Heading down the ‘road’ for Grey Seal coffee

One of the many joys of living in the Glaven Valley is riding the farm tracks to pick up local produce. A favourite monthly jaunt takes me over the fields from Blakeney to Glandford to restock on coffee at the Grey Seal Roastery.

They’ve been supplying us with beans for our home coffee machine since they opened a few years ago. Each month, they select a new variety to try. This time it was a fruity, bright Ethiopian roast. Last month we had a double batch (a kilo of their award winning Three Bean and a kilo of a lighter, experimental Burundi) to slake the thirst of eight of us on our annual Watch House stay.

One of Grey Seal's award winning coffee roasts
One of Grey Seal’s award winning coffee roasts

If you get chatting to the owners at the roastery, the depth of their knowledge and passion for their craft becomes apparent. On my last visit, I was treated to a science lesson which took me deep into the chemistry of how coffee forms its character during the roasting process.

Small wonder these Norfolk-based producers are now attracting international attention for the delicacy with which they bring out complex flavours from their beans. They’ve transformed my own taste in coffee from the traditional, heavy and dark towards brighter and subtler notes.

Coffee and cake on a recent trip the Grey Seal café at Sheringham
Coffee and cake on a recent trip the Grey Seal café at Sheringham

There are now Grey Seal cafés in Blakeney, Wells, Sheringham and Cromer, as well as their original home at the Art Café in Glandford. Well worth a visit to try exceptional coffee produced by expert baristas (their buns and cakes – all baked in-house – also come highly recommended).

Our ageing Delonghi Magnifica 3300 espresso machine
Our ageing Delonghi Magnifica 3300 espresso machine

We make our coffee at home with an ageing Delonghi Magnifica 3300. Received as a present about ten years ago, it is truly ‘the gift that keeps on giving’. Not a morning goes by when we don’t wake up excited by the prospect of enjoying an espresso produced from freshly ground coffee.

Feeding the morning caffeine addiction
Feeding the morning caffeine addiction

When it developed a fault a few months ago, the team at the Grey Seal not only helped us get it up-and-running again, they also provided a tutorial on how to service it ourselves. I was able to install a replacement pump without having to send it back to the manufacturers and a serious caffeine crisis was duly averted.

Grey Seal beans ready for grinding
Grey Seal beans ready for grinding

The beans go in the top and then you set the dials to adjust the grind, the quantity of coffee desired and the amount of water used in the brew. The lever for the steamer has long since snapped off through over-use and has been replaced with one I whittled from a bit of oak.

A little homemade 'modification' to our coffee machine
A little homemade ‘modification’ to our coffee machine

If all goes well delicious, fresh coffee is duly produced with a satisfyingly mechanical whirring of cogs and clunking of machinery. I find it strangely mesmerising to watch in slow motion…

Coffee

 

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A day well spent

The Saturday Map, a day well spent

Maps should tell a story. This one is the tale of our Saturday. If you know these places, you’ll perhaps also understand why it wouldn’t be at all bad to spend every Saturday like this.

Grey Seal Coffee – Wells

How better to warm up on a cold grey morning then visiting the newest site of Grey Seal coffee? We have been fans of the Roastery since it opened, so we were excited to see their new digs in Wells-next-the-Sea.  

   
The new place has all the rustic charm you find at the Roastery itself as well as the Blakeney site.  Just the cosey sort of place to take refuge on the North Sea in winter.

   
    
 
The Portuguese tarts are a must try! 

I also noted the mod cons including outlets for electronics and USB ports. A nice touch in a region with very little mobile phone service. 

  
With local knowledge and attention to detail on top of Amazing coffee I’m sure it will be a hit!

  

It was windy

In a day of high winds (which have become increasingly common) we decided it was time for a walk. With winds of up 55mph out of the south west we decided to turn right at the end of the driveway and keep them at our back. Such was it that we were literally pushed along the blustery coast path over the marsh to where the Cley Christmas Fair was in progress. The whole village seems to be in the festive spirit.

     
 Needless to say we bought cake and some home made produce. After fortifying ourselves we pressed on east towards Salthouse.

You can just about make out Marek in his shorts with Bonzo.

   
 

The Dun Cow was a welcome sight and we enjoyed a cheeky pub lunch. 

  
Although we had originally planned to take the Coast Hopper home, we felt that we ought to attempt some more walking after our large meal. 

  

Cley had lit up by the time we strolled in. Back over the hill to Blakeney we decided it was time for a fire. Another lovely weekend without getting in the car.

A Nice Walk

Such is our life in Norfolk that when we need to buy more coffee we end up on a 10mi walk. From Blakeney up to Wiveton down, the Art Cafe for a scone, and the Grey Seal Roastery for our actual coffee purchase!  

  

   

 

Bonzo enjoyed it too.  

Of course nothing would do but to cross the ford and make our way through the wild flower and spring bulb strewn lanes of Wiveton and into Cley for a sneak peak at the new location for Artemis Antiques and Coffee Shop. (Full report to follow)

   

     

Then we finished off through Cley Marsh on the Coast Path homewards.  Time for a nap I think.

Old Kings Lynn

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Look at that, could be Cambridge if you didn’t know any better. But here we are in the old section of Kings Lynn. We took a walk along the water front where cafés and pubs are starting to spring up. Then, just a road or two inland, we have these:

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Amazing old places aren’t they? We were surprised it wasn’t more bustling.

We did stop here however for a drink and it was very peaceful. Good cider and beer.

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But give it time. With plans for more frequent trains to London and Cambridge, Kings Lynn could once more become trendy. Then we will all wish we had bought this place on the water for a mere pittance. But it’s not too late now! Anyone?

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The place on the left: £200k

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Wiveton Hall Cafe

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The ever popular Wiveton Hall Cafe is back for a new season after some refurbishments and additions. This year, on top of the daily breakfast and lunch, a new wood fire pizza oven has been built and they will be serving from 4-6pm Monday through Thursday. This in addition to the Friday through Sunday dinners.

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Note: Some of the photos are taken from their website.