Flat Caps Coffee: 2 (Kickstarter)

I was invited along for a behind the scenes look into a venture from another one of the North East’s individuals. This time, it was Joe Meagher, of Flat Caps Coffee. Joe has owned Flat Caps Coffee for a number of years and wishes to expand to be able to give what customers cannot get at the original due some restrictions, without breaking his brand’s ethos. I had a chat with Joe about his ideas for an expansion and what it could do for Newcastle, and invite you to have a look at his Kickstarter where you can get involved but also receive some fantastic perks in return!

Joe opened Flat Caps Coffee around 6 years ago and is almost completely self taught in his skills and techniques. He’s won countless awards in Barista competitions, usually held in London, representing the North and the North East and seems to be competing in something every time I blink. As well as competing, he’s always experimenting with brands and businesses (local and afar), as well as a couple of side projects (see Lola’s Coffee and Flat Caps Tonic).

As a coffee lover myself, I was interested to see what Joe had in mind when he announced that he was up to something, Joe is already a prominent figure in Newcastle for his contribution to our caffeine intake so I’m sure he was up to something interesting.

Flat Caps Coffee is situated underneath a shop at 13 Ridley Place in the centre of Newcastle. Once you’re there, you’ve found a perfect little hideaway underground right in the city centre but away from the hustle and bustle. A perfect place to sit and work or take a moment to get away from real life (they have wifi though, if you really can’t detach).

The main focus of the shop is the fantastic coffee, they offer a choice of around three different coffees to choose from at any one time which are served in different ways; from filter to frothy. It’s not at all intimidating for ‘lay people’ and is instead a ‘coffee experience’ for everyone. They don’t drown you in terminology (although, you should visit the Syphon) and Joe is more than happy to share his knowledge. The great thing about Joe and Flat Caps Coffee is the transparency about the progress and product, resulting in this Kickstarter campaign.

That being said, with the location that Flat Caps means that Joe has to be really restrictive on his ideas for the brand and expanding into other projects around fantastic coffee. He’s mainly restricted by the lack of control regarding opening times, as he can only open when the shop upstairs is open, and no outside space to offer a place for guests to sit on hot days.

More space for his dedicated customers to enjoy a hot drink, a space to hold events (coffee or non-coffee related), such as talks or classes could also be beneficial for the wider community of coffee lovers. Joe’s visions also extend to coffee festivals or tours, hosting competitions and inviting other connoisseurs from all over to visit our fantastic city – coffee tourism, if you please. When chatting to him, I could see he is very careful not to lose his ethos or take anything away from the original shop, instead expanding it into, someday, a place to put Newcastle on the map.

Joe has started a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the possibility of a second shop to offer things to customers that he can’t provide in the original shop. As his visions are more for a community; a place to hold events and talks, and to bring people up from the UK and wider, then I think a Kickstarter is a fantastic idea. The idea of being transparent in his expansion plans can be exciting and scary at the same time; it’s laying everything out but also inviting everybody to come together to share ideas.

Be a backer for the Kickstarter here and choose from some fantastic perks when you pledge:

£1 or more: For every £1 you pledge you’ll receive £2 in Flat Cap money to spend on coffee
£10 or more: Receive Flat Cap’s infamous Christmas card
£15 or more: Receive a personalised copy of the Northern Coffee Guide
£20 or more: Receive a personalised copy of the Newcastle Cook Book. – I went for this one!
£35 or more: Attend a Flat Caps Latte Art class
£35 or more: A Sensory Coffee Experience, a class on tasting the subtle flavours of different coffee
£50 or more: Name a table in the new Flat Cap’s shop
£50 or more: Name on the wall at the new Flat Cap’s shop
£75 or more: A home brewing class
£75 or more: An invite to the opening launch party at the new Flat Cap’s coffee shop
£100 or more: Basic Barista Skill Course
£150 or more: Intermediate Barista Skills Course
£200 or more: One on One master barista course with Joe
£500 or more: One year membership offering you free coffee for a year, VIP invitation to the launch party and more perks
£1,000 or more: Two years membership offering you free coffee for two years, VIP invitation to the launch party and more perks
£1,500 or more: Three year membership offering you free coffee for three years, VIP invitation to the launch party and more perks

Decaf Espresso Martini | #KatiesTakiBar

Happy Cinco de Mayo everybody! It’s been too long since introducing my Taki Bar to you before actually creating something with it to share with you on here. Things have been quite manic, and will be for the next couple of weeks. I actually have no tequila in my home bar at present, but I do have Kahlúa, a Mexican coffee liqueur. Bad timing though as I wondered whether DECAF Espresso Martinis would be possible (and easy) to make*. I’m removing the one Mexican ingredient, however: Kahlúa, and creating my own decaf coffee liqueur. If you want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and with the added energy from the caffeine, just swap the homemade decaf coffee liqueur back to the standard Kahlúa.

*The fact we have a blog post on it, means this is really easy to make.

I was inspired by Carly and Leon‘s laughing fit where Leon had managed to kid Carly into thinking she was having decaf espresso martinis all night. I was originally sitting there laughing along with them at Carly finding out, on camera, that “They don’t do espresso martinis!”. I was sure that making your own decaf espresso martinis shouldn’t be too hard, as the only thing caffeinated ingredient in them is the Kahlúa, espresso and coffee bean garnish (if any). Therefore, we need to make a new decaf coffee liqueur and think of an inventive decaf garnish. It’s super easy to make, but just takes 4 weeks to rest. I’m going to say now, that even though you’re not going to “still be wired at 11am” as with a typical espresso martini, expect a sugar-rush, these (as with most alcohol) are still FULL of sugar! You’re allowed a treat though, right?

Funnelled into a Kilner clip-top bottle, with a rustic brown tag and tied in a raffia bow, it could make a perfect present!

To Make the Decaf Coffee Liqueur

500ml water
150g white sugar
150g demerara sugar (or just 300g of sugar, I thought I’d be fancy)
3-4 tbsp instant decaf coffee (depending on how strong you would like it)*
200ml Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum (or any other dark rum)
Vanilla extract/1 x vanilla pod

*Quantities may be slightly different for freshly ground coffee.

Put the water, sugar(s) and coffee into a pan and bring to the boil, simmer for about 15 minutes. Do not add the rum until the mixture has cooled, as the alcohol has a lower boil temperature than water. Add the rum and the vanilla or vanilla pod and stir once cool and decant into an airtight bottle. Leave to rest for 2-4 weeks before serving (it’s the kind of thing that gets better with age), occasionally giving it a shake/stir/mix. If you’ve used a vanilla pod, remove after no more than 4 weeks.

Bottle it up and label. If you’re going to be making a lot of liqueurs or syrups, it’s a good idea to label what you’ve made!

To Make the Decaf Espresso Martini

50ml vodka (I’ve used 7 times distilled and filtered Lithuanian Vodka)
35ml homemade decaf coffee liqueur (Made using the recipe above)
25ml cold decaf espresso

Fill your martini glass with ice to chill, pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake the crap out of it to make the creme top. I’m expecting a fantastic creme from Carly & Leon as I’m sure they have exceptional upper body strength! Empty the martini glass and pour your cocktail through a strainer. Garnish with decaf coffee dust, hot chocolate, vanilla or Star Anise (pictured).