Appalling food waste by Harris + Hoole

Harris + Hoole

Harris + Hoole

I was walking down North Street, en route from the Castle Grounds to St Saviour’s Church where Canon Andrew White was giving the sermon, when I stuck my head in Harris + Hoole, aka Tesco.

I was curious, was their coffee organic and/or Fairtrade. I could see nothing to indicate either.

I was shocked to find they were throwing out all their food, perfectly good sandwiches, sausages rolls. They did not appear to be throwing out cakes, but maybe they had not got that far.

Not only is this an appalling waste of food, adds to global warming (as probably goes to landfill), they have to pay for it to be disposed off.

I asked why did they not give it away, or sell off half price, or say buy a coffee and get a free sandwich?

But please, when the fastest growing sector of the economy is food banks, when we have a growing problem of waste, please do not throw away good food.

They said yes, good ideas, and will pass to management. Being a chain, no doubt has to go to head office, people are never encouraged to think, show initiative.

The staff were very pleasant and friendly, and asked did I wish to stay. I said no, as I was on my way somewhere. But even had I not been on my way somewhere, I would not have wished to stay, because apart from the fact that it is a fake indie coffee shop, it is just is not pleasant.

How can anyone relax, enjoy a coffee, with a ghastly pop radio station blasting out?

I had meant to ask at St Saviour’s, did they have any links with food banks, could they make an arrangement to distribute this food that was otherwise going to waste. I am sorry to say that sadly I forget.

It does though yet again, expose that Harris + Hooe is a chain, not an indie coffee shop and they like to pretend. Nor are they community oriented as they like to pretend. If they were, they would be making arrangements to see that this food was put to good use.

Next time I pop by, apart from taking up the ideas I have suggested, I will suggest, that if they still have left over food, they link up with a local food bank.

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5 Responses to “Appalling food waste by Harris + Hoole”

  1. Geoffrey N. Read Says:

    Please take a look at the work that the Devon & Cornwall Food Association (DCFA) are doing in this regard.
    You can contact me for further information on

  2. William Eaglestone Says:

    According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), more than 1.3 billion tons of food and $750 billion are lost annually. Food spoilage is a major contributor to the food waste problem, and keeping packaged foods fresh on the inside while protecting it from outside invaders and delaying spoilage is one of the most obvious consumer benefits in the food chain.

  3. JJ Says:

    Quite a lot of their food is freshly made + unwrapped (most sandwiches) and the majority has a 24-hour shelf life label printed on the packaging. Many food banks won’t accept unwrapped, unpackaged food, even if they have cold food storage facilities, and they also have to abide by the “best before” labelling and bin anything unused by the date on the label. I agree that something could and should be arranged with local food banks and shelters surrounding these shops so that the community can benefit from any unsold, yet perfectly usable, food…I read that they’ll be working with organisations like FareShare in the near future to help with this issue.

    I personally enjoy going to Harris + Hoole (they have lovely coffee and kind, pleasant and knowledgeable staff) and have to say that it is not “aka Tesco” – you don’t get clubcard points there, can’t purchase or consume Tesco (or any other store) products there and it is not managed by Tesco. The infamous supermarket chain is also a bank, much like Lloyds TSB or Halifax, and they have invested in this coffee chain which existed before Tesco ever got involved.

    P.S.- the coffee served is Direct Trade (a level above Fairtrade) via Union Hand-Roasted, simply ask one of the staff if it’s not clearly posted around the shop (which it usually is)

  4. keithpp Says:

    There is much that can be done to deal with the food waste. Problem is locally their hands are tied by upper echelons within the organisation.

    Towards end of day, offer with a coffee, or free drink with food, mark down in price.

    Last half hour or near closing time, offer free to anyone who wants it.

    Then, offer to shelter for the homeless.

    In Lincoln several business give their left over food to a homeless charity. What is sickening, is that other shops are putting pressure on the shops giving away food to try and stop them.

    Food banks will not take fresh food.

    A number of social enterprise cafes are springing up, these take in waste food, turn into delicious meals.

    Bristol Skipchen surplus food cafe
    Transition Community Cafe
    The Real Junk Food Project Brighton

    These are better than food banks as not the social stigma attached.

    There is absolutely no excuse for waste food.

    FairTrade is very bureaucratic, and many are now avoiding and setting their own standards. These can be much better, they can also be awful.

    Coffee at H+H is excellent, the staff very knowledgeable, pleasant and friendly. Which cannot be said of Costa or tax-dodging Starbucks.

    The chain did not exist before Tesco poured in money. Tesco own 49%. Confusion has probably arisen with Taylor St Baristas, who also serve excellent coffee and have pleasant and knowledgeable staff.

    The best thing that could happen, would be a buy out of the Tesco share, each coffee shop, an independent open coop (staff and customers), operating as a loose network, supporting each other, surplus ploughed back into new coffee shops, community projects, even setting up social enterprise cafes.

    One of the biggest mistakes they have made, apart from the Tesco involvement, is opening coffee shops in Tesco stores. Now instead of being known as somewhere for quality coffee, they are the Tesco cafe.

  5. Alex Dodd Says:

    Hi Keith.
    I would like to let you know that I am employed by Harris and Hoole… I personally have been taking the food myself to the royal Surrey Hospital and giving the food to staff there in the many departments that strive to keep us in good health 24/7. We also give food to a local homeless shelter who come to us for free food at the end of the day a couple of days a week.

    Harris and Hoole started out as an “Indie” coffee shop originally and were invested in by Tesco as they loved how the original shop did things and wanted to invest in providing better coffee to people.

    Our coffee is directly sourced from coffee farms all over the coffee belt areas of the world. Our current single origin espresso is from the Esquipulas farms co operative in Guatemala and will change seasonally as clearly stated in the shop.

    I won’t go into detail about the amount of training our barista’s have and even office staff. But I will say that judges from the UK barista championships train our staff and we are using standards set by the world barista championships as a guide.

    I personally have loved working here and I will continue to grow with the company. I serve coffee to hundreds of very impressed and satisfied customers every day and will continue to strive to be the best I can for the company.
    On a personal note I resent your comments and find them to be unjustified and inaccurate. But you are enttled to you opinion.

    One more thing, Tesco no longer own there share in Harris and Hoole – they have been bought out and Cafe Nero have invested.
    I have recently worked shifts with one of the directors involved in the purchase as he wanted to get an idea from the inside how things work and after many discussions with him I look forward to a bright future with lots of exciting things to come and a much bigger focus on the high street presence. With the combined knowledge from both companies I feel the future will be fantastic.

    Thank you for your time.
    Alex Dodd

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