It is not many coffee shops have been running for over 75 years, been in the coffee business for over a century, in a building dating from c 1540, on a mediaeval bridge, built on Norman foundations.
Stokes on High Bridge was plastered over as a Victorian ‘improvement’. It was restored in 1902 back to the original wooden beams. Now a Grade I listed building owned by English Heritage, leased to Stokes.
The fires on the first and second floors with their beautiful copper canopies, are not modern fakes. Originally fired by coal, then gas, now electric.
Last week, Stokes lovely and warm and cosy on first and second floors. Not today. The ground floor coffee bar cold. Each time the door was opened, a blast of Arctic air into the shop. The first and second floors cool. No insulation on the building, -5 C outside. earlier it had been -8 C.
I learnt something today. Serving coffee in soup bowl, is not the best way to serve coffee.
I also learnt one reason why people of no taste may drink what masquerades as coffee in Costa or Starbucks. Super-size the coffee into a soup bowl and people think they are getting a bargain. Quite why anyone would wish to drink a larger portion of something disgusting is still baffling. And still be ripped off, a coffee, a factory cake, and little change from a fiver.
I learnt that there was and maybe still is a loyalty card valid for all participating indie coffee shops in Lincoln. This is an excellent idea, and if it still exists, it needs a relaunch with publicity.
A variant of the Costa (dis)Loyalty Card
What also is needed is the Bailgate Pound, which can be stretched beyond The Strait, Steep Hill, and Bailgate to encompass other local businesses like indie coffee shops. The opportunity to launch a Bailgate Pound two years was lost because the business organisation that clams to represent local business proved to be clueless.
The local council fails to look after the local economy, does not even begin to comprehend a local economy, preferring instead to promote national chains (which drain money out of a local economy) not local businesses (which recycle money within the local economy).
The staff at Stokes are brilliant. You can tell they love their job, are proud of what they do, and are friendly with customers. Even though busy, they have time to chat. Only a couple of visits and you are acknowledged as a regular.
And of course they serve great coffee, delicious looking home made cakes.
Top Story in Make Mine Tea (Friday 18 January 2013)
Synchronicity: A lovely blonde who was in Stokes when I popped my head in a couple of weeks ago was not there. I asked where she was. To my surprise, Amazon. I mentioned Paulo Coelho, not known, but they were aware of The Alchemist. One of the two books I picked up from Readers Rest a couple of days ago (sadly closing down) was The Alchemist. Leaving Lincoln, I got a lift in during the morning, I did not fancy catching a bus in sub-zero temperature, I caught a taxi. Curious I asked the taxi driver where he was from. Brazil!