Archive for the ‘NotoCosta’ Category

If coffee commercials were honest

August 21, 2020

Brilliant spoof of promotion of crap undrinkable commodity coffee.

I like coffee, I enjoy coffee, but I am not addicted.

Coffee contains a psychoactive substance, caffeine.

The coffee plant is closely related to qat (there are many variations of spelling for example khat) often referred to as coffee’s evil sister. Qat is highly addictive and as a more profitable crop has replaced coffee in Yemen where for generations coffee grew on terraces and the port of Mokka grew rich on the export of coffee beans. WHO has a separate category for qat, US classifies as dangerous as heroin. Qat contains the alkaloid cathinone. The leaves are chewed or used as an infusion to produce qat tea.

Unlike it’s evil sister qat, coffee is a legal psychoactive drug.

I am bombarded every day with offers of coffee and coffee equipment I do not want.

No, I do not want Nespresso. Coffee from a Nespresso machines is vile undrinkable coffee. That is not to say the machine cannot make decent coffee, it can, just do not use Nespresso pods. A €60 Nespresso machine will make excellent espresso, but only if use third party pods.

I used to be bombarded daily by CoffeeJack, but since highlighting the many flaws, gone very quiet. They blocked me and deleted my critical questions. Er, blocked me, it was they trolling me with their promotions.

Nor do I wish to buy coffee from roasteries I have never heard of, that not once have I ever encountered in a coffee shop as guest coffee.

For me coffee is a drink to be enjoyed as would a good wine.  To be enjoyed at leisure served in glass or ceramic.

Good coffee does not need sugar or syrups or to be carpet bombed with chocolate. The over-roasted cheap commodity coffee served up by corporate chains does require to mask the vile taste of what would otherwise be undrinkable.

Fair Trade is a marketing scam to make middle class feel good and to never delve deeper into the exploitation surrounding coffee.

Fair Trade pays a tiny premium above the commodity price. There is no incentive for farmers to improve as they will not get a higher price for quality.

Talk to your barista, buy coffee that is Direct Trade, where farmers get a higher price for quality, where there is traceability back to origin.

And of course we never mention tax dodging that we structure our company across borders to avoid paying tax where we make money.

Imagine honest advertising for what masquerades as a bar of ‘chocolate’.

‘Chocolate’, a bar of fat and sugar, it would not be every palatable, nor sound too good in our marketing, so we add a little cocoa powder, though if we wish to be real cheapskates it will be flavouring, then we add palm oil or soy but keep quiet about the environmental damage, may be listed as emulsifiers, added to improve the texture, we could use coca butter but the alternatives are far cheaper and we have to have margins to pay for the advertising for you suckers, then additives as it kinda does not taste too good a bar of fat and sugar.

Next time you buy what you think is a bar of ‘chocolate’ please check the list of ingredients. If it ain’t cocoa solids, sugar, cocoa butter, maybe vanilla, but nothing else, then it ain’t chocolate.

Yirgacheffe Ethiopian coffee

August 18, 2020

Opening the box from Coffeelink two bags of coffee from Ethiopia, Yirgacheffe and a wild coffee from Zege Forest.

Aroma incredible.

A visit to Stokes at The Lawn.

As always I let Mike decide.

He chose the Yirgacheffe, as already ground for Aeropress. He noticed which I had not noticed ground for Aeropress. Why? I had specified whole beans. Maybe as complimentary bag with Aeropress to save me grinding. Always grind coffee fresh, and invest in a high quality grinder. A cheap grinder a false economy.

We decided V60.

I learnt during cupping at Taylor St Roasted roastery, no correlation between aroma and taste.

And so it proved to be. After the initial impression of the aroma, the V60 proved to be a disappointment.

Why? Maybe because not ground fresh?

We agreed maybe better as espresso.

Put beans through EK43 to get finer grind for espresso. I tried cappuccino, Mike an espresso.

An improvement over the V60 but still sadly not great.

Next, as ground for Aeropress, I will try Aeropress, Mike recommended push through fast, but first order a Hario digital scale. Using the scoop lacks accuracy and consistency and thus not recommended.

I have also picked up a bottle of spring water from M&S. No, cannot make coffee with tap water. Can try, but the coffee will be dreadful.

A visit to Madame Waffle. Miriam tries as inverted Aeropress.

  • 15g coffee
  • 140g hot water
  • stir
  • infuse for two minutes
  • extract

The coffee was not good. Hints of liquorice and fig.

Tried adding milk. Yuk.

This coffee should be far better. What is wrong? Pre-ground not fresh, grind too fine for Aeropress, poor quality beans, roast profile not good?

Opening the box

August 17, 2020

A delivery from Coffeelink, a Suffolk based roastery.

Inside the box

Wonderful aroma from the Ethiopian coffee within well designed packaging. Freshly roasted the previous week.

Contents currently at reduced prices from Coffeelink and with free delivery.

Over the next few days unpacking of the box and an exploration of its contents.

Madame Waffle re-opens

July 24, 2020

Madame Waffle has been open a week or so. Not open Monday and Tuesday.

My first coffee since lockdown began.

I sat outside with a cappuccino. I would not wish to sit inside.

Looking inside I see the tables are partitioned off. I understand why, but I would feel less safe, enclosed space within enclosed space.

Staff and customers for their own protection, download and install and share Corona-Warn-App the German track and trace app.

Madame Waffle is on limited opening hours, not open on Monday and Tuesday.

Auction House

July 22, 2020

On my last visit to Louth a year ago I noticed Auction House, it had not long closed. A pity, it would be an ideal coffee shop, was my thought at the time.

Today, one year on market day I noticed it was open. New owners. A coffee shop of sorts, also serves food.

I asked of their coffee.

Alvingham Coffee Roasters, who I had never heard of. A local roastery.

I said I would pop back after a wander around.

I popped back, did not fancy sitting upstairs, an enclosed space, downstairs, no one seemed in any hurry to leave.

Eventually what I had ordered arrived. Did I wish to eat outside? I did not know they had outside seating.

Outside seating  was located across the street in the market square. But only on market days.

Gammon and chips and garden peas and a duck egg. I did not wish for the egg. Gammon was reasonable and a good-sized portion, maybe could have been cooked a tad more. Chips excellent. Garden peas? Grown in their garden? Not fresh podded peas that was for sure.

I then ordered a cappuccino. I had noticed earlier one carpet bombed with chocolate. I said no chocolate.

Served in a cup size too large, poor quality coffee.

Depressing they are sourcing poor quality coffee, as with the right equipment, competent baristas and sourcing high quality coffee, could be an excellent little coffee shop in a prime location overlooking the square.  Commendable to source local, but not if poor quality coffee. I would suggest they check out Seven Districts, Outpost Coffee, Cartwheel Coffee,  The Blending Room and Dark Woods.

On the window coffee cocktails, or maybe it is either or. No way could make coffee cocktails with the poor quality coffee they are sourcing. For cocktails would need top quality single origin coffee.

They need outside seating. Today was market day.

Why is the street not pedestrianised?

They need to apply for outside seating. Once legalisation passed, currently on its Third Reading, apply to local district council, for Louth East Lindsey, the council has to respond within 15 days. If the council fails to respond, have requested seating by default.

As with other coffee shops and tea shops on limited hours. People will not feel safe until they can be served outside, and even that may not be sufficient to entice people out.

Reclaim the Streets Lincoln revisited

July 13, 2020

Tables in the streets.

This is the norm everywhere in Europe.

Walk through the streets in Athens in the evening, the streets are the restaurants.

In North Laine in Brighton, the tables are in the streets.

Friday night in Soho, restaurants and coffee shops in the street.

Meanwhile in Lincoln, nada, such is the nature of this backward dysfunctional council, lacking in vision and imagination.

Only now is the council thinking about it. They have had weeks to prepare.

Soho has been in discussion with Westminster City Council for weeks. The result, Soho and Covent Garden, roads closed to traffic, tables in the streets.

Little indie coffee shops, tea shops, restaurants will not survive unless tables in the streets.

Locally, indie businesses have been pushing for this and hit a brick wall of council intransigence.

Finally there is a scheme, how long will will it take to apply and get permission, will it be granted before the end of summer? What is the procedure?

Saturday, I talked with a few indie businesses, they were not even aware of the scheme, Council had failed to inform them, let alone of the procedure.

I suggested apply. They were were reluctant to apply due to past intransigence of the council, saw it as waste of time and effort. I said go ahead, apply, let’s see what happens.

I have been pushing for this for weeks, reclaim the streets, close streets, pedestrianise, tables in the streets, No Smoking. Win win for everyone. Revitalises the local economy, helps local businesses, improves the city centre ambience.

Coffee by the Arch 20 minutes queue for bad takeaway coffee

June 27, 2020

Stokes at The Lawn closed at three, Misto not open never appears to be open, twenty minute queue at Coffee at the Arch for bad coffee.

 

It actually seemed like half an hour, but maybe no more than twenty minutes.

Are people in a queue because they see a queue?

I hate queues, I will usually walk away and go elsewhere or go without than stand in a queue, especially stand in a queue for bad coffee.

But beggars cannot be choosers, neither Stokes or Misto open, thus no choice but to stand in the queue.

I knew it would be bad coffee, I had a coffee when they changed hands early this spring, but glutton for punishment and you never know, maybe they have improved, got their act together, sourced quality beans, employed baristas.

Sadly not, the beans badged with their own name, but still poor quality beans.

And was the coffee bad? Unfortunately yes.

I walked through Newport Arch back into Bailgate, sat on a wall and took a sip. It burnt my tongue. It was scalding hot.

A cappuccino should not be scalding hot. I was at least asked did I want chocolate? I should not be asked. That is not to suggest it should have chocolate dumped on top. A cappuccino does not have chocolate. Why do cafes masquerading as coffee shops not understand, a cappuccino is not served scalding hot, the milk is burnt, chocolate is not dumped on top. Although the row of syrups is at least a warning sign the coffee we serve is not good.

There was a hint, the coffee may have been bitter, if made by a barista would have been an improvement. But better still, source quality beans and employ baristas.

I walked to a little square and poured on a garden.

And no, Coffee by the Arch has not improved since I had a coffee early spring.

Why do people open a coffee shop or buy a coffee shop if they know nothing about coffee?

Stokes on High Bridge re-opens takeaway only

June 17, 2020

Day eighty five of lockdown, first day Stokes on High Bridge open.

Being their first day after closed for several weeks I expected a very long queue. No queue.

Hand sanitiser outside the store for customers to use.

Serving coffee and toasties. Only one lady serving, brewing coffee, making toasties.

I thought have a coffee, maybe a cheese and ham toasty. Not possible, card only.

Stokes need to think again card only. Everywhere else preference for contactless card, but accepting cash. They are going to lose many of their elderly customers. Maybe that explains no queue.

A large empty sterile space in front of Stokes on High Bridge, more than sufficient space for Stokes to spread their tables in the street. This is being blocked by intransigence of local councils.

The local councils have had weeks during lockdown to have in place plans for indie coffee shops, tea shops and restaurants to park their tables in the street, to enable them to open whilst maintaining two metres social distancing. Win win for everyone. It could have happened in May. Revitalises the High Street, helps local businesses back on their feet, improves the city centre ambience.

Without tables in the street many local businesses will die. They are too small to meet social distancing rules. Takeaway coffee is not a viable option. OK for a kiosk, but not for a coffee shop or restaurant with higher overheads. They  are surviving currently with staff on furlough, rent deferred. But what then when these schemes end?

Stokes at the Lawn currently not open.

Coffee Aroma will open on the first of July, takeaway only. They asked to put tables in the street. An emphatic no from County Hall, not even the courtesy of an explanation.

Madame Waffle not open any time soon.

Bookstop Cafe open, had tables outside, ordered by City Council to remove.

 

Reclaim the Streets Lincoln

June 13, 2020

Saturday 13 June 2020 day eighty two of coronavirus lockdown in Lincoln. How many weeks has the city had to pedestrianise the city centre leading up to and including Bailgate, to enable independent coffee shops and restaurants to put their tables in the streets?

It is a tragedy the number of coffee shops and tea rooms either closed or eking out a meagre living on takeaways.

Sincil Street two coffee shops, Central Coffee House and 200 Degrees.

Central Coffee House closed, overlooks sterile open space. No indication of when or if it will open.

200 Degrees opened a few weeks ago for takeaway, overlooks a sterile open space.

Stokes on High Bridge, High Street, will open in a few days time for takeaway only.

Coffee Aroma closed. Will open sometime in the near future for takeaway only. They wished to open with tables in the street. They asked and received an emphatic no from County Hall.

Unfortunately we will not agree to you increasing the number of tables and chairs you use or the size of the area that you have at the current time (your enclosure needs to still be only outside the frontage of your premises).

Not even the courtesy of an explanation.

Angel Coffee House, closed, no indication if or when may open.

Madame Waffle closed. Not open in the foreseeable future. Will announce when open.

Margaret’s Tea Room. Open for tea and coffee takeaway. Overlooks a square where would love to place tables.

The Cheese Society currently closed, adjacent to the same square overlooked by Margaret’s Tea Room, where they too could place tables and chairs.

Many tea shops on Steep Hill, but not open, no indication if or when will open.

I talked to the owner of one tea shop. She thinks she may be able to open with restrictions on numbers but no idea when.

The one exception, Bookstop Cafe, located in a Norman croft below a Norman building which houses Imperials Teas, purveyors of fine tea, coffee and chocolate. They opened a few weeks ago for takeaway tea and coffee, tables outside. The tables removed by edict of  a Town Hall jobsworth acting like the Stasi on a tip off.

In Bailgate only Sanctuary in the Bail open for takeaway tea and coffee. Would love to see Bailgate pedestrianised and tables in the street.

There are several restaurants in Bailgate. Only Elite on the Bail open, serving takeaway fish n chips out the back. Elite on the Bail overlooks a square where tables could be placed.

We must reclaim the streets.

We hear the sound of birdsong, the streets are traffic free, the cities are pollution free. There can be no return to normal as normal was not normal.

We have been jolted into another now. We must maintain our city centres car and pollution free.

In Athens in the evening the streets turn into restaurants. Athens is expanding its network of pedestrianised streets.

Northern Ireland is looking at expanding the number of tables in the streets.

Sheffield has plans to expand pedestrianised streets.

Paragon Chambers in Hull, coffee shop encouraged to place tables outside.

North Laine in Brighton the restaurants, coffee shops and other shops are in the street. There are plans to expand the pedestrianised streets.

Soho has plans to pedestrianise the area, turn into one large open air coffee shop and restaurant. Currently awaiting approval from Westminster Council.

Unless indie coffee shops and restaurants are allowed to spread their tables into pedestrianised streets few will survive covid-19 pandemic.

Many coffee shops have no future. Too small to manage social distancing. A kiosk can survive on takeaway only, a coffee shop with higher overheads cannot.

We had sunniest May on record, Mediterranean climate. The tragedy indie coffee shops and restaurants were not able to spread their tables into the street.

Win win for everyone. Kick starts the local economy, maintains social distancing, helps local businesses back on their feet, improves city centre ambience.

It is not only coffee shops at risk it is the entire supply chain. There are the coffee roasteries that supply the coffee shops, the growers who supply the coffee beans.

We all have to act. If not, we lose our coffee shops.

Talk to local councils and councillors, change the mindset that allows traffic into city centres, pedestrianise the city centre, allow indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread their tables into the street, no chains no pubs No Smoking.

Government has to extend furlough for local businesses if they are unable to open. Reducing social distancing from two metres to one metre does not help as it greatly increases the risk for staff and customers.

Lincoln should follow the example of Soho, Soho Summer Street Festival, introduce with immediate effect temporary measures for the summer, Sincil Street, High Street, Cornhill, The Strait, Steep Hill, Castle Hill and Bailgate, pedestrianised, tables in the street, indie coffee shops and restaurants, no chains no pubs No Smoking. Then carry out consultation with the aim to make permanent.

Update: Excellent news from Soho. The area to be pedestrianised, roads closed to traffic, indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread their tables into the streets. And not only Soho, Covent Garden and other areas too. The excellent news from Soho only serves to Illustrate how backward Lincoln and lacking in vision. County Hall and City Hall have had weeks to implement a similar scheme in Lincoln, enable indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread their tables into the street, to help them get back into businesses. It revitalises the local economy, improves the ambience of the city centre.

Covid-19 indie coffee shops

June 12, 2020

Will indie coffee shops survive covid-19 pandemic?

I will roughly divide thoughts, observations and conversations before lockdown, during lockdown and what will happen next.

Maybe ten days before lockdown, a visit to Nottingham a large city, not deserted but few people about. One coffee shop closing early few customers. Next coffee shop, few customers, less than half their usual number of customers,  numbers dropping daily.

A couple of days before lockdown, visiting Sheffield a large city, station deserted, a kiosk on my way into the city centre told me I would find the city centre deserted, few people about, little open, restaurants I passed by, the few that were open, the few that had customers maybe a couple of diners. I ate and had coffee at Marmadukes, a coffee shop usually very busy, I was the only person there. Business down by at least 80%. Coffee shops were closing at three. In part no customers, in part to let staff home before rush hour, not that there was a rush hour. Talking to the owner of another coffee shop, the question on his mind, how was he to survive?

Before lockdown, measures were already in place, hand sanitiser by the entrance, compostable coffee cups, contactless cards, no reusable cups.

The kiosk in Sheffield I passed by earlier, after I talked to them, a sign no reusable cups.

Lockdown a mixed blessing, at least cost of staff covered by furlough, rents deferred.

Lincoln a city during lockdown. The chains stayed open for a few days then closed. Indie coffee shops closed immediately. A few weeks ago, one large coffee shop a small chain opened for takeaway. A slow trickle of customers but I doubt it will cover the cost of two staff. The only advantage, they are open before the corporate chains, maybe they will attract and retain some of their clientele.

Many coffee shops have no future. Too small to manage social distancing. A kiosk can survive on takeaway only, a coffee shop with higher overheads cannot. The large coffee shop, once rents and business rates kick back in, would not survive.

We had sunniest May on record, Mediterranean climate. The tragedy indie coffee shops and restaurants not able to spread their tables into the street. Win win for everyone. Kick starts the local economy, maintains social distancing, helps local businesses back on their feet, improves city centre ambience.

One coffee shop asked. They received an emphatic no. They currently employ eight staff on furlough. When furlough ends six will lose their jobs leaving two for takeaway coffee, but not a viable businesses.

Unfortunately we will not agree to you increasing the number of tables and chairs you use or the size of the area that you have at the current time (your enclosure needs to still be only outside the frontage of your premises).

Not even the courtesy of an explanation.

Looking at Guildford, the corporate coffee chains that litter our town centres, cafes pretending to be coffee shops, three coffee shops. Of the three I cannot see Canopy Coffee or Surrey Hills surviving as they do not have the option to expand into the street. Krema yes, if allowed to expand into Tunsgate, if not no. When first open, Krema did have its tables in the street and was ordered to remove them.

It is not only coffee shops at risk it is the entire supply chain. There are the coffee roasteries that supply the coffee shops, the growers who supply the coffee beans.

We can hear bird song, streets are traffic free, cities pollution free. We have been jolted into another now. There can be no going back to normal as normal was not normal.

We have to reclaim the streets.

In Athens in the evening the streets turn into restaurants. Athens is expanding its network of pedestrianised streets.

Sheffield has plans to expand pedestrianised streets.

North Laine in Brighton the restaurants, coffee shops and other shops are in the street. There are plans to expand the pedestrianised streets.

Soho has plans to pedestrianise the area, turn into one large open air coffee shop and restaurant. Currently awaiting approval from Westminster Council.

We all have to act. If not, we lose our coffee shops.

Talk to local councils and councillors, change the mindset that allows traffic into city centres, pedestrianise the city centre, allow indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread their tables into the street, no chains no pubs No Smoking.

Find and locate your local indie coffee shops. Support them.

If anyone wishes to follow me on social media, I will try and post every day indie coffee shops worth visiting and supporting. No guarantee they are open or when they will open.

Buy coffee. If not from a local coffee shop, from a coffee roastery.

Buy bean-to-bar craft chocolate.

Support local businesses.

Government has to extend furlough for local businesses if they are unable to open. Reducing social distancing from two metres to one metre does not help as it greatly increases the risk for staff and customers.


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