About Mike Nolan

Mike Nolan quite likes coffee.

Puly Caff

Puly CaffThe Stellar Cafetiere we’ve had in the office is now seven years old and the filter has been clogged with coffee oils and the like for quite a while. Before buying a replacement filter from Stellar I thought I’d look into cleaning products and came across Puly Caff which gets pretty good reviews. Watch the video to see it in action:

So how did it cope on our tough stains? Here’s the filter before cleaning. Note the concentric rings of grime – these line up with the holes on the plunger and so prevent it working efficiently.

Cafetiere filter before Puly Caff

Before cleaning

The first cleaning cycle turned the bowl of water a horrible colour:

It even turns the milk chocolaty!

It even turns the milk chocolaty!

Everything came out sparkling but the filter was still somewhat clogged so I put it through a second clean cycle, this time cleaning the inside of the cafetiere too. Some improvement but still not perfect – it may need soaking for longer than the 15 minutes suggested on the pack:

Filter after two cleaning cycles

Filter after two cleaning cycles

Puly Caffe Cleaning Powder (900g) – I paid £7.99 which compared to the price of a new cafetiere is a bargain and should last for ages.

Update 26 September 2014: Leaving the filter to soak overnight has cleaned off almost all of the remaining coffee gunk. Plunging is now smooth and easy once again!

Swissgold One Cup

Sometimes you don’t need twelve cups of coffee. Sometimes one is enough and that’s where the Swissgold One Cup KF 300 comes in.

I’ve had one of these gadgets for a few years and while at first glance it looks like an overpriced bit of plastic, it’s actually a fantastic bit of kit.

It works using a gold plated precision machined filter that avoids problems of losing or tainting the flavour of the coffee which can be a problem with paper or nylon filters. If you think this is over the top then you’re probably right, but it still looks damn cool!

Making a brew is dead easy – a desert spoon full of coffee in the lower filter section, shake it around to ensure the filter is covered then place on the insert.  Fill to the brim with boiling water – there’s no need to wait as by the time it gets to the coffee it will have cooled a few degrees – then sit and wait.

Occasionally if there’s too much coffee in the filter the water doesn’t seep through in which case give it a quick twist and if there isn’t enough or the coffee is ground too coarse it can be a little weak but practice helps avoid these problems. Certainly I’ve not experienced the volume of issues that reviewers on Amazon seem to have faced, but then again I’m not trying to brew 32 fl oz of coffee in one go!

Cleaning the filter is easy too – just dispose of the used coffee grinds and rinse both parts under a running tap.

There’s not many UK suppliers of the Swissgold One Cup – I got mine from Another Coffee for £9.95 plus delivery but since then the price has increased to £13.50. Londinium Espresso sell it for £12.77 plus VAT and have produced this nice little demo video:


Also available are Swissgold models to replace paper cone or basket filters in a variety of sizes.  If the quality is anything like the One Cup model I imagine it makes fantastic coffee and well worth the investment.

IT Services Coffee Fund

Edge Hill University College: mug

In January this year I took over management of the IT Services coffee fund. As anyone who works in the industry will know, ensuring a steady, uninterrupted supply of coffee is essential to the smooth running of any IT Department.

At its most basic it involves collecting money and using that to buy tea, coffee, milk, sweetener and sugar but things are never that simple! Providing choice – or at least the illusion of it – is important; members need to feel they’re getting good value from their £5 per month and it’s very important to make sure supplies don’t run out! I’m still working on that last problem but value for money is certainly improving.

The fridge in the new IT Services office is bigger (and more reliable) than the last one allowing bulk purchase of milk while greater cupboard space in the kitchen allows storage of supplies of sugar and coffee, reducing likelihood of running out.

The final problem of providing choice opens a can of worms. Obviously we need to provide the choice of tea and coffee but how much further do we go? We provide the choice of ground and instant coffee but even then everyone has their own views. Being a bit of a stats geek this provides endless opportunity for analysis of what we buy but that will have to wait for another time!

The photo above is from 125 by 125 – a blog commemorating the 125th anniversary of Edge Hill University.

Stellar Cafetiere

This is how it all got a little bit serious.

Back in the day, Edge Hill University’s IT Services office had a pretty bog standard filter coffee machine. Then one day it broke and we were left contemplating the future.

Some argued for a big commercial filter coffee machine – “one with the two jugs” – while others questioned whether we could survive on instant coffee alone. Eventually we settled on buying a cafetiere and came the Stellar range. It ticked all the right boxes:

  • Insulated dual walled construction
  • Stainless steel
  • 12 cup capacity
  • Looks damn cool

It was pricey, but split between a few people in the office it was affordable and so a week or so later we were back in fresh coffee and I don’t think anyone would regret the purchase.

Over the last four years we’ve probably brewed thousands of pots of coffee and while the filter is a touch discoloured it’s otherwise as good today as it was the day we bought it.

I’ve got one at home too and while it mainly comes out at weekends – 1.5 litres of coffee is a pretty big drinking commitment – it’s still well worth the money.

Stellar cafetieres come in a range of sizes and while none are cheap, they’ll last a lifetime and look great in any office or home. Available in matt and polished stainless steel and in an Art Deco design. There’s a few suppliers who sell them through Amazon Marketplace: