Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

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.

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Disposable coffee cups

November 28, 2017

In the UK we throw away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year.

…the thing we found with the glass-only to-go program, is that once people understood why we made that choice and the benefits of doing so, we’ve seen tremendous support and love for the program. – Zayde Naquib, Bar Nine

Often there are very simple things we can do … like relaxing in a coffee shop with a cup of coffee, not walking down the street with a takeaway cup in our hands.

Simple things, when we all act, can change the world.

If I go to a coffee shop, unless they know me, I am greeted with, to drink in or takeaway?

I can just about understand a cappuccino in a takeaway cup, but a single origin V60, no way.

I would not drink a good red wine in a disposable cup, I object to beer in a plastic glass, why would I wish to drink a single origin V60 in a takeaway cup?

These takeaway cups are often referred to as paper cups. They are not, they have a plastic liner, and it is this plastic liner that makes them take a one way trip to incarceration or landfill, as they cannot be recycled.

OK for the pedantic, maybe a couple of plants that can recycle, but, no one is going to take the effort to separate out, therefore for all practical purposes, cannot be recycled, and are therefore on a one way trip to landfill or incineration.

That is a lot of disposable cups. One estimate puts the figure at 2.5 billion throwaway coffee cups every year in the UK.

According to a recent article in fake-left Guardian, environment department Defra using 1400 disposable coffee cups every day.

There can be no excuse for this, not when from their own internal canteens, nor for House of Commons or House of Lords.

It also means it can easily be tackled.

Bulk order KeepCups, sell to staff at a discount. Staff have to bring their own mugs or KeepCups if they wish to buy a drink.

KeepCups with Defra logo together with a few words on recycling could be handed to visitors.

Defra should look to the Bank of England. Staff were encouraged to either purchase a KeepCup or bring their own mug, for which they received a small discount of 10p. 10p was chosen as it was self-financing, cost neutral, it covered the actual cost of the disposable cup. The KeepCups have the Bank of England logo.

Lush in Australia and New Zealand gave all their employees a KeepCup in vibrant Lush colours as a Christmas present.

Disposable cups are lined with polyethylene and have a polystyrene lid, there is sufficient plastic in 28 disposable cups to make one small KeepCup.

In 2009, Simon Lockrey from the Centre for Design at RMIT completed a Symapro Life Cycle Analysis which has independently verified KeepCup sustainability claims.

Research by Canadian chemist Dr Martin Hocking found the break-even energy requirement to manufacture a reusable plastic cup versus a paper cup over a lifetime use was under 15 uses.

A captive audience at Lush, Bank of England or Defra is relatively easy to eliminate the use of disposable cups, what of the passing trade in the street?

A few coffee shops offer a discount if use your own cup. I found one offering a a substantial discount. But these are rare and makes little difference on the use of disposable cups

Coffee shops have KeepCups on sale. I have seen the cheap plastic ones in Harris + Hoole and at FCB kiosk, the more expensive glass in Coffee Island flagship store in Covent Garden.

I mention KeepCup, as they are the industry leaders. There are alternatives. I have seen a bamboo version of a KeepCup.

I have yet to see anyone walk in a coffee shop and buy a KeepCup, let alone walk in and request a refill of their KeepCup.

HuskeeCup made from coffee bean husks is unusual in that it is reusable and recyclable. If not made at country of origin, questionable environmental credentials, and even more questionable the husks are being sourced from Burma, a major human rights violator.

The cups are around $10 each, not including a saucer.

The coffee shop, it may have been a kiosk, that was offering a substantial discount, maybe half price, I asked were there any takers. I think a couple of takers, that was all.

Ben, at Ben’s Records, pops to the adjacent coffee shop with a mug.

Prior to Budget November 2017, it was suggested impose a levy of 5p on takeaway cups, cf 5p levy on plastic bags which has reduced use of plastic bags. It was not taken up.

I doubt it would make a difference, not when the takeaway coffee is cheaper than drinking in.

Tax has various functions, raising revenue, changing behaviour.

The principle the polluter must pay be would be grounds for imposing a levy.

Let us assume a tax on takeaway cups of 10p, levied on 2.5 billion throwaway coffee cups that would raise an annual £250 million, not a paltry sum.

There are recyclable paper cups, that can be composted, but I do not see them in use. There is though a problem. If a few unlikely coincidences occur, I am on my way home, have coffee from a kiosk that serves coffee in a compostable paper cup, I have been to the market and can drop my cup in my bag with the fruit and vegetables, else where do I put the cup, and if I remember when I get home to remove from the bag with my fresh produce, then yes I can throw on my compost heap.

But if not, if these happy but unlikely coincidences do not align, then what do I do with this cup? Throw it on the nearest waste bin. That is the dilemma most will face, what to do with the cup? It is unlikely to be composted, even though it could be. It will go into the waste stream with all the other non-recyclable cups.

In Athens and Cyprus, it is the norm to see people drinking from a takeaway cup. The worst offenders are Coffee Island (Greek equivalent of Starbucks) and Coffee Berry, two chains which serve coffee in disposable cups.

At Jamie’s Coffee at Gatwick Airport, Italian catering supply coffee served in takeaway cups.

Personally I would not buy a coffee in a takeaway cup, I prefer to sit down and relax with a cup of coffee, not drink on the hoof, which I find uncivilised, apart from the very act of drinking out of a takeaway cup as opposed to a ceramic cup or from a glass.

That is not to say I never. I will have a coffee from FCB kiosk at Guildford Station or the Small Batch kiosk outside Brighton Station or the little kiosk on the South Bank at the foot of Hungerford Bridge or Ethiopian Coffee Roasters on the South Bank Street Food Market, but only because these three kiosks and one stall serve excellent coffee, not because I wish to grab and go.

Kaya has a narrow bar, barely wide enough to balance a cup, the ground slopes, pick the height that suits you. There are no seats. The coffee shop is long and narrow, with no room for seats. Stools outside to sit at the bar not possible as the ground slopes. I was the only one drinking out of a cup. All I saw were office workers, grabbing a takeaway coffee on their way home.

Coffee shops must do do more. They could voluntarily refuse to serve coffee in a takeaway cup.

Bar Nine does not serve coffee in takeaway cups. If you really need to take away your coffee and not sit and relax with your coffee, they will lend you a glass jar and trust you to return it on your next visit.

Nova Gea serves fresh fruit juices in jars.

Eden Cafe does not serve coffee in takeaway cups. It buys ceramic cups from local charity shops, the cost about the same as a takeaway cup, which customers can take away if they wish.

I have seen beautiful china tea sets in a charity shop. I recommended to a local tea shop they bought them. Not for everyday use, for special occasions when groups come in to celebrate.

We could turn the serving of coffee on its head, charge more for a takeaway coffee than if sit and relax with a coffee.

This sounds impossible, pigs may fly, and yet Lemonjello’s Coffee do just that, charge more for a takeaway coffee.

You pay for the cost of the takeaway cup, it is built into the price, it is not made explicit. Why not make it explicit? Why not separate out as airlines do with luggage? You pay for your seat, want to take luggage that is an additional charge. You pay for your coffee, want something to carry it away with, that is an extra charge.

If I drink a coffee, I wish to sit down and relax in a coffee shop with my coffee in a ceramic cup, whether or not a saucer a moot point. If V60, Chemex or Japanese syphon, in a glass.

I do not like carting stuff around, if had a KeepCup I would have to cart it around. Then I would leave it somewhere and lose it.

Where I think a KeepCup comes into its own, is for office workers and shop workers who pop out for a takeaway coffee, then yes, they should be using a KeepCup.

I like to post pictures of the coffee shops, the coffee served. But not on Instagram, they claim rights to the pictures, and Instagram not visible on twitter.

What looks more photogenic, a takeaway cup or a ceramic cup or a glass?

To put your image, logo, marketing crap on a disposable cup is to associate your message with trash, it is saying you are ephemeral, transient, worthless. But then is that not true of most marketing?

One person using one paper coffee cup a day is the equivalent of a tree being cut down each year to produce those cups.

Why do we not value the coffee we drink? If we would not dream of drinking wine out of a disposable cup, why do we treat coffee in this way?

The only way this can be tackled, is to ban the use of disposable takeaway cups, coupled with information on why they are being banned.

The takeaway cups are not the only waste coffee shops generate. What of the coffee grounds? These can be used on the garden, used in cakes.

A couple of coffee shops, at my suggestion, have made the grounds available for people to take away. The take up has bordered on zero.

3fe recycles waste, compost bins, using waste milk, sources local food, chaff from the coffee roasting process is used by a local supplier to smoke bacon.

Coffee grounds are used on their garden out the back, what they do not use, a local cress grower Littlecress uses, who then supplies them with cress.

Steaming milk for a cappuccino wastes a lot of milk. 3fe use for making yogurt.

Coffee industry, the speciality end, has quite rightly focused on the supply chain, traceability, transparency, quality, accountability, from farm, through roastery to the coffee shop and what is poured into our cup.

We now must ask what happens, beyond the coffee shop.

Underlying all this and more fundamental, is the grab it and go culture, pointless consumerism, a throw away culture. The consumer culture that keeps the economy afloat.

Consumer junk passes from extraction to factory, six months in the home, then on its one way trip to incineration or landfill.

Until that is tackled, we will have a problem, and not only limited to coffee cups.

Why is the Mail targeting Naomi Wu?

November 26, 2017

I put up with constant abuse and endless shit, I wake up to DMs and emails full of rape and more rape every day. I’d just like to share my builds and tech stuff without the constant condescending nitpicking. It’s very little to ask why not just show that small measure of respect? — Naomi Wu

Very strange that the Mail appears to be running a smear campaign against Naomi Wu.

Naomi Wu has wisely launched a preemptive strike, as did Charlotte Church when gutter press tried to dig up dirt from her neighbours

But why Naom Wu?

Smear campaigns have been launched against Charlotte Church, Russell Brand, Jeremy Corbyn for having the audacity to attack the tax-dodging oligarchs who own and control the media, even worse for daring to propose an alternative to neoliberalism and a fairer society.

The Budget has estate agents rubbing their hands with glee at abolition of Stamp Duty, which will lead to a hike in house prices in a stagnant housing market, no attempt to deal with tax dodging, tax hand outs to oil companies, the poorest third of society will be poorer, the richest third richer.

The media oligarchs are losing their grip. They smeared Jeremy Corbtyn, nevertheless he manged to win the Labour leadership twice, has turned Labour into the largest social movement in Europe, almost won the last General Election, and has had the government on the defensive ever since.

Where though does Naomi Wu fit into all of this?

Maybe she was confused with Naomi Klein?

We are now postcapitalism.

Do we have a future of low wages, zero hours, part time, temporary, soul destroying McShit Jobs? Deliveroo and Uber are but two examples of serfs working for apps, old fashioned exploitation by any other name.

Or do we have a future of open source, open coops, collaborative commons?

Naomi Wu is an innovator, designer, a passionate and articulate advocate of open source, sino:bit in addition to being a coding project for kids is to introduce at an early age the concept of open source, the first official certified open source hardware project in China.

is this why she is seen as a threat?

Every day Naomi Wu wakes to a torrent of abuse, threats of rape.

The last thing she needs, a smear campaign by the Mail.

It could of course be a journalist collecting background, prior to writing an article on the work of Naomi Wu, two side panels, one highlighting the abuse she receives, the other on how to deal with on-line abuse and cyber bullying. Plus a supplement on projects people can build.

But until that happens, until we start to see quality journalism, retailers will continue to pull their advertising from the Mail, Paperchase being but the latest to do so.

Media has a vital role to play, challenging corruption, informing democracy, and holding government to account. But less and less does it play that role, it acts as a megaphone for the corrupt, smears anyone who does expose corruption. 

To be a journalist is a dangerous profession, we see that with the number of journalists put in prison, killed. 

Journalists are put in danger when Donald Trump attacks the media. 

But we need to question when vile trolls like Katie Hopkins are granted a media platform, as the hate they espouse then becomes the norm, by granting her the oxygen of publicity all attention seeking trolls crave, it acts to normalise and encourage their behaviour.
 

Sino:bit

November 19, 2017

Open Source coding project for children. CN000001, the first certified open source hardware in China.

Sino:bit designed by Naomi Wu with the help of David, built by Elecrow, is an Open Source coding project for children, the first Open Source Hardware Association  #oshwa certified board in China.

Sino:bit is CN000001, the first certified open source hardware in China.

Naomi Wu is a passionate and articulate advocate of Open Source.

Sino:bit is designed to introduce children at an early age to the concept of Open Source.

Open Source can be taken a step further, as part of the collaborate commons, self-organise events and conferences, do not rely upon Make and Maker Fayre.

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 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.

But, after a lot of soul searching, Dale Dougherty has admitted he was wrong, furthermore, offered to put things right.

Yes, the action is good, and needs to be monitored.

One aspect of all these clever designers, and Naomi Wu is a passionate and eloquent advocate, is Open Source.

Sino:bit, designed by Naomi Wu, with help from friends, is an Open Source coding project for children. But is is also designed to introduce children to the concept of Open Source at an early age.

Open Source should though be seen within the context of collaborative commons, open coops, sharing economy.

We are now postcapitalism.

We should be asking how does Open Source, within the wider context, with the help of Make and Maker Fayre move forward.

One suggestion I will make, and I hope it gets taken forward, is self-organising conferences.

Look to Barcelona and Catalonia. There is not only extensive open coops, but a network of cooperating open coops.

With the help of Naomi Wu and friends, let us see the first truly collaborative commons Maker Fayre in China, ideally in Shenzhen, then if a viable model established, help to replicate it worldwide.

Lincoln Heritage Day

September 9, 2017

Coolish, heavy rain.

Today Lincoln Heritage Day, various places open that not normally open, or for example Lincoln Cathedral free entry.  There was also a guided walk following route of the Battle of Lincoln.

Unfortunately heavy rain put paid to plans.

Starbucks in the High Street closed. The bad news, only for renovation. Use the opportunity to find coffee shops serving decent coffee, then do not return.

I looked in Mono Records, Bird’s Yard, then as I left, heavy rain.

I sheltered for a while in Makushi, then as the rain eased off in a potter shop.

Contrary to the sign in the window of the potter shop,  not mini-Knights these are miniature Knights.

The intention had been, maybe lunch at Bailgate Deli, join the guided walk, then as rain fell, free entry to Lincoln Cathedral. But rain put paid to that.

I had looked in the archaeological centre to ask of the walk, as they were leading it.  Lincolnshire Echo did not give full information.

On my way up Steep Hill, I met the guided walk, I apologised to the leader and learnt it would also take place on Sunday.

I had hoped for lunch at Bailgate Deli, but too late.

I walked back down Steep Hill to Pimento tea rooms. Excellent for tea and cakes, but food is not good.

It was then continue back down Steep Hill, too late for anything, a cappuccino in Madame Waffle.

I am still finding miniature Knights.

Cappuccino in Makushi

March 21, 2017

Last week, a lovely sunny warm spring day. Today, first day of spring, bitter cold wind blowing.

Today a different barista, moonlighting from Coffee Aroma.

Makes the point, little independent coffee shops cooperate.

Makushi is one of the coffee shops that has Standart, an excellent  quarterly journal devoted to coffee culture.

I would have liked to have been able to borrow a copy to read, bring back, but no can do.

Back down in the town, I popped in Coffee Aroma and picked up a copy of Northern Independent Coffee Guide.  Served by the same barista who had served me in Makushi.

Viva St Joseph’s Day

March 19, 2017

Today, 19 March 2017, is St Joseph’s Day, patron saint of workers.

In the evening, guest of my good friends Paulo Coelho and Christina Oiticica, and many other friends, we would be celebrating St Joseph’s Day at some wonderful venue, in a historic town, chosen by Paulo.

It seems only yesterday, we were in Prague.

Sadly not this year.

I wish Paulo, Christina, and our friends who come together from all over the world, Viva St Joseph’s Day.

I endorse thoughts of my dear artist friend Dasha Bell:

Our hearts are enlightened with numerous fabulous memories of all the fantastic moments shared at Paulo Coelho and Christina Oiticica St. Joseph Party ! What a magical time, how many dear friends and sensations of love and happiness shared ! Thank you !!!

And some memories shared by others:

St Joseph’s Day celebrations last few years:

The Great Correction

March 7, 2017

The Great Correction, wonderful song and imagery from Eliza Gilkyson.

From her album Beautiful World.

She needs to release on bandcamp, not all the wrong sites that are owned and controlled by Big Business

Special thanks to 

Blockadia are the flash points, where paramilitary forces are used against protesters defending the commons. 

 

Uber drivers unable to communicate in English

March 4, 2017
taxi protest Whitehall

taxi protest Whitehall

Drivers being able to speak English and understand information from passengers and licensing requirements is a vital part of ensuring passengers get the high standard of service they need and deserve. — Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

It beggars belief, Uber went to Court in London to challenge that their drivers had to be competent in English.

“TfL are entitled to require private hire drivers to demonstrate English language compliance,” said Judge John Mitting as he rejected Uber’s claim.

It demonstrates once again that Uber is a rogue company, with very low standards.

Well done Sadiq Khan Mayor of London and TfL for establishing that Uber drivers have to have this minimum standard, of being able to communicate in English.

Now please take the next step, if Uber are operating a taxi service, then regulate as  a taxi service.

Uber are engaging in unfair competition with their unregulated drivers. That is why their fares are cheaper than a regulated London taxi, the traditional black cab, not because they have some technological advantage through booking a taxi through an app.

If I were to hail a taxi in London, I would expect at the very least, a local driver who knew London and who could communicate in English.

Uber claim it is discrimination against foreigners.

Who are these foreigners, who are working as serfs for Uber?

How did they get into the country if they cannot communicate in English?

Are they illegal immigrants?

Immigration should be checking on the status of all Uber drivers.

It also begs the question, if they cannot communicate in English, how did they obtain a  driving licence? Do they have a driving licence? Did they use a common scam, someone else took took the driving test on their behalf.

The Police should check on all Uber drivers.

Earlier in the week, boss of Uber was caught on camera abusing one of his drivers.

Earlier this month, Uber were caught refusing to pick up a blind man and his guide dog.

The month before, we learnt of a culture of bullying and sexual harassment of Uber employees.

The latest scandal to hit Uber, they are using hidden software to hide from regulators.

Uber is exploitation, serfs working for an app.

All of which are grounds to delete Uber, divest from Uber.

When will the Uber bubble burst?

Radical Monarchs

January 7, 2017

The Radical Monarchs create opportunities for young girls of color to form fierce sisterhood, celebrate their identities and contribute radically to their communities. — Radical Monarchs

A group of girls, they could have joined the Scouts and learnt how to rub two sticks together, instead they formed their own troop the Radical Monarchs and fight for social justice.

A group of very intelligent girls.

The world needs more of them.