Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Johnnies' Jugs of Joe

Fanny noted that back in the 1970's more and more people in Britain were becoming converted to coffee and those that weren't simply hadn't had the fortune to taste the real thing. If all you'd had was the 'boiled soot or beige dill water' which average catering establishments substitute for 'real coffee' then how could you possibly be expected to savour the flavour? And isn't it very complicated to make?  Are you scared off from tackling coffee in the first place by 'so called experts' waffling on about it? Perhaps you don't have a coffee making pot? What if that expert was no other than Johnnie himself showing how to make perfect coffee everytime, without much fancy equipment, in a pic-strip? Perfect!

Fanny and Johnnie don't want to recommend any particular type of coffee, but do stipulate a few basic rules to ensure that we can all enjoy a perfect cup. Never economise on the amount of coffee you use, the flavour will only suffer. If you buy ground coffee instead of freshly ground beans you will end up with an inferior flavour. Coffee, back in the 70's, was a luxury item, ideal for this time of year, and basically you need to splash out to justify your expenditure. Johnnie says it's common sense.

I feel like I'm recreating a scene from Trainspotting as Johnnie insists I lay out a small jug, some tin foil and a spoon in readiness for my 'real' coffee experience. According to Johnnie, this is the method used to make coffee in France, so it must be the best. The instructions are simple - place the coffee in the jug and pour over just boiled water, stir thoroughly and cover with the foil as a lid. Leave it alone for 3 or 4 minutes, before pouring it through a sieve into a coffee pot. Drink, with extreme pleasure.

It's quite a ceremony really. The finished coffee tasted weak to me, perhaps I've scrimped on the quantity of beans I've ground? It tastes good, I'm surprised, but no punch. But wait, this is everyday coffee, Johnnie has a few more tricks up his sleeve to help me enjoy a stronger brew.

The first is a perfect after dinner coffee. First pour just boiled water over ground coffee in a small pan. Johnnie specifies a copper pan, but sadly no such thing of beauty appeared under my tree this Christmas. Turn up the heat until the mixture seethes to the rim. Remove from the heat until it subsides, them repeat this three times. Once entirely seethed (presumably the coffee and not me) turn off the heat and (if you are being economical) add 1 or 2 drops of ice cold water to drive the grounds to the base of the pan. If however you are striving for perfection, add 3 or 4 drops of rose water. Well, Johnnie promised the perfect coffee, so it had to be rose water for me. We are not finished there though. While the coffee cools completely, a vanilla pod is popped in. Once cool, that is removed and the coffee sieved and heated up again, to just about boiling. Never boiling, just below. And voila, the perfect after dinner coffee. It's a little stronger, and the rose and vanilla give a good taste. Presumably your guests will have given up waiting by this time of course and may have gone home.

If you fancy hanging on your guests you could always serve them the most extravagant and luxurious coffee in the world. Quite a claim! It's a Café Brûlot, and Johnnie says is highly impressive after-dinner, quickly and easily made. Phew! In a flame proof vessel, place sugar, orange rind and a vanilla pod. Muddle them together. Gently heat some brandy (always the least expensive available to you), pour it over and set it alight. Oooh, pretty blue flames. It's tempting to just look at the flames for a while, and I assume dinner guests would be ooh-ing and aah-ing too, but really they should be put out by pouring piping hot coffee on them. Strain and serve the coffee as it is - NEVER with sugar or cream. It's lovely actually, really strongly flavoured and a kick of brandy. Perfect.

So there we go, three ways to make a perfect coffee at home. Simple, impressive and extravagant. The final recommendation from the Cradocks despite what they said is to invest in a coffee making pot, which they just happen to be selling to you as a special offer in this issue. It's proper Italian and includes full instructions on how to use it, so you could just ignore all Johnnies advice really. Fanny obviously does. My heads buzzing from all the coffee and jiggery-pokery. Happy New Year everyone, hope that 2015 is a good one. 


  1. I might pass on the rose water variety - but the brandy, orange and vanilla variety appeals to me. Have a fabulous New Year when it arrives and after all that coffee I'm sure you will have no probs staying awake for the bells!

    1. Yup, I'm certainly wide awake now and ready for the bells! Better watch I don't set anything alight though... Happy New Year!