Archive for December, 2017

Little Tree; a film of their own

December 14, 2017

Cappuccino at Vero

December 14, 2017


Yesterday late lunch at Caffe Macchiato. On leaving I check the bags of coffee. Roasted at Vero.

Hard to tell, the Ethiopian had a caramel aroma. If nothing else, indicated a light roast.

Hence cappuccino at Vero. I wished to try the Ethiopian.

I have only had a coffee a couple of times in the past, both times not good, the second time a marginal improvement, therefore at least heading in the right direction.

I would have liked to have tried the Ethiopian, but what was on offer was from Costa Rica. I could maybe have asked for the Ethiopian, but never very helpful, therefore stuck with the Costa Rican.

I asked were they now choosing a lighter roast. Sadly no intelligent response.

The bags at least give country of origin, the estate, but no roast date. Best by is meaningless. Contrast with Cupsmith, no roast date, no information, silly names.

My cappuccino not great, though an improvement on previous visits. Not helped by chocolate dumped on top. What is the point of serving single origin coffee if dunk chocolate on top, as any subtle flavours are lost?

Why do coffee shops not know, you do not dump chocolate on a cappuccino? Or if tempted at the very least ask.

I suggested why not a V60, but was met with a blank look and monosyllabic response.

Vero in addition to roasting and serving coffee, a wide selection of loose leaf tea. I counted 29 jars.

Vero potentially could  be a good coffee shop, at least heading in the right direction, but still a long way to go.

Lunch at Waroeng Windsor Indonesian street food

December 14, 2017

The shop front has been changed at local council expense, to look Victorian, only it does not.

I had looked in yesterday, no Ayam Woku. We will have tomorrow.

I look today, no Ayam Woku.

It is suggested I try Ayam Bakar Paniki, chicken with bones.

As I learn when served, what they meant was a leg of chicken. This I explained.

The leg of chicken was slightly under cooked. This too I explained, that they must cook for a little longer.

Quibbles apart, as always excellent lunch at Waroeng Windsor.

Aldershot  is infamous for its disgusting junk food, closed boarded up shops, a place of desolation, where even the Pound Shops pull out.  Waroeng Windsor is a rare exception of somewhere worth eating in Aldershot and making a trip for.

Cupffee coffee cup

December 13, 2017

Drinking coffee from an ice cream cone. 

Cupffee is an edible coffee cup made from cereals.

You may not be able to have your cake and eat it, but now possible to drink your coffee then eat the cup.

My initial thoughts were a silly gimmick, a coffee cup made from cereals.

Now having second thoughts.

If I have an ice cream from Da Vinci or Coco’s  I always choose a cone, mainly because I enjoy eating the cone. I have never considered the environmental implications of choosing the tub, but these would be exactly the same as consuming coffee from a disposable cup.

How viable?

The cone survives the ice cream. At least it does for as long as it takes me to consume the ice cream and cone. There is liquid where the ice cream is melting in contact with the cone. But this is ice cold liquid, not hot liquid as with a coffee.

Why does this need a crowdfunding campaign? Surely manufacturers of ice cream cones could easily adapt their processing to manufacture coffee cups?

The crowdfunding was a dismal failure, only 1% of funds raised. I have never seen a project fail so badly. Maybe others came to the same conclusion as my initial thoughts, it is a gimmick, or maybe they thought it to be something any ice cream cone manufacturer could produce.  Indeed if had the waffle pattern of a  typical ice cream cone, it would add additional thermal resistance when holding the cup.

Would I wish to drink coffee from an ice cream cone?

No. I would far rather relax with a coffee in a ceramic cup or a glass if a filter coffee sitting in a coffee shop.

Yes, if an alternative to a disposable coffee cup, and I can see some people may like to be different and drink out of what is in essence an ice cream cone.

But to really solve the problem of 2.5 billion coffee cups trashed every year in the UK, we must discourage the takeaway culture and encourage siting in an indie speciality coffee shop with a cup of speciality coffee.

Afternoon in Godalming

December 12, 2017

A cold hard frost this morning.

A couple of minutes only to change trains at Guildford. I usually make it, but not today. Train was running late. I may have made it, but stopped to speak to the guard to alert that carry on luggage sitting on the luggage rack where I had been sat was not mine. Arrived at the platform as train doors were closing.

35 minutes wait for the next train. That was why I caught the earlier train, 20 minutes wait if I had caught the next train.

FCB kiosk not open. It luckily opened after about ten minutes.

Excellent Colombian guest coffee from Dark Woods Coffee.

Half the coaches of the train freezing cold with air conditioning units blasting out cold air.

A walk along the River Wey. Pockets of frost in the grass. Ground waterlogged, pools of standing water.

Not much choice at Cafe Mila. I choose vegetable soup followed by quiche. Waitress brings me soup, says she will then bring quiche. I explain no. She asks was it the main course? What did she think I was going to do, dunk the quiche in my soup?

I had brought copies of Caffeine and The Alchemist to drop off. Whilst I am not looking, vanish from the table. I assume over-zealous waitress.

All the good staff appear to have left.

I walk to Waitrose at the other end of Godalming.

Throwaway coffee cups filling the bin. Waitrose contribution to the 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups thrown away every year. There is a cafe at Waitrose. Why do they not encourage customers to use the cafe? Though I note there is a queue. Or, compostable paper cups, with a bin for the cups?

What do they do with the coffee grounds? They could put outside with the garden gear and plants, free for gardeners to collect.

Two-month old coffee on the shelves is not doing Union any favours.

For mid-afternoon, mid-week, Waitrose busy. Not all the checkouts manned.

A slight detour to basket shop to say hello and wish Merry Christmas. I drop of The Fifth Mountain and The Devil and Miss Prym.

I look in Waterstone’s. Only one coffee book, the utterly useless Where to Drink Coffee. I draw to the attention of helpful assistants. They open book and see, yes, useless. I ask why, when we have many coffee shops, why no books on coffee? They agree, very strange.

I make it to Cafe Mila before it closes. Now closes early at four o’clock.

Pecan pie and a mug of tea spoilt by handful of out of control screaming kids. No one attempts to control them or keep them quiet.

Cupsmith is low quality catering supply coffee. Cafe Mila need to source better coffee. Hence my drinking tea not coffee.

It is commendable Cafe Mila may wish to source their coffee locally, support local businesses, but not if it means buying poor quality coffee. How local is local? High quality coffee can be sourced from The Roasting Party or from Horsham Coffee, and why not have occasional guest coffees? The world has moved on from serving low quality catering coffee, leave that to the chains.

I walk to the station. Train again cold with air conditioning units blasting out cold air.

Espresso Mushroom Company

December 11, 2017

What to do with the coffee grounds?

Coffee grounds are what you see the barista tapping out after he or she has made your coffee. If you do not see, it is the loud banging you hear.

Coffee grounds can be used for compost or on your garden.

A few coffee shops put the grounds out in a paper carrier for gardeners to take away. More should follow their good example.

The coffee grounds can be used in cakes, instead of ground coffee.

The coffee grounds can be used for making coffee cups, jewellery, even furniture.

Or can be used for growing oyster mushrooms.

Espresso Mushroom Company using a cycle and trailer, collect the grounds from Small Batch. This explains why I have seen mushroom growing kits in Small Batch, supplied for growing oyster mushrooms at home.

The idea for growing mushrooms on coffee grounds came to the two co-founders of Espresso Mushroom Company after attending a talk by Gunter Pauli from ZERI, when he discussed how smallholder coffee growers were growing mushrooms on coffee pulp on their farms.

Each mushroom kit contains coffee from 100 espressos. What is left over can be used in the compost heap or spread on the garden.

In the natural world there is no concept of waste in time or space. Walk in ancient woodland, there is not growing piles of waste, not unless Man has been dumping waste. The output of one process is the input to another.

We should aim to close the cycle, to emulate these natural cycles, the output of one process the input to another, what we once saw as waste, the raw material for another process.

Kaffeeform coffee cups

December 10, 2017

Coffee cups made from recycled coffee grounds.

What to do with coffee grounds?

The ideal use is to use as compost, add to the garden.

3fe use in their garden behind the coffee shop. What they do not use, Littlecress take away use for growing cress, 3fe buy the cress.

The coffee grounds can be used for growing oyster mushrooms.

In Small Batch they have on sale kits for growing oyster mushrooms.  When I saw, I was baffled,  but did not inquire.

Small Batch supply their coffee grounds to the Espresso Mushroom Company, a mushroom grower, who in turn, supply Small Batch with mushroom growing kits.

The coffee grounds can be used in cakes, instead of ground coffee.

Rosalie McMillan has created the Java Collection, a range of jewellery that uses recycled silver, gold and diamonds combined with material derived from coffee grounds.

Green Cup turn coffee grounds into furniture.

Kaffeeform turn coffee grounds into coffee cups.

The idea to make cups out of coffee grounds came from studying
Product Design in Bolzano, Italy. After countless cups of espresso,
the founder, Julian Lechner, wondered whether the leftover
coffee grounds couldn’t be used for something new.

After numerous trials and experiments, the first prototype of
an espresso cup made from coffee grounds was developed there
in 2009.

The cups are unusual as both reusable and recyclable.

One cup and saucer can be made from the grounds of six cups of espresso, plus natural resins, waxes, oils, cellulose, biopolymers and wood fibre.

The cups include biopolymers. The walls of all plant cells are made of biopolymers, long chain molecules with properties allowing them to be plastically formed, and thereby eliminate use of crude oil based plastics.

At the end of their life, Kaffeform can recycle the cups to form the raw material for 3D printing.

The cups are not 3D printed, are moulded, and 3D printing would probably be more suited to prototype development, but does raise the interesting possibility, if the cups were made available as open source hardware could they be 3D printed locally?

A further question, at the end of their life, can the cups be composted?

The coffee grounds are collected daily from cafés and caterers in
the Berlin area.

In addition to cups, they have now also made a takeaway cup.

A useful comparison would be with the HuskeeCup which uses coffee husks.

It would appear to be a better design than the HuskeeCup.

I have not seen let alone handled or used a Kaffeeform cup, therefore difficult to comment further. But certainly stylish. I would be more than happy to try.

Is Patreon a scam?

December 9, 2017

Of the 65,000 people using Patreon to support themselves and their art, only 2% make more than the federal minimum wage.– Feral Williams

Patreon is an online platform where you can literally contribute pennies to support people.

When Medium started charging to read articles, a few writers put a Patreon button on each of their pages. Maybe it was not Patreon, maybe it was something else, but the concept was the same, to enable a reader to support a writer they liked.

Brian Williams writes Brian’s Coffee Spot, a blog about coffee. You cannot miss it, a huge button, please support me on Patreon, not exactly subtle.  He asks people to support him to  do what he likes, drinking coffee and not have to support himself with a day job.

As I write, he is in China, so the day job has some advantages.

He has on twitter 14.8k followers. How many his blog attracts I do not know.

On Patreon,  he has four supporters contributing $3 per post.

This is not to single out Brian Williams, but to illustrate the point, the only one making money out of Patreon is Patreon.

Naomi Wu, a designer in Shenzhen, says patrons who support her with $1 are paying for a bag of screws, those who donate $5 are paying for her lunch.

Singer-songwriter Jewelia uses Patreon, she could equally use bandcamp where she releases her music. To raise funds for her new album, City of the Mind, she used crowdfunding.

Patreon is yet another platform that attracts Vulture Capitalists, hoping to inflate the value, then sell out at the peak.

We have been here before, Uber and Deliveroo, serfs working for an app, Vulture Capitalists the only ones who benefit.

Musicians release your music on bandcamp. No Vulture Capitalists demanding their pound of flesh. Bandcamp also has a mechanism to support musicians.

Writers take a look at LeanPub and Unbound.

Patreon clearly satisfies a need, what is required is an open source cooperative platform owned by the creators.

Introduce a Basic Income and the need for Patreon vanishes overnight.

Afternoon in Farnham

December 9, 2017

A very cold day, not much above freezing, if that. At least cold wind not blowing.

Very unpleasant in Aldershot, Rotary Club trailer blasting out distorted music.

Aldershot Civic Society not doing Aldershot any favours when cannot see anything wrong with the sheds dumped in Union Street selling disgusting junk food.

Alight from bus, walk along riverside walk and up through Gostrey Meadow.

Frost still sitting on the grass along riverside walk.

Krema full. Even Barista Lounge looks busy, but that is overflow from Krema as usually empty. Walk to butcher and back. Krema still full. Nothing for it but to wait until a table comes free. When does come free, two girls decide to reserve it for no existent friends, Farnham selfishness. You do not reserve tables in a coffee shop that is full. You do not reserve tables in a coffee shop. What is wrong with people in Farnham? The same mentality that thinks it ok to park 4×4 on double yellow lines, on footpath, whilst pop in a few shops. No existent friends fail to show.

Cut through churchyard. If it was cold in Farnham, walking through the churchyard like entering a deep freeze.

A Christmas Tree Festival in the Parish Church. This is the latest trendy thing to fill churches, fill with decorated Christmas trees, celebrate a pagan festival.

Look in Waterstone’s. Some fool must have bought Where to Drink Coffee. Another fool buying a rubbish book by Nick Clegg. If want to know about EU, buy Adults in the Room.

It is odd, there are coffee shops everywhere, yet Waterstone’s do not stock coffee books, or when they do, the choice is very poor.

A strange book on display, 2023, it purports to be a trilogy, it is not.

Once again, poor stock control in Waitrose, though not as bad as last week.

Someone at Waitrose head office needs to get off backside and sort out what is wrong with this store.

Waitrose not doing Union any favours when they sell old coffee, though not as bad as other times I have checked when found two moths old, today only one month old.

Waitrose sell coffee pots. Cheap and tacky. They also sell reusable coffee cups. Equally cheap and tacky.

Why not sell KeepCups, or … cups, quality, not cheap and tacky.

As they sell coffee beans, why not V60, Chemex, scales, grinders, else how to make coffee with the coffee beans. They sell a very limited range of kitchen gear.

I asked of their throwaway cups. No one knew, but thought no, cannot be recycled.

As a captive audience, why not paper cups that can be composted, a bin to put in.

What do the do with their coffee grounds? Could be bagged and put outside with the gardening gear, help yourself. Maybe I will ask on next visit.

Pret a Manger consult on disposable cups

December 8, 2017

Pret a Manger is not somewhere I would go for a coffee, I prefer to go to an indie coffee shop, not a corporate chain, once part owned by McDonald’s, now majority owned by Vulture Capitalists.

But, they are looking at how to reduce the number of disposable cups going to waste, which is a welcome move, and maybe something we can all learn from.

As I was passing by Pret a Manger in Guildford, I popped in to see what information on disposable cups. It was like walking into a McDonald’s without the stomach churning stench. No atmosphere. No information on recycling or disposable cups, no re-use cups on sale. I did though see displayed 25p discount if bring own cup.

I spoke with mananger. She knew nothing, She said it was head office, she only worked there. She did though confirm the takeaway cups they currently use cannot be recycled.

Pret a Manger Chief executive Clive Schlee has consulted on twitter, ideas on how to reduce the number of disposable cups.

Last week I tweeted that Pret was considering increasing its discount from 25p to 50p for any customer bringing a reusable cup. We are thinking of doing this to help change habits. It’s well known that “reduce” is better than “recycle.

I was inundated with suggestions, ideas and feedback. All of them were constructive and the vast majority were supportive.

So far so good, but why nothing in-store, also look at best practice.

Best practise tells you what is being achieved, what works, seeking suggestions, maybe tells you what customers are willing to agree to.

A summary of the response to the twitter consultation:

  1. 96% of the 5,000 respondents on an Instagram Stories poll voted “yes” to the 50p idea.
  2. A great many customers recommended that we sell a branded reusable cup as well as launching the new discount. Many shared views on what makes a good reusable cup – light, leak proof and elegant are key attributes.
  3. Lots of you suggested we turn the discount on its head and charge for cups instead. The economic theory of loss aversion was mentioned – this says that people respond to loss or fear of a penalty much more than they do to a reward or discount. The success of the government’s 5p bag charge was cited as evidence of how effective this can be.
  4. A handful of people pointed out that china cups ought to be available in more of our shops.
  5. It was suggested that we set up a loyalty scheme tied to reusable cups. Some wanted us to implant chips into the cups themselves that could measure usage and automatically apply a discount.

In the near future, taking on board the comments, Pret propose:

  1. Launch the 50p discount in the first week of 2018.
  2. Source a well-designed reusable cup, ready to launch later in 2018.
  3. Explore adding china cups to more of our shops with seats.

The idea of sticking a chip in a cup is bonkers, invasion of privacy.

I am surprised Pret lacks a loyalty scheme or that it is not the norm to have ceramic cups or that they lack reusable cups on sale.

In practice, big discounts on coffee have few takers, though yes, everyone is going to ask for a discount. And it would have to be coupled with sale of resusable cups, for example KeepCup.

The disadvantage with reusable cups is that have to be carted around. The plastic KeepCup, light, relatively cheap, but plastic, the glass KeepCup heavy, expensive, breaks when dropped.

KeepCup only comes into its own when popping out of the office for a coffee.

Compostable paper cups do not merit a mention. If I am on my way home, can pop on the compost heap, if not, what do I do with it? And that is the dilemma, it would go in a waste bin.

The idea of charging for a takeaway cup has been rejected.

We debated whether charging people for using paper cups felt right. We decided that it goes against our instincts as we would prefer to be generous to our customers than to tax them. Let’s see what impact the new discount has…

Charging for the takeaway cup should not be rejected out of hand. Why not charge more for takeway coffee?

Both ideas have been tried in practice, and they work.

Ultimately we must challenge the takeaway culture, difficult for Pret a Manger as that is what their businesses model is built on.

Instead of grab a sandwich and a drink, run down the street or eat and drink on the hoof, have welcoming places, where you may wish to sit and relax with a  coffee, chat with friends.

Or dare I say it, relax with a  coffee in an indie coffee shop.

Filter coffee at 49p a cup, what does that say of the quality?

I would far rather pay for a single origin coffee, served as a V60 or Chemex,  direct trade, traceabilty and transparency to origin, served by a skilled barista, where I can relax in a  pleasant ambience, local art on the walls, than a 49p filter coffee not freshly made, surrounded by bullshit posters on the wall.

Cups, 2.5 billion disposable cups a year, are not the only waste generated by coffee chains. What of the food waste, what of the coffee grounds?

To their credit, Pret a Manager supply their left over food to homeless people.
More should follow their example. It is so annoying to see left over cakes, pastries and sandwiches binned. Why not give to customers, what is left, give to the homeless.

Coffee grounds can be put out for collection by gardeners, turned into furniture, turned into coffee cups, used to grow oyster mushrooms.