Archive for March, 2019

Tamper Sellers Wheel

March 20, 2019

— to be continued —-

Spring Equinox in Sheffield

March 20, 2019

Spring Equinox when day equals night, from now on the days are longer the nights shorter.

The first day of spring.

International Happiness Day.

A lovely warm and sunny day, Sheffield hit 19.4C.

Fake-Left Guardian had a recent article on the dire state of Sheffield city centre. The local council, a one party state, hit back with eight tweets, the gist of which, Sheffield has the same crap cooperate chains as everywhere else.

Why would anyone visit Sheffield for the same crap corporate chains as every ghastly shopping centre?

As if to prove the point, an empty two-coach Northern Fail train Lincoln to Sheffield. It only started to fill part way through the journey.

The last time I visited Sheffield maybe in the 1970s, it was run down and derelict. Opening of Meadow Hall did not help.

Outside Sheffield Station, no signs pointing to city centre. It was thus follow where every one else appeared to be heading, up past a water feature, cross a road, and follow a broad pedestrianised path surrounded by Sheffield Hallam University.

Half up the wide pedestrianised street a little coffee kiosk, Motore Cafe serving Dark Woods coffee. A local roastery. How local is local, Sheffued no but Yorkshire yes.

Theen at the topd of the wide walk nothing. Where to the city centre. Sign osts would help. As would street names.

I was after Tamper Sellers Wheel. With the help of a local I managed to find. Confusin I was looking fora street Sellers Wheel. It is the name of the building.

Sellers Wheel an old indsutrial building put to good use.

I wa sunderimpressed and soewheat dispaanted. Too loud , trying to hard to be trendy.

I had a big fat overpriced roll for lunch. Hame isnide but spoilt by msuatrd. Why taint good ham. If needmustatrd, a little on the sdie of the palte. It is loke putting sugar in a coffee, chocolate dumped on top. Ina word don’t.

I did not have a coffee. Ozone coffee and it si never great.

On leaving I noticed they also had Dark Woods. V60? No, Kalita Wave.

Ozone has recently acqired Hasbean. They opear a stow comapnies witha holdin comany. I expressed surise Dark Woods not Hasbean. They said it would change. A very bad idea. Ditch Ozonefor Hasbena nd keep Drak Woods

There is a a second Tamper, but I did not find nore the other coffee shops I wished to find.

I came across Union St a real gem, an example of Respace, a derelict buidling put to good use.

Co-working space, a coffee shop, and pop up stree food. sadly I was toolaste for Tawianaies.

The coffee Dark Woods. Like Stokes in Lincoln, Dark Woods appears to ahve a local monploy.

It was then after a wonder down a street with the smae crap chains sas everwhere lese, time to head bacj to the Staion.

I looked in tamer Selles Wheel and picked up a Dark Woods Panama single origin.

— to be continued —-

Castle Hill farmers market

March 16, 2019

A very windy day, weather forecast gale and heavy rain.

Would the farmers market be cancelled? If yes, would it be held the following weekend?

Vist Lincoln were asked, but lacked the courtesy

— to be continued —

The Lincolnshire Echo a failing local rag

March 13, 2019

The ground used to shake in St Benedict’s Square when The Lincolnshire Echo rolled off the printing press, a daily local paper, several editions during the day, Final had the national news the dailies would cover the following morning, a special sport edition at the weekend, vendors on street corners.

The Echo as known locally a pale shadow of its once former self, a single edition published once a week, stale news, staler that what we once used to wrap our fish n chips in, the one remaining vendor on the High Street long gone, its on-line version Lincolnshire Live, drivel, regurgitation of corporate press releases masquerading as news, click bait, not a clue how to use social media. No in-depth reporting, no investigative journalism, no holding local government to account. This is left to locals with no resources. One of many failed or failing local newspapers now breathing its last gasp.

If we look at last week’s edition, it is easy to see why no one reads let alone buys.

For months The Echo has been demonising the homeless, rather than taking to task the local council for failing to help. And help is not moving them on.

The Street and Steep Hill, many failing if not failed businesses, many do not even bother to open, tea shops that close when tourists are around but open when not, too many run of the mill tea shops chasing the nonexistent tourist pound, shops selling tat.

But what we learn is a popular shop that was rarely open and hardly surprising when open not busy is to close. Any one passing by has known this for weeks.

And this is the same story of a few weeks ago of a soap shop, a popular shop closing for lack of customers.

Spot the oxymoron, popular shop closing for lack of customers.

Maybe the scribblers have a different definition of popular to that in common use.

Little more than click bait, opening of a new Boots store a boost to the High Street. Er no, Boots is relocating to across the street.

No explanation of why Boots is relocating to across the street? A question any competent journalist would have asked. Difference in rent, end of lease? Will the other smaller Boots stores in town close and relocate to one store? No mention of Boots a major tax dodger, or that the only reason BHS closed was theft from BHS pension fund, rogue tax dodger Philip Greed.

A game of Pass the Parcel, Musical Chairs, one large empty unit relocates from one side of the street to the other side of the street.

Makes not a jot of difference to the High Street, there is still one large empty unit.

When writing of coffee it helps to know something of coffee. What has been written of 200 Degrees smacks of hype, ignorance and regurgitation of a press release.

200 Degrees is a chain, albeit a small chain, with a reputation for serving mediocre coffee. Better than the large corporate chains but not in the same league as local indie coffee shops Coffee Aroma and Madame Waffle.

No there is not a garden courtyard. There is a back yard, as yet unfinished.

A specialty coffee shop does not serve coffee blended with cheap nasty robusta.

Why poach staff from other coffee shops if host a barista training school? No qualified trainer for the training school.

Sincil Street is not being redeveloped it is being trashed, local Coop and Council in cahoots. Why is this not being questioned?

Why no questioning of the levy on all businesses to support Lincoln BIG, controlled by Big Business, unaccountable to local businesses, the money then squandered, no benefit to local businesses. A levy few can afford.

Why no questioning of Visit Lincoln acting as a quasi PR agency, paid to promote corporate chains?

No questioning of the incestuous relationship between local Coop, corporate chains, local Council and Lincoln BIG.

The Lincolnite little better not an echo, regurgitation of press releases masquerading as news, drivel, click bait.

Bailagte Independent, glossy packed with ads freebie monthly. What little content there is reads as advertising copy without the warning. A shocking waste of trees.

Afternoon in Nottingham

March 9, 2019

Gale blowing this morning, nearly blown off my feet, but luckily not raining and bus and train running on time.

1140 two-coach East Midlands Trains overcrowded train Lincoln to Nottingham, but the rail companies do not care. Do not even have the courtesy to respond to tweets.

Talking to three guys from Holland over for a weekend of football, they commented how all the towns were the same, the same crap corporate chains. That in Holland they had learnt, quality indie businesses in town centres, the crap sold in chains can buy on-line.

A lesson the idiots in Town Halls in bed with greedy developers and corporate chains have yet to learn.

In contrast to 200 Degrees Lincoln newly opened this week amidst overblown hype, 200 Degrees Nottingham Station almost empty, though did start to fill up whilst I was there, but this was lunchtime.

Contrary to what 200 Degrees claim, the clientele not commuters, though this may be true in the morning and evening. What I always see is people with friends, meeting friends or people on their own.

Food good, coffee mediocre. Not acceptable old coffee on sale. I would expect better when 200 Degrees roast their own coffee. Not somewhere I would recommend for coffee when far better places for coffee in Nottingham.

One of which is Cartwheel Coffee where I headed for a coffee.

Unlike most towns on a Saturday, Nottingham never seems busy, though walking to the centre through a dismal shopping centre, never seen so packed, not the shopping centre itself which is always deserted but people using as a short cut.

It is strange how Nottingham Station is isolated from the city centre and have to walk through a dingy dismal deserted shopping centre and then along a street lined with crap corporate chains find anywhere.

Cartwheel Coffee packed. Outside a guy on saxophone.

I luckily found a seat by the window. More people than were in Cartwheel, looked in, saw full and walked away.

I ordered a cappuccino. A couple walked in, luckily found a seat. As they walked in, asked me what the coffee was like? I said excellent. I mentioned other places worth visiting, then later as I left wrote them a list – The Specialty Coffee Shop, Wired and Outpost Coffee. I also suggested check out Cobden Chambers opposite Wired, especially Ideas on Paper where I was headed next.

I asked where they were from? Sheffield. I suggested try Tamper Sellers Wheel of which I have heard good things, though not personally visited. Featured in Coffee Shop North.

I mentioned an article in The Guardian on the decline of Sheffield and the ludicrous response from the local council, the same council responsible for destruction of street trees, we have chains.

Once again an example of Town Halls lacking any understanding why people visit. Why visit Sheffield from Nottingham or Lincoln, or vice a versa to find the same crap chains?

Two weekends previous, two Chinese girls, visitors to Lincoln, complimented Madame Waffle on the quality of their tea and asked could they buy loose leaf tea. Two other visitors complimented on the coffee and how much they liked it was an independent coffee shop.

And what does Visit Lincoln promote and hype, 200 Degrees, a chain serving at best mediocre coffee.

Interesting conversation with a group of Muslims, ironically with a stall outside St Peter’s Church. They said it was rare to talk with a non-Muslim who knew anything about Islam and The Koran.

Why outside St Peter’s Church and in the Market Square ice cream vans with engines running in pedestrianised streets?

Chocolatier in Cobden Chambers, knows nothing about chocolate. Chocolate bar clones of Hotel Chocolat, wrapped in plastic, soy emulsifier.

Today, first time, I found the Zero Waste Shop in Cobden Chambers open. But no time other than for a cursory glance. What though I did see, not acceptable to pay 5p for a paper bag or have to weigh in 20g increments.

Nor much time in Ideas on Paper, picked up Caboodle and Ambrosia.

Sadly no time for Wired, on to Outpost Coffee where my second cappuccino, even better than the first. An Ethiopian single origin.

Always excellent reading material in Outpost Coffee. All to be found on sale in Ideas on Paper.

Sitting on the shelf Drift Melbourne edition. Sorry, not for sale.

I learnt I was a member of an elite group. Blocked from all 200 Degrees social media accounts.

1621 two-coach train Nottingham to Lincoln standing room only.

At Lincoln, five minutes from train arrival to leaving the station due to the barricades. A guard patrols the train, checks tickets, sells tickets, but hassle at the barrier. Yet another example of the contempt East Midland Trains has for passengers.


Hasbean coffee cupping Coffee Aroma

March 4, 2019

Afternoon coffee cupping at Coffee Aroma with James Andrews of Hasbean.

Coffee cupping is to coffee what wine tasting is to wine.

Freshly ground coffee, hot boiling water, leave four minutes, remove the crust, sample each cup with a cupping spoon and a slurp, cleaning the spoon in water between cups.

A wide range of countries, different processing of the coffee beans, Brazil, Costa Rica, Yemen, Nicaragua.

Nicaragua is a country not often seen, Yemen very rare.

Coffee migrated from Ethiopia to Yemen, then spread across Arab countries, into Europe and then across the world.

Coffee was a valuable crop to Yemen, mansions on the waterfront built on coffee, smuggling out of coffee plants on the pain of death.

In recent years coffee terraces in Yemen have given over to a more profitable crop, a narcotic, the evil sister of coffee.

For more on Yemen read The Devil’s Cup and The Monk of Mokha.

A minor criticism of the coffee cupping, the participants should have sensed the aroma of the ground beans and each participant granted the opportunity to remove the surface crust and experience the aroma that erupts when the crust is removed.

Hasbean has recently been acquired by Ozone. The two operate as separate companies with a holding company. It has enabled more resources for Hasbean to work with estates when buying green beans.

Most of the coffees cupped are available at Coffee Aroma.

The coffee estates Stephen Leighton works with are featured in Coffeeography, on sale in Coffee Aroma.

200 Degrees Lincoln exclusive launch party

March 1, 2019

200 Degrees, two coffee shops in Nottingham, a small chain of a little over half a dozen coffee shops. 200 Degrees Lincoln when open brings the tally to eight coffee shops.

The degree to which coffee is hyped is inversely proportional to its quality. The degree to which 200 Degrees Lincoln has been hyped bodes ill and actually does them no favours.

According to Jennie Holland PR their hype has reached over eight million people. Knock off two zeros and it would still be a greatly exaggerated figure. I doubt a reach of 8,000. And reach is not engagement. If we look at engagement, comments on social media, re-posts, re-tweets, we are down another two orders of magnitude.

Maybe PR agencies believe their own bullshit. Someone has to. It would be interesting to see the evidence to support their ludicrous claim of eight million, how it was measured. If you make ridiculous claims, which no doubt looks good to clients, then be prepared to back with hard data.

The PR agency lacks any understanding of social media algorithms. I receive at least once a day unsolicited tweets from Nespresso, maybe every few days on facebook.

How many times for 200 Degrees? Zero.

Neither as their infamous tweet shows have they any understanding of how to effectively use hashtags.

And the PR agency missed a trick by not making use of the large screen at the bus station or the screen at the train station. Though the screen at the train station badly positioned, not seen as walk in and exit via a different route.

How to pour money down the drain without really trying.

The irony is, apart from not doing 200 Degrees any favours, all 200 Degrees had to do was release a corporate press release to the local hacks and the scribblers would have regurgitated the press release as news.

The irony is open a new coffee shop, people will try, if they like will return with their friends, if not tell their friends the coffee is bad. A window of opportunity of maybe a couple of weeks. Word of mouth.

The launch party was claimed to be an exclusive event. Exclusivity is measured by those excluded, not by those invited. The infamous tweet from the PR agency implicitly invited the world. So much for an exclusive event. More PR bullshit.

Around three o’clock I was surprised to find a barrier in Sincil Street outside 200 Degrees Lincoln and the windows covered, the door closed.

The door opened to let a couple of people out and I was welcomed in.

Not many people. Whether busy during the day I do not know.

A large number of staff. But that was everyone, not as the coffee shop will be when open.

I have watched the coffee shop change over the last couple of weeks.

Two weeks ago an empty shell. I did not think it would be finished in time, but the shopfitters assured me it would be.

Early this week it was starting to take shape.

Today, still not quite finished, not all the gear in place, no tables and chairs out in the back yard.

But due credit to the designers for an excellent job.

Contrary to what Brian of Brian’s Coffee Spot writes, all their coffee shops are not the same and nothing worse than trying to create a corporate image.

What struck me was the open space, a mezzanine floor.

It was very much as I am used to in the best coffee shops in Athens.

The main difference the layout of where the coffee is brewed. In Athens, the barista is central, open to the coffee drinkers to watch their coffee being prepared, and better for engagement between barista and coffee drinker.

The serving area a lateral inversion that is mirror image of 200 Degrees Nottingham Station. The other difference on the left as walk in not on the right.

No long row of upholstered seats as 200 Degrees Nottingham Station. Instead tables and chairs, higher tables and stools, and a long table in the middle which for the launch party was used to display their food.

What I missed was the raised seating area of 200 Degrees Nottingham Station, light and airy, overlooking Nottingham Canal.

The one thing I did not like was the display panel for courses covering the first window on the right as walk in and thus cutting down the natural light. The one mistake in an otherwise excellent design. The display panel should be on a wall

I ordered a V60. I was asked which coffee I would like. I let them choose and an Ethiopian single origin was chosen.

I then had a wander upstairs and was invited into their training room. I think three training machines. Pay for a course and for their own staff to not only train on but use for practice.

Note: Four training machines.

For the punters courses in use of French press, V60 and aeropress. I would like to see Japanese syphon added.

This is excellent as shows people how to make coffee at home, and that not too difficult, skill and practice, and far better coffee than will ever achieve with a Nespresso machine. All for an initial outlay of V60, digital scales, swan-neck kettle and a hand grinder. And of course a bag of high quality single origin coffee beans.

The mezzanine floor if not used for training would make an excellent seating area.

My V60 was cooling down as we were looking at what was available, but that was ok, V60 improves as it cools (though not once cold).

I popped out as everything closes in Sincil Street at four, then popped back and had a cappuccino.

The person who served it to me, spilt down the side apologised and a second cappuccino was made. How it should be. Never serve a coffee that is not at its best.

I would recommend always choose the guest coffee, but ask that roasted to suit espresso.

The coffee is ethically sourced.

Interesting conversation with different staff. Their head coffee roaster was there but had left when I popped back. A pity as I would have liked to have discussed their roast profiles.

There will be seating out in their back yard and out the front in Sincil Street. Hopefully these areas will be No Smoking.

The back yard is work in progress. It needs greenery, plants in pots, trellis with trailing flowers on the walls.

Any coffee shop that opens serving good coffee is to be welcome as it shows people what is possible, that coffee is not an unpleasant bitter drink that has to be dosed with sugar and syrups and dowsed in chocolate to make palatable, nor is coffee served scalding hot.

Anyone who drinks in the corporate chains serving undrinkable coffee will be in for a pleasant surprise.

A comparison locally would be Stokes at The Lawn.

Not in the same league as Coffee Aroma or Madame Waffle, but better than other indie coffee shops in Lincoln. These days if going to open a coffee shop serving bad coffee on a hiding to nothing as already have the corporate chains serving bad coffee.

My V60 and cappuccino was brewed by their head of training. Whether they will be able to achieve this level of quality consistently is the real measure.

The food and cakes as 200 Degrees Nottingham, freshly prepared on site.

I would hope though they will give their kitchen leeway to develop their own dishes with locally sourced ingredients. For example Lincolnshire sausages sourced from the farm shop in Bailgate or the butcher at Heighington, bread from a local bakery, cheese from The Cheese Society, seasonal vegetables for soups from the local market stalls.

Apologies few pictures of what it looks like. 200 Degrees asked that I did not take pictures to allow it to be a surprise for visitors on Monday. I respected their wishes. An embargo the hacks at The Lincolnite and City X failed to respect or were not subject to.

Opening times will be until eight on weekdays. Sincil Street is deserted after six, no bus after seven. It is also not very safe once dark.

200 Degrees Lincoln officially opens on Monday 4 March 2019.

Coffee Cupping with Hasbean at Coffee Aroma 1400 Monday 4 March 2019.

Mint Lane Café

March 1, 2019

Mint Lane Café one of the best kept secrets in Lincoln.

Mint Lane Café a social enterprise café relies upon donated surplus food which would otherwise go to waste which is turned into delicious meals.

The food arrives in the morning, a couple of hours to prepare, then everything freshly cooked.

The cooks and serving staff are all volunteers, a very friendly and pleasant atmosphere, which is more than can be said for too many eating places.

And the standard of the meals high, very high. All for £3-00 for a three course meal, starter, main course and dessert and no that figure of three pounds for all three courses is not a typo.

I had broccoli and cream cheese soup, followed by roast chicken with vegetables and roast potatoes served with gravy in a Yorkshire pudding dish.

The roast potatoes were from new potatoes. The roast potatoes were the best I have eaten.

The main course served piping hot and of generous portion size, indeed I struggled to finish, especially as I yet had apple and plum crumble served with custard to come.

Sadly no apple and plum crumble as none left. They apologised as I had paid for three courses but I declined offer of anything else as too full.

To put the meal in context, far better than would get in crap corporate chain Cosy Club, hotted up standard corporate fare in a fake 1930s bar, so fake a Monty Python parody of fake.

The cost, a few pence less than I pay for a cappuccino, a pound less than I pay for a V60.

Not only meals, surplus food that is donated and not used for the day’s meal is on sale. Almond milk, bread, tinned products, fruit. I picked up spread, soft cheese spread, crisp bread.

Social enterprise cafés are springing up across the country, some rely on donated foods, others raid skips, some it is pay what you like, or if cannot pay, offer to volunter, others charge a small fee, with the option of paying more if feel able.

When I was at ReSpacing Conference at The Hive we started with Skipping Breakfast. Most attendees thought it meant we skipped breakfast I was one of the few who understood the meaning, breakfast from raided skips.

My lunch in Mint Lane Café is my first meal in a social enterprise café. I was impressed.

Mint Lane Café is not easy to find. Walk up the High Street, through The Stonebow, at Madame Waffle (one of only two coffee shops worth visiting in Lincoln) turn left into Park Street, at Age Concern Park Street Eatery turn left into Mint Lane. Towards the end of Mint Lane on the right within a red brick Victorian building will find Mint Lane Café.

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