Joe Black Blog Pages - Joe Black Coffee

Joe Black Blog Pages

Chocolate and Coffee Cupcakes (with Coffee Caramel) March 24 2015, 0 Comments


What’s a better way to celebrate the advent of spring then with these sweet and indulgent cupcakes? There’s no reason not to have chocolate with Easter on the way, and the delicious coffee flavour will have you bright eyed and bushy tailed, perfect to embrace the warming weather.

Makes 12 little cakes, or nine fatter ones.


115 gram/4oz caster sugar

115gram/4oz butter

85gram/3oz self-raising flour

30 grams/1oz cocoa powder

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp coffee extract

A generous splash of strong Joe Black coffee

Coffee Caramel

Makes enough for leftovers- excellent for pouring over ice cream.

225 gram/8oz caster sugar

2 tablespoon golden sugar

2 tsp coffee extract

50 gram/2oz butter

140 ml double cream

Optional- Butter Icing

Just in case you have a very sweet tooth, or want your cakes to look fancy.

140g/5oz butter, softened

280g/10oz icing sugar

You can flavour this with coffee extract, or replace an ounce/28 grams of icing sugar with cocoa powder, if you like.


  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/ 180C/ 160C fan
  1. To make the sponge you firstly mix the butter and sugar together. It helps if your butter isn’t straight out of the fridge when you do this, so try to get it to room temperature beforehand. However, if you forget you can soften it in the microwave for a few seconds (just don’t forget it’s in there, it’ll go a nasty shade of brown and splatter everywhere).
  1. Make sure your cocoa and flour is sieved and begin to add it slowly, with the beaten egg, to the sugar and butter mixture. A good rule of thumb is 2 heaped tablespoons of flour, splash of egg, stir and repeat, until both are all used up.
  1. Add the coffee (for quality and a hefty coffee kick, we of course use Joe Black) and coffee extract, then stir. You should at this point have a cake mix with a “soft dropping” consistency, which means it falls off the spoon in a satisfying, weighty manner.
  1. Place cake cases into a 12 cake cupcake tray and spoon the cake mix evenly across each before placing in the oven. They should cook for about 20 minutes, until you can squish them with your thumb and they bounce back, or pierce them with a skewer that comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  1. While your cakes are cooking, you can make the caramel. If you are making this with kids don’t let them near this part, as molten sugar is akin to napalm and not for small and clumsy hands. First off, place the sugar and golden syrup (if you can ever prize the lid off the tin) into a pan and put on a medium heat.
  1. Stir and keep a close eye as the sugar melts. Once all the granules are gone, remove from the heat and pour in the cream, butter and coffee extract and stir. You should have a lovely, pourable, golden caramel for your efforts. Allow to cool down and store in a covered milk jug or old squeezy bottle.
  1. Once the cakes are cool, drizzle them in caramel and EAT.
  1. Alternatively, if you would like further decoration, leave pouring over the caramel for now. Instead mix the butter, icing sugar and whatever flavouring you fancy, place into a piping bag and swirl over your cupcakes. Decorate with coffee-flavoured chocolate beans, and serve with caramel on the side.

The Coffee Dating Guide - What You Can Tell About Your Date From Their Coffee March 20 2015, 0 Comments

The world of Internet dating has spread throughout modern society faster than you can say Spanish flu. 20% of all relationships now start with the pressing of buttons and the clicking of mice and a swipe left, or is it right?

Alanis Morisette Records New Songs For An Inspiring Documentary About Coffee November 19 2014, 0 Comments

The Talamanca mountains 5 hours from San Jose, Costa Rica, is the setting for a new and inspiring documentary that follows the lives of a group of determined women who overcome numerous odds to set up the countries first coffee mill run entirely by women. Produced by Lesley Chilcott (An Inconvenient Truth) and with songs recorded by Alanis Morisette, the film documents the extraordinary story of a small group of women whose determination and success is challenging the culture of growing coffee throughout the world.



During the 90’s when the economy forced many of the community’s men to leave in search of work, the women were left with their children and little sustainable income. With no idea of actually how to produce coffee, they set up ASOMBI, a micro-coffee mill run entirely by the women within the local community in an attempt to make a better life for their families.

Not to be dissuaded from early attempts that resulted in burnt coffee beans unsuitable for human consumption, they persevered, built their own mill and with time got better. Even an unexpected and quite catastrophic fire didn’t dampen their resolve and now their coffee, with the help of a local exporter is being shipped to consumers.

They’ve succeeded in sending their children to college, who on their return are set to take over the production of coffee from their mothers. Providing the community with prosperity and sustainability over the years to come.

The appeal for the director Lesley Chilcott, was to make people think about what goes into their morning cup of coffee. With so many of us disconnected from how our food is made, showing the dedication, setbacks and passion that’s required for us to enjoy our morning cup of coffee was an immediate attraction.

Set for release on the 5th December 2014, the documentary will no doubt make compelling viewing for anyone with a love or interest in coffee.


A Small Section Of The World Trailer -

Songs by Alanis Morisette -


The Growing Coffee Market In South Korea October 17 2014, 0 Comments

With coffee now officially the UK’s favourite drink we decided to take a look at how the coffee industry is catching on in other parts of the world. Areas that for one reason or another, haven’t always been associated with a cup of the black stuff.

One country that’s in the midst of a coffee revolution is South Korea. With 50% of its population surrounding the metropolitan area of Seoul (the third largest metropolitan area in the world, behind Tokyo and Delhi), investors and entrepreneurs have identified the potential market for new coffee shops and the rate of expansion in the coffee industry has been staggering over the last couple of years.

Imported coffee has risen by 97% since 2011. The catalyst for the surge is largely due to the US-Korea trade agreement (March 2012) that reduced tariffs on coffee beans from the US from 8% to 3.2%. Where it was once reserved for high-income earners and seen very much as a luxury, the reduction in imports has opened up the market to a wider selection of the population.

The rise has been so sudden that South Korea is now the 11th largest coffee market in the world and has seen a boom in new coffee shops opening throughout the country. At present it boasts 12,300 coffee shops and the capital, Seoul, has more outlets of Starbucks than any other city in the world, even New York.

* Starbuck stores throughout Asia.

Starbucks opened its first store in 1999 and since 2011 has been opening 80 new premises a year. The strong association with the South Korean public and the US has helped make coffee desirable and with many Koreans associating coffee and Starbucks as a lifestyle choice, it has become a status symbol throughout the city. Landlords are eager to have the brand open up a store in their buildings to enhance their value, reputation and image.

The sudden influx of coffee shops have replaced the once traditional “dabang” which were common meetings places serving a selection of customary teas. 

It’s not just large US chains that have profited from the surge in demand for coffee. Local businesses and entrepreneurs have also seized the growing opportunities.

CEO of the South Korean Caffé Bene, Sun-Kwon Kim, has stated that he wants to open 10,000 new shops in 14 different countries (including South Korea) by 2020. Starting only 6 years ago and with currently 1,860 coffee shops, the plans are bold and faced with stiff competition.

Initially Caffe Bene stuggled to gain any traction in an already oversaturated American market. Failing to gain brand recognition Sun-Kwon Kim agreed a deal with a number of entertainment shows to use his coffee locations in a selection of TV shows for a 3% share in the companies profit. The gamble appears to have worked and Caffe Bean now has a large fan base and is planned to feature in the new Batman Vs Superman movie.

While it’s unlikely that Superman will be seen flying through Metropolis while slurping on a Frappuccino, the all too common product placement in such a large budget Hollywood production is a sign of just how far the South Korean coffee industry has developed over recent years. The value of the market overall has climbed a staggering 17 times to 2.48 trillion Korean won between 2008 and 2012. 

The countries continued economic growth, a burgeoning coffee shop culture and its populations fascination with the US lifestyle, has quickly established South Korea as one of the fastest growing coffee industries in the world.


Scientists uncover the DNA of the coffee bean September 23 2014, 0 Comments

Scientists have uncovered the DNA of the coffee plant. Research that can help improve yields and resistance to disease.

How Climate Change Is Affecting Coffee Production September 03 2014, 0 Comments

If we look back over the summer then yes it was nice, we had a few pleasant days; but was it really any different to previous summers in the UK?

Well apparently it was. The UK experienced the hottest period from Jan – July since records began in 1910. This doesn’t explain why I’m still as pale as freshly polished snooker ball - but apparently 2014 has been pretty warm already. In fact seven of the hottest periods (Jan – July) ever recorded have all occurred since the year 2000. Going by these records the UK is warming up, and the trend is occurring throughout the world.


  • 80% of the state of California is currently experiencing an extreme drought, severely affecting the agricultural industry throughout the region. The honey industry has been hit particularly hard with production at only 10% of what it was once was.
  • Due to the retreating polar ice-caps global sea levels are about eight inches higher today than they were in 1880, and they are expected to rise another two to seven feet during this century.


So we started to wonder how this would affect our beloved coffee. The Arabica plant is already quite particular as to where it grows and currently exists throughout the thin belt between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. If temperatures continue to increase, how will this effect the regions where coffee is grown?

We spoke to the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and they very kindly provided us with information on how climate change could alter coffee production throughout Africa. One particular area that will see one of the largest changes is in Tanzania.

Catholic Missionaries first introduced coffee to Tanzania in 1898. Since then it has grown to become one of the countries main exports and indirectly, provides a living for 2.4 million people. 90% of the coffee farmers are small hold, with the remainder consisting of larger plantations. With many of the plantations located around and on the slopes of Mount Kilimajaro, the volcanic soil provides a rich and fertile land for the coffee plant. The resulting beans give off a strong but pleasant aroma and ensure the coffee is rich in acidity, with a sweet but balanced flavour.


The graph below taken from the CIAT report predicts both the temperature and rainfall changes in both 2030 and 2050 if global warming continues at its current level.



  • The rainfall increases from 1,277 millimeters to 1,325 millimeters in 2050 passing through 1,309 in 2030.


While the overall rainfall increases, it actually decreases during the dry period from June to October. This dry period is the most important growth time of the crop as it’s vital to stimulate the flowering of the coffee plant. The level of flowering depends largely on the volume and frequency of heavy rainfall during this period. Less rainfall simply means fewer flowers. Compounded with the fact that much of the crop is cultivated by streams that derive their water from rainfall, irrigation to the crop will also be reduced.


  • The average temperature increase is 2.3 C passing through an increment of 1.3 C in 2030.


At 23 C and above, the coffee plant's metabolism starts to increase, leading to a failure to accumulate the right mix of aromatic compounds that deliver coffee's distinctive taste. Higher temperatures will affect both the yield and quality of coffee.

If we look at the images below, we can see the areas of cultivated land that are well suited to the coffee plant today, and how they will be effected by climate change in 2030 & 2050.


* Area of land suitable for coffee production: Present day



* Area of land suitable for coffee production: 2030



* Area of land suitable for coffee production: 2050



By the year 2050 only areas at a higher altitude (especially round Mount Kilimanjaro in the north east and Lake Victoria in the south) will be suitable for coffee production.

Today the optimum height for coffee production is at 900-1,800 meters above sea level, by 2050 and with the increase in temperature, the height will increase to anywhere between 1,400 – 2,500 meters.

With much of these higher latitudes protected by forestry commissions, much of the land is unlikely to be turned into farms.

And it’s not just in Tanzania where local farmers are facing problems. Climate change is starting to have an effect on coffee production across the globe.


  • Central Americas winter's coffee harvest is down 50% or more for the second year running
  • Nicaragua's problem is particularly troubling. Almost a third of its working population depend on coffee for a living. It’s predicted that by 2050, 80% of its current coffee growing areas will no longer be usable.
  • Brazil, the world's biggest coffee producer, a temperature rise of 3C would reduce the area suitable for coffee production by two-thirds.
  • The berry borer beetle, a pest that damages coffee crops was unknown in Ethopia, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda until 2000. It preferred the warmer temperatures at lower altitudes. Global warming has allowed the beetles to move further up the hillsides and into the coffee plantations causing over £300,000 of damage every year.


While all of this can sound a little bleak, there is hope. Dr Tim Schilling, the head of the World Coffee Research organisation, has been conducting research into the genetic diversity of Arabica coffee. Although 70% of the worlds coffee comes from the Arabica bean, every plant currently used is derived from only two or three Ethiopian varieties.

The research is hoping to understand the genetic diversity of up to 20 plants and how their individual genes play a part in the quality, taste, how they grow and their resistance to disease.

It’s obviously a complex issue, but the future of many coffee plantations throughout the world will largely depend on our ability to reduce C02 emissions and unlock the genetic diversity of the Arabica plant.


Coffee vs Tea July 23 2014, 0 Comments

Coffee or Tea? A few years ago the answer to this question would undoubtedly be tea. This quintessential English drink is as ingrained in our society as much as a Sunday Roast, Wimbledon and Coronation Street. At the first sign of trouble we often hear the words “I’ll put a cuppa on”. Its magical properties for righting the worlds wrongs is legendary. However all is not as rosy as it seems (sorry for the pun). Coffee has not only caught up but overtaken tea as the nations favourite drink.

Coffee is the world’s second largest commodity, beaten only by oil. But this trend was always reserved for other countries. Never England. Yes we liked coffee but tea, with our dainty cups and poking pinkies painted the English stereotype that was known throughout the world.

*Worldwide coffee consumption

Apparently not any more though. From 2012 to the end of 2013 sales of tea fell by 6% while sales of coffee in high street stores reached £1 billion, more than double the amount of tea. Coffee it would seem is on the rise.



So we got to wondering, why is this? Why has coffee become so popular over recent years? Is it the theatre of ordering a coffee and receiving something artistic in return, complete with swirls, twirls and sprinkles? Is it the rather invigorating effects of caffeine, or is it simply the taste?


We’d love to hear your thoughts.

New Joe Black Coffee Blog May 29 2014, 1 Comment

Welcome to the new Joe Black Coffee Blog where over the coming weeks, months and years we’ll be trying to replicate online the same principles and values that we’ve been doing with our coffee for the last 50 years – appeal to coffee lovers everywhere.

Whether you’re new to coffee, an ardent connoisseur or simply up late at night after one too many espressos, your opinions, thoughts, views and feedback on this blog are always welcome and appreciated. If there’s anything we can do to improve, or if you would like us to discuss a particular topic, feel free to get in touch. In fact we hope you do.

This blog will not only focus on what’s happening at Joe Black Coffee, but will take a wider look at the coffee industry and some of the more unusual developments. From how coffee was accidently discovered by a herd of Ethiopian goats, to how it could be used as an alternative fuel for the future.

Coffee, which many of us view as a normal part of our daily routine, has shaped the world in a variety of amazing ways. From the introduction of the earliest cafes in the Arabian Peninsula it continues to play an integral role in our culture. It provides the means for discussion, socialising and the almost innumerable cafes are places where people to this day still come together. Admittedly coffeehouses did provide the backdrop for the planning of the French and American revolutions, but we can’t hold coffee solely accountable for Napoleon’s political ambition.

With coffee the second largest commodity in the world after oil, one thing is very clear, we love it. It’s this passion that we hope to replicate and build a vibrant community full of discussion that’s indicative of cafes around the world. We hope you enjoy this blog in the future and would love to hear from you, we can even supply the coffee!