Archive for December, 2017

Frank Green Smart Cup

December 31, 2017

It is difficult to see anything positive about this reusabale coffee cup.

Ugly, bulky, plastic, expensive.

I am reminded of the cheap and tacky plastic cups on sale in Waitrose.  The main difference, those from Waitrose retail at £3.

What are the whole life cycle costs of a product made of plastic? It is claimed to be recyclable, but no information how.

I would not wish to drink out of plastic.

I first came across the Frank Green Smart Cup in Stokes at The Lawn. I asked how much? No one knew, no one could ever recall one being sold, let alone used.  They thought a tenner, maybe  a little more.

Did they give a discount if used? Yes, but no one knew. They said you scan the cup.

I checked on the Stokes website.  Price range £12-50 to £14-50, which puts it mid-range between a plastic and glass KeepCup.  On Amazon the price much higher, £26.15 plus £9.05 delivery charge. 

20p discount if bring the Frank Green cup back to Stokes for a refill.

I give Stokes as an example not as a criticism of Stokes.  What it illustrates is a more fundamental problem, the lack of take up of let alone use of reusable cups, be they Frank Green or the more desirable KeepCup.

20p discount is not going to encourage use of reusable cups. Even where coffee shops have been offering a substantial discount the take up has been minimal.

In the New Year, Pret a Manger are going to be offering takeaway organic filter coffee at 49p a cup, if you bring your own cup to fill. That is 50p discount. With no information in store, no reusable cups on sale in store, no launch on their twitter account, it remains to be seen what will be the take up of this offer. Assuming it is not a clever PR stunt, nothing more.

Reusable cups have to be carried around. In Stokes would have to use in excess of 50 times to recover initial investment in the cup.

What is a smart cup? What makes it smart? What differentiates a smart cup from a dumb cup?

A chip in the lid that present to pay for your coffee.  The chip communicates with an app on a smart phone.

I would agree with Brian writing in Brian’s Coffee Spot:

The lid contains Frank Green’s other major selling point. It has a chip in it, which supports both loyalty cards and payment methods. Called CaféPay, this means you can actually pay with your cup and, for example, automatically get a discount since your using a reusable cup. Obviously how useful this becomes will depend on how many retailers support it. It’s clearly a neat feature, but I can’t help feeling it’s a solution looking for a problem. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’ve never found myself in a coffee shop thinking how great it would be if I could pay with my cup.

 
Brian also says it is bulky.

I agree, a solution looking for a problem. I have never been in a coffee shop thinking, now if only I could pay for my coffee with a coffee cup lid. What is wrong with cash?  About as useless as bitcoin for payment in the real world.

And if I were to buy a smart cup in Stokes can I use this dumb system to pay for coffee in other coffee shops?

I can find no information on the Frank Green website on why the cup is smart or how it is used.

There was no information in Stokes. My attention was drawn after reading about Lulu. A stranded whale that died, and the sculpture hanging from the ceiling. I had wondered why, when they opened in the summer, why a whale suspended from the ceiling. It is made of recycled plastic, to highlight plastic pollution.

I asked, were their takeaway cups compostable paper? No, but they are looking into it.  I suggested talk to Makushi, who are now using compostable paper cups.

Compostable cups are a step in the right direction.

What appear to be paper cups are not, they have a plastic liner. They cannot be recycled.

Plastic pollution is destroying the planet.

Compostable coffee cups are better than the throwaway disposable takeaway cups. The UK throws away 2.5 billion every year which go to landfill or incineration.

But …. and it is a big but …. it does not solve the waste problem.

Let us assume I have been shopping at the market or the fruit and vegetable shop in Bailgate, have a bag of fresh produce, am on my way home, I can then pop my cup in with the fruit and vegetables, when I get home throw on the compost heap.

So far so good.

But what if not? What do I do with my compostable cup? Throw it in the bushes, over the wall in a garden, in the river?

That is the dilemma.

What in reality will happen it will join the waste stream.

Something like a KeepCup on sale, bring back for a refill. Disadvantage, expensive, have to cart around. Only really works if popping out from the office for a coffee to take back to the office.  And that is the market Stokes should target, office workers popping out for a coffee to take back to the office, and with a larger discount, and KeepCup not a Frank Green Smart Cup.

What we have to do is discourage the grab and go, mindless consumption culture.

Encourage people to sit and relax with a coffee out of a ceramic cup.

And to be fair to Stokes at The Lawn, their clientele is people wishing to relax with a coffee or afternoon tea.  And if you sit in the back room, can watch their coffee roasting operation.

If I were to advise Stokes, it would be get shot of the Frank Green cups, replace with KeepCup, which can have the Stokes brand, target office workers with a  substantial discount, encourage relax in the coffee shop with a  coffee.

How not to, a flyer I picked up from Coffee Aroma. I thought it was offering 50% discount on a cup of coffee. Sadly not. It is offering 50% on a takeaway. Please no. We should not be encouraging takeaway, we should be discouraging. Scrap the offer, reverse it, and instead, issue a flyer offering 50% discount if sit in and relax with a cup of coffee.  By all means a discount of 50% if bring own cup for a refill.

Disposable cups are not the only waste coffee shops generate, the coffee grounds, milk making cappuccino.

Best use of coffee grounds, put out for gardeners to take away. The milk, already warm, can be used for making yogurt.

Speciality coffee shops have focused on the supply chain, direct trade, sustainable trade. They now need to look at what happens after they have brewed an excellent cup of coffee.

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Christmas dinner at Butcher and Beast

December 25, 2017

Two days before Christmas, what was to be Christmas dinner at the Butcher and Beast.

Er, looks like sirloin steak.

Er, yes, sirloin steak.

A communication problem. What was to be a booking for Christmas lunch, was only logged as a table booking.  One would have thought, would have at least asked when booking, is this for Christmas lunch, but apparently not. Was not even aware there was a problem until brought a menu, and queried why. Only then learnt, had not been booked for Christmas lunch.

Hence sirloin steak.

Butcher and Beast is a country pub in the Lincolnshire village of Heighington, not far from Lincoln.

Food at the Butcher and Beast used to be not up to much, overpriced and very variable. Of late, much improved. Roast Sunday dinner a few months ago was excellent

Wagamama no calling in sick during Christmas

December 24, 2017

If you are one of the poorly paid serfs in a McShit job at Wagamama and call in sick on Christmas Day, indeed any day over the Festive Period, you will face disciplinary action.

A note with bold and underlined, as would expect a child to make, was pinned to the staff notice board beneath staffing rotas, warning staff they face disciplinary action should they call in sick.

No calling in sick! may I remind you that if you are unable to come in for your shift it is your responsibility  to find someone to cover your shift (as per contract and handbook). Calling in sick during the next 2 weeks will result in disciplinary action being taken.

Is this legal? Possibly not.

Is this the action of one rogue manager? I doubt so. And others doubt so too.

If this was a rogue manager, what disciplinary action?

If a rogue manager, does each store have its own unique contracts and handbook? Or, was targets set, ends justify the means, until the dodgy workplace practises exposed on social media, then blame a rogue manager?

Would someone please post the handbook and  a sample contract on-line. Go through Wikileaks and follow their instructions how to post securely. Or copy and drop in the post to both Unite and The Guardian.

It is not the role of employees to find replacements when off sick. That is the role of management, that is what they are paid for.

Are Wagamama open Christmas Day? Shame if they are.

Are staff forced to work Christmas Day? Are they paid extra?

If Wagamama has the shame to open Christmas Day, it should be voluntary for staff to work that day, and those who do volunteer, should be paid double if not triple pay for the day, and a paid for taxi provided to work and back home.

That staff face disciplinary action if call in sick over Christmas it is a  reasonable assumption they are being forced against their will to work over Christmas.

Let us assume a serf working at Wagamama has noro virus? Are they forced to work? If yes, there are going to be a lot of sick people after eating at Wagamama.

Are the Food Standards Agency and local Environmental Health investigating Wagamama, who not only think it ok to have sick staff in a food environment, but are threatening them if they do not show for work when sick?

I would urge everyone to boycott this chain. Not unless happy to eat where staff handling, preparing, serving your food could have noro virus or some other unpleasant disease.

This illustrates once again why we need a Basic Income. Then no one is forced to work McShit jobs at chains like Wagamama.

No surprise Wagamama owned by Vulture Capitalists, in this case  Duke Street Private Equity, founded by Edmund Truell who has donated hundreds of thousands to the Tory Party.

Why eat at Wagamama when there are quality independent alternatives? If, for example in Guildford eat at Bamboo Shoots.

I would no more eat at Wagamama, then I would drink what masquerades as coffee at Costa or tax dodging Starbucks or Caffe Nero.

Guildford farmers market

December 19, 2017

A hard frost this morning.

Colombian guest coffee off FCB kiosk at Guildford Station. Not as good as yesterday. What a difference a barista makes.

Walking in the High Street, two people dressed to look like Police, but not Police. On their backs, Surrey Law Enforcement. I later did a bit of checking. As I suspected, and not acceptable, the council has its own private security force patrolling the streets.

Today an extra farmers market. A Christmas market. The farmers market at the beginning of the month a fortnight ago, was not as incorrectly reported by Guildford Tourist Information Office a Christmas market.

Why does a stall have turkeys on the stall all day? This raises serious health issues, to which the local council turns a blind eye.

The honey stall, today their last market. They will not be doing any more markets. I suggested try the Farnham Maltings Christmas Market end of November, as at least it is indoors.

There is another honey stall, but not as good.

With a friend in Maplin, she bought a pair of headphones. I asked coud be brought back if faulty. The girl serving said no. This is clear breach of Consumer Protection Legislation. She then backed down, and said yes, if faulty. It is appalling the way these shops try it on.

Excellent lunch at Bamboo Shoots, honey crunch chicken.

Yesterday The Village was open. Today not. Clueless what they are doing.

I was pleased to see Surrey Hills Coffee put their coffee grounds out to be collected. I asked, did pople actually collect. They said yes.

Santander goes from bad to worse. As walk in, someone with obviously nothing better to do, can I help you? Yes, man the tills. A girl having hassle. Has lost her card, waiting three weeks and no card. Cashier, who claimed to be the manager, said address was invalid. Why not actually ask the girl to confirm whether the address correct or not, not claim the address invalid? Only when the girl created a fuss, was she then offered £50. Is this £50 every day? In which case, why not say so? In Halifax, £50 every day whilst waiting for a new card, £300 if take in passport. And why this hassle at cashier desk? Why not a desk for problems? Maybe manned by the jobsworth stood around doing nothing.

Coffee at Harris + Hoole. OK, but not great.

I asked of their KeepCups, was there a great take up? No. I suggested, target those who are picking up a coffee to take back to the office with a big discount. Everyone else, encourage to relax with a coffee in store. No, not aware that in the New Year Pret a Manger will be selling takeway coffee for 49p. Nor that 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away every year. Some people ask for two cups, one inside the other. I suggested check out Kaffeeform coffee cups, coffee cups made from recycled coffee grounds. Though the best use of coffee grounds is for the garden.

The famers market was busy, or at least there were a lot of people on the street. Probably Christmas shoppers, as a lot pf people on the street yesterday. I doubt for the farmers market due to complete lack of publicity at last market. And I noticed in contrast to the last market, everyone had a lot of stock left.

Guildford farmers market the first Tuesday of the month. There will be no market in January.

Afternoon in Guildford

December 18, 2017

A cold day, pockets of frost in the grass. Pleasant in the sun, cold and damp in the shade.

Stopped and had a cappuccino off FCB kisok, the excellent Colombian guest coffee from Dark Woods Coffee.

A couple of guitarists playing bottom of the High Street. They were good. No idea who they were. I picked up a couple of their CDs. I passed by later and had a chat. They said invest in high quality sound equipment. Pays itself back in a couple of weeks. I picked up two sets of their CDs. Christmas presents sorted. I recomended they released on bandcamp. I had never seen them before, though they said they have played in Guildford.

A friend had lost her bank card, or maybe been stolen. £150 was also missing. We went to the bank. The card had been used, thus stolen, or lost and found.

If the exact time of transaction is known, and the shop, One Stop in Aldershot, and the shop has CCTV, then should be possible to identify who used her card.

Phyllis Tuckwell in Farnham had sold out of their Christmas cards. In Quarry Street they still had. I wish they would get rid if their rude pig-ignorant shop manager. Always miserable and unpleasant. Always unpleasant loud music blaring out. I rarely visit the shop.

In nearby Oxfam shop, ugly Christmas cards, could not do worse if they tried. No surprise not sold.

I looked at The Village. Most of the units appear to have closed. Reality has finally set in.

Late lunch at Bamboo Shoots. Honey crunch chicken. As always, excellent.

On leaving Bamboo Shoots, it had turned very cold.

I head fo the station.

Afternoon in Farnham

December 16, 2017

A cold day, cold frosty morning.

With a little under twenty minutes to spare, having just missed a bus, I wandered into Aldershot town centre.

I found a Christmas Fayre, if that was what it was, a couple of tacky fairground rides blocking the street, Rotary Club blaring out distorted music, a coffee stall with no one drinking coffee, and the streets deserted.

On the bus 1400 No 17, female Stagecoach employee stood chatting to and distracting the driver. A notice clearly states do not stand forward of this point and distract the driver. One rule for passengers, another for Stagecoach?

In Farnham, alighted off the bus and walked along the riverside walk. Walking up through Gostrey Meadow, very cold.

I popped in Phyllis Tuckwell charity shop. I wanted their Christmas cards. Sold out. I did though pick up a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle.

Excellent carrot and butternut squash with herb soup served with toasted sourdough bread. Far better than the soup of late in Gail’s artisan bakery.

Followed by cappuccino and a flapjack.

There was not many people about. Unlike last few weeks, Krema not packed. Cook on the other hand, very busy. No idea why, as usually only busy when a special offer. I asked. They did not know why busy either, and no, no special offers.

Churchard very cold.

I cut through the churchyard to Bishops Meadow. Dusk, gloomy and cold.

Lion and Lambs Courtyard very busy.

I looked in Caracoli. They have their own, or at least branded as their own, a bit like branding KeepCup, double walled plastic reusable coffee cup. Plastic! Somewhat defeats the objective of reducing the use of plastic. The lid screws in, which maybe makes it leak proof.

Only one coffee book in Waterstone’s, the completely useless Where to Drink Coffee. It has been relegated to a shelf by the floor.

Waitrose very busy and yet not all the tills manned.

 

Aldershot Christmas Fayre

December 16, 2017

Aldershot Christmas Fayre, a couple of fairground rides obstructing the street, Rotary Club trailer blaring out distorted music, a stage with people who could not play, a coffee stall, and the streets deserted.

The streets are always deserted in Aldershot, therefore nothing new.

No publicity for the Christmas Fayre if that was what it was.

I saw no one buy from the coffee stall, and those manning it looked bored stiff, or maybe they were merely frozen stiff.

On the stall, one whole section occupied by KeepCup. Now I have nothing against KeepCup, if it cuts down waste, 2.5 billion throwaway coffee cups every year, though it is addressing the symptom not the cause, and it makes some sense if a coffee shop is selling KeepCup and offers a substantial discount on takeaway coffee if used by regular customers, but what use a stall that will not be seen again?

In the summer there is a music festival, it too is poorly attended, lack of publicity, people who cannot play.  The Christmas Fayre, if that was what it was, more of the same.

If wish to enjoy a Christmas Market then visit Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market.

Flat Whites coffee shop

December 16, 2017

Flat Whites is familiar to many as a little van, strictly speaking a pod, in the High Street in Winchester.  It took over the spot previously occupied by Jimmy Bean. Sometime in the summer they opened a coffee shop in Southampton. They have now opened a coffee shop in Winchester.

It is located in Parchment Street. I have never before walked down Parchment Street. Lined with interesting shops, far better than find in the High Street.

Flat Whites towards the end of the shops, in a little courtyard.

I walked in, found it was busy, a warm greeting from Abby the owner. She knows me from her little van.

Abby who owns Flat Whites coffee shop has done an excellent job, guest coffee, coffee beans for sale, on display Standart latest issue and Drift the Melbourne issue.

Standart is very rare to find. Drift I had never come across until The Underdog in Athens.

Coffee from Mozzo, served for cappuccino. My cappuccino excellent.

Strange, it was better than I have had off the van. The only way for a fair comparison, would have to have then had a cappuccino off the van, but then it would have been a different person serving. Unless different beans, I can only explain the difference a better machine, or maybe machines, espresso machine and grinder.

Guest coffee from Bailies Coffee Roasters for pour over. Little cards giving more details of the guest coffee. These are attached to the menu, and on the shelve where the bags of coffee for sale. They are not though doing themselves any favours with cards with tiny writing that needs a magnifying glass to read.

Balies I had not heard of. Not surprising, as in Ireland.

Guest coffee will periodically change.

I suggested try Tormento Colombia from Dark Woods Coffee, a single origin coffee from Finca El Tormento in Colombia.

Very expensive peanut butter from Cliptop Kitchen If quality peanut butter, I cannot think why would then wish to ruin it by adding chille.

On a shelf by the window, treats for dogs. Whilst I was there a black poodle came in. Must have been a regular, as asked for a  treat.

A lovely ambience.

The tables appear to be from reclaimed wood. The bench seats are cleverly disguised storage boxes.

When I walked in it was busy. A good start as they only opened the week before.

Whilst I was there, a customer walked in and bought a bag of beans. Abby went through the bags to select the latest roast date. She can rotate if slightly older. It is this attention to detail that makes the difference between an average and top quality coffee shop.

An excellent addition to the thriving Winchester coffee scene.

Afternoon in Winchester

December 15, 2017

A very cold day, only a few degrees above zero, wind chill making feel much colder.

I missed the train to Alton thanks to dysfuncytional Stagecoach bus service. I missed a bus, half an hour wait for the next bus, a bus service that is supposed to be every ten minutes.

At Alton, popped in The Station Cafe, wished them Merry Christmas. Next Bikers night will be last week in February.

On the way to Winchester, charged power bank. It was fully charged last trip a week ago, only used as occasional flash light, It showed fully charged, half way through journey, fully charged.

I was tempted to alight from bus and walk down into Winchester, too cold.

I would usually visit Winchester on a Wednesday, when they have a street food market, albeit a very small street food market that is getting smaller. Today market day, many more stalls.

Pasta off the Sicilian stall. Far too cold for street food. The High Street seems to focus the wind.

I learnt last week, Flat Whites have opened a coffee shop. I decided to find it, take a look, but not stay.

It is down Parchment Street. I have never before walked down Parchment Street. Lined wth interesting shops, far better than find in the High Street.

Flat Whites towards the end of the shops, in a little courtyard.

Abby who owns it has done an excellent job, guest coffee, coffee beans for sale, on display Standart latest issue and Drift the Melbourne issue.

It was then to Coffee Lab Academy, now nearly five o’clock.

I asked what time were they closing, there are a lot of people in the High Street, I added, hopefully.

Seven o’clock.

I decided to take a walk to the Cathedral Christmas Market, then come back.

Winchester Cathedral Market is far more impressive at night than during the day. In the daytime it lacks atmosphere. Plenty of people enjoying the ice skating. Contrast with the pathetic ice rink at The Village in Guildford, which has now closed, and The Village will also close Christmas Eve, having cost the local taxpayer £1.2 million.

Back to Coffee Lab Academy. No Dhan, but luckily, he has signed copies of Coffee Art for me.

Cappuccino and date slice.

I find there is not a bus at 1850. I am sure there used to be. Now hourly from 1820. Lucky for me Coffee Lab Academy not closing until seven.

Train from Alton, intersting conversataion with an American economist from New York, he had studied at LSE.

Favorite Coffee Shops in Athens

December 15, 2017

The Life Lab do an excellent job of capturing the atmosphere of coffee culture in Athens through three coffee shops, The Underdog, Barreldier and Little Tree Books and Coffee.

They must have been following in my footsteps.

My only disappointment with their excellent little film was that it was not longer and featured more of the Athens coffee scene.

Music:  Put your money on me by Arcade Fire.