Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

Reusable coffee cups are not the answer

January 16, 2018

Reusable coffee cups are not the answer to the growing waste problem of plastic pollution.

It seems to be that [reusable cups] are the best solution if we can get to that. — Caroline Lucas

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

These coffee cups are not as first appears paper, they are paper lined with plastic and therein lies the problem, these plastic-lined coffee cups cannot be recycled and contribute to the growing problem of plastic pollution.

 

Contrary to what Caroline Lucas has claimed, reusable coffee cups are not the answer.

I have yet to be in a coffee shop and seen a reusable cup sold, let alone used. When I have inquired, I have been told take up is minimal, even when a substantial discount is on offer.

There is also as James Hoffman has drawn attention to, a hygiene problem if people bring in their own cups to be washed.

Compostable coffee cups of little use, unless a compost heap on which to deposit.

Resusable cups are expensive, bulky, inconvenient to carry around. With the exception of office workers popping out for a coffee to take back to the office and even then only if coupled with a discount, unlikely to have any impact.

Pret a Manger started the New Year with filter coffee at 49p a cup, a 50p discount if brought own cup. In the absence of any in-store information, lack of reusable cups on sale, will make little difference. Little more than a PR stunt.

Why are we not seeing any statistics published? I would expect to see a weekly report, to see what impact, if any, in reducing the use of plastic-lined takeaway cups.

Without seeing any results from Pret a Manger SumofUs have launched a petition asking that Costa follow suit.

This is tinkering at the edges, addressing the symptoms not the underlying problem.

The underlying problem is the grab it and go consumerist culture, encouraged by chains like Costa and Pret a Manger, it is what their businesses model is built on.

What we should be doing is encouraging relax with a cup of speciality coffee served from glass or ceramic in an indie coffee shop. Only then are we gong to reduce the plastic pollution.

We should also be pushing for the introduction of a 25p latte levy at the next Budget.

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

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Pret a Manger launch organic takeaway filter coffee at 49p a cup

January 2, 2018

I’m delighted you can now get 50p off a hot drink when you bring your reusable cup to Pret. I hope this will make a difference. — Pret a Manger chief executive Clive Schlee

As of today,  organic takeaway filter coffee from Pret a Manger at 49p a cup.

And the catch? Have to bring own cup for a refill.

Strictly speaking not a catch, it is to encourage use of reusable cups and discourage waste, reduce the number of plastic-lined throwaway cups that go to landfill or incineration.

Or is it?

In the absence of in-store information, no reusable cups on sale in store, store lacking the facility to relax with a coffee out of a ceramic cup, it will make little difference in the use of throwaway cups and will be seen as a PR stunt nothing more.

Note: Mainstream media carry the same story more or less word for word. That is what counts as journalism these days, cut and paste from a press release.

How long will this scheme last once the PR advantage has been milked? In 2016 tax-dodging Starbucks scrapped its own 50p discount for customers who bring their own cup just three months after it was introduced. It does of course raises the obvious question why would anyone who appreciates coffee wish to drink what is called coffee in Starbucks?

We need transparency, we need to see what the figures were before and after this scheme introduced.

Pret a Manger are not pioneers in this. Many indie coffee shops have been offering a discount if bring back a cup to be filled, the main difference, they have on sale resusable cups.

UK ships 500,000 tonnes of plastic to China every year. This is not recycling, this is dumping. China has said it will no longer take plastic waste from the UK.

The UK throws away 2.5 billion takeaway coffee cups every year. The planet is being destroyed by plastic.

One of the first steps we can take is to eliminate the use of throwaway  plastic-lined takeaway coffee cups.

And that is the problem, the cups are lined with plastic, cannot be recycled, go to landfill or incineration or are thrown in the street.

Compostable paper cups are available. Fine, if on way home, drop off on the compost heap, but what if not, what then to do with the paper cup? It will end up in the waste stream.

Reusable cups, eg KeepCup, have  a role for office workers popping out for a coffee and taking back to the office. Beyond that limited use as bulky, expensive, and a pain to carry around.

This is to address the symptoms. What we have to do is discourage the grab it and go culture, which Pret a Manger encourages, and encourage relax in an indie coffee shop with a  cup of speciality coffee served in a ceramic cup.

Wagamama no calling in sick during Christmas

December 24, 2017

If you are one of the poorly paid serfs in a McShit job at Wagamama and call in sick on Christmas Day, indeed any day over the Festive Period, you will face disciplinary action.

A note with bold and underlined, as would expect a child to make, was pinned to the staff notice board beneath staffing rotas, warning staff they face disciplinary action should they call in sick.

No calling in sick! may I remind you that if you are unable to come in for your shift it is your responsibility  to find someone to cover your shift (as per contract and handbook). Calling in sick during the next 2 weeks will result in disciplinary action being taken.

Is this legal? Possibly not.

Is this the action of one rogue manager? I doubt so. And others doubt so too.

If this was a rogue manager, what disciplinary action?

If a rogue manager, does each store have its own unique contracts and handbook? Or, was targets set, ends justify the means, until the dodgy workplace practises exposed on social media, then blame a rogue manager?

Would someone please post the handbook and  a sample contract on-line. Go through Wikileaks and follow their instructions how to post securely. Or copy and drop in the post to both Unite and The Guardian.

It is not the role of employees to find replacements when off sick. That is the role of management, that is what they are paid for.

Are Wagamama open Christmas Day? Shame if they are.

Are staff forced to work Christmas Day? Are they paid extra?

If Wagamama has the shame to open Christmas Day, it should be voluntary for staff to work that day, and those who do volunteer, should be paid double if not triple pay for the day, and a paid for taxi provided to work and back home.

That staff face disciplinary action if call in sick over Christmas it is a  reasonable assumption they are being forced against their will to work over Christmas.

Let us assume a serf working at Wagamama has noro virus? Are they forced to work? If yes, there are going to be a lot of sick people after eating at Wagamama.

Are the Food Standards Agency and local Environmental Health investigating Wagamama, who not only think it ok to have sick staff in a food environment, but are threatening them if they do not show for work when sick?

I would urge everyone to boycott this chain. Not unless happy to eat where staff handling, preparing, serving your food could have noro virus or some other unpleasant disease.

This illustrates once again why we need a Basic Income. Then no one is forced to work McShit jobs at chains like Wagamama.

No surprise Wagamama owned by Vulture Capitalists, in this case  Duke Street Private Equity, founded by Edmund Truell who has donated hundreds of thousands to the Tory Party.

Why eat at Wagamama when there are quality independent alternatives? If, for example in Guildford eat at Bamboo Shoots.

I would no more eat at Wagamama, then I would drink what masquerades as coffee at Costa or tax dodging Starbucks or Caffe Nero.

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.

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.

End of Capitalism and future of work

November 9, 2017

The State could provide everything.

In Ancient Mesopotamia, the Temple Complex had gardens, farms, workshops, foundries.

In Classical Greece, the State controlled the gold and silver mines, minted the coinage. The coinage used to pay the military who used to pay for provisions. The traders and merchants and farmers used the coinage to pay taxes to the State.

In Medieval Europe the State created and regulated markets through the issue of Charters.

Post-2008, we are now post-capitalism.

We see capitalism has failed, the signs are everywhere, offshore tax havens, food banks, skewed wealth distribution, beggars on the street, wages have flat-lined workers have not shared in the growing economy, pollution, loss of natural habitat, global warming, break up of EU, increasing risk of wars for raw resources, all kept afloat on a sea of debt through quantitative easing.

The market has failed to function.

The market self-regulates and yet it failed to regulate the banks, the banks had to be bailed out by the State.

Price is a signal in the market. If marginal cost of information goods tends to zero, the market cannot function.

Robots can replace most jobs. The only reason they have not so far is because wages have been driven so low.

Classic example is the automated car wash replaced by a bunch of immigrants with dirty rags and a bucket of dirty water.

Worse still, as Paul Mason describes, workers being turned into human robots.

A month ago I met somebody who organizes trade unions at a warehouse. She was getting the minimum wage and worked on a zero-hour contract. The company could call her at any time on a very short notice, or not call her at all. One time they called her by accident. She arrived and they paid her for the exact amount of time it took to get there and then go home. She quit but not because of that, but because they asked her to wear a Go-Pro camera and a GPS unit on her arm to better manage her movements. This use of automation is crazy and it seems obvious that this warehouse could be entirely automated. People don’t need to do this work. They do because wage levels and trade union rights are so minimal in this country it is cheaper to employ a person rather than a machine.

Post-capitalism we could go one of two ways.

A world of Uber, Deliveroo, soul-destroying, temporary, zero-hours McShit jobs.

Or we could have open coops, collaborative commons, a sharing economy.

Companies like Uber and Deliveroo can easily be put out of business. Create properly regulated open coop platforms. If these are developed as open source, they can be replicated, adopted, adapted across other cities.

There is for example a black cab app for London. If open source, other cities can use, if an open coop platform, the taxi drivers have a say in how it is used, share the wealth it produces, if an open coop, those who hail the taxi have a say and share the wealth created, as does the community in which it is embedded.

Collaborative commons should not be restricted to the provision of goods and services, it has to be extended to social and political space. Ordinary citizens have to seize control of Town Halls, open up to public participation, network with other citizen-controlled Town Halls.

Grinding poverty

October 30, 2017

To the casual observer, the grinding poverty on the streets of Athens is not immediately obvious.

Yes, there are beggars on the streets but I have seen more in Brighton.

After the end of Wold War I solders returned to a Land For for Heroes, only they did not, they returned to no work, no future, The Great Depression, which led to a  rise of Fascism across Europe and World War II.

One way for those soldiers to eke out a living was to sell matches on the streets.

In Athens I see men selling tiny packets of tissues. As today in the square outside Monastiraki Metro Station.

I see fairly well dressed people going through the bins.

Today, sitting inside a coffee shop, I watch a man walks past the tables outside picking up the packets of sugar. He then made a second pass with hand outstretched for money.

On the streets, gypsy kids that do not go to school.

This is not a Third World Country, this is a modern European country destroyed by the European Union.

The EU is leading to a rise of Fascism across Europe.

The EU is about to implode. The end game could be ugly.

How not to run a coffee business (or any business)

August 2, 2017

Several weeks ago I visited a coffee roastery, a tiny 1kg roaster. They told me they were expecting any day, two new 2.5 kg coffee roasters. I was not impressed the new coffee roaster were supplied from Israel. I tried a filter coffee from Kenya. They asked I come back once the new coffee roasters were installed, which were expected to be installed the next few days. I said I would talk to a few coffee shops who may be interested in their beans. They said they had never supplied coffee shops.

A week or more passed by. I do not like chasing people. But nevertheless sent them a reminder, that if in the area, I could drop by.  I also mentioned I had talked with a  few coffee shops who may be interested.

The farce then began. Each time a meeting was arranged, or I suggested a meeting, they would have reason to say no or cancel, often cancelling at very short notice when a date and time had been agreed.  On one occasion extremely short notice, an hour or so, to say do not come, we have decided to re-arrange the office.

Re-arrange the office, out for the day, electrician visiting, no one here, running a food bank … a few of the excuses given.

I would receive a message suggesting a date and time, to be followed a short time later by another message either contradicting or cancelling.

Contrary to their stated claim on facebook, they do not respond promptly, often not at all.

To say the least, very exasperating.

One place that had expressed an interest in their coffee, went elsewhere. Another did contact them, for reasons I cannot recall, decided not to pursue.

I was becoming more and more exasperated. I was having grave reservations recommending to anyone when they demonstrated this level of unreliability, and expressed my reservation to those to who I had recommended as a source of coffee.

Had I visited, I would have advised they had to get their act together, as I could no longer recommend them to anyone, from what I had observed.

Finally, getting absolutely nowhere after many frustrating weeks of banging my head against a brick wall, I sent them a message, explaining their level of unreliability was not acceptable, and I could no longer recommend them to anyone, especially as there is no shortage of excellent coffee roasters who I could recommend.

The next morning an unbelievable rant, which simply reinforced my initial reservations were well placed.

Well I’m sorry you feel this way.

I can’t say I’m surprised at your outburst, when reading your blog posts it strikes me that you only have negative and unhelpful criticisms I make of people trying very hard to make a living in a very busy and competitive industry.

Whether or not you like how I run my business is no concern of mine, we are just different people who do things differently. But put bluntly I don’t actually care what you think.

As for all the reasons you sited for not be able to visit us. If we are not in then that’s your problem, we’re not a cafe or a drop in centre. Wimbledon was because we had a meeting with a commercial customer. Rearranging the office was to accommodate new equipment. Electrician was for the new equipment, we couldn’t have been able to put the kettle on let alone show you our roaster. And if we want to cancel a meeting at any time WE WILL!

Thanks for suggesting us to other cafes but you did do that off your own back, we didn’t ask you to do that for us, we’re perfectly capable of generating our own business opportunities.

As for reliability, at least you can rely on us to be unreliable.

I can’t say I’m surprised at your outburst, when reading your blog posts it strikes me that you only have negative and unhelpful criticisms I make of people trying very hard to make a living in a very busy and competitive industry.

I made no outburst, I simply pointed out the unprofessional way they were conducting business, that I had never before experienced this level of unreliability. That I could no longer recommend them. In response, an unbelievable childish rant.

Maybe the tweets of Donald Trump have become the new norm.

The rant shows a lack of understanding of the blog, a lack of understanding of the coffee business.

Blog is the good, the bad and the ugly, it is not a bullshit PR exercise.

At top level, coffee is not highly competitive, people cooperate. At least that has been my experience. People go out of their way to help others in the coffee business. And with direct trade it relies on openness, transparency, trust , cooperation and long-term partnerships.

James Hoffman, co-founder of Square Mile, world barista champion and author of The World Atlas of Coffee, recently wrote a blog post on cooperation. If we look at the history of speciality coffee in London, it is a story of cooperation. I see this cooperation all the time.

Recently an indie food store sought my advice on coffee. I recommended Union. A few weeks later I was thanked. My more recent advice, talk to the recently opened indie coffee shop. They have regular guest coffee. Stock the guest coffee. Send people to the coffee shop to taste, the coffee shop in turn can send to the indie food shop to buy the beans.

In Brighton, an indie food shop, I suggested to them source their beans from a local indie coffee shop that also roasts their own beans.

Everyone benefits from cooperation. What harms is naked aggressive competition, dog-eats-dog mentality.

Where there is competition, and it is friendly competition, it is a pride in the art of making good coffee, always striving for the best, and helping others to achieve the best.

Many at the top level have personally expressed their thanks for help and support.

If the author of the rant is struggling, all too easy to see why.

So much negativity.

Whether or not you like how I run my business is no concern of mine, we are just different people who do things differently. But put bluntly I don’t actually care what you think.

How people run their business is of no concern of mine, if run badly, as is the case here, then doomed to failure.

Only of concern if I suffer as a customer or investor, and in this case I am neither.

Maybe wise to heed advice, even if not liked.

As for all the reasons you sited for not be able to visit us. If we are not in then that’s your problem, we’re not a cafe or a drop in centre.

At no time have I simply dropped in, though with most people I do, I have tried to arrange a mutually coneveninet time, which was at their invitation. Nor have I treated as a drop in centre or cafe. Maybe they thought I was dropping by for a free coffee,  when I was actually bringing some very expensive coffee for them to try

But if not available, that is someone else problem, if they keep changing, cancelling, do not bother to reply.

And if we want to cancel a meeting at any time WE WILL!

Says it all really.

Thanks for suggesting us to other cafes but you did do that off your own back, we didn’t ask you to do that for us, we’re perfectly capable of generating our own business opportunities.

During me first visit, I said I would talk to people I knew.

As for ‘perfectly capable of generating our own business opportunities’ when I suggested I could talk to people I knew, they said they had never supplied any business with coffee. And with only a 1kg roaster it would not even have been practical.

And being ‘perfectly capable of generating our own business opportunities’ with this level of unreliability, this attitude, I somehow doubt.

As for reliability, at least you can rely on us to be unreliable.

My original reservations spelled out, they can be relied upon to be unreliable.

Not a good business proposition in what they describe as a highly competitive business.

Who wishes to be supplied by a business that can be relied upon to be unreliable?

It would be of no use to a coffee shop, cannot rely upon the roastery to supply an order on time, if at all.

They claim

We’re a voice of justice for the poor, ending poverty through compassion in sustainable communities, bringing the message of the gospel to a new generation.

Our journey with coffee began a few years ago when we had a vision of meeting with people in a relational way over a cup of coffee … a vehicle for spreading our message of compassion so that we can reach more people in a new way. We take all steps necessary to ensure that the green coffee beans are sourced ethically and that the farmer receives a fair price for the crop. Each bag we send out is individually roasted by us, for you! This allows us to ensure the quality of every bag of coffee and to maintain the freshness we would expect from a craft coffee.

Coffee is something that we are passionate about and we recognize that it has the potential to break the cycle of poverty in the lives of those we work with. 100% of the profits from every bag sold goes back into the projects … supports.

With such concern for poverty and compassion, not evident in the rant, why are they supporting Israel that is carrying out ethnic cleansing of Palestinains, maintaining Gaza Strip as one large open air prison camp, where the people are in dire poverty, where in the West Bank, apart from illegal occupation of Palestinian land, farmers see their olive groves destroyed by illegal settlers?

Apart from being a business, they are also a charity.

The charity trustees should be very concerned.

Also questionable, are they interested in helping poor coffee growers, or is it a front for religious fundamentalists to peddle their message to poor struggling farmers?

Religious fundamentalists and compassion tends to be an oxymoron.

I have intentionally not stated who they are, though many may correctly surmise, I have not stated as they seem more than capable of destroying their own business, without my giving a helping hand.

Why buy coffee from a supermarket?

July 24, 2017

The furore created by the decision of Sainsbury’s to ditch FairTrade has raised two separate but interrelated questions. Why FairTrade, why buy coffee from a supermarket? Which leads to another, are there not superior alternatives?

Since the furore arose I have checked out the shelves of three UK supermarkets, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, and for comparison a little indie food shop Food for Thought.

Asda and Sainsbury’s were stacked with rubbish undrinkable brand coffee. Only a small section with what could remotely be called quality coffee.

In Waitrose, half the shelf space stocked with an attempt at quality, the other half rubbish brand coffee. If nothing else, exposing the lie Waitrose shoppers have good taste.

One of the criticisms of Sainsbury’s pulling out of FairTrade, was that in Waitrose will find FairTrade.

I did not, maybe I should have looked harder.

I did though find coffee from Union Hand-Roasted Coffee. Quality coffee, not FairTrade but direct trade. It was the only coffee with a roast date, old coffee, past its best.

FairTrade is little more than a brand to make buyers feel good, they have done their bit by picking up a bag of FairTrade coffee.

Coffee is traded on international commodity markets, Arabica in New York, Robusta in London. It has no intrinsic value, it is a commodity to speculate on. Unfortunately the price speculators will gamble on, impacts on the livelihoods of coffee growers, as everything is pegged to that price.

Coffee roasters in search of quality coffee, speciality coffee, will pay for quality, the higher the quality the higher the price. There is an incentive to produce higher quality as a higher price will be paid. FairTrade offers no incentive for quality, it locks farmers into poverty dependent upon handouts.

Coffee roasters want quality, not only this year but next year, the year after. They will enter into long-term agreements with farmers, partnerships, help them improve quality, adopt better agricultural practices that improve the soil fertility, safeguard forests.

Kew Gardens have been mapping forests in Ethiopia to establish the impact of climate change and what mitigation measures to take. To safeguard the forest, which is an important genetic resource for coffee as contains many wild coffee trees, the forest has to have value. The forest has value by Union paying a higher price for the coffee, not only paying a higher price, working with the farmers to help them improve the quality, establishing a cupping lab in order that the farmers themselves can assess the quality of their coffee.

Another example is the Los Nogales Project on an estate in El Salvador owned by the Salaverria family. One estate, three farms, different varieties, different plots, different processing of the beans. Taylor St Roasted and Horsham Coffee Roast are sourcing from Los Nogales Project.

Square Mile has a similar project, though not as ambitious. Short Stories, same varieties of beans, grown at different altitudes.

Indie coffee shops want quality coffee, as that is what their customers are demanding. This feeds back to higher prices for coffee.

If you want quality coffee, coffee that is freshly roasted, then buy the bags of coffee from the coffee shop, or failing that, little shops that specialise in quality, or direct from the roasters.

If you want to support growers, drink quality coffee, why are you buying from a supermarket?

Little shops like Grocer and GrainThe Deli at 80, Food for Thought, have quality coffee in stock, as does the slightly larger Infinity Foods.

Indie coffee shops that are brewing quality coffee, will often have coffee for sale, often they roast their own.

Failing that, there are many quality coffee roasters, Has BeanUnionSquare Mile, Taylor St Roasted, Horsham Coffee RoasterThe Roasting PartyKaruna Coffee, to name but a few.

The furore relating to Sainsbury’s pulling out of FairTrade should be turned around, why are people buying coffee from Sainsbury’s, when if you like coffee, want to support growers, you should be supporting the coffee trade by supporting the local indie coffee shop, the little shop stocking quality coffee or buying direct from the coffee roasters who engage in direct trade. In doing so you are not only supporting the coffee growers with higher prices, you are also supporting the local economy.