The Perfect Iced Coffee

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So finally, we've had our first burst of shorts and t-shirt weather, which has been embraced fully here at Clara's HQ. Aside from the obvious purchase of a mint Feast, or a naughty Solero, we've also gone big on iced coffee. This is something I personally feel very strongly about, because an iced coffee in the summer is a very beautiful thing to behold. So here's an iced coffee that is delicious and very simple.

Iced coffee with milk

Equipment you'll need:

Espresso machine or mocha pot

Small steel jug

A cup

A fork

Ingredients:

Coffee

Full fat or semi skimmed milk (full fat is definitely nicer)

Sugar (just a little)

Ice

Method:

1) Make a double espresso in the way you normally would (let's not go into how to do this bit). Do your best and use nice coffee if you can. 

2) pour the espresso into the empty jug and sweeten to taste. I don't have sugar in any hot coffee, but I've found that iced coffee is far nicer when you season it with about 1/3 teaspoon of sugar. It doesn't really make it taste sweet, so if that's what you're looking for, you'd better go for a whole teaspoon! 

3) add milk. You'll have to estimate how much, but really you want this to be a 6 - 8oz drink

4) add LOTS of ice and stir quickly with a fork. The reason you need lots of ice at this stage, is it will lower the temperature of the coffee faster and will dilute it less. 

5) as soon as the jug feels icy cold, pour the coffee in to a chilled glass with a couple of ice cubes in it. 

6) Enjoy! It never lasts long, and it's never quite enough. Perfect. 

Tips to make your Ball go off with a bang

College balls, charity balls, massive parties, and other black-tie, summertime shenanigans are enormous fun to attend. It's a hoot getting dressed up, well fed and dancing all night, but all this revelry is no happy accident. Behind every ball is normally a team of committed people who may have zero experience of organising such things. These guys are heroes, and deserve all the help they can get. Here are some top tips from some of Clara's big party-planning friends:

1) Do the basics well

It may sounds obvious, but if you don't sort the basics, all those flourishes that make everyone go "ooooooh" will fall seriously flat. Before you commission an ice sculpture, or work up the all important table centrepieces, think power and shelter. That means generators and marquees, Good suppliers tend to get booked up, and prices vary hugely, so don't leave infrastructure to the last minute.

2) Food and drink

Attending a ball is seriously thirsty, exhausting work. Don't underestimate the importance of feeding your guests once at dinner, and again later on, and supplying more than enough drink! Otherwise all that drink will become a bit much. What you feed everyone will be talked about, so make this something fun, and that fits well with your theme if you have one. Sit down meals are expensive to pull off effectively, so if your budget is tight, a street food type food experience makes a lot more sense, and works really well later in the evening too. Of course, serving coffee after dinner is essential, and we cover that brilliantly at Clara's. A caffeine hit in the small hours is also highly recommended. As for alcohol. Make sure you're operating within the law, and that you use a trusted supplier.

3) Entertainment, lights and sound 

Booking a music act that everyone's heard of, or a seriously talented covers band is going to take up a sizeable chunk of budget but it's easy to see why this forms one of the biggest hooks to get guests to attend. Don't spoil this investment with a cheap light show and shoddy sound. So often overlooked, but absolutely critical is how you showcase the talent you hire - think of lights and sound as part of the talent budget. Your guests will definitely appreciate the effort here just as much as the booking of amazing acts. 

4) The morning after

Depending on who your guests are of course, it is highly likely that you'll still have guests on site as the sun comes up. These brave souls need to be rewarded. Fresh breakfast pastries, steaming coffee and a bottle of water will all be received with enormous gratitude. It's a lovely way to end the night! 

5) Rules and regulations

This should really come first, but its the least fun bit, so I've put it last. That's not to say that it is hugely important to do more than just comply. Do your homework on all your suppliers. Everyone serving food and drink should be qualified, and will have a star rating for their food hygiene. Ask questions if a supplier can't or won't show you proof of this. Anything less than 5 stars warrants an explanation. Other suppliers need to comply too - temporary structures, electrical equipment and such like all have to be inspected regularly and everyone should have all the relevant insurance. It's simply not worth taking the risk with non-compliance. 

So there you have. It's not easy, but think of how rewarding it'll be when the ball is in full swing and you finally get to see the fruits of your labours. 

Clara's provides coffee for black and white tie events of all sizes. Use our booking form for a quote, or just give us a ring. 

 

Top Tips for the Best Wedding Reception

The Wedding season is nearly upon us which means lots of brides and grooms to be will be frantically finalising their wedding theme and seeking out suppliers to bring it all to life. This can be enormously good fun, but on  the whole, quite stressful! Here are 5 top tips to help your reception go off with a bang, without your budget spiralling out of control 

1) Plan everything!

It goes without saying, but planning is absolutely key. If you haven't already, ditch the pencil and paper for an app that allows you to keep control of the many to-do lists you're bound to create.

Winderlist is a fantastic to-do list app and it'll change your life 

2) Get the venue booked early, and make sure it'll accommodate your dream

The all important venue is going to be a significant outlay. Make sure that it does everything you need it to. Some venues lock you into very specific catering packages, and while this is great for convenience, it's certainly not for everyone. Always check if you can bring in your own suppliers or your street food feast on the lawn might not get beyond a dream

3) Budget realistically

Don't underestimate the cost of seemingly trivial additions. Shop around, and don't compromise on quality, but make sure you can get the essence of your dream within your budget. Keep a bit to spare in case you have to fix something last minute! 

4) Get help

It sounds obvious, but your friends and family are a veritable mine of wedding resources. Weddings are a massive headache for one person to plan. Of course, you can always get someone professional in. They tend to do a marvellous job

5) Always have surprises 

It's the little details that make the day. The drinks on the way into reception, the place settings, the entertainment. All of these things set the whole day off. Clara's Coffee van is a fantastic, cost-effective surprise, and is enormously popular when we turn up after dinner, or late in the night when everyone needs perking up. 

To sum up...

Whatever you do, take a deep breath and go for it. There's so much to choose from, you'll find no shortage of inspiration. Just remember to keep organised, stay in budget, and most importantly, don't forget the coffee!