Friday, 27 January 2017

Coconut oil coffee : Miracle drink or just plain nutty?

This week, we’re getting our coffee taste buds tingling with a spot of coconut coffee. We’re not talking coffee with a dash of coconut flavoured syrup, we’re talking coffee and coconut oil. This combination has been all over social media, with converts stating it boosts your metabolism and improves your immune system. Now we’re not too sure of the scientific evidence for these statements, but we do like a bit of coconut, and you know we like our coffee, so we decided to give it a try.

The ingredients

Our life source being made

Making this beverage was easy-peasy. All you need is a standard cup of black coffee, a tub of coconut oil, and a spoon. Unsure of which coconut oil to plump for? If you enjoy the taste of coconut, reach for an extra virgin oil for a stronger coconut flavour and aroma. If you’re less keen, select a refined coconut oil for a more neutral scent and taste.

Once you’ve made your cup of coffee (best to go for an americano or black filter coffee, adding milk will only confuse the flavours), dig out a spoonful of coconut oil. Coconut oil can be fairly hard if cool, so if you’re struggling to extract it, simply warm up your tea spoon. Stir your oil into the coffee until it is
Add one teaspoon of coconut oil
dissolved. The coconut adds flavour to your coffee, but it doesn’t add sweetness, so if you use sweeteners or sugar, add as usual. We added our usual teaspoon of agave syrup.

So, this is what our beverage looked like. There is some oil separation, but at first glance, it looks no different to your usual cup of joe. What was different, however, was the smell. This drink gives off a gorgeous aroma of, believe it or not, coffee and coconut.

The results

The separation was not attractive
Cut to ten minutes later, given time to cool, the oil and liquid had begun to separate and looked, I’m sure you’ll agree, not overly appetising. Not to be deterred (it still smelt amazing), we gave it a stir, and dug in.
We weren’t quite sure what to make of the taste. It tasted very strongly of coconut, but this supported the usual coffee taste. We usually knock our coffee back in one go, but sipping on this beverage took time as it was much richer than we’re used to. Despite our continual stirring, once the water was merely warm as opposed to hot, the liquid and oil remained separated. This did not make our beverage particularly visually appealing. We’ve since learned that ‘experts’ recommend popping your oily coffee through a blender for a more thorough mixing process.
Our coffee in more attractive times

Perhaps the oddest thing about drinking this concoction, was the texture. It was somewhere in between cream and hot chocolate, which was slightly disconcerting. Once we’d finished drinking, we had a lot of coconut oil left on our lips, not that we’re complaining, as this makes a fantastic lip balm!

The purported benefits

We’ve trawled a lot of healthy eating blogs so you don’t have to. There’s a lot of talk about the health benefits of this drink, and so called ‘bulletproof’ coffee, but today we’re going to stick to the facts. There haven’t been studies into the mix of coconut oil and coffee, but the benefits of coconut oil have been fairly well established.

The white stuff
Coconut oil is almost 90% saturated fat, which at first read sounds terrifying! But, believe it or not, this is a good thing. You see, the fats coconut oil is made up of are Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT), or medium chain fatty acids for the less scientific amongst us. These MCT’s require less breaking down, and therefore are transported directly into our blood stream for immediate use as fuel, meaning we don’t store the fat from the coconut oil on our bodies (or love handles!). Indeed, a study by Assunção et al. (2009), found that a regular coconut supplement promotes a reduction in abdominal obesity and waist circumference, it’s really important to state that this effect only occurs when combined with exercise. There’s a lot of talk of ‘super foods’ or ‘miracle products’, these do not exist. Coconut oil is a great addition to a healthy diet, but it won’t replace one.

To conclude

We enjoyed our nutty coffee, but we certainly couldn’t drink this on a regular basis. It’s logistically tricky, and we got coconut oil EVERYWHERE (how it ended up in our hair, we will never know). Whilst we may be adding the white stuff to our cooking, our daily brew has enough flavour on it’s own.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Your throwaway coffee

You've enjoyed a lovely hot coffee from your local coffee shop, and you're left with your empty paper cup. What do you do with it? If you said 'place it in the recycling bin', you would be incorrect. Believe it or not, your disposable coffee cup is not recyclable. That little recycling symbol on the side of your cup? Sneakily, it only refers to the corrugated cardboard cup holder.

The makeup of your cup
How many of these have you had this week?

A takeaway coffee cup is made from paper that is laminated with the plastic, polyethylene. The majority of recycling plants don't have the facilities to remove this plastic lining, which takes around thirty years to break down!

In the UK alone, around eight million disposable coffee cups are distributed EVERY DAY, that works out to be around ten thousand every minute. With fewer than one in 400 of these cups being recycled, we are throwing away around 2.5 billion cups each year.

To make matters worse, because the cup seams comes into contact with your beverage, recycled paper cannot be used. It takes at least 100,000 trees each year just to fuel Britain's coffee habit.

What to do

With December's global temperature being the highest on record, it's clear that we have to do everything possible to slow the process of global warming, and reducing our usage of disposable cups seems like an easy win.

Now, we're not telling you that you have to go without your daily caffeine injection - heaven forbid! What we are suggesting, is finding an alternative receptacle, and most coffee shops will provide a discount when you use your own cup. We're not the only ones calling for alternative receptacles, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall waged a war against the disposable coffee cup last year, in his fantastic documentary, 'Hugh's War on Waste'. The Environmental Paper Network (EPN) have also launched their 'Cupifesto', calling for the usage of disposable coffee cups to be curbed, you can read the 'Cupifesto' here.

Plump for a reusable coffee cup
So, what is the alternative? For those of us that enjoy our beverages piping hot, invest in a flask mug, Bodum have some beautiful options here, or you can find more value options in Wilkinson's here. If, like me, you need your coffee not to scald your tongue, KeepCup, with a customisable cup holder and sip lid, may be the ideal option. Like the idea but don't want to splash the cash? You can find a basic plastic coffee tumbler in your nearest Starbucks for between £1.00 - £2.00.

So, there we have it. We hope we've shown you the error of your ways in your throwaway coffee habits. Do you use a reusable cup? What type do you favour? Let us know in the comment section or on Twitter, we're at Water_Today.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Winter dehydration: Is it a thing?

Cabins in the snow

If there's one thing we know for sure about British winter, it's that there's a lot of water involved. Snow, rain, hail, there's much precipitation occurring. With all this water, you'd think that winter hydration wouldn't be a problem. In actual fact, the body's thirst response is diminished by up to 40% in cold weather, so we don't always realise we're thirsty, and in turn, neglect to properly hydrate. In today's blog, we discuss why this may be, and share our tips for keeping your water intake up as the temperature drops.

Why so thirsty?
An entirely accurate picture of us when we get too cold

Think it's counterintuitive to be dehydrated in the cold? Think again. When your body is cold, your blood vessels constrict to prevent blood flowing to your extremities too much (this is how things like frostbite happen). This action enables your body to conserve as much heat as possible as more blood is drawn towards your core. Whilst this is an ingenious action for heat conservation, it also means that you body believes you are more hydrated than you are.

A problem of many layers

Would you weigh yourself in your winter coat and knitwear? No, you would consider the additional weight that these heavy clothes add. Carrying the weight of your winter garments actually makes our bodies work between 10 and 40% harder than usual, this means that the body produces more sweat, contributing to your body's water loss.
This chap has an excellent taste in knit

This sweat action combines with increased respiratory loss in cold weather. You know, when the air is so sharp that you make little clouds with your breath? That's respiratory loss, and with those clouds, you are losing an increased amount of fluid.

To complete the trifecta, sweat actually evaporates more quickly in cold weather. Often, this means we don't even realise we have been sweating and therefore don't replenish our fluids.

Upping your hydration

Note: Coffee counts
When Jack Frost is nipping at your nose, the last thing you fancy drinking is cold water. If you can't face the cold stuff in the wintry seasons, find yourself an alternative beverage. Experiment with some hot fruit squash, or a lovely herbal tea. Even standard tea and coffee are better for you than no hydration at all. If you need some ideas for winter beverages, check out a few of our favourite recipes here.

Invest in a snazzy glass bottle for your desk, you can even get one made with companies such as Borg & Overström here. Pop your bottle somewhere prominent, and have a glass every time you have a loo break.

It's easy to forget to drink enough, but there are loads of apps available on your phone or tablet to help you remember. Apps such as, Carbodroid, Waterlogged, and Daily Water Free will keep track of how often you drink, and remind you when you’re falling behind.

There we have it, a brief guide to hydration in the water, and a few handy tips for keeping your fluid levels up. For more hydration tips, check out our blog; here

Friday, 20 January 2017

Our dark journey into caffeine withdrawal

Are you sitting comfortably? We have a terrifying tale for you. This week, an office imp switched up our lovely full bean Arabica coffee.... for decaff. That's right, decaffeinated coffee. We told you this was a scary story. We'll tell you all about the terrifying effects of caffeine withdrawal, as well as the people we turned into, but first, in the interest of balance, we'll tell you why they did it.

Why kick the coffee habit?

Firstly, we cannot dismiss the hypothesis that they did this for their own amusement. But, we'll be charitable, and explore the reasons why withdrawing from your daily coffee injection might be a good idea.

Kick the habit
Caffeine is the most used mood altering drug in the world, just 30mg of caffeine can alter your mood and behaviour, and 100mg and above can lead to physical dependence, and withdrawal symptoms (we're definitely in the 100mg and above category) . We all know we feel a lot more alert and able to deal with the general public after our morning coffee, but what are the pitfalls of drinking coffee? It may feel sacrilegious to discuss such an ideal, but bear with us, please.

The negative effects of caffeine consumption kick in after consuming around 200mg of caffeine (For context, the average cup of filter coffee contains around 140mg of caffeine). After consuming this volume, you're more likely to experience anxiety, jitteriness, and an upset stomach. If you already experience anxiety, your symptoms may worsen, and your sleep may be disrupted.

What happened to us

Pug dog
An accurate representation of how we felt inside
Before we resume our tale of woe, it's important to note that we had no idea that our coffee had been switched, so the effects we felt were very real, and not a placebo effect. Within a few hours of missing our usual caffeine hit, we felt sluggish and not fully alert, we ignored this as a standard consequence of it being Monday. By the time we'd reached twelve hours of caffeine withdrawal, we were struggling. Some of us were sporting killer headaches, others were feeling rather irritable, and some were simply sleepy. Our office wasn't the most cheerful place in the world, as you can well imagine.

Peak intensity of caffeine withdrawal hits after 20 - 48 hours, and that's an accurate description of our office on Tuesday. We had headaches all round, our concentration was down, and irritability was thick in the air. You can imagine how we reacted when the switcheroo was revealed!

Caffeine withdrawal

Those were a few of our symptoms during those two dark days without caffeine, but what else can people expect to experience when withdrawing from caffeine? Caffeine withdrawal is actually a defined condition in the ICD-10, which is a register of conditions and illnesses by the World Health Organisation. Thanks to this, we can tell you exactly what the scientifically determined caffeine withdrawal symptoms are.

Caffeine withdrawal is an official disorder, so you can stop laughing at us.
A cracking headache is probably the most common withdrawal symptom of caffeine withdrawal, and this occurs in 50% of individuals withdrawing from caffeine. Other common caffeine withdrawal symptoms including fatigue, irritability, flu like symptoms (nausea, muscle aches, and stiffness), as well as psychomotor and cognitive impairment.

The kinder way to withdraw from caffeine

The reason our symptoms were so severe is because we went cold turkey from three (*cough cough* or four) cups of caffeinated coffee per day down to none. As with anything, it is far more sensible to reduce your caffeine intake gradually. Try reducing your intake by one cup a day, or one cup every few days to ensure your caffeine withdrawal symptoms don't hit you like a bus.

You are going to be sleeping. A lot.
Allow extra rest whilst withdrawing, you are bound to lack energy at first, so avoid any activities that require special attention. Try and find alternatives for your refreshment, there are loads of combinations of herbal tea available, not to mention fruit juices and flavoured waters, if you really really miss your daily caffeine hit, plump for a decaffeinated tea or coffee.

Reject or reduce?

There's no scientific evidence that drinking coffee is harmful, although I think even the most die hard caffeine addicts amongst us can agree that drinking too much coffee can make us feel pretty rubbish. If there's one thing we took from this secret experiment, it's that we can get by on two cups of coffee just fine. That, and that certain people are not to be trusted with the coffee machine!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Choosing the right water filter for your home

Fed up of limescale in your kettle? Find the taste of your tap water a bit off? Sounds like it's time to invest in a water filter. The UK water filter market is enormous, with a cornucopia of product, technology, and price options, but never fear, The Water Cooler Today is here to make this decision easier for you. Let's dive straight into what you should consider when purchasing a water filter for your home.

Size matters
How big is your house?

Forget what you've heard before, size matters.... the size of your household! You'll need to consider the amount of people in your household and who will be using the filter. If it's just you, a filtered carafe or bottle may suffice, if there's two - four of you, a jug system may be your best bet, increase those numbers and you may consider a tap based system or water cooler.

Where will you be keeping your water filter? If it's in the fridge, I recommend you get your tape measure out and measure your drawers! Some water filter jugs are slim-line and will fit into any standard fridge, other, more industrial sized, filter jugs will need to stand upright in the main body of your fridge.

Cost it

Money purse
Will your water filter break the bank?
Most people only consider the upfront cost when selecting a water filter for the home. Of course, this is an important factor. Water filter jugs range from around £5.00 for the most basic of devices, up to £70.00 - £80.00 for an advanced filtration system. However, what people neglect to consider, is the maintenance cost of the jug. Some water filters require replacing every month, some every two to six months, investigate the cost of replacing these filters. Consider, also, whether your water filter jug allows compatible filters. You can pick up cartridges in the supermarket that fit a variety of filters for around half the price of branded ones, so double check just how compatible your jug is.

The right filter for you

The price of your water filter is almost always directly correlated to the type of filter it uses. A jug based system is likely to remove chlorine, contaminants, and large particles (which you shouldn't need to worry about too much with tap water), it will have a relatively short shelf life, but also be cheaper in comparison to more complex filters.

Carbon water filters are the area where prices begin to rise. Carbon water filters use a layer of
Carbon - This stuff clears up your water
activated carbon to chemically absorb contaminants and impurity. Water filters consisting of carbon vary from a carbon block within a jug, all the way to a long lasting ceramic carbon block.

Reverse osmosis water filters can also be used, these pass water through a self cleaning, semi-permeable membrane. These are among the most comprehensive water filters, not much will pass through this system, however this may also filter out the natural minerals present in water that are beneficial to your health. The reverse osmosis water filters can also be rather pricey, and waste a lot of water to get to your cup.

Our final water filter to consider is the alkaline water filter. Some state that these water filters help to reduce the levels of acid in our systems, helping out with illnesses like acid reflux and stomach ulcers. The alkaline water filter changes the pH level of your water, making it more alkaline. However, much like the reverse osmosis water filter, these waste a lot of water, and cost a lot of money.

We hope this blog helps you in choosing the best water filter for you and your home. Over the next few weeks, we'll be reviewing the water filters that are available to buy - keep an eye out!

Monday, 16 January 2017

5 tips to top up your water intake

Fresh water
Fig 1. Lovely fresh water
Believe it or not, there are some people out there who (whisper it) don’t like drinking water. Mind boggling, we know. Here at The Water Cooler Today, we are water’s number one fans, and we’ve pooled our knowledge and resources to help you increase your intake of H20, to feel happier, healthier, and more alert! Let’s jump into it…

1.       Spice up the flavour

Lemon water
Fig 2. Water with a slice of lemon
If the taste of plain water is too much for you, there’s an easy solution – change it! You can filter your drinks for a purer taste, or carbonate your water for a sparkling sensation. There are some fantastic bottles available currently that enable you to infuse fruit into your water, but if you don’t fancy splashing the cash, simple freeze a slice of lemon or lime and drop it into your bottle.

2.       Remind yourself

Smart phone
Fig 3. Smart phone with apps

Most people don’t hit their water target because they simply forget. But do not fear, there are apps available to help you! Apps like Carbodroid, Waterlogged, and Daily Water Free will keep track of how often you drink, as well as reminding you when you’re falling behind. For a less high tech reminder, draw measurement lines and time restrictions on the bottle you drink from.

3.       Update your receptacle

Plastic bottle
Fig 4. Disposable plastic bottles
Don’t tell me you’re drinking out of a plain old glass or plastic disposable bottle? How embarrassing… Find yourself a bottle or glass that you will remember to take everywhere, maybe it’s shaped in an amusing way, maybe you can hook it onto your belt – find a bottle that works for you. If sipping away at water is boring, jazz up the process with a straw cup or fancy straw. If it works for five year olds, it’ll work for you too.

4.       Hydrate alternatively

Herbal tea
Fig 5. Herbal tea
We require around eight glasses of fluid per day, but these don’t have to be through plain water. You can sip on fruit juice, sparkling water, coffee, herbal tea, or tonic water. Experiment with the soft drinks aisle until you find your hydration groove. One word of warning, however. Lay off the fizzy drinks! The amount of sugar you’ll find in a glass of fizzy drink will diminish any health benefit you’ll gain from upping your hydration.

5.       Include your food

Slice of watermelon
Fig 6. Watermelon
You don’t even need to drink all of your eight glasses, as lots of fruit and vegetables provide a huge hit of hydration. Nibbling on fruit like watermelon (92% water), or grapefruit (91%) water, as well as vegetables like cucumber (at a whopping 96% water), will go a long way to contributing to your fluid levels, as well as gaining some lovely vitamins from your food as a bonus.

Now we’ve shared our water wisdom with you, you’ve got no excuse for not hitting your hydration targets. We know that being properly hydrated increases our productivity, alertness, digestion, and skin, so get yourself to a tap right now!  

Friday, 13 January 2017

The Way of Tea : Part Two

Japanese house

The Way of Tea is a two part blog series on the Japanese tea ceremony.

We hope you enjoyed part one of your sneak peek into the world of the Japanese tea ceremony. In today's blog, we'll be delving even further, and discussing how the ceremony itself unfolds. The ceremony varies according to many factors including; the day, the time, and the venue. The ceremony that we'll be discussing today occurs during the sunken hearth section of the year (winter), and would occur in a purpose built teahouse.

Fig 1. A waiting bench for guests

The guests arrive at the teahouse and enter a little waiting room where they leave their belongings, and put on special traditional Japanese socks, known as tabi (You can find out more about tabi here). Guests are served a cup of barley or Kombu tea, and are led to an outdoor bench to await their hosts.

The host arrives, and the guests and host silently bow to one another. The guests will then cleanse their hands and mouths in a stone basin, which is known as a tsukubai.

Entering the tearoom

Japanese tea implements
Fig 2. Japanese tea equipment
Before entering the tearoom, guests take off their shoes and enter through a small door, known as a nijiri-guchi. When in the tearoom, guests view the tea tools and equipment, and are seated in order of prestige. When all guests are seated, the door is closed loudly. The noise summons the host, who welcomes each guest and answers any questions they may have about the ceremony or the equipment.

The meal

Traditional Japanese tea room
Fig 3. Traditional Japanese tea room
A charcoal fire is set up in the hearth, and guests are served a meal of many courses accompanied with sake. After this meal, guests eat a 'wagashi' sweet. Following this, there is an intermission called 'nakadachi', in which the guests return to the waiting room. Whilst they wait, the host cleans the tea room, sets a flower arrangement, and opens the shutters within the room,

Drinking the tea

Japanese tea equipment
Fig 4. Japanese tea equipment
A bell or gong is sounded, which summons the guests to return to the tearoom. The host will ritually cleanse each of the utensils and arrange them in a specific manner. The host will then prepare the tea and bow to the first guest, who will return the movement. The guest will then bow to the next guest, and take a small tip of tea. The guest will compliment the quality of the tea, wipe the rim, and pass the bowl on. Each guest will repeat these motions until all have drunk tea, the equipment is cleaned, and the host will leave the tearoom.

After the tea
Bowl of tea
Fig 5. Matcha tea

The fire is rekindled, which symbolises a switch from the formal to the casual. The host returns to the tea room with confectionary and thin tea, and a smoking set. The guests can have casual discussions and socialise during this portion of the ceremony. Once the thin tea is drunk, the host re-cleanses the equipment, and allows the guests to examine each piece. The host will gather the equipment and tidy it away. They will then bow from the door, signalling that the ceremony has reached it's conclusion.

We hope you've enjoyed this sneak peek into the beautiful chanoyu ceremony. Have you ever been to a traditional Japanese tea ceremony? We'd love to hear about it in the comments.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The Way of Tea: Part One

Bowl of matcha tea
Fig 1. Bowl of Japanese tea

The Way of Tea is a two part blog series on the Japanese tea ceremony.

Now I'm sure you know that here at The Water Cooler Today, we are big coffee drinkers. However, what you may not be aware of, is that we love a good cup of tea. This week we have been investigating 'The Way of Tea', or Chanoyu, as it is known in Japan. Chanoyu refers to the Japanese ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha tea, a powdered green tea. Today we will be discussing the symbolism and history of this beautiful ceremony.

The history

The history of tea ceremonies in Japan dates back to the 9th century, when the Buddhist monk, Eichu, visited China. On his return to Japan, he prepared and served Sencha tea to Emperor Saga in 815. It evidently went down a storm, and Japanese nobles began to drink more and more tea.

Tea hut
Fig 2. Traditional Japanese building
Towards the end of the 12th century, a style of preparation called 'tencha' was introduced to Japan by a monk called Eisai. Tencha involves powdered tea and hot water being whisked together in a bowl. It was popularised in Buddhist rituals within monasteries. By the 13th century, tea drinking had become a status symbol - particularly among the warrior class in Japan, who would even host tea drinking parties. Maybe we should be hosting a few of these ourselves!

By the 16th century, tea drinking had spread across all sectors of society in Japan. A tea master named Takeno Joo introduced the concept of ichi-go ichi-e. This philosophy states that each meeting should be highly valued, as it will never and can never happen again.

The symbolism

Tea room
Fig 3. Traditional Japanese tea room
The Way of Tea is deeply meaningful and intertwined with Zen Buddhism. There are two main principles within all Japanese tea ceremonies - Sabi and Wabi. The Wabi principle refers to the inner and spiritual experiences of human lives. When performing a tea ceremony the Wabi principle is shown in quiet and sober refinement. Simple, plain instruments and environments are used to reflect this. In contrast, the Sabi principle refers to the outer, material elements of life. To observe the principle of Sabi in a ceremony, you must consider emptiness as a key to spiritual awakening.

The seasons and, in particular, the changing of the seasons is very important to tea ceremonies. Tea practitioners divide the year into two seasons; the sunken hearth half (November-April), and the brazier half (May - October). The ceremony changes according to the season you find yourself within, with specified utensils.


Bowl of green tea
Fig 4. Bowl of matcha tea
The Way of Tea changes, like most things, according to formality level. If you are having an informal tea gathering, known in Japan as a 'chakai', you will simply serve thin tea alongside confections, and possibly a small meal. A more formal tea gathering is known as a 'chaji'. It generally includes a full meal (kaiseki), thick and thin tea, and confections. You need stamina to get through a chaji ceremony - as it lasts for up to four hours!

We hope you've enjoyed this sneak peek into the beautiful chanoyu ceremony. Next blog we'll be discussing the ceremony itself. Have you ever been to a traditional Japanese tea ceremony? We'd love to hear about it in the comments.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Surviving dry January

Oasis in the desert
It's January, we've all overindulged over the festive season, and our waistlines and purses are (quite literally) paying the price. This is where Cancer Research come in. They've challenged us to a 'Dryathalon', otherwise known as Dry January. Participating in Dry January couldn't be simpler, all you have to do is avoid alcohol for one whole month. When February comes a-knocking, you'll be thinner, happier, healthier, and wealthier. You can donate the money you would have spent on alcohol to Cancer Research here.

The benefits of Dry January are obvious, with 16% of adults in the UK participating in 2016, but that doesn't make it any easier! In order to help you on your mission to stay booze free, we're bringing you some survival techniques that you may even enjoy.

Spread the word
Get the word out!

Avoid tempting invitations and spontaneous drinks by getting the message out about what you're doing. Update your Facebook friends with your mission, and be sure to group WhatsApp your family members. You can even include a link to what you're raising money for. You may even inspire a few others to ditch the booze too!

Don't neglect your friends

Just because you're not hanging out in the pub, doesn't mean you have to see your friends any less. This is your month to try out every whacky activity possible together. See how you fare on an escape game, don your clown shoes for a bowling match, get your hustle on with a board game night, just try something! I guarantee that without the haze of alcohol, you will learn new and interesting things about the people you're usually knocking it back with.

You might be forgoing the drink this month, but your friends may not be. One of the main reason people fall of the wagon whilst participating in this challenge is pressure from friends, colleagues, and family to 'just have one'. You are going to need to remain strong. You can pretend to be on medication, offer to be the designated driver, or just be honest.

Find something to do

With nights that you'll remember the next day, and weekend mornings now open, you'll never have so much time to start some new hobbies. Whether it's learning a new language, getting crafty, honing your dance moves, or perfecting your ping pong skills, January is your month. Set yourself targets to complete by the end of the month, and you'll focus so much on your new craft that you'll forget how lovely a glass of wine would be.

Try something else
Matcha smoothie
Green smoothie

Hands up who doesn't feel like they're socialising without a glass in their hand? To feel like you're still in the loop, experiment with soft drinks. Plenty of restaurants and bars now provide a mocktail or virgin cocktail menu, with all sorts of delicious combinations for you.

You can take this one step further, and host your own mocktail night. With a host of fresh ingredients, a group of willing friends, and a cocktail shaker, you can have yourself a fantastic party. We've found some super mocktail recipes here for you to try out.

Get to the gym

Take advantage of your healthy sober glow, by getting yourself to the gym. Exercising will cause your body to release endorphins that will make you feel and look great. If the gym isn't your thing, investigate joining a sports club or dance group, your perfect fitness regime is out there somewhere - you just have to find it.

Buddy up

Double up your efforts by enlisting a sober friend. Find a booze-free buddy to see this month through with. Find sober hobbies together, and back each other up in the face of peer pressure. When one of you lacks the motivation, it's down to your buddy to lend you some.

Remember your motivation

Coffee cup and sticky note
Post it note reminders can be super handy
Whether it's the money you'll be raising for charity, the weight loss effect, or the money you'll save, keep the reason for your dryathalon at the forefront of your mind. Place a prominent reminder in your purse or wallet so that if you ever go to buy a drink, you'll have a swift reminder of why you shouldn't. You can change the background on your phone, place photos on your desk, or post it notes on your dashboard to keep the message fresh.

Go easy

It's not ideal, and I don't want to hear your excuses, but we all slip up every now and then. If the worst happens do not berate yourself too much, just get back on the wagon with renewed determination. Try and work out where you fell down, and avoid being in that same situation or scenario again.

Reward yourself

Our last point is probably the most important of all. Whether you allow yourself a little treat every day, or a big treat once a week - recognise that you are doing some amazing for your body, your mental health, and for charity and act accordingly. Plan something you've always wanted to have or do for the end of January, the motivation will keep you going through the tough times.

To conclude

We hope to see you reach the end of January, happier, healthier, and proud of yourself! Do you have any tips for getting through the dryathalon? Let us know in the comments below, or find us here on Twitter.

Friday, 6 January 2017

The A-Z of coffee recipes


If you’re anything like us, this gloomy January weather will have you knocking back the coffee. In order to add a little excitement to your beverages, we’ve created an A-Z of coffee recipes for you to try.

A is for Affogato

Ice cream coffee
The Affogato
Dessert and coffee? Count us in! An affogato is a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a single or double (depending on how tough a day you’re having) shot of espresso.

B is for Breve

For a creamy treat, pour a shot of espresso into a normal sized mug, and top off with half milk and half cream.

C is for Café Gommosa

This is possibly the most indulgent option on our list! To create this beverage, place a marshmallow in a shot glass and pour a shot of espresso over it. Sit back, and wait for the sugar high.

D is for Doppio

The doppio is an easy option for an instant hit – it’s two shots of espresso.

German frappe
The sugarfest that is an Eiskaffee

E is for Eiskaffee

This German concoction will not please your dentist. Make yourself a standard cup of black coffee, place in the freezer until chilled. Remove and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a spoon of sugar, and a big dollop of whipped cream.

F is for Flat White

A classic for a reason, the Flat What originated in Australia. Heat up ¾ of a cup of milk (preferably whole milk) until foamy, pour over a shot of espresso.

G is for Guillermo

The Guillermo is so much more than just a fun word to say. Pour a shot of espresso over a few thin slices of lime. Be warned – this is a very acidic coffee!

H is for Herbstmilch

This spicy little drink is sure to warm you up on these cold January nights. Heat a portion of milk until frothy, mix in two teaspoons of hot chocolate, a shot of espresso, a shot of amaretto, and a pinch of chili powder.

I is for Irish Coffee

This is not a beverage to enjoy at work! Brew yourself ¾ of a cup of black coffee, add in a tablespoon of brown sugar and a shot of whiskey. Top with whipped cream and mind how you go!

Irish coffee
An Irish coffee

J is for Jamaican Coffee

This is another drink I’d advise you to save for home-time. Pour a shot of rum and a shot of Kahlua into a mug, pour over a cup of black coffee. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of allspice.

K is for Kopi Susu

A popular drink in Malaysia, Borneo, and Indonesia, try a Kopi Susu for a fun spin on the flat white. Pour a shot of brewed coffee (without filtering) into a glass, top with a quarter to a half a cup of sweetened condensed milk. Let cool and allow the ground to sink to the bottom of the glass.

L is for Latte

A traditional recipe for no frills refreshment. Heat a cup of milk until steamed and add in one shot of espresso.

M is for Miel

This sweet drink is named for the French word for honey. To create this drink, make a shot of espresso, and top off with a cup of milk that has been heated until steamed. To complete your beverage, add a tablespoon of honey, and a dash of cinnamon. C’est parfait – non?

N is for … not coffee?

Hot cocoa
Mug of hot chocolate

Why not mix it up entirely and have a luxurious cup of hot chocolate? Warm up a cup of milk, and stir in four or five squares of chocolate. Once melted, add in a portion of single cream, and a pinch of cinnamon.

O is for Olla

A café de Olla is a traditional drink made using clay pots or jars, in Latin American countries. To whip up a batch for yourself, brew coffee over a hob. Add water, sugar, cinnamon, and one piece of orange peel. Stir until simmering, remove from the heat and leave for five minutes. Strain the mixture and serve.

P is for Pomme d’Api

Ooh la la! Another French coffee recipe for you, but this time it’s cold. Place a shot of espresso in a cocktail shaker, add in apple juice, a slice of apple, and a teaspoon of syrup. Top of with crushed ice and give it a good shake. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy.

Q is for… quench your thirst?

In the home of coffee, Italians start their morning with a shot of espresso accompanied by a glass of water. The water is drunk first, to cleanse the palate for that gorgeous coffee taste.

R is for Romano

Lemon coffee
Tangy Café Romano
Similar to the Guillermo, the Romano involves pouring a shot of espresso over thin slices of lemon. This is refreshing stuff, but it has quite the sour kick!

S is for Spiced Mocha

This creamy concoction is comfort in a cup. Pour a shot of espresso into a mug, add in a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of ground cloves, and a tiny pinch of chilli powder. Top off with warm milk, and a shot of pouring cream. This is definitely one that needs to be enjoyed under a cosy blanket.

T is for Turkish Coffee

Turkish coffee is a cultural heritage of Turkey, that has been confirmed by UNESCO – and for good reason. This aromatic drink involves grinding coffee beans into a fine power, immersing this powder in water and heating until it boils. Sugar can be added to sweeten the taste of this drink.

U is for Upside Down Coffee

Cafe hafuch
Café hafuch
Yes, you heard right, upside down coffee. This drink originated in Israel, where it is known as a café hafuch. It is so named because it is made in reverse order to traditional coffee drinks. A portion of milk is steamed and placed in the bottom of a glass, a shot of espresso is poured over this layer, and it is topped off with the froth from the milk.

V is for Vanilla Latte

A sweet treat for a rainy day. Heat a cup of milk until foamy, stir in 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and top off with a rich black coffee.

W is for Wiener Melange

We hear you giggling at the name, but we’d advise you to take this coffee seriously as it’s absolutely massive in Germany. Place one espresso shot in a large mug, and top off with steamed milk (include the foam), add a shot of cream if you’re feeling particularly luxurious.

X is for eXplore

Girl in coffee shop
Local coffee shop
We all love kicking back on our sofa with a cup of coffee, but why not explore your local independent coffee shop? Cosy Coffee Shops has the lowdown on the best independent coffee shops near you, check them out here.

Y is for Yellow Indriya

Spice up your morning with a yellow indriya. Pour a shot of espresso into a cup, add in a pump of ginger syrup, a tea spoon of turmeric, and top off with milk.

Z is for Zebra Mocha

This is the best named coffee on the list! Warm coffee on a hob, stir in a few chunks of dark chocolate, and a few chunks of white chocolate, until melted. Add a shot of espresso, and serve with whipped cream, and maybe some sprinkles if you’re feeling adventurous!

We hope you find your ultimate coffee somewhere in our list, do let us know how you get on with your coffee creations!