varieties that I would like to stock and I can guarantee that there will be a great selection for you to choose from, including their signature ‘Pink Ceylon’ (pictured above), a delicately smokey green tea blended with hibiscus.

That’s all for now…at the time of editing this blog post, it is very early Sunday morning and I am about to embark on another full day of floor painting at the cafe! A blog post full of exciting progress photos to follow very shortly!

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My January blues banishing London adventure…

However much I love Cambridge, there’s still a part of me that, a year on, yearns to be back living in London. The air of spontaneity and sheer amount of new and exciting places to visit never ceases to lure me in! Having found a food loving, Cambridge-based partner in crime in Miss Igs, we hatched a plan to banish the January blues by going for a day trip, visiting as many of the new places we’d been lusting over as possible. We soon realised we would need to limit ourselves and I set about making us an itinerary, which looked like this and would take us to Duck & Waffle, E5 Bakehouse, Violet Cakes, Salvation Jane and finally the mecca of the dirty burger…Meat Mission.

Once we’d agreed our route we set about trying to secure a reservation for lunch at Duck & Waffle…we were nervous wrecks waiting for the confirmation to come through, checking our phones constantly (not a rare occurrence anyway ;)), but finally it came and one sleepless night later we hopped on the train to the big smoke and headed straight to Heron Tower near Liverpool Street Station and up the frighteningly speedy lift to the 40th floor!…

I was (literally) in heaven!

We’d seen some chatter on twitter about some not so friendly door staff and a strict dress code and I am very happy to report that we didn’t experience any problems with either and couldn’t have been greeted or treated any better!

We’d been drooling over the menu on their website already so pretty much knew what we wanted to try…

Duck & Waffle menu

Duck & Waffle menu

We felt it only right to celebrate the day by starting with a Winter Negroni…Bombay Sapphire Dry, Martini Rosso, Compari and Anitca Formula, raisin, date and roasted chestnut – rested, bottled and capped…

It was divine and packed a real punch 🙂

We decided to order a few dishes and share them, starting with the foie gras ‘all day breakfast’…

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A slice of toasted brioche, spread with nutella and topped with foie gras, deep fried black pudding balls, gorgeously thin bacon and a quails egg. It may sound a bit random but I am here to tell you that it was AMAZING, who would’ve thought that all those flavours would work so well together, but they did!

Next up we were presented with a paper bag, sealed with the Duck & Waffle crest…

which held our bbq-spiced crispy pigs ears…

and then the dish that we’d both been really intrigued by, and who wouldn’t be…the spicy ox cheek doughnut with apricot jam…

A gorgeously spicy ox cheek concoction surrounded by melt in the mouth, fluffy doughnut and covered in smoked paprika and sugar. My only slight criticism of this dish was that the smoked paprika was so strong that it overpowered the more delicately spiced ox cheek. But nothing was going to stop me devouring my half!

We couldn’t go to Duck & Waffle and not try their signature dish, the Duck & Waffle…

Waffle topped with crispy confit duck leg, fried duck egg and mustard maple syrup…

The duck was so tender and everything worked so well together…the guys at Duck & Waffle really know their stuff!

I was totally bowled over by D&W, it was even better than I had expected, amazing food, friendly service and the most awesome view!

Just check out the private dining room…

Duck & Waffle private dining room.

I would recommend it to anyone and probably will bore everyone senseless by doing so for the next while!

We eventually dragged ourselves away to continue on with our day’s itinerary, next stop E5 Bakehouse situated in an archway close to London Fields Station, where they bake artisan breads on site as well as delicious looking cakes and coffee…

Much to our amusement we found ourselves in the middle of a photoshoot for a Scandinavian start up company and stayed a lot longer than anticipated thanks to our photogenic hands (luckily they were more interested in our hands and our addiction to our phones than our faces!). We finally managed to leave after signing a release form and being promised cloud based fame, not forgetting to pick up a loaf of Hackney Wild, a delicious pain de campagne style loaf, on the way out.

Our next stop was Violet Cakes, who tempt me daily on Twitter with their cake porn…

It was great to see where the magic happens and although it was very sweet, the atmosphere was slightly lacking during our visit :(. We sampled a very yummy (if slightly overpriced at £2.80) cinnamon bun…

Our penultimate stop was Salvation Jane, sister cafe of Lantana (which I love and blogged back in 201o here). Our visit turned out to be at a bit of a strange time of day, when lunch had finished and dinner was yet to begin, and we had the place practically to ourselves…

We were happy enough to sit back and relax and peruse the menus for next time! I was also very happy to discover that there sold Little Creatures, a pale ale brewed in Freemantle, Australia, where I spent a very memorable birthday a few years ago…

It was probably a good thing that we didn’t get to eat at Salvation Jane as we needed to save as much room as possible for our burger eatathon at Meat Mission

Meat Mission is the newest member of the Meat Wagon, Meat Liquor and Meat Market family. I don’t know how I’ve managed not to visit any of the above, that is, until now!

We arrived for an early dinner at 6pm and got to choose out seat. We wanted to make sure we didn’t miss out on the BEST thing on the menu so asked our lovely waitress for her advice…she told us that the Dead Hippie burger was the must-try burger and highly recommended the monkey fingers ‘battered fillets of marinated chicken slathered in house-made chili sauce with blue cheese dip’. We finished off our order with a 2 pint flagon of Brooklyn Lager, which was so big it took a joint effort to pour 🙂 and some deep fried pickles (or gherkins to me).

The Monkey fingers were ridiculously tender and had a good after burn on them, which worked really well with the blue cheese dip. The mysterious dead hippie sauce was a nice addition to the burger, a kind of tangy mayo. Although it was definitely a good burger, I think I’d put the idea of it on such a pedestal in my mind that it would have been bloomin hard for it to measure up!

Full to the brim and overflowing with inspiration we got on the train back home to the Bridge. Hopefully the first of many ‘research trips’…we’re already planning the itinerary for the next so watch this space!

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Hot Numbers Coffee Roastery…

My love of coffee is well documented on this blog, so you can understand my eagerness to attend the Hot Numbers Roastery official opening party! A chance to visit Cambridge’s newest coffee micro-roastery and to see where the magic happens…

There was something magical about walking through woodland towards a shed glowing with light and emitting the gorgeous aroma of freshly roasted coffee…

However tumbledown the outside of the roastery may have looked, the inside was the total opposite, all shiny and new and home to this beauty…

Simon and Steve have in essence created a little coffee lab, where they record in intricate detail, the temperature of the roaster at regular intervals so that, if it turns out well, they can recreate it over and over again and their coffee beans will be totally consistent…

We were given little goody bags to take home, needless to say mine only lasted 2 days!

Later on we were treated to seeing the coffee roaster in action…

But then the light started to fade, the mosquito’s came out to play and we decided to go home, buzzing from the coffee fumes 🙂

You can read more about Hot Numbers Coffee here and you can even buy online here or pop in to the cafe to try some Hot Numbers coffee made by the experts themselves!

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A new collaboration…get your slice of Afternoon Tease at Hot Numbers!

On a Friday, I can often be found in my second office…an amazing little independent coffee house, also known as Hot Numbers on Gwydir Street. Having moved back to Cambridge from London last year I was worried that the coffee habit that I’d cultivated in the big smoke would be left horribly unsatisfied. However, thanks to Simon and the guys at Hot Numbers, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Their coffee is now roasted by Simon himself in the new Hot Numbers Roastery AKA his garden shed ;). 

Only a year old, they’ve built a very loyal following who visit for the awesome coffee (of course), to watch one of the eclectic live bands on a Thursday night, to meet friends, relax with the papers or like me, to use it as a second office (with much better coffee and background music!). 

It’s pretty obvious that I love the place, which is why I’m so excited to announce that Hot Numbers will now be selling my cakes! If you visit at the weekend you’ll be able to enjoy a naughty but nice slice of one of my creations, whether it’s my chocolate Guinness cake…

or perhaps a wedge of classic Victoria sponge…

or some luscious lemon drizzle cake with lemon buttercream icing…

To me coffee and cake are a match made in heaven…I hope you think so too! Why not pop in and see what’s on offer this week?… 

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Yesterday I was reunited with an old friend…Caravan on Exmouth Market. I used to be lucky enough to work just around the corner and make a weekly pilgimage there as a Friday treat (blogged here and here). Not only is it an awesome cafe and restaurant, they also roast their own coffee on site. If you happen to venture downstairs to the basement you’ll come face to face with the coffee roaster that they use to roast small batches of beans daily. Their flat whites are very good but if you’re a coffee fan I highly recommend asking for a pour over filter or aeropress of one of their single origin coffees. 

Now, my Twitter addiction is well documented on this blog. Some may see it as an affliction, however it’s also put me in touch with some really interesting people. One such person, who I’ve engaged in some Twitter coffee chat with, is Dan, Caravan’s Wholesale Operations Manager. I hadn’t planned on calling into Caravan yesterday but happened to be loitering around Exmouth Market, slightly early for a meeting so thought I’d use the excuse to pop in. I was really pleased when Dan  came and introduced himself and I was able to put a face to the name and say hi in real life!

I enjoyed a filter coffee whilst I was there and then skipped off to my meeting a happy lady, swinging a bag full of extremely exciting goodies (well I actually walked away normally carrying a bag of coffee but you get the idea)…

This morning I made it my mission to try each one of my Caravan coffees in turn, so I apologise, as the majority of this blog post was written in a caffeine fuelled frenzy!

Now I’m by no means a coffee connoisseur, I know what I like and don’t like and these are my general ramblings…

First up I opened the El Bosque and was surprised at how light in colour the ground coffee was. As my first coffee of the day, which I always savour, it definitely had a head start at being my favourite. It was amazingly rich, deep, dark and easy to drink.

Next up was the El Carmen, from the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountains in El Salvador, could not have been more different. It was darker in appearance and really packed a punch when I stuck my nose into the packet for a sniff! The tasting notes said to expect ‘some good notes of demerara sugar’, which I liked the sound of and it sure didn’t disappoint! I’m a bit like a goldfish when it comes to coffee, my favourite is usually usurped by a new favourite pretty quickly, which is exactly what happened here!

I moved onto the Kinunu next, a Bourbon coffee from Rwanda. I have to say I wasn’t bowled over by the aroma of this one…it was quite woody and reminded me of sawdust and in particular, my Dad’s garage. It was a lighter and more acidic coffee than the first two and not my new fave!

Last but not least came the Kilimanjaro AA Tarakea, produced on the North-Eastern slopes of Tanzania’s Mount Kilamanjaro. It was slightly more acidic than the first two but unlike the Kinunu, it was gorgeously dark, fruity and somewhat mysterious. A very good coffee indeed!

I never thought I’d say it but I think I might have coffee-ed myself out!…at least until tomorrow morning!

I’ve heard rumours that Caravan may be growing its ranks and branching out down the road in the Kings Cross area. Being a Cambridge to London commuter this makes me very happy indeed! I sincerely hope the rumours are true and that my weekly treats can be resurrected! If you haven’t visited…I highly recommend that you do, don’t just take my word for it, do your own taste test! 

You can find some much more knowledgeable blurb on their coffee’s here and apparently online ordering is imminent! 🙂

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A Union of coffee & competition…

My coffee addiction reached new heights last weekend when I spent a very enjoyable day at Union Hand Roasted Coffee HQ with a gaggle of lovely food and drink bloggers. My interest had been well and truly piqued earlier in the week at the mention of a competition…we’d been tasked with bringing along an item of food that we felt would best be enjoyed with coffee. I had just thing in mind and spent Friday night baking away in preparation…but more of that later.

Union have a great little set up in West Ham…a roastery, training centre and tasting room…a veritable hub of coffee connoisseurship!

We were welcomed with a cup of their La Esperanza and some delicious pastries from Gails before splitting into groups. My group were taken into the training room and let loose on the coffee machines! I was so unbelievably excited to be given the opportunity to play with a La Marzocco, my dream machine!

Helena shared her wealth of coffee knowledge with us…

Explaining everything from the importance of maintaining and cleaning the hopper…

to exactly how to hold the tamper and the exact pressure to exert in order to produce the perfect extraction…

We were using their Revelation blend, which is very deep, dark and rich. First off we extracted it for 22 secs…

then a not very successful 13 secs…

and finally 21 secs, which produced the perfect espresso with just the right balance of acidity to get the juices flowing without leaving a bitter aftertaste!…

We all had a go at producing the perfect espresso before moving onto the milk steaming masterclass…

Steamed milk should be shiny, thick and velvety NOT empty, Mr Whippy style foam that some high street coffee shops try and palm you off with! The trick is to get the milk spinning evenly and then to gradually introduce a bit of air into it by letting the steam wand just peek above the surface…

You can gauge when the milk is ready by sight, sound (there shouldn’t be any torturous high pitched squealing) and touch (you should always be able to touch the bottom of the jug). Once it’s ready you tap the jug on the worktop to get rid of any excess surface bubbles and finally swill it round to ‘polish’ it. The finished product should coat the back of a spoon luxuriously like so…

Then you can use it to turn your perfect espresso into the perfect coffee. Believe it or not, with a little help from my friend Helena, I managed to create this beautiful cappuccino…

One of the things I love about Union, is that although they are growing in popularity and are even stocked in Sainsbury’s, they are still very grounded (pun fully intended!). The co-founders, Jeremy and Steven, are inspiringly passionate about coffee and devote much of their lives to researching, sourcing and tasting to ensure that Union produce the finest coffee possible! This is Jeremy in a hat that he brought back from one of his sourcing trips, it also happened to be the star prize in the barista championship smack down, which took place later in the day…

After lunch we were taken on a tour of the roastery, an Aladdin’s cave of sack upon sack of coffee bean varieties from all over the world…

They have 2 main roasters…the big daddy, which can roast 90kg per batch…

and the little ‘San Franciscan’ drum roaster, which roasts batches of 10kg…

Steven talked us through the roasting process…

He dipped into the roaster at intervals to check on the beans progress (spot the bloggers)…

It took approximately 13 minutes for the green coffee beans to go through these stages…

and to eventually be turned into the finished beans that can be used to make a cup of coffee…

Steven made it all look very easy, although the reality of coffee roasting is apparently very hot, messy, sweaty and physical.

We all strained to listen for the ‘first crack’, which would tell us that the beans were ready, at which point Steven released them from the drum onto the cooling tray to halt the roasting process…

We were then led through to the tasting room for a lesson in ‘cupping’. It all felt very serious. We were presented with 5 varieties of coffee from Costa Rica, which had been ground, put in glasses and covered up to stop the aromas escaping before we could get a whiff…

The first stage was to unleash those aromas and to smell the ground coffee using short ‘dog like’ sniffs.

Then hot water was poured over them…

Jeremy showed us how to use a spoon to break through the crust of ground coffee to inhale the coffee…

We then skimmed the coffee grounds off and used the spoon to ‘slurp’ the coffee. This bit was the most fun…the noisier the slurping the better! :)…

After all of that coffee inhalation I was feeling pretty giddy and just about ready for a dose of my other vices…cake and competition!

As I mentioned earlier, we’d been asked to bring along something (bought or made) that we thought would be perfect paired with a cup of coffee. Back in April I made a delicious cardamom coffee mud cake, which immediately sprung to mind as a great companion for coffee. So on Friday night I stayed in and baked (rock and roll!) to produce my (hopefully) winning entry…

After a bit of twitter banter and a good dose of healthy competition everyone had really pulled out all the stops to come up with their ideal coffee pairing… 

We had to wait until the very end of the day to discover who had won but it was well worth the wait because I’m extremely chuffed to announce that me and my cardamom coffee mudcake were victorious!!!

Chloe (@Faerietalefoody) was awarded joint 1st prize with her delicious fruit and spice laden biscotti. We are now very proud Union ‘Roastmasters’ and are going to be spoilt rotten by being sent coffee by Union Hand Roasted every month for a whole year…bliss!

As if that wasn’t enough they’ve also given me a special code to share with you so that you can receive 10% off online orders at www.unionroasted.com just shop away to your hearts content and when you get to the checkout enter the discount code ‘AFTERNOON10’.

Many thanks to Jeremy, Steven, Gail, Ari, Helena and Alan for a wonderful day and to Union Hand Roasted Coffee for fuelling my caffeine addiction 🙂

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Coffee & cake…the perfect Union!

Last week I was invited to attend Taste of London by Union Hand-Roasted Coffee. It’s no secret that I’m a complete coffee (not to mention good food) addict…so I obviously jumped at the chance! I turned up wearing extremely unsuitable footwear, having just left my umbrella on the bus on what was one of the greyest, most miserable, rainy, English summer days ever! However we didn’t let the rain stop play and instead we did what any true Brit would do…donned a fetching poncho and braved the weather in search of some tasty morsels…and amazing coffee of course!

First stop was the Barrafina, Fino and Quo Vadis stands where we sampled these delicious dishes…


After which we were led to the Union stand where Jeremy (pictured below) talked us through some of the latest Union coffee varieties. I love people who are enthusiastic about their subject matter and Jeremy’s passion for coffee was totally infectious…I dare say he could have lured even a non-coffee drinker over to the dark side of caffeine consumption


He talked about the fact that we need to make people realise that coffee isn’t JUST coffee! There are so many varieties and brewing methods, which all produce very different tastes and experiences. There is no right or wrong opinion when it comes to drinking coffee and  everyone will have their own preference….it’s more about feeling able to express that preference and building your own vocabulary to describe what you like…coffee drinkers liberation if you will!

We then tried some La Esperanza Geisha from Colombia prepared in a syphon, very reminiscent of school science classes…


Then Rwandan abahuzamugambi ba kawa ‘exceptional lot’ maraba, prepared in a pour over…


And their Gajah mountain, Aceh, Sumatran coffee, which packed a real punch, prepared in an Aeropress…


I was in total coffee heaven and the lovely Union guys, packed me off with enough coffee to keep me awake for days!


I headed off for a wander around the rest of the festival, sampled a dish of slow cooked lamb with buttered potato and caramelised onion gravy from The Rhodes 24 stand…

And even bumped (not literally) into Marcus Wareing…


Now, I’m a bit of a recipe hoarder and have recently started taking photos of recipes that catch my eye on my phone; sometimes they’re from magazines or sometimes from friends cook books. I don’t even remember where some of them are from but they’re stored away until the perfect baking occasion presents itself! On my way home from Taste I remembered one such recipe that I’d stashed away a few weeks ago…the perfect opportunity to use some delicious Union coffee…

As soon as I got home I whipped up a coffee poppy seed cake…


To make it you’ll need…

100g poppy seed

80g sour cream

150g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

150g butter, softened

250g caster sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

40ml espresso

You need to do a tiny bit of advance prep before you can make this cake by stirring the poppy seeds into the sour cream and leaving them to ‘soak’ for at least 2 hours (or overnight if you have time).

Heat the oven to 170 degrees and line a 20cm or 22cm tin with baking paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt into a bowl and set aside for later.

In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time; adding a spoonful of the flour mixture after each egg so that the cake batter doesn’t curdle. Mix in the vanilla extract and espresso. Finally fold in the remaining flour mixture, alternating with the sour cream and poppy seeds. Stir until just combined but try not to overmix.

Pour the cake mixture into your prepared tin, smooth the top and bake for 35-40 minutes. If you’re using a 20cm tin it may need an extra 5 minutes of so as the cake will be deeper but test it after 40 mins by inserting a skewer into the centre…if it comes out clean it’s ready!

Leave it to cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely before icing.

For the icing you need…

50ml espresso

125g icing sugar

Beat the espresso with the icing sugar until it’s smooth and lump free and simply pour it over the cake to create a gorgeous coffee glaze!

I don’t think I’ve ever tried a cake quite like it…deliciously unusual! The coffee gave the cake the most amazing richness and the poppy seeds added a great crunch! It was extremely moreish…the perfect accompaniment for a cup (or 3) of Union Hand-Roasted Coffee!


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