Archive for September, 2018

Mikel Coffee

September 29, 2018

Cyprus is like a victim with many assailants, only the assailants are corporate coffee chains. All the usual suspects, tax-dodging Starbucks and Caffe Nero, Coco-Cola owned Costa, followed by many may not have heard of, Greek versions of Starbucks Coffee Island and Coffee Berry, the Canadian equivalent of Starbucks Second Cup. The lastest to join in the affray, Mikel Coffee, yet another Greek Starbucks clone.

Though Cypriots have only themselves to blame. Open a chain coffee shop, no matter how bad, and Cypriots flock to it like flies around rotting meat.

Walk into Mikel Coffee in Paralimni and it screams corporate, it is like walking into a McDonald’s without the stomach gut churning stench.

A long wait to be served. Yes busy, though not many waiting to be served.

A cappuccino served in a 16 oz cup, a takeaway cup, a plastic-lined non-recyclable takeaway cup. This is the regular size. Asked if want sugar. A battle to obtain 8 oz. At least no chocolate dumped on top.

Even those sitting in, actually sat outside not running down the street with takeaway cup in hand, served in a takeaway cup.

Questioned on this, they admitted bad for the environment, but so far have been unsuccessful in obtaining ceramic or glass.

On sale ceramic mugs, but only on sale, not for serving coffee.

A plastic stirrer popped through the plastic lid. Not asked for.

All the utensils plastic.

The coffee was undrinkable. Too hot, milky, insipid, a strange smell, not of coffee. I took one sip, and that was enough to make me feel sick.

What looked liked factory cakes. When asked did not know where the cakes supplied from.

No cold water brought to the table as the norm in Athens. When questioned on this, hope to provide in the future ice cold water, help yourself.

Χιλιάδες άνθρωποι ήδη κρατούν στα χέρια τους το νέο ποτήρι Mikel. Εσύ;

Έλα σήμερα σ’ ένα κατάστημα Mikel και ανακάλυψε το νέο, συναρπαστικό, πολύχρωμο κόσμο του!

Join The Coffee Community now!

Thousands of people already hold their new glass of Mikel. You;
 
Come today at a Mikel store and discover its new, exciting, colorful world!
 
Join The Coffee Community now!

The Mikel Coffee website is all about selling a franchise, nothing about the coffee. And one of the dumbest videos I have ever seen, on youtube a series of follow up videos.

The video promoting their cup, their takeaway cup, their plastic-lined, non-recyclable disposable throwaway takeaway cup.

Why does any company with to be associated with trash, why paint your logo on trash, unless of course trash is your business?

Join our club, celebrate joining our club. Why would anyone wish to join a club to trash the planet, let alone celebrate joining a club to celebrate trashing the planet?

There is though a reason for the large size cups. The punters think they are getting a great deal, the supersize phenomena, they are not, they are getting lousy coffee.

But it is to make the coffee shop use more milk. Milk that is bought from Mikel Coffee and shipped out from Greece.

The same milk scam by Tim Horton in Canada. Ludicrous size coffee cups, far too large, undrinkable coffee, coffee shop forced to buy more milk, not from the local shop or dairy, but from Tim Horton at inflated price.

At least they were not using long-life milk which they had been using.

The same scam with the takeaway cups, coffee shops forced to buy from Mikel Coffee.

They did offer a 25% discount if brought in own refillable cup, but only if Mikel Coffee cup.

This is like the pubco tied pub scam in England. Pay extortionate rent to pubco, and on top of that, have to buy all drinks through the pubco at double the market rate.

As with Second Cup, Mikel Coffee is a franchise scam and they will do all they can to milk the franchisee.

Starbucks was due to open in Protaras at the beginning of the season but has yet to open, and does not look like opening any time soon. On the road leading to Fig Tree Bay Miyu Coffee, in the centre of Protaras Café Amárena.

Why open a franchise, serve bad coffee, why not work in a coffee shop, learn about coffee, then open a coffee shop?

If you wish for coffee worth drinking, cross the road, at the traffic lights head into the centre of Paralimni and a couple of minutes walk away, Robustos.

Why are Cypriots attracted to these corporate chains? It clearly cannot be for the coffee. No, not the coffee, it is to be seen, even worse to take pathetic selfies to be seen. To be seen in a ghastly chain where the cool, those with style, would not wish to be seen dead. 

The darker side is, not only draining money out of the local economy, as these are all foreign owned chains, draining money out of the Cypriot economy.
 
Plastic is killing our seas. Cyprus is an island, dependent on the sea. It is not only corporate chains serving hot drinks in plastic-lined papers cups that cannot be recycled, cold drinks in plastic cups, so to are too many cafes, though not the specialty coffee shops.

If Cyprus is serious about reducing use of plastic, it must bring in a 25 cent levy on all non-recyclable takeaway cups, discourage takeaway, encourage relax with specialty coffee in an indie coffee shop served in ceramic or glass. 

Individual Cypriots must do there bit and encourage their friends to do the same, boycott any coffee shop serving in takeaway cups. 

The only exception, compostable coffee cups, with special bins for their collection.

Indie coffee shops must do there bit to discourage waste, not only by discouraging takeaway, but also putting out the used coffee grounds for customers to take for their gardens.

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Home Coffee

September 24, 2018

Leaving Hunter Gatherer I decided to try and find Southsea Coffee, even though long closed.

I hopped on a bus part way, then found myself walking past Home Coffee, I popped in. Coffee from Small Batch could do better. I asked for a cappuccino. Somewhat insipid.

On the corner, King’s Theatre, I turned down the road, hopefuly heading in the right direction, Southsea Coffee had vanished off my phone. I headed to the sea, further than I thought.

I found myself at Southsea Castle, stunning sunset.

Home Coffee have a second coffee shop at Cosham and are planning on opening a third.

Hunter Gatherer

September 24, 2018

A cappuccino at Canvas Coffee, Hideout Coffee appeared to be nonexistent, it was then either Hunter Gatherer or Southsea Coffee, both in Southsea, a bus ride away.

I decided Hunter Gatherer then from there Southsea Coffee.

Google Maps told me 12 minutes and a bus was leaving in a few minutes from Bus Stop M.

The stop before, tracking on Google Maps, I saw I was halfway between Hunter Gatherer and Southsea Coffee, maybe possible to walk.

I alighted half way along Albert Road and walked to Hunter Gatherer. I looked in a wholefood shop, asked, was told a couple of doors away.

By now I am very hungry. Lunch, sorry, kitchen closed at three.

I was offered a vegan fake sausage roll. Generally anything vegan is disgusting, and I have never understood why create fake dishes. With reluctance I tried. It tasted just like a sausage roll. Odd. A dog sat patiently waiting.

Coffee was Craft House Coffee, which I have come across in Nottingham as a guest coffee, either Wired or The Speciality Coffee Shop.

Excellent cappuccino.

Hunter Gatherer is larger than it first appears. A large dining area out the back, with a kitchen beyond that.

Occasional evening events.

I then decided to try and find Southsea Coffee, even though long closed.

Hideout Coffee

September 24, 2018

At Portsmouth Station I asked at Canvas Coffee of Hideout Coffee a few minutes walk away.

Not too difficult to find, past the Civic Offices, across a square polluted by a massive TV screen, like something out of Brave New World or Nineteen Eighty-Four, carry on, down the side of Starbucks. A strange battleship grey building only darker.

A sign Hideout and a locked door. On the door

this is not a coffee shop there is no coffee sold at this address

I banged the door. No response. Out of sheer cussedness, rang a doorbell for an office, no response.

Pissed off, one-star on Google Maps.

It was then back to Canvas Coffee.

Canvas Coffee

September 24, 2018

Stations are places where do not get great coffee, in general it will be undrinkable coffee from one of the corporate coffee chains. There are though exceptions, Small Batch kiosk outside Brighton Station, FCB kiosk on Guildford Station (though depends very much on who is serving), a kiosk around the side of King’s Cross Station.

Portsmouth Station a strange station, end of the line, and yet a small station with two lines. At least it was, now a parallel elevated line runs past the station onward to Portsmouth Harbour. Portsmouth being a major port, begs the question why the original line did not run to the harbour?

At Portsmouth Station, Canvas Coffee. A quick look, nothing worth eating, I decided to pass and asked of Hideout Coffee, a few minutes walk away.

Not too difficult to find, past the Civic Offices, across a square polluted by a massive TV screen, like something out of Brave New World or Nineteen Eighty-Four, carry on, down the side of Starbucks. A strange battleship grey building only darker.

A sign Hideout and a locked door. On the door

this is not a coffee shop there is no coffee sold at this address

I banged the door. No response. Out of sheer cussedness, rang a doorbell for an office, no response.

Back to Canvas Coffee.

Canvas Coffee gives every impression of a pop up shop, dark and gloomy, unfinished business. When I arrived off the train it was empty, now busy.

A cookie and a cappuccino. A fiver for a sandwich got to be joking.

The coffee was at best mediocre. From The Roasting Party, as used by Coffee Lab in Winchester and a kiosk at foot of Hungerfood Bridge on the London South Bank, it should have been far better than mediocre.

Canvas Coffee is a social enterprise, it lends people a helping hand. The people I talked to were friendly and helpful. I do not wish to be too critical on the coffee as it could be someone being given a helping hand.

On sale coffee from The Roasting Party and from Sunday Coffee Roasters. Not heard of. Their own roast. They only roast on a Sunday. Having tried a coffee, I decided to give the Sunday coffee a miss.

It was then either Hunter Gatherer or Southsea Coffee, both in Southsea, a bus ride away.

Afternoon in Portsmouth

September 24, 2018

A sunny day, warmer than the weekend, though not as warm as the previous week.

Train to Guildford running several minutes late. Train to Portsmouth running late due to a previous late running stopping train.

Portsmouth Station a strange station, end of the line, and yet a small station with two lines. At least it was, now a parallel elevated line runs past the station onward to Portsmouth Harbour. Portsmouth being a major port, begs the question why the original line did not run to the harbour?

Stations are places where do not get great coffee, in general it will be undrinkable coffee from one of the corporate coffee chains. There are though exceptions, Small Batch kiosk outside Brighton Station, FCB kiosk on Guildford Station (though depends very much on who is serving), a kiosk around the side of King’s Cross Station.

At Portsmouth Station, Canvas Coffee. A quick look, nothing worth eating, I decided to pass and asked of Hideout Coffee, a few minutes walk away.

Not too difficult to find, past the Civic Offices, across a square polluted by a massive TV screen, like something out of Brave New World or Nineteen Eighty-Four, carry on, down the side of Starbucks. A strange battleship grey building only darker.

A sign Hideout and a locked door. On the door

this is not a coffee shop there is no coffee sold at this address

I banged the door. No response. Out of sheer cussedness, rang a doorbell for an office, no response.

Back to Canvas Coffee.

Canvas Coffee gives every impression of a pop up shop, dark and gloomy, unfinished business. When I arrived off the train it was empty, now busy.

A cookie and a cappuccino. A fiver for a sandwich got to be joking.

The coffee was at best mediocre. From The Roasting Party, as used by Coffee Lab in Winchester and a kiosk at foot of Hungerfood Bridge on the London South Bank, it should have been far better than mediocre.

On sale coffee from The Roasting party and from Sunday. Not heard of. Their own roast. They only roast on a Sunday. Having tried a coffee, I decided to give the Sunday coffee a miss.

It was then either Hunter Gatherer or Southsea Coffee, both in Southsea, a bus ride away.

I decided Hunter Gatherer then from there Southsea Coffee.

Google Maps told me 12 minutes and a bus was leaving in a few minutes from Bus Stop M.

Where M? I found K but no M. Nothing obvious like all the buses stop outside the station or a map.

I asked a bus that stopped at K. Driver directed me across the road further down the street.

I asked of the first bus that stopped, timetable said Southsea, driver had not a clue where to go, suggested try No 2. No 2 pulled up and left whilst seeking which bus to catch.

No live information displayed at the bus stop.

No 2, yes, correct bus. Albert Road Southsea, on the bus route.

The stop before, tracking on Google Maps, I saw I was halfway between Hunter Gatherer and Southsea Coffee, maybe possible to walk.

I alighted half way along Albert Road and walked to Hunter Gatherer. I looked in a wholefood shop, asked, was told a couple of doors away.

By now I am very hungry. Lunch, sorry, kitchen closed at three.

I was offered a vegan fake sausage roll. Generally anything vegan is disgusting, and I have never understood why create fake dishes. With reluctance I tried. It tasted just like a sausage roll. Odd. A dog sat patiently waiting.

Coffee was Craft House Coffee, which I have come across in Nottingham as a guest coffee, either Wired or The Speciality Coffee Shop.

Excellent cappuccino.

I then decided to try and find Southsea Coffee, even though long closed.

I hopped on a bus part way, then found myself walking past Home Coffee, I popped in. Coffee from Small Batch could do better. I asked for a cappuccino. Somewhat insipid.

On the corner, King’s Theatre, I turned down the road, hopefuly heading in the right direction, Southsea Coffee had vanished off my phone. I headed to the sea, further than I thought.

I found myself at Southsea Castle, stunning sunset.

Heading back, I tried what I thought was a shortcut, maybe find Southsea Coffee.

No longer sure where was, I asked at a couple of bus stops for Portsmouth Station.

Second stop lucky, I was told I wanted The Hard. No idea what The Hard was, maybe local name for Portsmouth Station. Bus due in a couple of minutes.

Checking on my phone, Southsea Coffee was back and nearby.

They told me the bus had arrived. It was not the train station, it was the ferry terminal at Portsmouth Harbour. But worth it for the stunning sunset, reminiscent of a Turner painting. And yes, also somewhere nearby train station.

Train in 15 minutes cancelled. Next train in half an hour slow stopping train. I asked. Not only slow stopping train it went a very long way around. But was advised to catch rather than wait for for the next fast train.

The train station at Portsmouth Harbour far larger than Portsmouth Station, strictly speaking Portsmouth and Southsea.

Train journey one hour and forty-six minuted on a cold train with no heating. I thought I would be lucky if arrived before ten.

Cold wet afternoon in Farnham

September 22, 2018

A very unpleasant cold wet and rainy afternoon in Farnham.

Bus to Aldershot, then bus to Farnham.

On bus to Aldershot, Nepalese stagecoach employee stood chatting to and distracting Nepalese driver. Woman gets on the bus, dumps buggy in disabled bay with no brakes applied, woman leaves buggy rolling around whilst she goes and sits on the top deck. No action by either of the Nepalese employees. Who liable had there been an accident?

Usually I walk along the River Wey, a pleasant walk, avoids the traffic in Farnham, not though today, too cold and wet and possible not even possible to gain access due to it being fenced off to build an unwanted shopping centre.

Surrey County Council poured £50 million into this unwanted development. Surrey County Council has a deficit of £100 million.

Inquiry at WHSmith, Hippie available prior to publication date. WHSmith a shop I avoid as service is so bad. I have not been in for well over a year. The service has got a whole lot worse. Only two members of staff. No they did not have, no did not know if would have. Long queue forming, people told to use the self-service.

High Street retailers cannot compete with on-line, their answer, cut the service to the customer.

It is not only WHSmith, though they are one of the worst and the surprise is they still exist.

Poundland in Guildford yesterday, long queues half way to the back of the store. In M&S the usual piss-poor service only two tills manned in the food hall.

And faced with this hassle, people go on line,

Gail’s busy a rarity for Gail’s, and the tables promptly cleared, again a rarity for Gail’s. A tiny roll stuffed with smoked salmon, sufficed for lunch.

The vegan place, before 2-30, sign saying kitchen closed, chef gone for lunch.

Barista Lounge packed, a rarity for Barista Lounge.

Krema packed, the norm for Krema. I saw soup, first day soup. Sweet potato, butternut squash soup with added herbs, served with toasted sourdough bread. Followed by cappuccino and a flapjack.

I was tempted to go for a walk, but on leaving, heavy rain and turned much colder.

In Krema, flipped through a booklet for Farnham Food Festival. Mention of a Heidi bakery in Elphicks.

Elphicks is a department store. I decided to check it out. Far larger that I expected. A dump. On the first floor Heidi, more like a greasy spoon cafe. Coffee LavAzza, in other words give it a miss.

Inquired of Hippie in Waterstone’s. Yes they had, it was hidden. All of one copy. A best selling book from a best selling author and Waterstone’s has one hidden copy. I ensured it was prominently displayed.

The usual piss poor service in Waitrose. Find the bananas that are not rotten, though not as bad as my last visit. Why are bananas prepacked in plastic, why indeed is everything prepacked in plastic, potatoes, apples, fresh produce? Young guy struggling to slice ham with a blunt knife. Not all tills manned. Staff are embarrassed by the poor service, customers pissed off.

Autumn Equinox in Guildford

September 21, 2018

Autumn Equinox when length of day and night are equal, following days are shorter the nights longer. It felt like winter solstice.

Train to Gatwick cancelled, next train running several minutes late. No announcement on station what passengers should do to get to Gatwick. Display on platform not working, has not been working for months. Help machine on platform not working. I was the one who advised passengers to catch next train to Redhill, then change for Gatwick. No announcement on train. Neither wifi nor usb charging points working.

Shocked to find the North Street market has shrunk. Fruit and vegetable stall at the top was two stalls, one for vegetables the other fruit, now only one stall. Cake and bread stall gone. Cheese stall gone. A new stall, Syrians selling falafel, but not a street food market, they will not do well. Not good news market is collapsing. I have no idea why.

Excellent lunch as always at Bamboo Shoots.

Passing by Surrey Hills Coffee, as always empty, three women sat at a table. The last time I was in Guildford and passed by, not a single customer.

No one happy at the laughable video produced by Guildford Tourist Information Office, come to Guildford, we too have Costa and Starbucks, two grotty shopping centres with same crap chains as every other grotty shopping centre, a department store on the verge of bankruptcy.

Ben’s Records does a better job promoting Guildford than either the Tourist Information Office or Experience Guildford.

As always excellent cappuccino at Krema.

Conversation on a train

September 21, 2018

Overcrowded late running LNER train into King’s Cross. Two guys engaged in conversation in the buffet car on their way to Peterborough from a beer festival in York. Topic of conversation Brexit, Donald Trump, EU, Jeremy Corbyn, austerity.

You want to join in?

To understand Trump, have to understand Trump is a brand, Brand Trump, everything he does is to enhance the value of Brand Trump. He could have lost the Presidential race, it would not have mattered, he would have enhanced Brand Trump. Trump is an oligarch in the mould of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan or Vladimir Putin. Were it not for the media giving him the oxygen of publicity, Trump would have sunk without trace.

To defeat Trump, have to devalue the value of Brand Trump.

In the Presidential Race, a poor choice, Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton. The Clintons are seen as corrupt, in the pocket of Big Oil, Banks and Big Business. Like money-grubbing war criminal Tony Blair, out to line their own pockets. Bill Clinton was responsible for destruction of American jobs, a legacy of rusting steel mills, crumbling factories, Barack Obama continued the same policies, failed to be tough on the banks.

The banks were bailed out, with nothing in return.

To understand the EU, have to go back to the end of the Second World War. Germany was defeated, Europe lay in ruins, the currencies worthless. The only two countries with viable currencies, US and Switzerland. US had a monetary surplus.

It was not the New Deal that rebuilt the US economy after the Great Depression, it was the war economy. The New Dealers feared not another world war but a return to the Great Depression.

Bretton Woods established IMF and World Bank. J M Keynes proposed a third body that would recycle monetary surpluses, in this case US surplus, but Americans would not accept a body controlled by Europeans who had just started two world wars and it was their money. Keynes returned from Bretton Woods a broken man and died not long after.

The Americans would guarantee European currencies tied to the dollar, which in turn was tied to gold, the Gold Standard.

The Americans created the EU, its forerunner, they had a choice who to deal with either Communists or those who had contempt for democracy, they chose the latter, helped create a cartel for big businesses, eurocrats with a contempt for democracy.

America faced two crisis, coming off the Gold Standard and the Oil Crisis. America switched from a country that recycled its own surpluses to a country that recycled other country’s surpluses.

Post-WWII until mid-1970s economies saw steady growth, since then decline and stagnation.

Banks ever keen to make money, created dodgy financial instruments, worthless, but treated and traded as solid as gold, until they were seen to be worthless, the banks that had invested heavily, collapsed.

Banks were bailed out, the poor paid the price, austerity used as a cover for Shock Doctrine, slash and burn of public services. The rich grew richer, the poor poorer.

When we are told there is no money for public services it is a lie, deal with the tax dodgers.

The euro by design intent or not, drains money from southern Europe into Germany.

With fixed exchange rates, southern Europe cannot devalue and balance the books, German intransigence means there is no recycling mechanism.

The massive loan to Greece was a classic example of extend and pretend, the money flowed into Greece and back out to French and German banks. The conditions imposed turned Greece into a debt colony of the EU, forced sell off of state assets, rape and pillage of Greece. The price as always paid by the poorest and most vulnerable of Greek citizens, benefits have been cut, pensions cut, youth unemployment high, public hospitals collapsing.

Greece was destroyed for daring to challenge the EU, to set an example to other vassal states thinking of challenging the EU.

This should have served as a warning to the UK, but has not.

Following the EU Referendum, there should have been open public meetings to draw up a consensus of where we go, then all political parties work together to take on the EU. Instead petty political squabbling. It does not matter who negotiates with EU, unless it capitulation and appeasement, they will say no. We could have same trade tomorrow as today. This would be to the benefit of all of Europe. The EU is determined to punish the UK to set an example, no matter what the cost to Europe.

A second referendum will solve nothing. If a draw, what then, best of three?

Further reading

No is Not Enough — Naomi Klein

The Global Minotaur — Yanis Varoufakis

And the Weak Suffer What They Must? — Yanis Varoufakis

Adults in the Room — Yanis Varoufakis

loveholidays scam website

September 19, 2018

Beware many booking websites are blatant scams.

Find a deal on loveholidays, in this case £99 per night for a side-sea view at a 5* hotel. Not the cheapest room.

And this was claimed to be a massive saving of £285 from the claimed price of £384 per night.

Click to book, fill out all booking details, name, address, credit card details, click confirm, and are then told to call their number. Forced to listen to a load of bullshit, basically telling you to book on their website.

Eventually get a real person. They try to claim no that is not the price, give a higher price, even though that is the price showing on the screen.

They also tried to claim I had gone through Trivago. I had not.

Person the other end slams the phone down which says it all.

Check price again, refresh the screen, still showing at £99 per night.

Several hours later, still showing the price of £99 per night.

Then to add insult to injury, an e-mail to say the offer is still waiting for me.

Hi Keith,

Thank you for visiting loveholidays today. We noticed your interest in making a booking with us. If you’d still like to book that hotel stay, you can find the most recent hotel you looked at still waiting for you by clicking on the button below.

Do you have any queries or questions we could answer? If you’d prefer to speak directly with one of our travel advisors, please give us a call on 01903 258 298, quoting the reference number XXXXXXXX.

A marginal change in price, £2000 for twenty days when clicked which took through to booking form. Required to complete details as before, name, address, telephone number, e-mail, credit card details. Same reference number. Would it once again have then asked to call the number and quote booking reference? When through, as before say the prices does not exist, which works out at £100 per day? I do not know, I did not try.

The hotel has been informed of the scam, and asked not to deal with this company.

They are concerned, and aware of these scams. Rooms are being bought, then sold to third parties, over which they have no control and would not deal with.

Check with hotel. The artificial high price is not the price the hotel is charging.

Amoma is another of these scam booking websites. Find a price, fill out the booking details, then note has changed the dates. Call a number in Switzerland, they too claim must have gone through Trivago, not true, had gone direct, and quoted a much higher price. Claimed they were top three booking sites. Really? I had never before heard of them. Informed hotel.

If have passed credit card details to these websites, then important to speak with bank and block card payment.