Archive for the ‘art’ Category

Coffee Shop North

April 29, 2018

I want Coffee Shop North to be a platform not for me but for everyone involved in the north to discuss, explore and share their insights into the culture of coffee and its rising independent scene. — Dan Saul Pilgrim

Coffee Shop North was crowdfunded, a photo-essay of twenty-three indie coffee shops, seven cities and one town, across the North of England.

Inserted a booklet with portraits of coffee people.

Tamper in Sheffield, Spring in York, two of two dozen coffee shops featured.

Coupled with a collection of a dozen essays on coffee related themes.

Too many cafes, it would be stretching the point to call them coffee shops, are locked into the coffee scam, free machine, forced to buy poor quality overpriced coffee beans.

The norm for a speciality coffee shop, a house blend that does not change, a guest blend and maybe a few single origin speciality coffees for pour over. The only way to experience different coffees is to visit different coffee shops. Nothing of course wrong with that, part of the fun, different barista, different coffee, different techniques.

In ‘The Coffee Curators’ Lee Newell of Foundry in Sheffield questions why? Why not constantly change what is served, a challenge for the barista who then becomes a coffee curator, a challenge for the discerning clientele.

Two coffee shops that do just that, though not featured in Coffee Shop North, The Speciality Coffee Shop in Nottingham and Madame Waffle in Lincoln.

Too many of our towns have been destroyed by bad planning, corporate greed, and chains everywhere, an appalling sameness, then when a cursory glance at a remote spreadsheet does not show sufficient return, store closures leaving gaping holes in our town centres never to be filled.

Coffee shops offer something different, often a sensitive restoration of an old building, money is recycled within the local economy, a sense of place, something different, of character.

Coffee Shop North provides a sense of this sense of place.

Of limited edition, only on sale in indie coffee shops or indie bookshops. My copy was from Ideas on Paper, hidden in Cobden Chambers in Nottingham.

A few days later after picking up a copy of Coffee Shop North I was in York.  A few days after that flipping through Coffee Shop North I recognised the Synesso espresso machine, it was what I had spotted in Spring Espresso Lendal in York, the only one in the country.

I had thought, would it not be a clever idea to have Coffee Shop North signed in each coffee shop visited, or at least try and visit.

So far, only  Spring Espresso Lendal, though I did not have the book for signing.

Comparison would be Coffee Style, a hardback of stunning coffee related photos.  Or maybe Drift, coffee culture city by city.

If a guide to coffee shops in the North, then maybe The North and North Wales Independent Coffee Guide, not that Coffee Shop North claims to be a guide or even attempts to be comprehensive, it is a snapshot of time and place. But a word of caution,  The North and North Wales Independent Coffee Guide is not as it appears, it is not a guide or at least not as claimed, a guide loses all credibility when coffee shops are being charged £500 for an entry, write their own entry, coffee shops that should be featured are not, several that are should not.

The inspiration for Coffee Shop North was living and working coffee in the North.

My first experience with coffee goes hand in hand with my first experience away from home. I moved to Leeds in September 2010 to study graphic design. A thirty minute commute along the River Aire took me past a little espresso bar known as La Bottega Milanese. Opened not long before my arrival to the city, Alex the owner is Milan born and bred and had worked in coffee to support his graphic design studies not dissimilar to myself. La Bottega was a first of its kind — the first Milanese style espresso bar in Leeds. Given my inherent affection for Italian culture and the stylishly designed exterior, I was drawn to the shop and every day I would supplement my walk into university with a flat white. My dad had passed down his appreciation for coffee and also Italian food and wine due to family. (Yes, it’s more Kiwi than Italian but at the time I was none the wiser!).

The choice between a bus fare of the same price or a beautifully poured drink every morning was a no-brainer: the flat white became synchronous with my independence.

I respected Alex and his perseverance to establish this coffee culture in a northern English city. A year later I worked for him for a few months at the opening of his second shop (more a late night concept espresso bar) to aid my own studies and during that time met quite a few of the baristas intended to feature within the very pages of the book. My appreciation of the drink, the place and people grew and so to did my knowledge.

Four years later, I have spent countless hours in coffee shops in five cities particularly in the north of England. I’ve witnessed and been lucky enough to be part of a scene that has grown quickly in such a short space of time. Within the four (or more) walls of each shop there are stories to be told through image and word. I am but one person with an intimate story and appreciation that has stemmed from one drinkplace and person.

I want Coffee Shop: North to be a platform not for me but for everyone involved in the north to discuss, explore and share their insights into the culture of coffee and its rising independent scene.

A few minor criticisms of Coffee Shop North, the very large typeface at the beginning and irritating to be told what people are wearing as that only serves to regurgitate the myth coffee shops are for hipsters only ordinary folk not welcome, when nothing could be further from the truth.

It would have been useful to know where each coffee shop was, at the very least the town or city, and ideally, web address and twitter.

Dan Saul Pilgrim author of Coffee Shop North lived in the North, discovered specailty coffee and coffee shops, and for a while worked in a coffee shop.

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Charlotte Jane Kessler

April 29, 2018

Angel Coffee House has an exhibition of the art of Charlotte Jane Kessler.

Well worth a visit.

Angel Coffee House revisited

April 29, 2018

When I last visited Angel Coffee House a year or so ago, it was grim, a dreadful place, noisy, sofas black with ingrained dirt, cushions with stuffing falling out, and the coffee awful, the bags of coffee stacked on the shelves well past its best.

Not a place I would recommend to anyone.  I had been in better squats.

Shortly thereafter it closed, the place gutted.

I was told following refurbishment it had improved.

I would not usually return to somewhere this bad, but as I was passing by, I thought with much trepidation I would try.

The interior much improved, clean, very light and airy due to whitewashed walls.

The walls provide an excellent back drop to use as an art gallery, and many coffee shops are now doubling as art galleries.

I do not know for how long, an excellent exhibition of art by Charlotte Jane Kessler.

My eye was caught by kaffee form coffee cups. It looked like an exhibition of pottery.  I knew what it was, the first time though I have seen, let alone held and examined. Nor did smell of coffee as I expected. Nor as I expected a rough surface. No, smooth. The cups surprisingly light.

Kaffee form coffee cups are made of recycled coffee grounds. They are used for serving coffee. I asked could I have a coffee in one, was told no. If used, and if break, can be composted.

These coffee cups though are very expensive, espresso cup and saucer 15 euros, cappuccino cup and saucer 20 euros, which is why not likely to find in use in a coffee shop any time soon.  There is also a takeaway cup 15 euros, which puts in the same ballpark as KeepCup.

A coffee shop. How was the coffee?

It was better than before. It would have had to have been very bad to have been worse than before. OK, not great, not undrinkable, weak and insipid. And they did at least ask, did I wish for chocolate dumped on top. As mentioned in the current issue of Caffeine, chocolate is dumped on cappuccino to hid a multiplicity of barista sins. They need to examine their extraction and weigh the coffee not guess.  If I was to give a ballpark, I would say not quite as good as 200 Degrees house blend, and it is not great.

The coffee is sourced from Forge in Sheffield.

Forge have committed the cardinal sin of what no reputable roastery would do, try to poach business from other coffee shops, not when they are sourcing from one of the best coffee roasteries in the country.

Angel Coffee House still has a fair way to go, but at least is heading in the right direction.

If compare with coffee shops in Lincoln, not in the same league as Coffee AromaMadame Waffle or Makushi aka Base Camp on Steep Hill, but better than Coffee Bobbins which was recently awarded best tea or coffee shop in Lincolnshire by Good Taste Lincolnshire (which makes a farce of awards) and of course far better than any of the corporate chains, Costa, tax-dodging Caffé Nero or Starbucks.

Meet Lulu

January 8, 2018

Lulu was a whale, an Orca, she was washed ashore dead on a beach in Scotland in 2016. She was a member of the last remaining Orca pod in UK waters.The pod is in danger of being wiped out.

Lulu was found to have high levels of PCB in her system. PCBs were banned decades ago, but are still prevalent in the oceans, are concentrated in the fat of mammals.

Lulu is sculpture suspended from the ceiling at Stokes at The Lawn.

Designed by Ptolemy Elrington,  Lulu is made from bits of plastic and parts from old coffee machines.  She serves as a stark reminder the damage plastic is doing to the planet.

Plastic pollution is killing the planet.

8 tonnes of plastic are discarded into the oceans every year. The plastic accumulates. By 2050 the amount of plastic in the oceans will outweigh the fish.  It is hazardous to sea life.

Ten rivers account for 95% of the plastic in the oceans.

The UK was shipping 5000,000 tonnes of plastic to China every year. It was called recycling. This is not recycling, it is dumping waste onto another country.

Plastic is not recycled, it is down-cycling. Glass, steel, aluminium is recycled.

Wood can be reused.

Makushi is an excellent example of wood reused as tables.

The Underdog has reused railway sleepers as tables.

Something every single one of us can do is stop using disposable coffee cups. In the UK, we throw away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year. These are not made of paper as they first appear.  They are paper with a plastic liner, cannot be recycled, go to landfill or incineration, or are thrown in the street.

Stokes are investigating replacing the plastic-lined cups with compostable paper cups.

A step in the right direction, but, what to do with the paper cup once empty of coffee? Unless a compost heap is to hand will go in the waste stream.

Stokes at The Lawn have on sale Frank Green Smart Cup. Ugly, expensive and no one can recall one ever being sold. It lacks the elegance of a  KeepCup.  And is made of plastic.

Unless targeting office workers with a substantial discount, reusable cups of limited value in reducing waste.

What we have to do is discourage the grab it and go consumer culture that is encouraged by the coffee chains and  instead encourage  sit and relax with a cup of coffee at the coffee shop. After all what is the hurry? Coffee is a drink, or for that matter tea, to relax
with.

The clientele at Stokes do tend to be sit and relax with a coffee or afternoon tea.

Pret a Manger offering filter coffee at 49p a cup if bring own cup for a refill has to be seen in the absence of in-store information and no reusable cups on sale as little more than a clever publicity stunt.

House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has called for a 25p levy on all disposable coffee cups, the so-called latte levy. This should be implemented at the next Budget, but already the chains are lobbying for the levy not to be introduced.

Please sign the petition calling on Michael Gove to introduce the 25p levy.

As always, it is the indie coffee shops who are leading the way.

What we have to do is discourage the takeaway culture. Compostable paper cups, reusable cups, is merely tackling the symptoms.

We have to encourage relaxing with a cup of coffee at a coffee shop in ceramic or glass. There is then no requirement for a takeaway cup.

If art has nothing to say, it is not art.

Becca Turner

January 6, 2018

Becca Turner, artist, illustrator, coffee aficionado,  who combines her passion for coffee with her art.

Her illustrations graced the front cover of Caffeine last year.  Her art was also featured in Caffeine last year.

Coffee Style

December 4, 2017

A wonderful book to browse, a collection of coffee related photographs.

Stunning photography.

Very little text, and what text there is, informative on coffee.

A book ideal for browsing in a coffee shop.

Ideal for the table in the undercroft at the rear of Makushi.

Naomi Wu

November 12, 2017

Didn’t get here by meekly doing what I was told. — Naomi Wu

Who is Naomi Wu?

A talented Chinese designer, a hacker, a coder, life imitating art, a Chinese real life Lisbeth Salander straight off the pages of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, a punk, a cyberpunk.

Shades of Neuromancer, Blade Runner, Culture series.  Strong hint of steampunk.

In the 1960s, there used to be magazines with projects you could build, pop down to Johny Birkett in The Strait and he would have all the parts you need. He is still there by the way but nobody makes anything anymore.

In the 1970s, Wireless World would have designs for state-of-the-art amplifiers, loud speakers, FM tuners, record decks, short wave radios, all of which you could build yourself.

Naomi Wu aka Real Sexy Cyborg designs and builds the stuff herself, even better shows how she does it, how she puts what she builds into practice.

In the second or third in the series of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, a phone inserted in a prison cell, used as a relay, somewhere along the way, hack into a telecom system.

Need information on  a company. Build a drone, drop off a payload that intercepts wifi, download data, retrieve at a later date.

In the Culture world of Iain M Banks, have tiny drones that can deliver munitions, act as spies.

Neoromancer enter into the heart of the digital world.

Her designs span a wide range, dropping a payload on a building, unusual clothes, a battle vehicle.

And the range of design techniques, software, hardware, electronics, 3D printing, mechanical design.

Imagine a network of talented girls like Naomi Wu, with access to technology, access to the internet, access to 3D printing.

Instead of patenting what you design, you share, but have intellectual property rights that cannot be used by Big Business.  The actual development shared, others can suggest ideas for improvement, build prototypes, experiment.

The marginal cost of information stuff is tending to zero.

Her explanation of Open Source to the boss of a 3D printer manufacturers is one of the best explanations I have seen of Open Source. 

Pitched to the private sector, an invitation to join the Open Source community. 
You have a 3D printer, you need a part to fix it, use the 3D priner to fabricate the part. 

In Barcelona, the plan is to build FabLabs in every neighbourhood. Not only 3D printers, state-of-the-art machinery, and expertise on hand to help you use it.

We are now postcapitalism.

We  can have a world of Uber and Deleveroo, technology used for exploitation, a world of low paid, zero hours, temporary McShit jobs.

Or we can have a world of open coops, collaborative commons, sharing economy.

Uber has been kicked out of London. They way to kill Uber and Deliveroo  is through regulation and through the creation of open coop platforms, the taxi drivers and riders own the platform, share in its design and wealth creation, set the fares, open source, the community can help shape and design, the design can be shared and adopted and adapted by other cities.

Naomi Wu has come under a lot of stick, attacked by men, she cannot be real, she did not design the stuff.  Sad as it is pathetic.

The same mindset that thinks women are there to be abused.

She gets attacked for looking sexy, for how she dresses.

One sad pathetic example of humanity attacked her for wearing a pink dress.

She does though an excellent job of taking down the people who attack her and making them look the pathetic specimens of humanity that they are.

She is intelligent, articulate, and that really pisses off the trolls. How dare she, a mere slip of a girl, challenge them in their own world.

Then it is a state of denial, she must be a toy or a robot, someone else is telling her what to do.

She has to prove she is real.

Editor of Make magazine Dale Dougherty made the astounding claim

I am questioning who she [Naomi Wu] really is. Naomi is a persona, not a real person. She is several or many people.

Which he was then forced to withdraw and issue a grudging apology.

But the damage had been done. It legitimised the attacks on her.

Shenzhen is the tech capital of China, which means it is the tech capital of the world.

In Istanul is the Spice Market. Shenzhen has the tech version of the Spice Market.

Shenzhen exists at the intersection of technology and art, a cyber punk world where anything goes. Naomi Wu can walk the streets scantily clad, wearing bizarre outfits, even visit a company HQ, she attracts attention but does not get attacked.  On the other hand if she is seen as a competent designer, pushing the bounds, all hell breaks loose.

The attacks on her are not on the street, they are on-line.

Upon the Earth Under the Clouds

November 3, 2017

Upon the Earth, Under the Clouds, a documentary on Danae Stratou’s large scale installation in Elefsis, with music by Brian Eno.

Wandering around Athens.

Awake in the morning with breakfast with a stunning view of The Acropolis,  and Olympian Temple of Zeus.

During the day, walk around The Acropolis, climb the Hill of the Muses with stunning views over Athens and out to sea, walk along the Koine Road, visit Library of Hadrian, the Ancient Agora, walk the streets of Plaka and Monastiraki, visit the National Garden, discover some amazing coffee shops where served by champion baristas, in one Little Tree, a bookshop cum coffee shop, latest book by Yanis Varoufakis.

Danae Stratou artist wife of Yanis Varoufakis.

Many thanks to Yanis Varoufakis for mention of this documentary.

Exarchia

October 23, 2017

Exarchia is an area of Athens where Anarchists and Riot Police engage in Urban Warfare.

As I walked through the graffiti lined streets I asked a lady had everything closed.

No, that is how it is, the shops close early on Monday. Early being six in the evening.

Lincoln Knights’ Reunion

September 20, 2017

The Lincoln Knights are back.

Having been removed from the streets at the beginning of September, much to everyone’s annoyance and disappointment, they are now lined up in Lincoln Castle.

All 36 knights are reunited at Lincoln Castle for one last time before being auctioned off for charity.

The Lincoln Knights will be sold at auction in Lincoln Cathedral to raise money for The Nomad Trust. A local charity which serves the homeless community of Lincoln and provides emergency accommodation for those who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets.