Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

Union Hand-Roasted Coffee supply coffee to British Airways

July 24, 2018

Union Hand-Roasted Coffee are supplying coffee to British Airways for serving from automated machines in airport lounges and by stewards on their flights.

This is is not good news, indeed it is very bad news.

It is not good news if care about coffee, if Union care about their reputation, if care about the planet.

Global warming is killing coffee. The only people who will be able to afford coffee, the 1%, the very same people sitting in airport lounges pontificating on the delights of Union coffee being served by British Airways, now BA as not British owned.

Aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gases. Does Union really wish their name to be linked to a major climate polluter?

In the northern hemisphere we are seeing record high temperatures this summer. This is not the new norm, this is the beginning of relentless rise in global temperatures as climate change kicks in.

How are Union to explain to the poor farmers when their crops fail due to rising temperatures that they were a willing party?

Supply coffee to other than speciality coffee shops harms the reputation of Union. On the other hand, if profit is the driving motive, then maybe a good deal.

Union supply coffee to Waitrose. On the shelf can be found coffee at least two months old. If lucky, only a month old.

Union supply coffee to Gail’s Bakery. The coffee at Gail’s Farnham is undrinkable.

Clifton Coffee supply coffee to Cosy Club. A corporate chain of fake 1930s bars, so fake a parody of fake. The coffee served in Cosy Club Guildford is undrinkable.

Jamie Oliver has a coffee kiosk at Gatwick serving Italian corporate brand coffee, barely drinkable coffee. A tragedy. With many excellent coffee roasteries locally the coffee kiosk could be used to showcase excellent local coffee.

If care about reputational damage, take care where supply coffee.

Yet one of life’s ironies, Grocer and Grain in Brighton, the owner passionate about coffee, has a good range of coffee on the shelves, including Union, but that on the shelves not as fresh as could be, he would love to serve Union coffee, but Union will not supply, therefore obtained through a third party, thus that on the shelves not as fresh as he would like it to be.

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Farnham Park

July 15, 2018

I used to regularly walk in Farnham Park. Up the hill then once the top is reached, a foot path continues.

On leaving Bells Pierce Summer Fete on Saturday I decided to walk along the ridge and into Farnham.

I thought I was walking the tree lined avenue, but was actually walking along the top of the southern slope.

This brought me to Farnham Castle, then out into Castle Street and down to Gail’s Bakery.

rCup

July 8, 2018

Waitrose had their own reusable cup on sale at £3, now the rCup at £12.

Claimed to be made from a dozen recycled coffee cups,  which makes the point, plastic is not recycled, it is down cycled.

Designed by Dan Dicker a former designer for Dyson. Maybe should stick to vacuum cleaners as not barista friendly, something fairly basic for a reusable coffee cup.

Will not be popular if walk into a coffee shop with rCup and many baristas will quite rightly refuse to serve.

It is opened by pressing the top, then press again to seal.

Why though would anyone wish to drink a coffee as though a baby or an invalid?

Yet another inferior KeepCup clone.

If wish for a reusable cup, buy a KeepCup from a coffee shop, where they will also give a discount if used.

Sale of rCup should be seen for what it is,  greenwash by Waitrose to distract from fresh produce in plastic.

Nor are reusable coffee cups the answer, they are addressing the symptom rather than the underlying problem of grab it and go takeaway throw away culture, pointless consumerism.

We have to introduce a latte levy, encourage relax in an indie coffee shop serving speciality coffee in glass or ceramic.

Plastic Free July

July 1, 2018

You may not know, I did not know, I only know because it came up as I was typing a hashtag, it is Plastic Free July.

The place to begin is your local coffee shop.

Are those takeaway coffee cups compostable, do they sell reusable coffee cups, for example KeepCup, do they offer discount if bring a clean, barista friendly reusable coffee cup?

Not that compostable coffee cups or reusable coffee cups are the answer, they are not, they are addressing symptoms, but at least they are a small step in the right direction.

Why are you still drinking coffee in a chain, it is not drinkable coffee, they opposed the latte levy, many dodge tax, they drain money out of local economies?

As always it is indie coffee shops leading the way.

Support your local indie coffee shop. Relax with speciality coffee served in glass or ceramic. Ditch your bad takeaway habit, not unless you bring your own cup.

Question over packaging in supermarkets. Worst offenders Waitrose and M&S.

Buy fresh produce off your local market or farmers market.  It will be fresher, cheaper, pick what you want and pop into a brown paper bag.

It will be interesting to see what Guildford farmers market, Winchester street food market and Godalming street food market are doing. The environmental standards on these markets appalling.

 

 

 

Do compostable coffee cups compost?

June 25, 2018

Compostable coffee cups are a step in the right direction, but addressing symptoms not the underlying problems of takeaway grab it and go throw away culture, which is part of a larger problem of pointless consumption.

Compostable coffee cups raise two questions:

  • what to do with the coffee cups
  • do they actually compost

If I pick up a coffee cup then wander down the street what to do with the cup? If thrown in a bin it will join the general waste stream.

Do the cups compost, do they compost on a compost heap? Some cups claim to be biodegradable, a few compostable, some make no claim at all. For example a coffee cup from Morrisons, the outer is card, can be recycled, but what of the inner core, a composite structure forming an integral whole?

Only one way to find out, conduct a little experiment, deposit takeaway coffee cups on a compost heap.

A little collection of cups, including what I believe to be a plant-based cellulose straw. It clams to be biodegradable.

These added to a compost heap a little after midday today. End of June temperatures 27C and forecast higher over the next few days.

Always need a control. Added a cup from Starbucks which helpful staff did not believe to be biodegradeable.

Starbucks have on sale at £1 ugly reusable cups. Bring own reusable coffee cup a small discount of 25p.

As always it is indie coffee shops leading the way. One small chain Boston Tea Party has banned takeaway cups. More need to follow their excellent example, encourage relax in an indie coffee shop with speciality coffee served in glass or plastic.

Morrisons Café takeaway coffee cups

June 21, 2018

Takeaway coffee cups in Morrisons Café illustrate why we have a problem and why we need a latte levy.

The cup a composite structure, a cardboard surround wrapped around a who knows what inner core forming an integral whole.

The cup showed the outer is card and can be recycled but how? It would have to be separated from the inner.

Questions to Morrisons lead nowhere.

Why are there takeaway cups in Morrisons Café when there are ceramic mugs? It would not seem very likely anyone would pop in for a takeaway coffee. Maybe shoppers wander around the store with a coffee in hand. But in that case use compostable cups with a bin provided in which to deposit the cups.

What this highlights yet again is the need for a latte levy.

Imagine a beach free of litter

June 12, 2018

Imagine, just quickly,
A beach free of litter,
A sea, clean and sparkly alive,
Let’s make it happen
Yes we can do it
We must if we’re going to survive.

These words were written on the window of an ethical fashion shop in Brighton, The Fair Shop, on the road leading down to the seafront from Brighton Station.

On the seafront, disgusting fish n chip shops serving their disgusting fish n chips on polystyrene plates or in polystyrene burger-style boxes.

Iydea in North Laine, which for more than a decade has led the way on recycling, a fruit juice served with a plastic straw.

Salty Fig a bar overlooking Fig Tree Bay serving overpriced drinks in plastic.

Plastic served overlooking the sea finds its way into the sea.

Walk in a supermarket, plastic surrounds everything, podded peas in a plastic box, potatoes and bananas in plastic bags, a coconut with shell hacked off shrink-wrapped in plastic.

As always it is the indie coffee shops leading the way, serving takeaway coffee in compostable cups, KeepCup or similar reusable cups on sale, a discount if used.

We must eliminate the takeaway coffee culture, encourage relax in an indie coffee shop with speciality coffee served in glass or ceramic.

Water is a human right.

The coffee shops in Athens bring without asking ice cold water to the table or failing that water from which to help oneself.

A Drop In the Ocean, from March to October 2018, plastic bottle tops are to be collected from Brighton seafront to illustrate the amount of plastic finding its way into our oceans.

Plastic bottle tops are among the top five most deadly ocean trash items. Marine mammals, birds and fish see plastic bottle caps as food, which can lead to ingestion and potentially fatal consequences.

Plastic bottle tops float and take a long time to degrade. They are small enough to be swallowed whole by birds and animals. Every bottle top collected is a bottle top that won’t be eaten by a turtle, swallowed by a seabird, or settle as microplastic particles inside a mussel.

 

Plastic pollution in the sea off Bali

March 6, 2018

British diver Rich Horner has filmed the level of plastic pollution in the sea off Bali.

Anyone who still believes plastic pollution is not a problem, that we do not need a latte levy to eliminate plastic-lined paper cups, that plastic is not a modern day curse or that we do not need to to eliminate plastic, watch these films and think again.

Surprise, surprise there weren’t many mantas at the cleaning station.

The dive took place in an area frequented by manta rays which come to get cleaned. The area lies off the coast of Nusa Penida — a small island with low population — there is a stretch of only 20 kilometres of water separating Nusa Penida from the island of Bali and its capital Denpasar.

The beaches of Bali are covered in plastic, the sea full of plastic.

The plastic breaks down into microscopic plastic, marine life cannot distinguish from plankton, eat the plankton.

The weight of plastic equals that of plankton.

Seabirds and sea turtles are eating larger pieces of plastic. They die, their stomachs full of plastic.

By 2050, the weight of plastic in the sea will equal the weight of fish.

Our first visible sign of the problem is litter dropped on the bus, in our streets, plastic covering our beaches, which finds it way into the sea.

A week of snow

March 4, 2018

It started Monday a week ago, awoke to a light covering of snow.  It soon melted away.

In Lincoln, bitterly cold, light flurries of snow, few people about, those that were were stocking up with food.

I had intended to leave early, instead left late, after lunch at County Restaurant the afternoon in Madame Waffle.

Tuesday the snow had arrived. Before breakfast a path cleared of snow.

A day of dark clouds, bright sunshine, heavy snowfalls.

Heavy snowfall, blizzard, and something I had never experienced before, whiteout.  This would alternate with clear blue sky and sun shining.

Subzero outside, and yet, was able to sit and relax in the conservatory, heated by the sun.

Solar power though of no use. Looking out, I see solar panels covered in snow.

Nothing moving, everyone snowed in.

Wednesday, as Tuesday, heavy snow, several inches deep, before breakfast clearing the snow.  No soonest cleared, within half an hour, at least an inch deep. Before lunch, once again clear the snow, now a couple of inches deep.

As Tuesday, heavy snow, dark clouds, sunshine. Again possible to sit in the conservatory, minus three degrees outside, drops to minus seven.

As Tuesday, heavy snowfall, blizzard, whiteout, which  would alternate with clear blue sky and sun shining.

Impossible to go out, sink into the snow.

Farnborough two days in a row, record for colddest place, minus 11.9C.

Warning, we are running out of gas. People should drop their temperature by a degree, will not notice, saves money, saves gas. If going out, turn down the thermostat by at least five degrees, then turn back up on return.

We need large gas storage facilities. We had but was closed last year. That is what happens when privatise energy supply, lose energy security, no resilience in the system.

Not possible to import from Europe, as pipes lack capacity, and even if possible, Europe colder than UK, thus need the gas.

UK was powered by North Sea Gas. It was sold of on the cheap, now UK imports roughly half the gas it needs.

Wind is providing as much energy as gas, but different usage.

Industrial users of gas cannot be cut off, crash cool a kiln and cause tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage to the kiln.

In Lincolnshire, at least 45 roads are closed, idiots who should not be out, are out in their cars no idea how to handle a car in the snow, get stuck then block the roads.

Police call in the military they cannot cope.

Thursday I managed to get out. To my surprise, many people are walking in the snow in Washingborough. I guess house bound and an opportunity to get out the house.

I ask one man, is it worth walking to the local Coop? He says no, no bread, he has taken the last milk.

As I thought, no deliveries and more people placing demand on local Coop.

Slowly running out of food.

Walking around the village, very cold, Arctic conditions, sub-zero with a gale blowing.

There has been no snow all day.

Friday again no snow. Manage to get out and walk to the local Coop. As I thought, very little stock, no bread, little in the way of vegetables, a small amount of milk.

Again very cold with strong winds blowing.

Saturday a little snow overnight, light covering of snow.

One degree Celsius. It actually feels warm.

Hop on the bus to Heighington. The Spar shop reasonably well stocked, actually able to get some bread, the butcher well stocked.

Stock up with provisions. At least will not starve.

In the afternoon a trip into Lincoln. One kind person has even cleared the bus stop.

Walking to the bus stop and waiting for the bus, cold and damp, a breeze blowing, misty.

Very bleak journey into Lincoln.

The State of the Art Lincoln Central Bus Station colder than outside.

Outside the entrance a couple of inches of slush, Lincoln City Council cannot be arsed to clear the snow.

Sincil Street and High Street the same, slush covered streets. Traders pay enough in businesses rates, the least they can expect is the streets to be cleared of slush.

More people out than I expected. Maybe Saturday, maybe first opportunity to get out of the house and into Lincoln.

Stokes on High Bridge as always, empty, same for Cafe W at Waterstone’s. On the other hand Coffee Aroma busy and at Madame Waffle packed queuing at the door to get in. That is th difference good coffee makes.

I take the opportunity to stock up with more provisions.

Walking back to the bus station, I notice the slush melting, water gathers at the lowest point and flows, the newly installed drains not at the lowest point. Yet another design flaw for the newly opened Lincoln Central Bus Station that only opened last month.

Sunday a few degrees above freezing, the snow starting to melt, very misty.

It snows, and the country grinds to a halt, the trains do not run, those that do run, break down leaving people stranded for several hours, foolish people go out in the cars, clueless driving on snow.

For the last decade winters have been mild. Temperatures of 10C, maybe drops to 5C, occasionally below zero.

These mild winters have lulled the country into a false sense of security.

The Arctic, zero degrees, at least twenty degrees warmer than it should be , strong winds circling the North Pole driving the cold air southward into Europe.

What is a heat wave in the Arctic has panicked climate scientists, as what has been observed is way beyond their worst case scenarios for climate change.

James Hoffman on disposable coffee cups and why we need a latte levy

March 3, 2018

Waste is a problem, and yet there is no reason why it should be, other than poor design.  We should have closed loops, the output of one process the input to the another, natural materials or man made which emulate these natural cycles.

In the natural world there is no such thing as waste, in ancient woodlands, we see not the accumulation of waste neither in time nor space.

Plastic is a modern day curse, unlike glass or steel or aluminium, it cannot be recycled, it is down-cycled, which at best delays its one way trip to landfill or incineration, or finds it way into the oceans.

We have beaches covered in plastic, we have ocean vortexes that concentrate plastic, one such being the Sargasso Sea.

Plastic eventually breaks down in the sea, the action of the sea and sunlight, to tiny bits of plastic the size of plankton. Small fish eat the plastic mistaking it for plankton, big fish eat the small fish, bigger fish eat the big fish, we eat the fish.

Toxic chemicals leach off the land, attach to the plastic. These too find their way into our diet.

The weight of plastic in the oceans now equals that of plankton.

Plastic is eaten by sea birds and sea turtles. They die with their stomach full of plastic.

By 2050 the weight of plastic in the sea will be equal to the weight of fish.

Domestic waste accounts for less than 5% of total waste. The majority of waste is generated by businesses and industry. We could eliminate domestic waste entirely we would still be left with in excess of 95% of waste. That is not an argument for not dealing with domestic waste, it is an argument for dealing with the other 95%.

Hypocrisy by councils who do nothing themselves to eliminate waste  whilst at the same time hectoring the rest of us.

Guildford runs a farmers market, Winchester a street food market. The standard on these markets abysmally low.

County Restaurant in Lincoln is the staff restaurant for employees of Lincolnshire County Council. Once again abysmally low environmental standards. Plastic cups for water, staff using disposable coffee cups,  food served in polystyrene burger-style boxes, plastic cutlery.

These councils, in areas which are their responsibility, should be setting high standards for everyone else to follow.

In the UK every year we throw away an estimated 2.5 billion coffee cups. The cups appear to be paper, they are not, they are plastic lined, and therein lies the problem, the complexity of construction means they are not recycled.

Yes, these cups can be segregated and aggregated and Chiltern Railways is running a pilot scheme, but all this does is legitimises a system that should not exist.  It also relies on the passengers segregating the coffee cups into three separate bins,  liquids, lids and cups. The recovered plastic will be down-cycled into branded pens for Chiltern Railways, the loop has not been closed, a delay in the one way trip has been introduced, nothing more.

These takeaway cups may be a tiny percentage of total waste, but it is plastic waste and plastic waste is harmful to the planet.

We should consider whole life cycle costs, which is energy, including embedded energy, material used, environmental damage.

Reusable cups, for example KeepCup, can be refilled, coupled with a substantial  discount, yes will be used. The best so far is 30% reuse, better than 1%, but nowhere near good enough.

KeepCup has become the industry standard, elegant and meets what can be described as barista friendly.  Downside expensive, heavy and a pain to carry around. The target demographic office workers popping out for a coffee.

Compostable cups, ok if I have been shopping, have fresh produce, pop in with my fresh produce, then drop off on a compost heap. But what if not, what then with the compostable cup, throw in the bushes, it is after all compostable?  And that assumes it actually composts when thrown on the compost heap, a moot point for the cups claimed to be compostable. At the very least we need honesty, compostable on a compostable heap within a reasonable time, otherwise coffee shops and their clientele trying to do the right thing are being conned, greenwash at best.

Paper composts on a compost heap, it improves the quality of the compost by adding fibre, it also helps to rot down quicker by opening up the compost heap to flow of air.

Reusable cups, compostable cups, address symptoms, not the underlying problems of grab it and go take away consumerist culture.

Which is part of a wider problem of society, the purchase of worthless consumer crap, from extraction, production, six months in our hands, then on to landfill or incineration.

Why do we disrespect coffee? How many hands does coffee pass through from the picker until it finds its way to Square Mile, to then be roasted, then on to a barista at Madame Waffle? We would not dream of pouring a good wine in a plastic cup, swigging it as we walk down the street, why therefore do we treat coffee in this way? Is it not to insult everyone from farm to cup?

Latte levy will not add any extra costs onto coffee shops, apart from the actual cost of administering it. That is why it is called a levy not a tax.

It is avoidable. It is designed to change behaviour.

Starbucks has introduced a 5p levy at a handful of stores in London, and already its clientele are bleating about the cost, threatening to go to Costa. Happy to pay for overpriced undrinkable coffee, and yet bleat about a 5p levy which is avoidable.

Why does any coffee shop wish to have its logo on a something that is bad for the environment, a negative association? Is it not far better to have a branded KeepCup to send out a positive message?

Speciality coffee shops care about the environment, support local businesses, buy direct trade coffee to support the growers.

Apart from being avoidable, the latte levy is or can be cost neutral. Takeaway coffee should cost more than sitting in a coffee shop with a  speciality coffee served in glass or plastic.  Hike the price of the takeaway coffee by the cost of each takeaway cup, then discount by that amount if brought in a KeepCup or similar for a refill. And yes, should be barista friendly the correct size and clean.

Unless bought in bulk, takeaway coffee cups are not cheap, add the branding, 30p a cup, and that is not counting the environmental costs.

A very simple principle, the polluter shall pay.

Baristas and coffee shop owners need to engage in dialogue with their clientele on how to reduce waste, encourage to sit and relax with speciality coffee served in glass or ceramic, discourage grab it and go takeaway consumerist culture.

A latte levy is to the benefit of speciality coffee shops as it matches their philosophy of serving the best coffee, an art and a craft to be appreciated. The losers will be the High Street chains which drain money out of the local economy, many dodge tax, serving undrinkable coffee, whose business model is built on grab it and go takeaway consumerist culture which is why they are lobbying hard behind the scenes to block the 25p latte levy.

And anyone who thinks business as usual, do nothing, is an option, it is they who will have to explain to future generations why they inherited a dead planet.