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

 

The Grey Seal: artisanal coffee, brought to you by the folks from the Art Cafe

Forgive the gap in posting. There has been a lot of turmoil this last month. The floods left an impression on our coastline and the tragic American military crash came close on its heals. But today we would like to speak on a positive note.

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Brought to you by the fine foodie folks at the Art Cafe, comes a new coffee experience, The Grey Seal. Across from the Art Cafe itself, it only opened last week but we were excited to have a try. We walked over Wiveton Down to work up an appetite and were greeted by the smell of delicious coffee. There is a roaster on site, the only one we are aware of on the north Norfolk coast. The choice of espresso based drinks was great, but the difference was in the various other coffee options.. Marek tried the air press, while I went for the theatrical siphon. You also have a choice of different single source coffee beans, so the mix-and-match possibilities seem endless. We both had the home roast and compared the taste. Mine had a lighter fruity flavour while the airpress produced a richer bolder flavour, all from the same beans!

The cakes provided were of the same high quality we have come to expect from the Art Cafe, which is currently closed for the season . Rounding out the menu are various other teas and homemade soup. Dogs are welcome. A great stop on a winters walk. We wish them much success.

Highly recommended!

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