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De-mystifying coffee, a column by the expert at Belvoir's Engine Yard

Column by Mark Trevarthen, owner of Cafe Allez at Belvoir Castle

I believe that coffee shops are the new pubs ... where people gather to meet friends, work in a relaxing environment, or just savour a fabulous coffee and cake.

And a great coffee is the treat you really can enjoy every day without guilt or health risks.

Mark Trevarthen and partner Claire Fretwell of Cafe Allez! (14294296)
Mark Trevarthen and partner Claire Fretwell of Cafe Allez! (14294296)

Here’s my guide to some common coffees:

  • Espresso: the basis of most coffee drinks, it’s made by pumping hot water at very high pressure through freshly ground coffee to extract a lot of flavour quickly. Served in a tiny cup, this is a very small, powerful drink.
  • Macchiato: meaning ‘marked’ – this is just an espresso with a ‘blob’ of foamed milk on the top.
  • Americano: a longer drink and quite similar to a filter coffee, it’s made by adding espresso to hot water. Rumoured to originate from American soldiers serving in Italy, who found espresso too strong.
  • Caffe Latte: espresso, with steamed milk – now the nation’s most popular coffee. Cafe Allez! makes ours with whole milk as standard, it’s so smooth and naturally sweet, you may want to try without sugar.
  • Flat White: McDonald’s were right! It’s basically a caffe latte, but with less milk. Australians and New Zealanders argue over which country invented this, but it was a reaction against the popularity of the ...
  • Cappuccino, which is an espresso, with steamed milk but more ‘foam’ than a latte.
  • Cortado: My personal favourite, this comes from Spain. Served in a glass, it’s an espresso with an equal volume of steamed milk added – punchy but smooth.
  • Mocha: a combination of espresso and hot chocolate.

So hopefully you can order with confidence – but if you forget, just describe your ideal coffee when you order: a good barista should be able to produce it, just for you.

Coffee is a natural product and there are so many variables that it’s actually really hard to deliver consistently great coffee. We train all our baristas regularly and also get visits from 200 Degrees, our coffee roasters from Nottingham, to check we’re doing their beans justice! To get a great coffee, amongst other things, your barista should:

  • Maintain the shop’s espresso machine to perfection: it needs a full clean-down procedure every night and the steam wand should be wiped and ‘purged’ (listen for the ‘hiss’ of steam) after every use.
  • Source the best coffee beans possible and look after them! – Cafe Allez! empties unused beans from the grinder into an airtight jar when the shop’s closed.
  • Grind coffee fresh for each drink: coffee starts to degrade as soon as it’s been ground.
  • Use coffee that’s not been roasted too long ago – at Cafe Allez! we can always tell you the date your house-blend coffee was roasted on.
  • Adjust the grind size (which can even vary during the day) to make sure the coffee is being
  • extracted for the roasters’ recommended time for each drink.
  • Steam the milk to perfection: there’s an art to this and a different technique for cappuccino milk, latte milk and so on. You don’t want to be wading through a thick layer of foam to get to your coffee!

Cafe Allez! Belvoir Castle is in the main visitor car park of the castle. It is currently open six days per week, Saturday through Thursday, 9am to 5pm. Cafe Allez! Belvoir Castle was opened in late May 2019 by partners Mark and Claire. Cafe Allez! was established in 2017, taking high quality coffee, cakes and more to events via Van Henri, their 1972 Citroen HY vintage coffee van.

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