The Florist’s Staff Room: Our New Bean to Cup Coffee Machine

Our new bean to cup coffee machine

We have an exciting new member of the florist’s family – a bean-to-cup coffee machine! As coffee fanatics we decided to pool our money to get the best coffee maker we could buy…and boy was it worth it. As I know florists, in general, love coffee, I thought I’d put this post up to help you get one for your staff room.

What is a Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine?

When you buy a pod coffee machine the coffee has been ground for a long time. That means it’s not as fresh. Instead, a bean-to-cup coffee machine grinds beans as you use them, so all the oils that make coffee taste great don’t have time to evaporate.

I didn’t think this would make much of a difference, but the taste difference is HUGE! Instead of stale or boring coffee, you get fresh coffee with a punchy flavor. Plus you can use any beans you want, so you’re not stuck with one manufacturers.

You also get a lot more customization options with a bean-to-cup coffee machine. Instead of just getting whatever comes out of a capsule, you can choose the brew strength, grind coarseness, water temperature and more (I’m sure there are functions on our machine I haven’t even found yet). The result is that you can brew a cup of espresso that exactly matches your requirements.

How Much do They Cost?

I’ll be honest – our machine wasn’t cheap. We went for the Gaggia Brera on the recommendation of Beantocupcoffee.co.uk, which was a highly rated coffee machine, and it cost hundreds of pounds. It doesn’t automate as many parts of the brewing process as even more expensive models, but the coffee is exquisite.

One thing you need to remember is that not all bean-to-cup coffee machines have the same functions. We looked at a load of different models and decided we’d be happy to manually froth the milk. Some machines come with this feature automatically, but we didn’t think it was worth the extra money (most of us prefer espresso anyway).

How to Get the Most Out of a Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine?

The most important advice I can give you is to always buy high quality coffee beans! We found this out the hard way.

There’s no point paying a huge amount for a coffee machine only to use sub-par beans. Those beans you see at the supermarket probably aren’t up to scratch, so spend some time looking around at the various options online until you find one you like. FiveSenses has a good guide to choosing coffee beans.

Another tip is to experiment with the various settings on whichever coffee machine you decide to buy. Most comes with a number of different options – you can even change the grind coarseness – so it takes some experimentation. We’ve got a piece of paper next to our machine so everyone can write their favorite settings, as we all like our coffee slightly different.

Summary

We couldn’t be happier with our Gaggia Brera – it makes us look forward to break time even more than usual! We’re a small team so it’s a great machine, but if you work in a larger office or establishment I’d recommend spending more on a larger model with the capability of brewing multiple cups at the same time.

Why Sewing is Good for You (and a Great Side Hobby)

As you know, this site is about my floral design business. But I think something that many people overlook is that you can’t spend all your time on just one thing. It’s true that you need to focus, but I’ve seen many promising floral designers get burnt out very quickly when they try to start their own business. They might soldier on, but they lose their passion – and it’s difficult to get that back.

That’s why I always recommend having a side hobby or two. For me, sewing is my go-to hobby. It’s relaxing yet uses just enough brain power to take your mind off the daily stresses of running a business.

Of course, sewing today is much easier than in the past. We now have excellent sewing machines (I use the Brother L14 sewing machine for most tasks) so you can spend more time focusing on what you want to make than fiddling with yarn.

If you’re not convinced, here’s a few reasons why I think sewing is good for you:

  • It helps you to relax – modern life can be tiring and overwhelming. Sewing allows you to switch off and do something with your hands. Everything is made for us these days – how often do we really get to be creative? I’ve found this is especially therapeutic to people who spend their daily lives on computers.
  • It’s practical – with a bit of practice, you can sew items that are genuinely useful. These are great as gifts or just for saving money.
  • It’s surprisingly easy – sewing isn’t difficult. It just takes a bit of practice. There’s no reason why you can’t make dresses and other large items once you’ve had some practice – although it’s best to start small.
  • It’s rewarding – there’s nothing better than wearing something you’ve made yourself. It’s also a great feeling when you give a friend or family member an item you’ve made and get a good reaction!

Do you have a hobby to take your mind off flowers? Or do you prefer to spend all your free time learning and improving your primary calling? Let me know!

What is Floral Design REALLY About?

I often get asked by friends what I really do for a living. Do I just put some flowers into a bouquet a few times each day? Is it really that simple?

In some ways, that’s exactly what I do – although any florist will tell you that it’s infinitely more complex than that.

Floral design is all about creating a feeling or mood using flowers. This might sound easy, but it’s harder than first appearances. It’s a form of art – where the restrictions of what you can and can’t do with flowers in some ways lead to even greater creativity.

You are also constrained by the format. There are obviously big differences between how you would approach a wreath and a corsage. Then there’s the event the flowers will be at, the client’s personal preferences and the type of mood they want to create. A lot goes into making even the simplest flower arrangement that most people don’t see or know about. That’s not a complaint – the reason we all hire professionals in certain fields is so we don’t have to learn how to do it ourselves.

There are also a variety of different styles. Western, Eastern and European styles have all influenced how I do floral design – although I tend to sway towards European in my own projects. There are almost too many individuals to count who have influenced how I design my bouquets or other projects. Without them I wouldn’t be the florist that I am today – and I know there is still plenty to learn.

I hope that throughout this blog’s lifetime I’ll be able to showcase my personal style. It’s always a work in progress, but I think that’s what makes the art of being a florist (or any other type of artist) so fascinating.