People who work in offices think that people who work at home have it easy. They're right, of course, in some respects. The male of the species does not have to shave or wear a jacket and tie. Females don't have to worry about make-up or laddered tights. Workers of both sexes are spared the ordeal of the rush hour.

People who work in offices think that people who work at home have it easy. They're right, of course, in some respects. The male of the species does not have to shave or wear a jacket and tie. Females don't have to worry about make-up or laddered tights. Workers of both sexes are spared the ordeal of the rush hour.

But there are drawbacks, and I'm not talking about swollen phone bills. I'm talking about coffee, the fuel that keeps the motor of commerce running. You brew a pot in the morning, fully intending to make regular trips to the kitchen for a microwaved recharge, but somehow it never works out. You get too busy. When 6pm rolls around, the cafetiÿre is half-full of Sumatra or Guatemala that's spent the day extracting bitter compounds from the coffee grounds. It is undrinkable.

Two solutions to the problem have come to my attention, both offering real salvation on the caffeinated front. One is the Thermos Carafe, which is in essence simply a Thermos flask, but looks nice and pours much better than the conventional cylinder. There are two models, one with a stainless steel inner lining and the other in chrome with a glass lining. The stainless steel version holds 1.2 litres, the chrome 1 litre. Prices: £49.99 and £19.99 respectively.

Why do I like it? Well, it keeps my coffee hot and in peak condition for the full working day. I can keep it on my desk, right next to the paperclips and un-answered letters. And because we can make coffee at night and have it waiting, like a faithful dog, when we stumble down to breakfast. Or make the coffee before a dinner party and serve it the instant it's needed. Sounds good? Ring 01277 213 404 for stockist info.

The other solution is the One Cup Hot Cafetiÿre. This clever little number doubles as a brewing vessel and drinking vessel: you put ground coffee in the bottom of the mug, insert a tight-fitting strainer, then leave it to brew. When time's up, plunge the strainer and you're left with a single cup of coffee. The mug has double-wall construction so it stays cool to the touch, and it costs a very reasonable £4.99. and I love it. For stockists, ring 020 8868 4355.

But of course, at a certain point in the day, thoughts of Java give way to thoughts of that beef stew you've been simmering all day (another blessing of the home-worker's lot). A stew that's begging you to serve it with a couple of impeccable reds from the Domaine de la Mordorée, both sold by Lea & Sandeman (020 7244 0522). Cÿtes-du-Rhÿne 1999 (£5.95) is a wonderfully well balanced mid-priced example, drinking well though an extra year or so wouldn't bother it. Better still, their Lirac 1997 (£7.95) is a gorgeous package of generous oak and red berries with totally tame tannins and a long finish. It stopped my bottle-hardened wife dead in her tracks, even when she was desperate to dig in to dinner. But then, she doesn't have it easy, like me. She works in an office.

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