Archive for the ‘coffee’ Category

The world’s smallest coffee shop?

October 5, 2021

On my last visit to Guildford some time end of last year, Krema had drawn to my attention a red telephone box serving coffee. I had noticed as walked past, but thought nothing more of it.

Today, visiting the farmers market in the High Street, I thought I would investigate further.

Quite literally, a red telephone box functions as a coffee shop, a few tables and chairs outside.

I was offered Brazilian coffee.

Brazilian coffee is usually poor quality from mechanised plantations, but there is an awful lot of coffee in Brazil and there is some good stuff.

I try an espresso. I was happy with what I was served. An espresso a good test.

We had a chat, coffee from Brazil, coffee in Greece, I learn the guy is Greek, though no Greek accent.

Black Sheep Coffee King’s Cross Station

October 4, 2021

Passing through King’s Cross Station, I noticed what I had never seen before, Black Sheep Coffee.

A mild evening, pavements wet with rain, I decided to give it a try.

They were closing and yet it was not late, not yet yet eight o’clock. I was offered Robusta. You got to be kidding me.

I learnt from an Italian guy bringing in the tables that it was a chain, all over London.

The only reason I walked in I saw their equipment. They had good equipment, usually a good sign.

Afternoon in Nottingham

September 1, 2021


My first visit to Nottingham since lockdown last year.

First of September,  first day of Autumn. 

Awaiting train, many on the platform at Lincoln Central, two-coach train busy, many more passengers than usual mid-week for Nottingham.

Idiots not wearing face masks.

After Newark, complete overkill, three staff walking through a two-coach train checking tickets.

Big changes in Nottingham.

Massive student block erected next to Hopkinsons, the other side, a massive hole.

Why oh why have Hopkinsons defaced their building with a electronic display sign? 

Rental yellow peril e-scooters dotted around. Not yet the problem of Athens or Oxford with rental cycles.  A few idiots whizzing around on. 

Before half-demolished Broadmarsh, anther massive building, a broad pedestrianised walk is being created. 

Walking through the half demolished Broadmarsh Intu shopping centre, emerge the other side, retail desolation, everything closed or closing down.

Not many people about, usually busy.

Walk past Cartwheel Coffee, very sad to see the cobbler Loakes shoes has closed. Thea Caffea has taken over the empty tea shop at the back. Erected ghastly garish A-boards in the street, out of keeping with the building, believed to be a listed building. I take a look, plastic flowers as walk in sums up the tackiness. For good measure, a tacky ugly sign hiding the name of the building. If this is a listed building, why no Enforcement action? 

I was not going to, but stay at Cartwheel Coffee, sit outside with a cappuccino.

Further up the street, a florist in the street.

I notice a side street yet more retail desolation.

Cubed, a new coffee shop and barber shop. I ask of the coffee, 200 Degrees, worse still, their poor quality Brazilian blend bulked out with cheap crap Robusta from Vietnam. I ask the girl outside smoking, never a good sign, the coffee machine. She had told me she was the barista. She does not know. No, you cannot look inside if do not want a coffee.

Paste, excellent Thai restaurant closed, no longer open lunchtime.

Eat at The Ugly Bread Bakery. Excellent lunch. Packed inside, I decided to eat outside, then outside no free tables, but a table free inside.

Stop at Kilgali, was Outpost Coffee, to ask when open until. I think they said five, maybe six. Great, time to visit Luisa.

Pass by Yolk, new coffee shop last year, has already closed. I am not surprised, nice coffee shop, but the coffee was not good.

No Luisa. Closed for the day.

I head to the craft beer brewery. Sorry we are brewers, cannot sell you any cans.

Head back to Kigali. Outpost Coffee was an excellent coffee shop, and yet Kigali have managed to improve upon. No mean feat. Guest coffee, coffee mugs and Standart on sale. I sit outside with an excellent cappuccino.

I leave with a copy of Standart

Pass by another new coffee shop Braze next to Ugly Bread Bakery. Yet again, 200 Degrees, at least their guest not their house blend. But even so, what is the point of opening a coffee shop and buying low quality coffee? We are spoilt for choice. On the other hand reputable coffee roasteries are choosy who they supply coffee to. But worse still, why open an independent coffee shop then buy coffee from a chain? 200 Degrees is a chain serving mediocre coffee.

Look in Cobden Chambers. How to ruin a lovely courtyard. Covered seating for a bar.

Ideas on Paper not open. Sad, as was an excellent shop. Not opened since closed beginning of pandemic last year.

Head to The Specialty Coffee Shop. Changes to the interior, three staff. I have time for an espresso.

Head to the station.

Packed train, though not as packed as pre-pandemic. Had I caught the next train it would have been bad. Not acceptable only two-coach train.

Bunty’s Tea Room cappuccino

August 21, 2021

I had found Bunty’s Tea Room open last Saturday, thought I would try today, first time I have ventured inside.

Just my luck, a large group entered as I was about to walk in. A noisy group.

One table empty near the door. Ideal as I try to avoid crowded places during coronavirus pandemic and prefer to sit outside.

No outside seating.

WWII theme, pride of place on the wall, a large black and white photo of a Lancaster bomber flying past Lincoln Cathedral. Various WWII memorabilia dotted around. What was strange, I was the only one who appeared to notice.

My cappuccino was so-so, but what I expected, I was in a tea shop not a coffee shop. Too many mistakes, cup size too large, coffee not freshly ground, not precisely weighed.

I started to feel sick and left my coffee. The reason why, sometimes if I have had too many, fake milk. Not only fake milk, but a cheap low quality oat milk.

Please use real milk not pander to vegans with fake milk. If really must add fake milk to a cappuccino, then maybe try Rebel Kitchen Mylk for Baristas. Or if do not wish for milk, an espresso, or a filter pour over coffee.

Coffee from Seven Districts on sale. A wider range can be found in A Little Bit of Lincolnshire, shop selling local produce further up Steep Hill.

Tea served in a variety of fancy tea pots with bone china cups, as tea should be served.

The tea, a choice of tea, their own blends.

A chocolate sponge cake for later.

I will return another day and try the tea.

Located half way up Steep Hill.

If a visitor to Lincoln please do not take the tourist bus as a complete waste of money and adding to pollution and contributing to Climate Emergency. Walk up Steep Hill or if do not wish to climb Steep Hill, take the Walk and Ride to Lincoln Cathedral, then walk back down Steep Hill.

Avoid Lincoln Cathedral Cafe, an outsourced operation, service poor, disgusting catering supply coffee brewed by clueless on coffee. Always support local businesses where they care about their reputation and money flows back into the local economy.

Contrast Bunty’s Tea Room with the appalling service at Lincoln Cathedral Cafe. But that is the difference between a local family owned business where they care about their reputation and an outsourced operation which does not.

For more on life during WWII, nearby Museum of Lincolnshire Life and International Bomber Command Centre overlooking Lincoln.

What use a coffee scoop?

July 31, 2021

That was my thought at a zero waste stall. Why use, what use a bamboo coffee scoop?

I take the point from the little experiment carried out by James Hoffman, consistency if take care, but consistency of what, an unknown, unknowable scoop of coffee? And it would vary with grind size and the coffee beans, for example if the beans were peaberry.

I brewed a pour over using an April brewer. I followed the recommendation of Patrick Rolf, 12g of coffee, 200g of water, first pour 50g circular pour 50g centre pour within 10 seconds, wait 40 seconds, repeat. Total brew time two minutes thirty seconds. How to without digital scales and an accurate timer? Not possible using a scoop.

I cannot see any use for a scoop. I cannot see why provided with an Aeropress. It leads to sloppy brewing, lack of consistency.

Zero waste shops: Refill shampoo bottles, loose nuts, rice, cereals, spices. But never buy loose coffee. Stale oxidized beans of unknown provenance, roasted who knows when. Always buy coffee from specialty coffee shop or reputable coffee roastery.

Plastic Free July

July 17, 2021

Those empty laundry detergent containers, empty shampoo containers, do not throw away, take to a zero waste shop and have them refilled.

That is what I did last week, laundry liquid from ecoleaf, the shampoo coconut from Faith in Nature (which matched the previous contents).

But please never put wrong liquid in mismatched container, it is not only the labelling, we have iconic shapes, ketchup bottles, coke bottles.

Classic, weed killer in a Coke bottle on the shelf in the garden shed.

A zero waste shop recently received a lot of stick when a foolish employee bragged she had found a use for an empty ketchup bottle, filling with cleaner.

If have an Nespresso machine do not not buy the disgusting coffee from Nespresso, and if thinking of buying choose an Opal One a superior machine, the capsules buy from reputable coffee roasteries.

  • Kiss the Hippo — compostable
  • Colonna — compostable and aluminium
  • April — compostable

Compostable, throw on the compost heap.

Aluminium, obtain a gadget from Colonna, Lakeland or Hotel Chocolat and use to extract the spent coffee grounds, scatter the extracted coffee on compost heap or garden, the emptied aluminium capsules, stack to increase their bulk, drop in a recycling bin.

If order from Riverford, veg box or recipe box, delivered in a card box which can be reused, recycled or composted, inside tins, maybe little plastic boxes, fruit and vegetables loose, strong paper bags or compostable plastic bags. The boxes are collected next delivery.

When we recycle, reuse, compost, we are not only reducing waste and closing the loop, we are also saving on embedded energy used to produce the products, thus helping to cut carbon emissions.

We face several global crisis

  • global warming
  • mass species extinction
  • pandemics
  • plastic pollution

When out and about, wishing for a coffee, never takeaway or offer a reusable cup, relax and enjoy coffee served in glass or ceramic. The only exception a kiosk or cart.

Seven Districts coffee at Curtis in Sincil Street

July 1, 2021

A couple of weeks ago I noticed Curtis in Sincil Street selling bags of coffee from Seven Districts, now serving.

I was suprised, Curtis a butcher cum baker, long established family business, but not where expect to find bags of coffee on slae, let alone specialty coffee. Though when I asked, the bags were selling.

Excellent for cakes, fresh made ready meals (cottage pie. sasahe mash and peas, are excellent), and roast ham.

Curtis have always served coffee, basically grasy spoon cafe, tea or coffee with a cake or sausage or roll.

If I wanted a sausage roll to eat it would be Pepperdine’s or Redhill Faram, pork chops Pepperdine. But absolutely no way the rubbish from Greggs.

Following the destruction of nearly all the local family family businesses by the Coop, Curtis and Pepperdine’s are one of the few remaining family busiesses left. Mainly because they own their own property, and thus cannot be driven out by the Coop.

For Curtis to serve specialty coffee, install an espresso machine, a move up market for their coffee. Maybe they have noticed the growing number at 200 Degrees and want a slice of the raction. Also since renovation of the locality, a growing number of people sitting around.

Today I decided to sit outisde and have a coffee. Too hot in the sun, they need shade. Cappuccino, too hot, cup size too large.

Espresso tonic Coffee Aroma

June 23, 2021

A hot day, I decided to sit outside Coffee Aroma with an espresso tonic.

I was the only person, very quiet.

A not very good espresso tonic, wrong glass, ice melting, did not know how to make, wrong beans.

  • PHOTOS Espresso tonic Coffee Aroma

Espresso tonic

June 22, 2021

I keep playing around with this.

Need a 310ml (minimum) cut glass crystal tumbler.  Crystal looks great.

The recipe is very simple:

  • 120g ice
  • 120g tonic
  • 40g shot from Opal One

For ice, I use the same water as I use for making coffee. It can be scrimped from a coffee shop or use Coop still water, but never tap water.

The tonic is important. Forget the crap from Schweppes. Try Fever Tree  Premium Indian tonic.

For the coffee, 25g Discovery Short Rwanda from Colonna. This is roasted for 25g, but is works fine as 40g for espresso tonic.

The trick, getting the balance right between coffee and tonic.

Opal One,  a superior machine to a Nespresso machine, roughly twice the price of the cheapest Nespresso machine.

When brewing the shot, flush the machine with hot water, shake the capsule, after the shot eject the capsule, flush the machine.

Aluminium capsules, obtain gadget from Colonna, Hotel Chocolat or Lakeland, extract the spent coffee grounds, recycle the aluminium, coffee grounds scatter on the garden or compost heap.

Compostable capsules, drop on compost heap or dispose off with waste food collection.

A very refreshing drink on a hot day.

The best Panama Geisha of 2021?

June 18, 2021

Panama Geisha, Finca Deborah the best of 2021?

I am pleased Patrik Rolf then went on to qualify, one of the best coffees in the world.

In the same locality we have Hacienda La Esmeralda where Geisha was discovered or rediscovered, for more on this read God in a Cup, and the estate of Ninety Plus, located Boquete, Volcán and Renacimiento.

Several things struck me from the farm, Finca Deborah.

  • shade grown coffee
  • beautiful wooded hills
  •  coffee protects the environment
  • the care the farmer Jamison Savage takes with his coffee beans

I contrast the introduction looking at the green beans with green beans I was asked to look at from Cameroon. The Cameroon beans had insect damage and black mould. When I tried to explain the condition of the beans was not acceptable, supplier became angry. Would not listen when I was trying to help, telling them if they wish to be taken seriously they have to address these problems, they cannot ship poor quality coffee beans.

I am pleased Patrik featured the farmer. Someone grows the beans, we need to know more about the farmers. Unless they care, we will not be drinking high quality coffee. We also need to thank the roastery and the person who brews our coffee.

We have our green coffee beans, how do we roast, how do we brew?

Slightly longer roast time, slightly higher roast temperature. This would appear to go against perceived wisdom, if we think of cheap crap commodity coffee, roast the shit out of it to hide any defects.

Then when we get to brewing, again contrary to perceived wisdom, leave to rest for three, four, five weeks.

And then, grind, store in an airtight container, brew the next day, which appears to go against perceived wisdom, grind and brew fresh for each cup, otherwise lose all the aromatic oils, coffee will oxidise.

Interesting to try, three different Geishas, same farm, same variety, different processing of the beans.

I recall something similar a couple of years ago, twelve different lots from the same farm, a cupping session at Taylor St Roasted.

I was tempted to order.

Synchronicity: Intrigued to stumble across this, of my friends at The Underdog, one of my favourite coffee shops in Athens, using beans from Finca Deborah for the World Barista Championship Boston 2019. It is always an honour and pleasure to be served a coffee at The Underdog and if time permits and not too busy conversation about coffee. If The Underdog rates this coffee, then Patrik Rolf is in very good company.

Foot note: I tried to order. Too late, Sold Out. 


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