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So what happened was that I was putting together the ingredients to whip up basic Coconut Flour Blondies when I peered into my pantry and found that I still had some Matcha Powder that was waiting to be used up.

I wasn’t quite sure how Matcha and Coconut would dance together but tango they did once these blondies had cooled down enough for me to pop one into my mouth. It had the lovely bitter intensity from the matcha, that was sweetly balanced by the coconut and honey.

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The addition of Greek Yoghurt helped keep the blondies moist, hence, fewer eggs were used. That being said, the absence of more eggs means that these blondies are less on the fudgy side. What I enjoyed about them the most aside from their  flavour, was their dense texture. However, if your preference is for a more cakey blondie, definitely try my Basil and Walnut Coconut Flour Blondies. While these blondies may appear crumbly, they actually held very well together.

I’d say that if Shortbread and Cake had a love child, these Matcha Coconut Flour Blondies would be it! I know, it’s probably a hybrid that’s not easy to imagine but I actually found myself enjoying them more and more with every piece I scoffed down. So I suggest you give this recipe a go because I wouldn’t share it if I didn’t like these blondies myself!

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Coconut Matcha Blondies (1 6×6″ Square)
75g coconut flour
10g matcha powder
25g coconut oil
3 eggs
vanilla
110g honey
100g greek yoghurt

  1. Preheat oven to 170deg C and line a 6×6″ baking tin.
  2. Whisk oil, eggs and vanilla together. 
  3. Add honey and greek yoghurt. Mix well.
  4. Add coconut flour and matcha powder. Stir until just incorporated. 
  5. Pour batter into prepared tin and bake for 18-20min.

So my love for baking brownies and blondies should be quite obvious now. I baked some Coconut Flour Brownies earlier on and this time, I decided to try and put them into making a blondie.

I had some fresh basil at hand, so usually, when I have more herbs than I can finish quickly, I think about how I might be able to incorporate them into one of my bakes. In my recipe below, I stated to have the basil chopped finely, but what I did was I whizzed it up quickly in the blender which worked just as well apart from the extra washing up. You can choose to omit the basil or use a different herb, perhaps Rosemary and Lemon might be a nice combination, or Bay Leaves with Almonds, or Chocolate Chips and Banana.

I enjoyed how refreshing a flavour the Basil brought to these blondies. And the crunch of walnuts was very welcome as well. These are certainly not your fudgy blondies. They’re more on the cakey side with a slightly rough texture due to the structure of the Coconut Flour when mixed in. I brought some of these to my family gathering and one of my Uncles took one bite and quickly tried to snag the rest home. So trust me, you might want to share these with friends and family, but be sure to hide some away for yourself because there won’t even be any crumbs left otherwise! 🙂

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Coconut Flour Blondies (8×8″ Square)

56g melted butter (or coconut/sunflower/olive oil)
50g honey
2 eggs
60g coconut milk
60g coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Bunch of Basil, Finely chopped (optional)
50g Walnuts, chopped (optional but recommended)

  1. Preheat oven to 170deg C and line an 8×8″ square tin.
  2. Whisk melted butter/oil, honey, eggs and milk together.
  3. Add flour, baking soda and salt, and stir until just mixed.
  4. Fold in optional ingredients if using.
  5. Bake 20-22min.

I was interested in using Coconut Flour to make bread. I’ve made a Coconut Milk Oatmeal Sandwich Loaf before and quite liked the subtle flavour of the coconut milk in it. I find however, that coconut flour carries a strong coconut aroma and taste.

I’m not going to lie though, Coconut Flour Bread should in no way be compared to normal bread because it’s gluten-free to begin with. That means that the chew factor will definitely be absent. That being said, it is perfect for those who are on a paleo diet, or have celiac, or are looking for something that is high in fibre and protein, but low in carbs.

This bread is a breeze to make because there’s no need for proving. Just mix everything together, throw the batter into the oven (inside a loaf tin please!), and you get a beautiful loaf that’s a perfect canvas for just about anything you choose to eat it with.

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Savoury Coconut Flour Bread (7×3″ loaf):

6 eggs
15g honey (optional but I like that slight hint of sweetness which also makes the bread more aromatic)
110g coconut oil or melted butter
90g coconut flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

  1. Preheat oven to 170deg C and line a baking tin.
  2. Whisk eggs, honey and oil together.
  3. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt until just mixed.
  4. Let mixture stand 5min.
  5. Bake 35-40min. If top gets too brown, cover with foil until cooked through.
  6. Allow to cool before removing from tin.

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The loaf may be on the smaller side but trust me, with so much fibre in each slice, a little goes a long way. It’s the kind of bread you can eat plain simply because it’s flavourful on its own. I use it more for open-faced sandwiches because they don’t quite hold as well as bread does, but that just means double the filling! Well, the filling will really become the sandwich topping in this case but you already knew that!

Also, these can be sliced up and kept frozen up to a month if you happen not to be able to finish it within 3 days. Likelihood though, is that it’ll be gone before then – even the crumbs. 🙂

 

Loco Over Coco(nuts).

I’ve been dabbling in quite a bit of healthier baking recently aside from my usual cake orders that I’ve been getting on top of since returning from my Lonburg holiday. I prefer to use the term healthier as opposed to healthy because everything sits in a relative continuum don’t they? So while I might consider these bakes healthy, someone who bakes raw and vegan might consider this unhealthy. Or unethical. Haha.

Technicalities aside…

I had a few fail attempts while playing with coconut flour resulting in frustration and binned goods. I tend to feel so annoyed whenever I bake something new but it fails to come out as I hope. And unless I can have a do-over straight away, I usually end up spending the night tossing and turning, thinking about how I could have baked them better.

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So here I am, sharing with you 5 of my favourite bakes using Coconut Flour. None of these contain refined sugar either – I used Coconut Sugar, and if not, then I’ve used Honey.

I initially thought of sharing all 5 recipes here in one blog post but I figured that it might be a little too overwhelming. So one at a time it is. That will also create some suspense!

One thing I learned about Coconut Flour during my trial and error phase was just how very absorbent it is compared to say, Spelt Flour, or Wholewheat, or simple Plain, All-Purpose Flour. Hence, don’t be surprised at the wet to dry ingredients ratio being quite skewed towards the more liquid side.

Also, don’t worry over the number of eggs in the recipes because the are key in creating moistness and they also bind the ingredients together. Recent studies have also shown that cholesterol in food doesn’t have quite the big impact on blood levels of total cholesterol and harmful LDL cholesterol as previous thought. Just remember – everything in moderation!

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Now, these Coconut Flour Brownies are heavenly! I kid you not. I’ve tried way too many ‘healthied-up’ brownies that have turned out dry, overly mushy or too grainy. These were ever-so-slightly on the cakey side, and exceptionally moist and chocolatey. The minute I took my first bite, I surprised myself at how well this recipe turned out. It was everything a Brownie strives to be, and had that aromatic whiff of coconut.

Coconut Flour Brownies (8×8″ Square)

75g butter, melted (or coconut oil)
50g cocoa powder, sifted
6 eggs
160 coconut sugar 
60g coconut milk
pinch of salt
60g coconut flour
Handful of Chocolate Chips.

  1. Preheat oven to 170deg C.
  2. Combine butter/oil with cocoa powder and mix well.
  3. Stir in eggs, coconut sugar and milk. Mix well.
  4. Add flour and salt until just incorporated.
  5. Sprinke chocolate chips on top.
  6. Bake for 20-25min until just set. 

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I could spend all day gushing about these babies but… I’m too busy stuffing them into my mouth! Looks like I’ll be baking up a new batch sooner than I thought!

Love-Filled.

Friday was our last full day in London. The few days we had there just whizzed by too quickly and the evening before, I was lamenting about how sad I was the be leaving Europe this time around. Usually I’m ever the eager beaver to return back to the warmth of Singapore, but I guess the weather had treated me so well that it made me fall that little bit in love with Europe – especially Hamburg. And already I can’t wait to return again to that side of the world next year, hopefully to Italy or Switzerland or another city in Germany.

Friday morning Flo and I made our way back into London but more to the CBD where we met Leena during her lunch hour. It was really sweet of her to sacrifice her precious hour off work just to see us.

We met at To A Tea near Farringdon station, which is this cute little bistro that specialises in teas and they also do healthy lunches – think full salads with lean proteins or veggie options.

I chose a Flowering Tea just because it looked so pretty in the picture. A glass of hot water came and I was like “Whuuuuut?!” before the server dropped a blob of something into it. It took about a minute to slowly unfurl and open up.


Green Tea with Lily and Osmanthus.

Definitely rather girly to look at and perfect for Instagramming. The tea carried a lovely aroma of osmanthus but towards the bottom, it got quite bitter, naturally, as the tea has steeped quite a while by then so it was a little difficult to drink.

It was great catching up with Leena and learning about how the year ahead is going to be quite an exciting one for her, and especially Brian who’s taken over his parents’ restaurant down in Southampton. Lots of things are starting to come together but at the same time, there’re lots of issues to iron out. I hope that all goes well for them!

After tea, Flo and I walked along the River Thames to get to Borough Market.

I love love love Borough Market! Yes yes, it’s full of tourists and food prices aren’t exceptionally cheap but the buzz in the air as you walk through the market is amazing. The delicious smells of food sizzling on the grill, the wide array of pastries, the sweet scent of fresh bread. It’s a feast for the senses!

First thing Flo and I had was an oyster each from this man here.

£2.50 per oyster, with a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of tabasco, downed in a mere 2.5 seconds. Faster than that in fact!

There were two girls next to us who appeared never to have seen or eaten oysters before and were both keen yet hesitant to try them. After Flo and I had swallowed our delightfully fresh oysters that tasted of the sea, they asked if they were good. I said that they were and Mr. Oyster Man complained that I wasn’t loud enough for him to hear. So I sportingly exclaimed that they were AWESOME!

Paella…

Which we skipped. 

Now Flo and I enjoy good food but we’re not the types to go around and stuff our faces with every appetising thing in sight. It’s not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just that we both realise that sometimes overeating not only makes you feel sick, it also taints your memory of the food and the place. Instead, we tend to zero in on something we think we’d like and savour it. If we are still hungry after, we might get a small snack or dessert. And the next time we return, we can always try something else. In this case, it might be a while but still…

I more or less zeroed in on Big V.

They specialise in vegan burgers and I opted for the Salad Box that came with two salads and a choice of burger patty. I chose the Spicy Chickpea Sweet Potato Patty. Cost me £7. And it was quite a hefty box which left me very full after.

I loved the Spinach and Broccoli Salad but the Shredded Beetroot Carrot Salad that’s hidden below was a bit too dry and rabbit-food like. Then again, I tend to prefer my veggies on the softer side so yeah… I’m like an old woman in that respect.

I had the salads drizzled with Ume Dressing and they also scooped a generous amount of Beetroot Hummus and Tahini dressing on top as well. Those last two were really yummy. I added Sriracha for the extra kick on my burger. I enjoyed the patty so much I actually returned home and made some for myself! In fact, I made two kinds of veggie burgers so stay tuned for those recipes in a few blog posts’ time!

Flo on the other hand, stayed away from the greens since I had enough for the both of us, and went for the good ol’ British Classic – Fish&Chips from Fish!.

It was ironic because Flo was always drawing flak about how England’s doesn’t have much good food to speak of, and that Fish & Chips are often drowned in oil so why would anyone want to eat them?! I only found out the day that we were at Borough Market that he’d never actually had proper fish and chips before! Tsk! Anyway, he finally decided to give it a go to see if there was some redemption in the English food scene to be found.

And it looks like Fish!, with their £9.95 Cod Fish and Chips managed to impress him after all!

The batter of the piping hot fresh, flakey fish was thin and crisp, while the chips were fat and so very lightly salted. Great with the ketchup although salt and vinegar would have been the more traditional way to go.

Flo said that he was very pleasantly surprised that the fish was fried well and not at all oily. Same with the chips. I’m glad he enjoyed this typical English pub grub especially since this is something the English have definitely got a deft hand in cooking this speciality of theirs. It’s not easy to find Fish & Chips of that same standard in Singapore so having it in London was definitely the right choice.

Happy bellies! We did take a lot of pictures of the food and the food with ourselves. Funny because I think it was in my last post that I was laughing at people taking wefies with the swans at Hyde Park. I guess we all have our little fetishes. Flo’s, and mine, just happens to be food.

So after we filled our bellies, we walked a little more around Borough Market, soaking in the gorgeous sights of beautifully made pastries and desserts.

Giant cookies, German cakes, Dessert slices…

Tarts, Sliced cakes, Chocolate fondants…

Fudge! I’m not really a fudge fan but they’re really popular in the UK.

We skipped the cheeses and breads because we knew that we’d be tempted to buy some but there wouldn’t have been much point since we were leaving the next day – me back to Singapore, and Flo to Zurich for a week at head office.

I wanted to take him over to Bermondsey Street to this place called Fuckoffee. It’s this super quirky, hipster, coffee cafe place where the youngsters go to. It’s like an ‘alternative’ cafe that’s a little rough round the edges.

We were a mere few hundred metres off when it began to pour, so Flo and I quickly found shelter at Bermondsey Street Cafe instead which looked a world away from Fuckoffee. It took quite a big space and looked upmarket-industrial. There was a group of hot mamas with their babies there and two Japanese girls who looked to be having a late brunch of delectable looking fluffy pancakes.

Flo had his Cappuccino. I had my Piccolo.

We didn’t make it to Fuckoffee in the end and I think it was kind of a good thing because the more I think about it, the more the place seems a little dank and grungy. That’s just my opinion. 

When the rain finally cleared, the temperature dropped quite a bit and the winds turned a touch icy. Just a touch.

Flo and I continued on towards the Thames…

Where we then wefied with Tower Bridge

And The Shard

Awesome huh? We took pictures with some of the most iconic, world famous buildings in the world!!!

Then we crossed Tower Bridge, which is one of the prettiest bridges ever. I used to think it was the London Bridge just because. But one day, I found out which one was the real London Bridge and felt rather disappointed that it didn’t look as impressive as it sounded. Also, I guess because there was the song about London bridge falling down, I simply assumed it had to be an amazeballs looking bridge.

Flo and I had quite a journey home because we went to Tower Hill station where we had to make a few switches before we got onto the Met line home. Thought we’d be late for family dinner but nope! We had about a good half hour before most of the family started to pile in.

Grandma cooked the perfect amount for 16 of us – there was a bit more food kept aside in the kitchen for the latecomers.

Sambal Squid with Lady’s Fingers, Roast Pork Belly, Curry Prawns, Stir-fried Asparagus with Runner Beans and Pork Ribs. She later took out some of that Spinach Curry from the night before that I love.

T’was a great final dinner in London and it was wonderful being able to catch up with Rachael especially and find out how her wedding plans are coming along. First cousin on Mum’s side to get married!! 

And seeing Suk Gong, as well as Uncle Peter and Aunty Betty. It’s been a while and sometimes, it’s only after not seeing them for a while that I realise just how much they, and my parents too, are getting on. I’m happy though, that they are all blessed with good health and are looking lively and happy.

Saturday morning, I finished packing everything. By packing I actually mean stuffing everything into my check-in bag. I was a little worried that it might burst open while transiting from London to Singapore. Thank God it didn’t.

Mum, Dad, Grandpa and Grandma left quite early to Southampton to catch their two-week cruise around the Baltic. Flo and I managed to say goodbye to them before catching a bit more zees. At 11am, just an hour before their ship was due to depart, Uncle David got a call to say that they’d left their tickets at home! So there was a bit of a panic where Uncle David had to drive fast and furiously to get the tickets to them, while Kor had to dash Sophie to her tuition class in Harrow.

So lunch with Kor at this Japanese place we enjoy was scrapped and Flo and I made a simple lunch at home before Kor dropped us off at the airport.

Flo’s flight to Zurich was at 4.55pm so I managed to send him all the way to his gate before I somehow managed to burn the other 3 hours until my flight was due to leave.

And so, our two week Eurotrip came to a close. Eurotrip isn’t really the right term because we were really only in two places. Hamdon trip? Lonburg? It was a great one though, one that far exceeded my expectations especially spending it with Flo. In fact, I daresay it was my favourite holiday ever. So far. Especially because it was with Flo.

 

We managed another road trip with my parents on Thursday but this time, we weren’t as ambitious as before. It was a straightforward 40-ish minute drive to Cliveden, an estate now owned by the National Trust.

Cliveden actually means “valley among cliffs” and has been home to dukes, countesses and a Prince of Wales! Amongst others, of course. Its grounds are huge and its gardens are gorgeous. The day we went was another amazingly beautiful day, perfect for all the families who came with their little ones for a picnic and to run around.

The vastness of Cliveden made me wonder just how its past inhabitants used to get around. By horse? Carriage? Walking? And what if they needed to find each other? 

There was also an area where The Dollhouse was situated. They had these little tree stumps together with a big stump that doubled as chairs and a table. Dad got quite excited being able to sit on one of the stumps.

We continued further in to a large fountain also known as The Fountain of Love where the shell supports three females who are being seen to by Cupid. Yes, I actually try to do some kind of research on these things especially for those who are interested.

I’m sure there were a lot more to Cliveden that we missed out on simply because it was so big and we didn’t have enough time to explore every nook and cranny.

From this shell fountain, we walked up the long driveway leading to the mansion that now operates as a 5-star hotel.

We didn’t enter the hotel but we did walk round its terrace which gave us a bird’s eye view of the parterre. At 4 acres, this is possibly one of Europe’s largest formal gardens.

How cool is that?!

After reaching the parterre, we decided to try and loop back to the car as tummies were beginning to growl. We kind of overshot one of the turns but in doing so, we managed to get a nice shot of Flo and I amongst the tall trees with not a person in sight (behind us). We were all wondering actually, why the crowds had thinned out.

Mum, I think, was getting tired, so was a little annoyed that we had to walk the extra way to get onto the right path back to the car where lunch was waiting for us.

Olive Bread with Serrano Ham. 

Hopping back into the car, we continued on in search for what is allegedly the oldest freehouse in England. Mum and Dad were brought there by a good friend of theirs before and it wasn’t far off from Cliveden. Only… it’s located in a rather remote area so finding its exact location required some trial and error, before resorting to some old-fashioned help, before getting confirmation from Googlemaps which decided to come through for us only after we’d already asked for directions.

Rickety, uneven floors and a low ceiling greeted us at their entrance.

And the interior did feel quite dated with all the random paraphernalia seemingly gathered over the years, decades, centuries?

The place did look old, but whether or not its as old as the over 900 years that they claim to be, I’m not so sure.

Age aside, it still looked sturdy as a rock and while the boys had their pints in hand to cool them down in the afternoon sun, Mum and I settled for coffee.

We decided to have our drinks out in the warm sunshine even though the inside looked very cosy and intimate.

We managed to make it home much earlier this time around which was nice. Our day felt quite relaxed and it was great being able to spend more time out in the fresh air. Being home early also meant that dinner was served hot and fresh out of their pots and pans.

Grandma made my favourite Spinach Curry!! And Mum’s favourite Braised Chicken with Lily Bulbs and Shitake Mushrooms.

I know, I keep saying that Grandma made my favourite this and favourite that. That’s because they’re all my favourite and just as the flavour of Mum’s cooking is unique to herself, so is Grandma’s. Replicating the taste of her cooking would be a near impossible feat!

Also, on many previous trips, owing to my ED, I refrained from eating Grandma’s food what with the oil and salt and blah blah blah. I would buy my own food and cook them to my liking. So I think that being back this time around and allowing myself to enjoy grandma’s food also made her so much the happier. And there were times after dinner where I’d feel as though I’d overindulged but at the end of the day, it was a real treat being able to eat her familiar cooking so f*ck ED because it was worth it.

London Wanderings.

One of the meals we most anticipated was exactly where every Asian visits whenever they visit London. I’m not kidding. Burger & Lobster probably makes most of its profits off of us because the place is filled with Asian tourists! Not just this one time, but also last year when I went to another of their outlets, and the time before then at another different outlet.

So you know, being Asian, I had to keep up with my flock. And also… LOBSTERRRRR!

Flo wondering if we were actually, really still in London.

While I had to engage in some selfies before the food arrived.

Lobsters in Singapore are not cheap. So when I first went to Burger & Lobster and found that they were selling lobsters along with chips and a side salad for £20, it was like lobster heaven to me!

Somehow, in a span of a year, they’ve rolled out a new menu that’s more expansive than their initial three choices – Lobster, Lobster Roll, and Burger. 

I’m not sure I like their bigger menu. More choices mean more decisions. And I guess Flo and I being at the Harvey Nichols branch meant that they’d kind of omitted some of the smaller sized lobster choices (i.e. cheaper items) so we had to settle for the 1.5lb lobster at £31 each. 

This is how I eat mah lobster!

I love pulling the chunks out of their shell and then, after piling them up, I dig in. The Garlic and Herb Butter that came with it upped the oomph factor and I enjoyed their simple, flavourful salad too.

I’m still a little bitter over the extra £11 we had to spent on the lobsters as compared to before. Gargghhh! I might actually boycott Burger & Lobster next visit to London onwards.

But onto chocolates…

I think this was the part of Harrods Food Hall that captured Flo’s attention the most. We went through the fresh foods section, and the cooked foods section, and the chocolate section, and the patisserie section, then back to the chocolates.

Where Flo suggested we choose a few artisanal chocolates to have for dessert/tea.

From William Curley‘s array of handmade chocolates, we chose two each.

Japanese Black Vinegar and Raspberry & Toscano for Flo. Walnut Feuilletine and Shiso Sudachi for yours truly.

From Harrods, we walked across to Hyde Park to savour our chocolate while bird-watching.

Beautiful skies and my favourite swans! Have you read The Ugly Duckling? Still my favourite story after all these years.

When we entered this area of Hyde Park, Flo and I got quite excited seeing deck chairs parked all along the grass. Until we noticed some men going around collecting money. So we sat ourselves on the grass instead before we spotted an unoccupied bench.

Flo pretty much popped his piece of Japanese Black Vinegar Chocolate into his mouth and declared that it was raspberry. We only figured out later, when he was eating his second piece of chocolate that that was in fact the Raspberry Toscano one.

I had the Walnut Feuilletine Milk Chocolate first but wasn’t really impressed. I expected more crunch and crispness from the nuts and the wafers but it tasted like it may have been out a while so were a little stale.

We spent a while just gazing at the lake and watching people get up close to the swans, ducks and geese to take wefies with them. It was quite entertaining considering that some of them were taking I swear, a few hundred pictures from different angles with the same swan. I laugh, but it’s not like I don’t take wefies or selfies, only usually I take them with people.

Next stop was Attendant at Fitzrovia. It took us a good 40min to walk from Hyde Park but it allowed us to walk through Mayfair and admire the pretty (expensive) shops along their High Street. Also, the old Victorian buildings, many housing embassies, stood proud and tall for us – they had every reason to as well!

It’s a little obscure but if you look out for the fancy black grills, there’s an entrance leading you underground. This used to be an underground public loo that has since been converted, and hopefully sanitised, into the cafe that it now is.

It’s not very big but it was very cosy. At 4.45pm, it was closer to being empty than full. Their menu isn’t exceptionally wide, but they had some baked offerings that looked quite delicious.

And of course, you will notice some of the remnants of the old lavatories, which definitely add character to the place.

I didn’t try but perhaps the hand dryer still works.

There you go! A wefie with the boyfie!

We ordered a cup of coffee each. Cappuccino for him, and a Piccolo for me.

With a side of Shiso and Sudachi Dark Chocolate. I had to check up what a ‘sudachi’ is and it looks very much like our Calamansi, which is essentially like a small lime with a lot more zing.

The Shiso was a little muted but I could definitely taste the refreshing tartness of the citrus fruit. It was good against the slightly bitter chocolate but I would have liked the shiso to have been a bit stronger.

And the Piccolo was nice as well with the chocolate. Again, I’m really no coffee expert so as long as I can down it, it’s good coffee to me!