Easter is a special time for a lot of people. Whether you appreciate its holy nature, love chocolate, or simply enjoy the freedom of back-to-back bank holidays, there’s something to suit everyone. For me, Easter is about lazy mornings, double doses of coffee and some good company – the chocolate goes without saying.

As I suspect the Easter bunny won’t be visiting my house this year, I’ve taken matters into my own hands. Given my personal tastes fall somewhere between a childish love of egg-shaped chocolates and being a real-life adult, who enjoys sophisticated spiced buns, I’ve dug up a recipe that ticks all boxes. Chocolate hot cross buns are perfect for easter Sunday breakfast, and any time in between.

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This recipe is a little tougher than I usually do, but the results are spectacular. And, as always, make sure you have a Pact coffee ready for the when the oven timer makes it’s heavenly strains!

Ingredients

For the buns:
400g strong white flour
7g sachet fast-action yeast
50g caster sugar
1tsp salt
2 tsp mixed spice
1tsp ground cinnamon
250ml warm milk
1 medium egg
50g butter (plus extra for greasing)
150g chocolate chips (I used a mix of dark and milk)
50g plain flour

For the glaze:
2 tbsp caster sugar
4 tbsp boiling water

Method

1. Put flour, yeast, sugar, chocolate and salt in a mixing bowl and stir. Make a well in the centre.
2. Pour milk, butter and egg into the well and mix using a wooden spoon until a stretchy mixture is formed.
3.  Dust a clean surface with flour and knead dough for five to ten minutes until springy.
4. Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly greased bowl. Cover with a clean, damp tea towel and place in a warm place to allow the dough to rise. Leave for about an hour, or until the mixture has doubled in size.
5. While you wait, heat oven to 180°C/gas mark 6.
6. Tip onto a lightly dusted surface and divide into even portions – dividing the mixture into thirds and thirds again will make nine, decent-sized pieces. Roll the pieces into buns and arrange on a lightly greased tray leaving room for them to rise further.
7. Mix plain flour with one tsp of sugar and 4-5 tbsp water to make a paste. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and mark the buns with a cross.
8. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes (or until golden brown).
9. To prepare the glaze, melt sugar in boiling water.
10. Transfer baked buns to a cooling rack and brush the glaze.

One of the pacts we have with our customers is that our coffee is packed and shipped no more than seven days after roasting. So, since you know who’s been packing your coffee, we thought it was about time you found out who takes care of the roasting side of things. His name is Peter and he’s something of a dude…

A bit about Peter The Pact coffee roaster is called Peter James, and he – and his coffee roasters – are based in the picturesque Ross-on-Wye, in Herefordshire. It’s a lovely part of the world, which narrowly escaped flooding in the crazy weather at the start of this year. Peter lives in a cottage near the roasting house (though he plans to move to a small farm soon, where he’s going to grow apples for homemade cider) and classes himself as a proper country bumpkin. He also happens to have 15 years experience in the art of roasting coffee. This man really knows his beans.

What’s it like at the roasters? Stephen and Pete recently checked in to see how it was going over there and reported back to the rest of us here in Bermondsey. They watched some of our coffee being roasted (see below), a process that takes between 15 and 20 minutes, depending on the degree of roasting you’re after. In case you’ve never experienced it, the smell of roasting coffee is pretty strong, but not one you’d associate with brewing coffee. It’s more like a cross between popcorn and slightly overdone toast.

Pact Coffee Roasterie

Pete and Stephen recently went to visit Peter’s roasterie in Herefordshire

A bit about Peter’s roasterie The Ross-on-Wye roasterie is home to two roasters, a Diedrich (the red one in the picture above) with a 15 kilo capacity and a rather fancy Loring (the silver one) with a 35 kilo capacity. It’s the Loring that is used to roast the majority of our coffee and it is something of a hero within the coffee roasting world; as you’ll discover below. Peter’s roasterie also boasts a coffee playroom, where you’ll find some seriously shiny coffee gadgetry.

About the Loring roaster When coffee is roasted an enormous amount of strong-smelling smoke is usually produced, which is too potent to be released straight into the air (especially in built-up areas). To burn off this smoke, some coffee roasters have built-in afterburners. On the face of it this seems like a good thing, but in actuality afterburners use up seven times as much energy as the roasting process does in the first place.

The Loring is different. This next generation roaster all the way from California uses state of the art technology, which means it significantly cuts down on the smoke. While many other roasters are now following suit with smokeless coffee roasters, Peter was one of the trail blazers and he owned one of the very first ones in the country. He’s so cool.

Taking good care of your beans One of the key parts of the roasting process actually comes after the beans are done ‘cooking’. To prevent from over roasting they need to be cooled down as quickly as possible. This is done by pouring the beans into a cooling bin, which looks like a great barrel, with wire mesh over either end. Air is then drawn through the freshly roasted beans by a powerful (noisy) fan, as they are kept moving with giant rotating paddles. In this way the beans are cooled from 200°c to room temperature in a matter of minutes, and the flavours contained within the beans are preserved for you to enjoy.

Wondering what you can taste in your Pact Coffee? Take a look at our Coffee-Jargon Busting blog post to find out more about coffee flavours here >

Anyone who has ever been delighted by an episode of ‘Through the Keyhole’ (1987-95) or ‘MTV Cribs’ (circa 2000) will know that there’s a certain thrill in seeing where someone else lives. Well, here at Pact we often wonder where our beloved coffee deliveries end up living. Do they dwell cosily in cupboards? Do they get poured lovingly into snug canisters? Do they perch merrily on shelves? Once the coffee leaves our doors - freshly roasted and freshly ground - we have no idea where it eventually ends up... Why does it matter? Keep this under your hats, but we’re currently putting some thought into redesigning our coffee bags. To do that we’re trying to work out exactly where they end up. So, if you’d be happy to show us where your Pact Coffee lives then pop us a tweet or instagram along with the hashtag #wheredoesyourcoffeelive. We’re sure that whatever you share with us will help to make our coffee bags even better, and the type of thing you’d be thrilled to give a loving home to...  

Cometh the hour, cometh the rabbit.

We are of course referring to the Easter bunny, who is currently revving up for his massive annual chocolate delivery. See pic. But as the rabbit revs up (almost) everyone else winds down to enjoy the bank holiday weekend. To that end…

We’ll not be shipping any coffee on
Friday 18th and Monday 21st April.

If that’s going to leave you short over the holidays, then now is the time to hit the ‘ship now’ button on your Pact Account Page >

If you have any questions or concerns, or simply want to wish us a happy Easter, feel free to email our Customer Champions, Callum, Pete or Sam on ahoy@pactcoffee.com

Pact Coffee Easter Deliveries

If you haven’t been keeping abreast of Josie’s “Introducing…” the staff posts on the blog, you might not know that I’m one of those antipodean caffeine addicts the London coffee scene has been raving about. You know the ones. We drink flat whites and yabber on – with that twang of ours – about how Melbourne’s really killing it in the world coffee arena. And yet, we’re living here.

Want to know why? It’s because the UK’s killing it too! Since I arrived last year I’ve been constantly impressed with what this city has to offer, particularly at Pact. The only thing missing for me, really, is summer. Until now!

To celebrate weather’s subtle hints at sunshine, I’ve decided to bring you a (slightly premature) super summery recipe! Enter Pact Coffee Ice Cream. This recipe is so simple and so tasty. But the best thing is, if you’re not ready to embrace icy treats just yet, it keeps well in the freezer. So you can save it for a not-so-rainy day!

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Ingredients
300ml double cream
175g condensed milk
30ml Pact coffee (have you tried our new Brazilian, the Fazenda Lagoa?)
1 tsp vanilla essence

Method
1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Use an electric whisk to whip your mixture. (You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture forms stiff peaks)
3. Transfer the mixture into an air-tight container or seal with cling film and freeze overnight.

PACT TIP: I’ve adapted this recipe from a number I’ve found online. Most recommend using espresso, however any brew method will do. If you use a different brewing technique, you might like to increase the strength of your brew in order to achieve that rich coffee flavour we know you love.

Pact Coffee The Charm Works

We’ve got three coffee charm necklaces to give away!

Isn’t it nice when you discover you have friendly neighbours? Unless of course they’re too friendly and they keep popping over for sugar, or to read you your horoscope or chat about the local pigeons.

But we digress.

Our neighbours at Pact HQ happen to be none other than The Charm Works, who have demonstrated their neighbourliness by giving us three coffee-related necklaces to give away.

There are two different designs up for grabs, a coffee cup and a coffee pot, both of which come on a delicate sterling silver chain. So what do you have to do to win one?

Simple. Charm Callum:

Pact Coffee #charmcallum

So here’s what you need to do:

  • Take a selfie / picture of yourself
  • Make sure you’re holding a coffee
  • Don’t forget to pout (or pull a similarly ‘charming’ face)
  • Tweet us at @pactcoffee with the hash #charmcallum

It’ll then be up to him to pick three ‘charmers’ at random within the next week…

Below you’ll see our efforts to #charmcallum at Pact HQ (you’re looking at Georgia, Richard, Josie (me) and Junta - in that order).

Pact Coffee #charmcallum team

Clearly none of them did the trick, we hope you’ll fare better. Good luck!