Archive for July, 2017

Aldershot Live Music Day

July 29, 2017

If putting on a music festival, either do it properly or do not bother.

Aldershot Live Music Festival must rank as one of the worst music festivals in the country.

As always no advance publicity. They erect posters in the town on the day it happens. There had not even been any information at the bandstand, one of the venues.

Two stages, in the past three.

Why not one, as they cannot find the talent for even one stage, let alone two? Use only the bandstand.

By the bandstand, a handful of people, no one playing.

In the town, a small stage, an audience of zero, literally no one, a sole female singer playing a guitar, could not play, could not sing.

I cannot comment on the acts as I did no stay, but if anything like previous years, not worth staying for.

I saw better at a  garden party a few weeks ago in Farnham and at the Godalming Food Festival.

Why no concessions? I expected to find at least something to eat and drink. Charge £50 for stall by the bandstand. Though even if free, vendors would have lost money.

What is it for, other than to give the impression the council is doing something? It cannot be to bring people into the town, as would only find out if in the town on the day. And clearly it did not bring anyone in, as the streets were deserted.  I contrast with Guildford yesterday, town centre packed as though Christmas shopping.

The council needs to terminate this farce,  as an appalling waste of public money.

If there is money available, then hand it to the West End Centre and ask them to organise a music festival.

Let us hope decent weather for next weekend, Staycation Live in Goldaming.

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Afternoon in Farnham

July 29, 2017

Like last weekend, a miserable wet weekend.

On my way to Farnham,  stop off at Aldershot, check out Aldershot Live Music Day. As always a disaster, no publicity, a waste of public money, the local council going through the motions to give the impression they are doing something, whilst at the same time squandering public money.

I would usually walk along the riverside walk, up through Gostrey meadow,  up into Downing Street.

Too wet. I alighted at the same place, only though to look in Lidl.

On leaving Lidl, I contrasted with the appalling poor service in Lidl Aldershot. Guy on the till replied many have said the same. If this be the case, why has Lidl Aldershot been allowed to fester for so long?

Neither Phyllis Tuckewell nor Oxfam books on coffee.

No soup in Gail’s But at least they now take the sign down.

As walking through Farnham in the rain, I bump into Marios, Cypriot guy who used to run The Barn. I have not seen him since it closed.  The Barn is much missed. It was the only place in Farnham that served decent food.

A cappuccino in Krema. As I am about to walk in, the door is opened for me and it is Anga (not sure of spelling), who warmly greets me. He used to manage Carocoli, then left for Australia. I was most surprised to see him

I think the regular staff were a bit miffed when I asked that he make my coffee. Good as they are, they are not in his league.

I lingered in Cook. Too late now for Waterstone’s.

A little walk into Bishop’s Meadow, too wet to stay off the path, and  then the rain turned heavier.  I was surprised to find the hay has still not been cut. maybe too wet.

A canvas shoulder bag hanging by the hedge, wet and bedraggled, with a  note asking to tweet where found. Maybe a clever way to collect data on people.

A quick shop in Waitrose.

Coffee in Waitrose mainly brand crap commodity coffee. A small selection of what can be remotely classed as quality, of that, only Union quality coffee, and the Union is old coffee, past its best.

It makes the point, if you want quality coffee, do not buy from a supermarket, buy from an indie coffee shop, a quality indie store or direct from a quality roaster like Union.

In Krema, they have coffee from Horsham Coffee Roasters, roast date prominently displayed. If you wish to know why roast date important, ask in Krema.

Lion and Lamb Cafe and Restaurant is always empty when I pass by. No surprise, the food is not good, even though the menu is always enticing. Last time I ate there, a Moroccan lamb burger half cooked. Later I checked them out. One of the co-founders ex-Starbucks, not a good sign. Also claimed artisan coffee.

As I passed by I asked one of the helpful girls. She said they have Union Hand-Roasted, which yes, is quality coffee. Whether they know how to make a decent coffee, an entirely different matter. Gail’s has Union and they make awful coffee. I said next time I am passing, I will drop in and have a coffee.

Kalita Wave at Canopy Coffee

July 28, 2017

My third visit to Canopy Coffee aka Coffee House at 62 Haydon Place.

Tomorrow they will have been open a month

A new barista, ex of Harris + Hoole.

The lovely juicy Kayon Mountain batch brewed on Moccamaster – just brewed! So sweet..

A post shared by Canopy Coffee (@canopy_coffee) on

After a cappuccino, they asked would I like to sample their filter coffee, a Keyon Mountain, maybe brewed 45 minutes earlier.

I asked would they like to try Finca Immaculada Laurina, Union Hand-Roasted from Colombia, sadly now past its optimum, as roasted 21 June, but still excellent.

It was brewed using a Kalita Wave, which I have not seen before, let alone tried. I had seen before in the coffee shop, thought a cheap clone of a Chemex, in many ways a cross between a Chemex and V60.

I learned why it is called V60, the angle is 60 degrees.

Beans carefully weighed and ground, the filter cleansed with hot water, brew carefully timed.

Hot water is poured over the ground coffee to allow it to bloom, lets the CO2 escape, then pour in slow concentric circles, pause, repeat, for four minutes

I would have thought same beans, different filter method, nevertheless filter, Japanese syphon compared with Kalita Wave, would be the same. I was surprised to find a big difference in taste.

The resultant clear brew poured into small glasses, we all tried, including a couple of customers.

All agreed excellent filter coffee.

Afternoon in Guildford

July 28, 2017

Cool, an hour warm, then rain and cool.

Just when could not think The Village could not get any worse, today looking like a used-car lot.

Walking on site, moronic music blaring out of the in-site speakers. Sufficient to make one turn on ones heals and walk out.

It was having the desired effect, even fewer people than usual.

The guy selling burgers, who only opened a couple of weeks ago, full of enthusiasm,  has woken up to reality, and has already pulled out.

To put in context, Guildford town centre this afternoon packed.

No Greek food.

Last week a drama performance, nothing to say who or what it was, even the stalls had no idea.  I subsequently learnt it was a pre-performance of The Railway Children, now on at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

I learnt that last Saturday The Village closed at 3-30 in the afternoon due to heavy rain.

Serious questions need to be asked of the management of this site.

Lunch at Thai restaurant not great. When the boss not there, never very good and these days the boss rarely there.

Third visit to 62 Haydon Place. They still do not accept the coffee has been bitter. Tomorrow they will have been open a month.

Today a new barista who used to be at Harris + Hoole. A much better cappuccino, though different coffee, today Resolution blend from Origin Coffee.

I was asked to try a filter coffee. I would have preferred freshly made, not made, then stored.

I asked would they like to try Finca Immaculada Laurina, Union Hand-Roasted from Colombia,  sadly now past its optimum., as roasted 21 June, but still excellent.

It was brewed using a  Kalita Wave, which I have not seen before, let alone tried. I had seen before in the coffee shop, thought a cheap clone of a Chemex, in many ways a cross between a Chemex and V60.

I learned why it is called V60, the angle is 60 degrees.

Beans carefully weighed and ground, the filter cleansed with hot water, brew carefully timed.

Hot water is poured over the ground coffee to allow it to bloom, lets the CO2 escape, then pour in slow concentric circles, pause, repeat, for four minutes

I would have thought same beans, different filter method, nevertheless filter, Japanese syphon compared with Kalita Wave, would be the same. I was surprised to find a big difference in taste.

We all tried, including a couple of customers.

As on previous visits, a continuous stream of customers. Word is getting out. What I also noticed, discerning customers, they ask questions, wanting to know more about the coffee they were drinking.

I took a takeaway to Dylan’s ice cream in The Village.

Flooding of Upper Union Street

July 27, 2017

All it takes is a brief heavy downpour for a stream to start  flowing down Upper Union Street.

The water flows in at the top, down the street, out the bottom, flows along the next street, where it then floods The Queen Hotel.

It is easy to see why. There are no drains.

Exactly the same problem as the flooding of Queensmead in Farnborough every time there is a heavy downpour.

Love and Light

July 25, 2017

Art exhibition in Cafe Mila in Godalming.

Art by Julie Smallwood.

Natter Cafe

July 25, 2017

There used to be on the platform at Farncome Station, a little coffee shop, Coffee Charisma. I have never found it open.

In Guildford, on the market in North Street, a stall selling coffee, Coffee Charisma.

Confused? Me too. Especially as both had identical logo.

Last time I passed through Farncombe Station, I noticed no longer Coffee Charisma, now Natter Cafe. And no, not open.

Two different businesses, both with identical names. Something had to give.

Natter Cafe also comes as two. There is also outside Farncombe Station, Natter Cafe, and that was where I was headed for a  cappuccino, break my journey on the way to Godalming for lunch, only it did not quite work out that way.

I was looking at the menu, and was then given some advice on the coffee. Try our filter coffee, V60, single origin from Uganda. I do not know why Uganda was chosen, other than a single origin. Possibly because no single origin from Brazil.

I had a look around, before settling down in the garden outside.

Very pleasantly done, both inside and out, inside art on the walls, which is periodically changed.

The V60 was not poured as I would have expected, a continuous pour, not pour to wet the coffee, pause, pour again, and repeat a couple of times.

Compare for example with a V60 Japanese iced filter coffee at Coffee Island in Covent Garden.

I also noticed, did not first cleanse the filter with hot water, which is very important.

I queried this later with the barista. He said they had done that first at the espresso machine.

I found the coffee to be too strong, possibly why I was brought milk. It would also have been better served in glass.

I requested a glass of water, used the glass

Why it was too strong I do not know. Could be the beans which I suspected were over roasted, poor quality beans, maybe too much coffee. It could even be the method by which it was poured.  Also could have been the grind, which would determine how fast or slow the hot water passed through, thus the extraction time.  A courser grind maybe would improve the coffee.

I compare with a Japanese syphon. First time, awful coffee, second time excellent, third time too strong. Why,  poor quality Indonesian coffee, speciality coffee coffee from Columbia, grind too fine, filter clogged, and over-brewed. Small differences make a difference.

Also compared unfavourably with a filter Kenyan at Karuna Coffee and the V60 Japanese iced coffee. And compared unfavourable with all twelve lots from Los Nogales Project during a cupping session at Taylor St Roasted.

But to be fair, though I would have expected the V60 filter to be better much better than it was, I am drawing a comparison with very high quality coffee.

I asked of the beans.

Natter Cafe have their own blend which is roasted for them, also single origin, which is also roasted for them.

All the single origins, maybe even the blend, all roasted to the same roast profile.

Not how any competent roastery would roast beans. Roasted to bring about the best from the beans, also depends upon how the beans are to be used, espresso or filter.

I decided to stay and have lunch, having been tempted by watercress soup and fish cakes served with salad. Both were excellent.

Followed by a cappuccino and a flapjack dipped in chocolate.

The cappuccino not great, large amount of froth and foam. The flapjack excellent.

On sale bags of beans and the little V60 used to make my filter coffee.

Nothing was priced. No roast date on the beans nor could I find the weight. Best by for coffee is meaningless.  A speciality coffee shop would have more information on the beans, though more than would find in a supermarket on brand coffee.

Staff very pleasant and helpful.

I was looking forward to a coffee and was gravely disappointed. On the other hand I was not expecting to eat and found the food to be excellent.

I would highly recommend for the food and ambience, but not somewhere I would go for a  coffee.

Afternoon in Farncombe and Godalming

July 25, 2017

A pleasant hot sunny day, welcome after the last three cold, wet days.

Afternoon zig-zagging back and forth between Farncombe and Godalming.

The idea had been, set off an hour and a half early, coffee at a coffee shop in Farncombe, Natter Cafe, then on to Godalming for lunch at Cafe Mila. Only it did not quite work out that way.

No train for Farncombe, it had been cancelled. Half an hour wait for the next train.

I had intended, cappuccino at Natter Cafe, then on to Godalming for lunch.

Instead, a filter coffee with a V60, watercress soup, then fish cakes with salad, then a cappuccino and a cake.

The filter I found to be too strong. Many reasons, too much coffee, poor quality coffee, roasted to dark, grind too fine.

I asked for a glass of water. I used the glass for the coffee.

The soup, watercress soup, was excellent. As was the fish cakes and salad.

Surprisingly busy for lunch, I say surprising as nothing in Farncombe. Though it did then die down.  To then pick up again mid-afternoon.

Cappuccino was not very good, though chocolate dipped flapjack excellent.

Irony, I was there for the coffee, but found the food to be far better than the coffee.

I then found I had no money.

They trusted me to leave, go to Godalming, return, then pay, which I did.

I looked in Cafe Mila before my return.

On my way to the station I realised, no phone, I had left in Cafe Mila.

I could see it was one of those days.

Luckily, cafe Mila had my phone when I returned.

In Cafe Mila, an art exhibition, Love and Light.

A wander through Godalming, saw a bus at 1828, went for a walk by the River Wey.

Rather than walk back, I kept on along the river to catch the bus at the other end of Godalming.

I then found I had somehow misread the timetable, there was no bus.

I could have walked back though Godalming caught a bus to Guildford, but decided instead, catch a  train.

I did not know how long I would have to wait. Luckily only a  little over five minutes, again for a train from Guildford.

Why buy coffee from a supermarket?

July 24, 2017

The furore created by the decision of Sainsbury’s to ditch FairTrade has raised two separate but interrelated questions. Why FairTrade, why buy coffee from a supermarket? Which leads to another, are there not superior alternatives?

Since the furore arose I have checked out the shelves of three UK supermarkets, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, and for comparison a little indie food shop Food for Thought.

Asda and Sainsbury’s were stacked with rubbish undrinkable brand coffee. Only a small section with what could remotely be called quality coffee.

In Waitrose, half the shelf space stocked with an attempt at quality, the other half rubbish brand coffee. If nothing else, exposing the lie Waitrose shoppers have good taste.

One of the criticisms of Sainsbury’s pulling out of FairTrade, was that in Waitrose will find FairTrade.

I did not, maybe I should have looked harder.

I did though find coffee from Union Hand-Roasted Coffee. Quality coffee, not FairTrade but direct trade. It was the only coffee with a roast date, old coffee, past its best.

FairTrade is little more than a brand to make buyers feel good, they have done their bit by picking up a bag of FairTrade coffee.

Coffee is traded on international commodity markets, Arabica in New York, Robusta in London. It has no intrinsic value, it is a commodity to speculate on. Unfortunately the price speculators will gamble on, impacts on the livelihoods of coffee growers, as everything is pegged to that price.

Coffee roasters in search of quality coffee, speciality coffee, will pay for quality, the higher the quality the higher the price. There is an incentive to produce higher quality as a higher price will be paid. FairTrade offers no incentive for quality, it locks farmers into poverty dependent upon handouts.

Coffee roasters want quality, not only this year but next year, the year after. They will enter into long-term agreements with farmers, partnerships, help them improve quality, adopt better agricultural practices that improve the soil fertility, safeguard forests.

Kew Gardens have been mapping forests in Ethiopia to establish the impact of climate change and what mitigation measures to take. To safeguard the forest, which is an important genetic resource for coffee as contains many wild coffee trees, the forest has to have value. The forest has value by Union paying a higher price for the coffee, not only paying a higher price, working with the farmers to help them improve the quality, establishing a cupping lab in order that the farmers themselves can assess the quality of their coffee.

Another example is the Los Nogales Project on an estate in El Salvador owned by the Salaverria family. One estate, three farms, different varieties, different plots, different processing of the beans. Taylor St Roasted and Horsham Coffee Roast are sourcing from Los Nogales Project.

Square Mile has a similar project, though not as ambitious. Short Stories, same varieties of beans, grown at different altitudes.

Indie coffee shops want quality coffee, as that is what their customers are demanding. This feeds back to higher prices for coffee.

If you want quality coffee, coffee that is freshly roasted, then buy the bags of coffee from the coffee shop, or failing that, little shops that specialise in quality, or direct from the roasters.

If you want to support growers, drink quality coffee, why are you buying from a supermarket?

Little shops like Grocer and GrainThe Deli at 80, Food for Thought, have quality coffee in stock, as does the slightly larger Infinity Foods.

Indie coffee shops that are brewing quality coffee, will often have coffee for sale, often they roast their own.

Failing that, there are many quality coffee roasters, Has BeanUnionSquare Mile, Taylor St Roasted, Horsham Coffee RoasterThe Roasting PartyKaruna Coffee, to name but a few.

The furore relating to Sainsbury’s pulling out of FairTrade should be turned around, why are people buying coffee from Sainsbury’s, when if you like coffee, want to support growers, you should be supporting the coffee trade by supporting the local indie coffee shop, the little shop stocking quality coffee or buying direct from the coffee roasters who engage in direct trade. In doing so you are not only supporting the coffee growers with higher prices, you are also supporting the local economy.

Cappuccino and granola bar in Gail’s

July 22, 2017

Not long after Gail’s opened last year, I had a cappuccino. It was not good.

I have been tempted to try again, to see if improved, on the other hand I hate throwing good money after bad.

Today, was one of those days.

Cappuccuno and  a granola bar.  Neither were good.

The granola bar was hard and dried up. Either made that way, or left out all day and had dried up. Not good for what claims to be an artisan bakery.

I think that claim is to try and justify the extortionate prices, rather than a measure of quality. £2-95 for a small wholemeal loaf.

The cappuccino did not look great, the taste was equally unappetising. It was bitter, far too hot.

There is no excuse, they have Union Hand-Roasted Coffee, an expensive La Marzocco espresso machine. The problem lies with the staff making the coffee, who are completely clueless on coffee.  I would hate to call them ‘baristas’ as it would be to insult baristas.  It is rare to ever see the same staff twice.

Bags of Union coffee are prominently displayed. It is not giving Union a good name.

I then visited Krema, the only coffee shop in Farnham capable of making coffee where at least I knew I would find a half-decent cappuccino.