Archive for the ‘food’ 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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Christmas dinner at Butcher and Beast

December 25, 2017

Two days before Christmas, what was to be Christmas dinner at the Butcher and Beast.

Er, looks like sirloin steak.

Er, yes, sirloin steak.

A communication problem. What was to be a booking for Christmas lunch, was only logged as a table booking.  One would have thought, would have at least asked when booking, is this for Christmas lunch, but apparently not. Was not even aware there was a problem until brought a menu, and queried why. Only then learnt, had not been booked for Christmas lunch.

Hence sirloin steak.

Butcher and Beast is a country pub in the Lincolnshire village of Heighington, not far from Lincoln.

Food at the Butcher and Beast used to be not up to much, overpriced and very variable. Of late, much improved. Roast Sunday dinner a few months ago was excellent

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.

Lunch at Waroeng Windsor Indonesian street food

December 14, 2017

The shop front has been changed at local council expense, to look Victorian, only it does not.

I had looked in yesterday, no Ayam Woku. We will have tomorrow.

I look today, no Ayam Woku.

It is suggested I try Ayam Bakar Paniki, chicken with bones.

As I learn when served, what they meant was a leg of chicken. This I explained.

The leg of chicken was slightly under cooked. This too I explained, that they must cook for a little longer.

Quibbles apart, as always excellent lunch at Waroeng Windsor.

Aldershot  is infamous for its disgusting junk food, closed boarded up shops, a place of desolation, where even the Pound Shops pull out.  Waroeng Windsor is a rare exception of somewhere worth eating in Aldershot and making a trip for.

Cupffee coffee cup

December 13, 2017

Drinking coffee from an ice cream cone. 

Cupffee is an edible coffee cup made from cereals.

You may not be able to have your cake and eat it, but now possible to drink your coffee then eat the cup.

My initial thoughts were a silly gimmick, a coffee cup made from cereals.

Now having second thoughts.

If I have an ice cream from Da Vinci or Coco’s  I always choose a cone, mainly because I enjoy eating the cone. I have never considered the environmental implications of choosing the tub, but these would be exactly the same as consuming coffee from a disposable cup.

How viable?

The cone survives the ice cream. At least it does for as long as it takes me to consume the ice cream and cone. There is liquid where the ice cream is melting in contact with the cone. But this is ice cold liquid, not hot liquid as with a coffee.

Why does this need a crowdfunding campaign? Surely manufacturers of ice cream cones could easily adapt their processing to manufacture coffee cups?

The crowdfunding was a dismal failure, only 1% of funds raised. I have never seen a project fail so badly. Maybe others came to the same conclusion as my initial thoughts, it is a gimmick, or maybe they thought it to be something any ice cream cone manufacturer could produce.  Indeed if had the waffle pattern of a  typical ice cream cone, it would add additional thermal resistance when holding the cup.

Would I wish to drink coffee from an ice cream cone?

No. I would far rather relax with a coffee in a ceramic cup or a glass if a filter coffee sitting in a coffee shop.

Yes, if an alternative to a disposable coffee cup, and I can see some people may like to be different and drink out of what is in essence an ice cream cone.

But to really solve the problem of 2.5 billion coffee cups trashed every year in the UK, we must discourage the takeaway culture and encourage siting in an indie speciality coffee shop with a cup of speciality coffee.

Afternoon in Godalming

December 12, 2017

A cold hard frost this morning.

A couple of minutes only to change trains at Guildford. I usually make it, but not today. Train was running late. I may have made it, but stopped to speak to the guard to alert that carry on luggage sitting on the luggage rack where I had been sat was not mine. Arrived at the platform as train doors were closing.

35 minutes wait for the next train. That was why I caught the earlier train, 20 minutes wait if I had caught the next train.

FCB kiosk not open. It luckily opened after about ten minutes.

Excellent Colombian guest coffee from Dark Woods Coffee.

Half the coaches of the train freezing cold with air conditioning units blasting out cold air.

A walk along the River Wey. Pockets of frost in the grass. Ground waterlogged, pools of standing water.

Not much choice at Cafe Mila. I choose vegetable soup followed by quiche. Waitress brings me soup, says she will then bring quiche. I explain no. She asks was it the main course? What did she think I was going to do, dunk the quiche in my soup?

I had brought copies of Caffeine and The Alchemist to drop off. Whilst I am not looking, vanish from the table. I assume over-zealous waitress.

All the good staff appear to have left.

I walk to Waitrose at the other end of Godalming.

Throwaway coffee cups filling the bin. Waitrose contribution to the 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups thrown away every year. There is a cafe at Waitrose. Why do they not encourage customers to use the cafe? Though I note there is a queue. Or, compostable paper cups, with a bin for the cups?

What do they do with the coffee grounds? They could put outside with the garden gear and plants, free for gardeners to collect.

Two-month old coffee on the shelves is not doing Union any favours.

For mid-afternoon, mid-week, Waitrose busy. Not all the checkouts manned.

A slight detour to basket shop to say hello and wish Merry Christmas. I drop of The Fifth Mountain and The Devil and Miss Prym.

I look in Waterstone’s. Only one coffee book, the utterly useless Where to Drink Coffee. I draw to the attention of helpful assistants. They open book and see, yes, useless. I ask why, when we have many coffee shops, why no books on coffee? They agree, very strange.

I make it to Cafe Mila before it closes. Now closes early at four o’clock.

Pecan pie and a mug of tea spoilt by handful of out of control screaming kids. No one attempts to control them or keep them quiet.

Cupsmith is low quality catering supply coffee. Cafe Mila need to source better coffee. Hence my drinking tea not coffee.

It is commendable Cafe Mila may wish to source their coffee locally, support local businesses, but not if it means buying poor quality coffee. How local is local? High quality coffee can be sourced from The Roasting Party or from Horsham Coffee, and why not have occasional guest coffees? The world has moved on from serving low quality catering coffee, leave that to the chains.

I walk to the station. Train again cold with air conditioning units blasting out cold air.

Espresso Mushroom Company

December 11, 2017

What to do with the coffee grounds?

Coffee grounds are what you see the barista tapping out after he or she has made your coffee. If you do not see, it is the loud banging you hear.

Coffee grounds can be used for compost or on your garden.

A few coffee shops put the grounds out in a paper carrier for gardeners to take away. More should follow their good example.

The coffee grounds can be used in cakes, instead of ground coffee.

The coffee grounds can be used for making coffee cups, jewellery, even furniture.

Or can be used for growing oyster mushrooms.

Espresso Mushroom Company using a cycle and trailer, collect the grounds from Small Batch. This explains why I have seen mushroom growing kits in Small Batch, supplied for growing oyster mushrooms at home.

The idea for growing mushrooms on coffee grounds came to the two co-founders of Espresso Mushroom Company after attending a talk by Gunter Pauli from ZERI, when he discussed how smallholder coffee growers were growing mushrooms on coffee pulp on their farms.

Each mushroom kit contains coffee from 100 espressos. What is left over can be used in the compost heap or spread on the garden.

In the natural world there is no concept of waste in time or space. Walk in ancient woodland, there is not growing piles of waste, not unless Man has been dumping waste. The output of one process is the input to another.

We should aim to close the cycle, to emulate these natural cycles, the output of one process the input to another, what we once saw as waste, the raw material for another process.

Bikers Night Christmas dinner

December 6, 2017

Bikers Night Christmas dinner at Alton Station Cafe.

Wednesday night is Bikers Night at Alton Station Cafe, a wooden shack outside Alton Station.

On my last visit, three weeks ago, I was invited to the Bikers Night Christmas dinner.

On my way down to Winchester, I stuck my head in. Confirm I will be at Christmas dinner this evening. Had I booked? No, but I was invited. OK, we will fit you in.

After a cold damp afternoon in Winchester, I return.

I find a table has been reserved for me at the Bikers Night Christmas dinner.

The full works, turkey and all the trimmings. Followed by a small slice of Christmas pudding served with brandy sauce.

Guildford farmers market

December 5, 2017

A cold damp day, that got colder.

Missed my train thanks to barriers going down and unable to cross the line. Thirty-seven minutes wait in the cold for next reain. Train has no wifi, or at least has wifi, wifi does not connect to Internet.

Today new fare increases announced for the railways, the biggest hike in five years.

Waterstone’s marginally better choice of coffee books, but still not great.

Lots of stalls selling junk.

Many stalls either sold out or almost sold out.

Guildford Tourist Information Office becoming very tardy of late. Usually they are pretty good, but of late, erroneous information.

Today was not the Christmas market. I asked one of the stalls. No, he then told me Christmas market in two week’s time. He thanked me for reminding him, and said he only found out this morning.

Apple stall also told me a Christmas market in two week;s time.

But no information on the market.

I popped in Guildford TIC and let them know their mistake. Due care not taken as they  sent out incorrect information. I am pleased to see, they did send out the correct information later in the day for the Christmas market.  Though to be fair they were not the source of the wrong information, they simply re-tweeted it.

Turkey stall piled high with turkeys. Who is going to buy a turkey twenty days before Christmas? What are they going to do with it?

And why was the stall piled high with turkeys. Temperature was 9C. This is well outside safe storage limit for poultry. The only positive that could be said, is that in the summer, they have poultry on their stall when 30C.

Does Environmental Heath turn a blind eye when it is their own market.

Excellent lunch at Bamboo Shoots.

The Little Red Book of Offers, an offer at Kalm Kitchen, what used to be Glutton & Glee, hot drink, free mince pie. Con would be a better description, a tiny mince pie, what many would give away free. The girl serving looked embarrassed and apologised that is twas so time. The coffee undrinkable.

By now, even before I made the mistake of a coffee in Kalm Kitchen, very cold.

Next to Ben’s Records, a new coffee shop to open, but who?

I should have caught four o;clock train, as last Friday, caught five o’clock train. No functioning wifi on the train.

Afternoon in Reading

December 4, 2017

I had intended to visit Reading last week, but too cold. Today cold and damp, but lacking the cold north wind. In Reading it was fresher, not so damp.

Train on the way to Reading, display not working, wifi not connecting to Internet.

As walk from Station to town centre, what appears to be a Victorian Arcade, though the building not Victorian, or at least does not appear to be. I cut through Harris Arcade.

My initial impression correct, Harris Arcade built in the 1930s by John Harris.

A coffee in Workhouse.

Very annoyed chocolate dumped on my cappuccino. They should know better.

18 different coffee beans to buy.  Espresso machine, the pumps are in a rack on the wall.

I would have stayed to eat, but not tempted by what is on offer.

I wish Waterstone’s would not insult readers and coffee lovers with their very poor choice of coffee books.

Coffee Art and Coffee Style excellent, but not Where to Drink Coffee, one of the most useless guides written.

Lunch and a coffee at Artigiano, my reason for revisiting Reading. I had looked in on my last visit, but no time for a coffee.

I was not impressed on my last visit, and not impressed today by their poor choice of food, poor choice, and expensive. Nor that upstairs was out of bounds due to a private party.

I can though see why upstairs hired out. Not busy.

I would have had bacon and brie, but not available. Beetroot yuk, chutney yuk, mustard less yuk. I settled for the ham, salami and mustard.

Not good. Poor quality bread, sent down from London, and ruined by the vile tasting mustard.

It is better to let the customer add mustard, add chutney, if they wish. Also better to make fresh food periodically throughout the day, not early in the day, then remove at three o’clock.

The problem, Artigiano have no kitchen staff. Whether this is cannot find, or directive from head office to cut staff, the same problem Harris + Hoole has now owned by tax-dodging Caffe Nero, loss of good staff, never see same staff twice, death by a thousand cuts, I do not know.

Not a place to eat. Though that is true of all the good coffee shops in Reading.

By contrast, excellent cappuccino, a blend from Origin. far superior to Origin coffee I have been served in Canopy Coffee.

No single origin or pour over coffee.

2.5 billion takeaway cups a year are thrown away in the UK. Anything we can do to reduce this trash mountain is to be welcomed.

In Artigiano, takeaway cups are paper, paper that can be composted. The lids are plant-based plastic, thus biodegradable.

So far so good, except too simplistic.

If I am on my way home, if I have bought fruit and vegetables from the shop in the nearby alley, I can pop in my bag with my fresh produce, then throw on my compost heap when I arrive home.

What though if not on my way home? What then do I do with the cup? Throw in the bushes, throw in the river, throw in the nearest litter bin? And that is the dilemma, and why compostable paper cups are not the answer. Yes, if have a captive audience, with a bin for the cups that can then be collected and composted, but if that be the case, why use disposable cups?

Artigiano sell KeepCup. Plastic is light, relatively cheap, but made of plastic. Glass is heavy, expensive, and shatters if dropped. Plus have to cart around the KeepCup.

If buy a KeepCup, first drink free, 15p discount thereafter. If buy a coffee every working day, then will take five months to break even if buy a glass KeepCup, two and a half months if buy a plastic KeepCup.

KeepCup only comes into its own if popping out from the office for a coffee.

The only real solution to the problem of disposable coffee cups is to discourage their use, if not an outright ban.

Interesting conversation with the barista.

Cappuccino in CUP.

Interesting art on the walls. Ink line drawings.

One was an avenue of coppiced trees. I recognised, unless several such avenues, as used by Gary Nicholls for The Imaginarium.

I caught the same train as two weeks ago, 1732 to Gatwick. Possibly the worst train to catch, as everyone leaving work. As two weeks ago, packed in like sardines, standing room only. Two weeks ago, the train emptied at the first stop. Not today, more people got on than the few that got off.