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But I can only afford Square Mile now and again. So my skint standby is often Caffè Nero's Classico beans for the really good price of £4.95 for 500g. I know we should support the independents rather than the chains, and I most decidedly do, but this is a halfway decent bean and cheap to boot. Fuck it, I'm potless. If anyone knows a cheaper, acceptable bean, please get in contact and let me know (and remember, it's got to compete with £9.90 a kg).
Otherwise, tell the shop what machine you're using to make your coffee and they'll grind the beans accordingly. Just buy small quantities to ensure freshness.
what to make it with
An actual espresso machine is kind of a 'nice to have' gadget, but only if you're cash-rich. I have actually got one - it was saved from the bailiffs along with all the rest of my kitchen equipment in a stroke of immense good fortune. But you'll still never achieve the results of a professional machine. And I can't see the attraction of the ones with the coffee pods, quite frankly, as you're stuck with the make of coffee they supply.
If you're making a cappuccino, what you are most definitely not after is something like those monstrosities sold by the chains - a bucket of milk with a waiter standing by the side singing the Coffee Song. Rather wonderfully, Italy now has an officially certified recipe for a cappuccino:
It should be made with 25ml espresso and 125ml frothed milk. 100ml of cold (3-5C) fresh milk with at least 3.2% protein and 3.5% fat content must be frothed to 125ml, reaching a temperature of 55C. It then needs to be poured over 25ml certified Italian espresso in a white 160ml cup.
Well that's my two penn'orth, such as it is. There'll be many of you more expert in this than me. So if you've got any suggestions, please do leave a comment.
UPDATE: @micks_tape strongly suggests binning the moka pot in favour of an Aeropress, as does Chloe in a comment below. New to me. I must get out more. Actually, I just must get out.
UPDATE: CostaBride says below that the Spanish chocolate powder is also available at Morrison's and Annika says Sainsbury's have it - guess it's easily available then!
UPDATE: Thane Prince, whom God preserve, gives a shout out below for the Nespresso range of machines.
UPDATE: @JudithFlanders tweets that the Algerian Coffee Stores always have a monthly offer for £5/500g which is 'always good, sometimes great'. However, looking online, these offers are £6. Maybe it's a quid cheaper at the actual store.
UPDATE: A few people have pointed out that I didn't mention the splendid Has Bean Coffee which was very remiss of me indeed.
UPDATE: Andy (an ex-barista) suggests that if you have to drink instant coffee make it Clipper's.
UPDATE: This is brilliant. @gothick roasts green coffee beans in a popcorn machine on the Kavey Eats blog by @KaveyF.