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

 

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!

  

Walk in the frost

image

Is there a finer time or a finer place to walk than a frosty morning, when your footfalls crisp the ground, across low hills overlooking the sea? A photo from Wiveton Down this morning, walking from Blakeney to Glandford.

Picnic by the river

Picnic area by the ford at Glandford, North Norfolk
Picnic area by the ford at Glandford, North Norfolk

Today I was out riding my bike and came across this sign for a picnic area beside the beautiful ford at Glandford.  It is a meadow beside the River Glaven, with several big logs cut to serve as benches and tables.   We’ve always loved this spot, but never noticed the picnic area before.  I wonder if perhaps it is a new endeavour of the nice people at the Wildflower Centre, just upriver, who maintain nature trails around here?

The Glaven is a clear, cold, clean river and the whole valley is made lush by its waters.  If you stand on the footbridge overlooking the ford either North towards Cley or South to Letheringsett, particularly on a late summer evening around harvest time, you are rewarded with idyllic rural scenes in all directions.

We’re already planning a future riparian picnic here on a warm spring day.

The turning for the ford is opposite the Art Cafe (one of our favourite places).  Follow the road down, past Sir Alfred Jodrell’s Shell Museum (worth a visit if you like eccentric endeavours) on the right.  You’ll see the ford ahead.  Unless you know what you’re doing and are properly equipped for off-roading, I’d recommend heeding the sign about it being ‘Unsuitable for motors’.  It is deep in places and the river bed is very loose rocks.  There is parking before the ford, and you can cross the little bridge on foot to find the picnic area in the meadow on the right.