Archive for May, 2018

Future of coffee using blockchain and cryptocurrencies

May 25, 2018

Coffee is an agricultural product that passes through many hands from grower to picker to shipper to roaster until finally our barista turns our roasted coffee beans into that perfect cup of cofffee.

What can blockchain and cryptocurencies offer?

Caffeine issue 32 was a special issue The Future of Coffee. An article entitled Crypto coffee looked at blockchain and cryptocurrences and what role if any they had to play in the coffee supply chain.

Coffee is the second most valuable traded commodity after oil.

The price of coffee is determined by speculators in London and New York.

Fairtrade coffee adds a small premium to the commodity price. In essence it maintains farmers in poverty as there is no incentive to improve the quality.

Direct trade offers a higher premium for quality. It relies on transparency as all parties have to trust the others in the chain. If I buy a bag of natural processed beans from a finca in El Salvador with a Q grade of 86, how can I be sure?

Blockchain superficially offers all the answers, blockchain offers trust, only it does not.

Kai Stinchcombe:

Blockchain systems do not magically make the data in them accurate or the people entering the data trustworthy, they merely enable you to audit whether it has been tampered with. A person who sprayed pesticides on a mango can still enter onto a blockchain system that the mangoes were organic.’Blockchain never has, never will, imply, infer or comfirm trust.

Blockchain protects the integrity of the data, each data block is linked to the previous datablock by crypotography.

Blockchain tells us nothing about the validity of the data, the trustworthiness of the data or of the person who was responsible for that data.

Trust comes from interpersonalrelationships.

Coffeeography documents the trust Stephen Leighton has built with the growers who he visits and buys his green beans from. He trusts them to deliver quality, they trust him to pay a fair price. When the beans reach Hasbean we trust Stephen Leighton to choose a roast profile to bring out the best the beans have to offer.

During the dot.com bubble we saw comanpanies increase in value merely by adding dot.com to their name. We are now seeing the same with blockchain, hype and little more.

Why do comanpanies need a blockchain, it is not easily adaptable? Therein lies its strength, it is immutable, what we need for a currency, that is why gold serves us well, it is immutable.

Though immutable is not quite the advantage it at first appears in a currency as it leads to hoarding and money is of no use if hidden in a cave, it has to be put to work in the economy.

Beans are shipped around the world, different currencies, fluctuating cuŕrency exchange rates, banks.

Cryotocurrencies, no exchange rates, no banks.

Bitcoin on energy grounds alone should be rejected, rejected that is if we care about climate change and its devastating impact on coffee growing.

Bitcoin fails to meet the criteria of a currency, as a medium of exchange not widely accepted, as a store of value it widely fluctuates.

CoffeeCoin for coffee. How many cryptocurencies do we need? Acceptability approaching zero. It is little more than an in-house trading token with a lot of hasssle.

FairCoin was developed to address the problems of Bitcoin. A cryptocurrency for coops around the world.

FairCoin is actually used in the real world. On a local autonomous street market in Heraklion in Greece FairCoin is in use.

FairCoin can act as a local currency, where indy coffee shops trade with other local businesses, as many already do, keeping money flowing within the local economy, whilst at the dame time we are providing support for direct trade.

FairCoin is backed by cooperatives in Catalonia. If speciality coffee shops use, encourage its use within their local economies, it will help support and stabilise the currency.

But a word of warning. Coffee growers already suffer speculators in the commodity market. We do not wish to expose them to further risk of cryptocurrency speculators.

Beware of snake oil salesmen.

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Cappuccino at Robustos

May 16, 2018

Following my visit to Robustos yesterday, I decided to revisit late afternoon today.

Today bearing gifts, copies of Caffeine, Cold Brew Coffee and guest coffees from Alchemy and The Barn.

George kindly brewed me a capuucino, one for him too, we then sat outside in conversation.

He surprised me when he said the espresso blend from Cup 10 contined a small percentage of Robusta, nevertheless the cappuccino was excellent.

Robustos

May 15, 2018

I missed a bus to Paralimni. Which meant I missed a bus to Liopetri.

Then along came another bus. Maybe, but no.

An hour and fifteen minutes until the next bus.

In one of his books, Paulo Coelho is crossing a desert in search of The Valkeries.  Accompanied by his wife they have a guide. The guide forgets something and goes back to retrieve it. Wondering what is keeping him, Paulo searches out his guide, to find he is sat meditating.

When challenged,the guide explains, he was delayed for a reason, so rather than be impatient, pause and reflect.

That was me. What to do for an hour.

On past previous visit to Paralimni, I had beeen told of a coffee shop. I could not find. But, on a bus to Liopetri I had passed by.

I had also been told no good good coffee shops in Paralimini, or at least what to expect when I could find none.  Though as I was to learn, maybe not in the centre but at least one on the road leading out of the town centre.

I decided to to and find this coffee shop.

I asked in a  coffee shop. Where else? Only one problem, I had no idea of its name. Where was it?. I did not know. Oh, but the bus passed it by.

Helpful coffee shop pointed me in the right direction.

And that was how I happened upon Robustos aka Cava Robustos. A rather nondescript coffee shop cum wine bar cum deli.

I spoke with a helpful girl. Yes they had quality coffee. They did not roast as I thought or had been led to believe, but did have Cup 10 imported from Athens, not only espresso blend  but also several different single origins, also different brew methods, V60, Chemex, Japanese syphon, cold brew tower. I also noticed tucked away, member of SpecialityCoffee Association.

I was inroduced to the owner George.

He told me he had helped found Speciality Coffee Assocation Cyprus and was their coirdinator.

He kindly offered to brew me an Ethiopian using a V60.

As a hot day, I asked Japanese iced filter, which he kindly obliged when I explained how.

We brewed half the usual volume of water, half as ice into which the coffee drips to be istantly chilled.

The ratio could have been 2/1 rather  than 1/1.

Correction: V60 notot from Ethiopia, from Costa Rica.

I explained I would be back, and mabye a coffee cupping session in Nicosia.

Something very very rotten Lidl Aldershot

May 12, 2018

There is something very very rotten with Lidl in Aldershot.

This evening around 1940, a little before it closed, walked into Lidl in Aldershot with a friend.

The only reason we were there was because Lidl Farnham was out of stock of what we were looking for. As we knew what we wanted, we headed to what we wanted, picked up, headed straight to cash tills.

As we walked in past end of aisles, I noticed boxes scattered on the floor, a trip hazard.

The tills not manned, a scruffy looking woman standing near the tills but otherwise doing nothing, did not offer to man a till, nor did she offer help when not all the automated tills appeared to be working. When my friend queried which were working the woman looked straight through her as though she did not exist.

On leaving I commented we were being followed around the store. No soonest had I voiced my observations than a Nepalese security guard blocked our way and demanded to look in our bags. I refused and we walked out of the store.

There was no grounds to stop us, we were not acting suspiciously, and as my friend noted, it was obvious what we were carrying was not from Lidl.

If this was racist behaviour by the Nepalese security guard, then not an isolated incident at the store, as has happened before.

Earlier we were in Lidl Farnham and the experience could not have been different. The staff were helpful, checked what we were looking for, courteous at checkout, which was manned, and no we were were not stopped on leaving, even though we had wandered around the store and were carrying the same goods as in Aldershot.

It is common knowledge there is something rotten at Lidl Aldershot, and yet still no action by Lidl CEO.

We await an apology but are not holding our breath.

Afternoon in Farnham

May 12, 2018

A cold wet afternoon in Farnham. Heavy rain all afternoon.

Chicken and vegetable soup followed by smoked salmon in a small bread roll at Gail’s.

The Farnham Deli is no more. No surprise, it was only a matter of time before it closed. The deli side was excellent, the tea shop dreadful, not helped by a woman who was rude to customers.  It is now a vegan cafe.

I looked in. The place has been gutted, the back half turned into an open kitchen. Noticeable cleaner that the Deli, a surprise it was never closed on health grounds. The upstairs also opened up. Art on the walls.

I am not very likely to eat here as no fan of vegan food.

Nor have a coffee. Coffee sourced from Surrey Hills, which is not great coffee, especially when they add robusta. A cappuccino bloody expensive at £3-20, all the more so when made with fake milk. It is not possible to make a cappuccino with fake milk. It looks disgusting, tastes disgusting.

I may though in future try the soup. Today it was roast tomato and red pepper soup.

A cappuccino at Krema. I was a little disappointed after their coffee shop in Guildford yesterday. Most of the regular staff appear to have left. My cappuccino was blended with chocolate. They did offer to make me a fresh one, but I declined.

Wandering through Lion and Lamb Courtyard, a novel offer at Lion and Lamb Cafe and Restaurant. We choose the menu, you choose the price. Curious I walked in and asked.

What was it, beans and toast? I have never seen busy, usually empty. It was admitted it was a last ditch attempt to attract custom. The menu chalked up on a large board but to the side a number of conditions, which somewhat defeats the offer.

I have eaten here a few times. The menu looks enticing the food has never been good. Which probably explains why always empty.

Afternoon in Guildford

May 11, 2018

Cool but pleasant afternoon in Guildford.

Excellent cappuccino off FCB kiosk on Platform 2 Guildford Station. Soon they will have cold brew.

A world of difference fruit and vegetables on the market stalls in Guildford to what passes as a sorry spectacle in Lincoln. High quality, fresh, at reasonable price.

As always excellent lunch, honey crunch chicken and brown rice at Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage.

The Thai restaurant which sadly closed many months ago is to re-open as an Indian restaurant. Am I impressed where the chef has worked, that he has met Jamie Oliver, that if will be Indian food aimed at Guildford folk? Absolutely no way, indeed it has the opposite effect.

A new coffee shop, Krema Artisan Coffee House has opened at the end of Tunsgate next to Ben’s Records. Not to be confused with Tunsgate Quarter.

It is long overdue for Guildford o have a top quality coffee shop. Now it has.

I am shocked work on Tungate still not finished. Excellent it will be a pedestrianised street. Let us hope Krema can have tables and chairs in the street.

 

I took a wander through Tunsgate Quarter. Incredible that today a developer opens a shopping centre with no guaranteed tenants. Must have either deep pockets or naive bank.

Does Guildford really need another grotty shopping centre with grotty chains draining money out of the local economy? No way.

Is it meant to be a joke? A Nespresso coffee shop.

I learnt from La Casita that several chain eateries have pulled out or will pull out of Guildford. No great loss.

I also learnt Surrey Hills Coffee to close when their lease expires. This comes as no surprise. When ever I pass by it is empty. They took over an excellent coffee shop and destroyed it.

Krema Artisan Coffee Shop

May 11, 2018

A few weeks ago, Krema opened a coffee shop at the end of Tunsgate next to Ben’s Record Shop.

Open and airy ambience.

Tables made from recycled wood, as is the counter, wood from old ships, topped with marble.

I was late in the afternoon, not too busy, and was worried I would find about to close.

Word is getting around, a coffee shop worth visiting.

An excellent cappuccino.

Coffee is sourced from Horsham Coffee Roasters, an espresso blend and a choice of single origin for pour over. For the summer there will be cold brew.

A large picture window overlooking the Castle grounds.

At the moment road works outside. Roadworks that are taking far too long, and little progress from six months ago. But to be fair, the work competed an excellent job and it will create a pedestrian street when complete.

Let us hope Guildford Council follow the example of North Laine in Brighton and allow seating in the street.

John the owner has done an excellent job of which he can be justifiably proud.

This is an example of what indie coffee shops should be like, high quality, professional and consistency in delivery and service.

Krema have jumped straight to No 1 coffee shop in Guildford. The only coffee outlet anywhere near is FCB kiosk on Guildford Station (but it depends on who is serving).

These two indie coffee shops are in another league to anything else in Guildford. They are setting the standard.

This is the second Krema, they opened their first coffee shop in Downing Street in Farnham a couple of years ago.

There is now absolutely no excuse for stallholders on the farmers market supping disgusting coffee from the chains when all they have to do is walk down Tunsgate and support a local indie coffee shop.

Krema is open until 5-30. The hours may be extended in the summer if the demand justifies it.

V60 Japanese iced filter coffee at Coffee Aroma

May 8, 2018

Today a hot day, not as hot as Monday when it hit 28.7 C, but still a very hot day.

A cappuccino out of the question.

What I had in mind when I asked at Coffee Aroma was a V60 Japanese iced filter coffee brewed with a single origin supplied and roasted by Hasbean.

As a V60, with one big difference, half the hot water as usual, the other half as ice in a carafe.

As the hot coffee drips into the ice it is instantly chilled.

Not cold brew, nor the same as a V60, brewed with hot water then chilled.

Very refreshing on a hot day.

This was 50:50 hot water to ice. May wish to try a ratio of 3/2.

Kings of the Sky

May 6, 2018

Celebrating 100 years of military flying.

May Day Bank Holiday Weekend, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, a three day event at Lincoln Castle to mark 100 years of the RAF.

An Avro Lancaster aircrew, Special Operations Executive, music from WWII, a replica biplane, a replica Spitfire, and much more.

Hot and sunny clear blues skies.

Towards the end of Sunday, a flypast by a Dakota, which then circled around. Excellent vantage point for those on the castle walls.

Three days of clear blue sky, each day hotter than the preceding day.

Bank Holiday Monday, 28.7 C outside of London.

Around the City of Lincoln, 100 Voices celebrating 100 Years of the Royal Airforce.

Caffeinated

May 5, 2018

Trinity Square, with Hull Minster centre stage.  More strange fountains, this time squares in the square, water flows upwards, flows to the edge.

On one side, Trinity Market.

Trinity Market a recently refurbished Edwardian market, the oldest covered market in Hull. Stripped back exposing the iron columns and girders, open and airy. They have attempted to create something like Borough Market in London, artisan food and other independent traders.

It was within Trinity Market I found Caffeinated.

From Caffeinated excellent cappuccino. A very knowledgeable and helpful young couple running the stall.

A good selection of coffee.

A lady complained, flat white too small and too expensive at £2-20. No pleasing some folk. A long way to go to educate people.

As I found in York, The North and North Wales Independent Coffee Guide being sold off.  No surprise, everyone is becoming wise to this marketing scam. Pay £500, write your own entry, and the books do not sell.

If wish to find excellent coffee shops, find one excellent coffee shop, then ask.

It was suggested I tried Thieving Harry’s and Two Gingers. No time for Thieving Harry’s,  Two Gingers was on the way to the station therefore  Two Gingers it was.