Archive for the ‘NotoCosta’ Category

Black Mocha

August 19, 2017

Coffee shop in North Laine in Brighton.

I had noticed Black Mocha in North Laine on a previous visit to Brighton last year, a relatively newcomer to the Brighton coffee scene.

Chatting with a girl sat outside, I asked what was it like, she said good.

OK, I am on my way to Coffee at 33, maybe some other day.

OK, we will compare notes.

Passing by again, I was heading for the seafront, then changed my mind, as it was  a pleasant late afternoon, I decided I would stop and sit outside.

Black Mocha, which I had passed earlier, I tried a cappuccino. Not very good, not helped by chocolate dumped on top.

Staff very pleasant.

Interior pleasantly laid out.

I am not to sure of the ad hoc tampering of their espresso machine. The metal panels removed, replaced by glass, glass I am assured that  is shatter proof. Espresso machines have inside high pressure boilers.

Coffee from a local roastery, Cast Iron Coffee Roasters.

Black Mocha has potential, if employed skilled baristas.

V60 Finca Immaculada Laurina

August 18, 2017

V60 filter coffee Finca Immaculada Laurina de Colombia roasted by Union Hand-Roasted Coffee brewed at Madame Waffle.

A morning in Lincoln, most of it spent in Madame Waffle, part of the Lincoln coffee scene.

First an excellent cappuccino.

It was then try a V60, Finca Immaculada Laurina de Colombia, roasted by Union Hand-Roasted Coffee, which I had brought along.

First wet the filter with hot water. This removes any paper residues and heats the filter and carafe.

If in doubt why cleanse the filter, try drinking the hot water.

Add the ground coffee, tapping to ensure the bed is as flat as a billiard table.

Next pour in hot water, allow the ground coffee to bloom. This enables the CO2 to escape.

Next, pour in the hot water, just off boiling, in a rotating motion.

All steps are carefully weighed, timed, the coffee a precise grind, courser than for an espresso machine.

The ratio of coffee to water, 1 to 60.

  • 17.5 g of coffee
  • 273.6 g of hot water

How to enjoy is personal preference. I prefer a glass to showcase the colour of the resultant liquid.

To brew, there was a choice between a V60 and a Chemex.

V60 is best suited to bring out the best from a natural process light roast bean.

Finca Immaculada is a garden farm located at a height of 1770-2040 metres, surrounded by a National Park. The coffee plants grow in the Andees in the shade of trees.

Laurina seeds originate from the tiny island of Réunion, east of Madagascar and south west of Mauritius, where a red bourbon variety mutated into this rare variety, the Bourbon Pointu.

Madame Waffle has Caffeine available for free, and one of the few places in the country where must have Standart is on sale.

Madame Waffle also serves waffles.

Special thanks to Bruce for kindly brewing and sharing his expertise.

Cappuccino at Lion and Lamb Cafe and Restaurant

August 12, 2017

Many many years ago,  on a sunny autumn afternoon, I used to enjoy sitting outside in the sun in Lion and Lamb Courtyard for afternoon tea.

These days,  I would usually take a coffee in Krema, where the coffee is consistently good, but nowhere pleasant outside therefore for a change, sit outside this little tea shop cum restaurant, and an opportunity to see what their claimed artisan coffee was like.

I had checked their website, and found they laid claim to artisan coffee. A couple of weeks ago, I asked, and learnt it was Union, which is good coffee.

I said next time passing, I would drop by.

I had intended to take a coffee sat outside Lion and Lamb Cafe and  Restaurant sat in the sun. My long walk afternoon walk around Bishop’s Meadow, meant the sun had gone.

I had checked their website, it said artisan coffee, but did not say what. A couple of weeks ago, I enquired, to learn Union. I decided to try, with no great expectations, as the food is not great, which possibly explains why  whenever I pass by, always empty. As it was this evening.

When ordering, asked no chocolate, to save the hassle of having to send back if served with chocolate dumped on top.  Which sadly too often happens.

Cappuccino was brought with a bowl of sugar cubes. These I sent back. A good coffee does not need coffee. Only the disgusting concoctions masquerading as coffee served by Costa, and tax-dodging Starbucks and Caffe Nero needs sugar.

Cappuccino was served scalding hot. A classic mistake. But it was better than what is served at Gail’s, and had the potential to be a good cup of coffee, if served not so hot.

I also had a shortbread cookie. It was not great, made all the worse coated with sugar both sides. There is no excuse for adding this extra sugar, especially as the toxic nature of sugar is now well known. I can buy better shortbread in Waitrose.

On passing by later, I popped in and told the one and only girl, still empty, but tough luck in the unlikely event of a rush, that she had served the coffee scalding hot, that it would have been better not so hot.

She thanked me for the helpful feedback.

She said customers complain if not hot. I gave her a tip, play steam over the lip of the cup to give the illusion the coffee is hot. Also explain, if you want your coffee hot, please ask, but do not then complain of poor quality of coffee.

Problem is lack of training.  Also not working with a  skilled barista.

Union coffee being served by people who are not baristas, does not bring out the best in quality coffee. Neither does it do the reputation of Union a lot of good.

The Little Cafe Co

August 5, 2017

I came across The Little Cafe Co at Staycation Live.  An improvement as last year some ghastly franchise coffee van serving overpriced undrinkable coffee. I was pleased to see an effort had been made to invite a quality coffee truck.

At first I thought it was The Hobo Co and was about to say hello, but as I drew nearer, I saw it was not.

A row of syrups lined up is like raising a flag, we serve shit coffee.

Home made cakes.

I decided to try a cappuccino. It was not great but reasonable, I have had far worse.

Catering supply beans.

With decent beans, a skilled barissta, it would be serving great coffee.

Based in Guildford they intend to move to Brighton.

They will be in for a rude awaking, as Brighton is coffee mecca, with many wide and varied choice of high quality coffee.

If they do relocate to Brighton, back to square one for a choice of quality coffee truck for next year at Staycation Live.  Of those I have suggested in the past, The Hobo Co is the only one that may be available, as one no longer seems to exist, and the other is not interested too far away.

Kalita Wave Sumava Lourdes from Costa Rica

August 4, 2017

After a cappuccino at Canopy Coffee I decided to try a filter coffee. I always let them choose, today Sumava Lourdes from Costa Rica roasted by Square Mile.

Coffee is second only in importance to tourism in Costa Rica. It was the first country in Latin America to grow coffee. Such is the importance of coffee to the economy, that there are several pieces of legislation to protect coffee and coffee growing including the prohibition of growing Robusta.

See Standart issue 8 for an excellent feature on coffee in Costa Rica.

Afternoon in Guildford

August 4, 2017

Morning quite cool, afternoon pleasantly warm

Today busiest I have seen The Village. Some sort of activity for kids.

A couple of weeks ago, an area had been laid out for crazy golf. I assumed for the summer, or at the very least school holidays.  The following week it had gone. By the time word of mouth gets out, it has gone. Just one of many examples of mismanagement of this site, and why it needs a change of management.

Last week and I looked again today in Lakeland. It is a shop that sells kitchen ware. I somewhat foolishly assumed maybe they sell coffee making equipment, eg Chemex, V60, Japanese syphon, Kalita Wave, French press, coffee grinders, maybe even swan-necked kettle for pouring, digital scales. But no, instead shelves of Nespresso machines and clones thereof, ideal for making rubbish coffee. I would have asked, but was ignored by staff. A man looking, I advised do not waste your money. He thanked me and walked out.

I contrast with Coffee Island in Covent Garden.  An excellent range of coffee making equipment. And no, they do not insult their customers with Nespresso machines.

Lunch at Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage. Excellent honey coated crunchy chicken as I had last week. I also decided to try steamed bun. I assumed a dumpling, but no. It is dough as a bun but steamed and much larger, maybe the size of a small stuffed apple. Very tasty. Not something I have come across before.

Food at Bamboo Shoots highly recommended.  Everything freshly prepared.

A cappuccino at Canopy Coffee. Followed by a filter coffee using Kalita Wave and one of their guest coffees, I always let them choice,  Sumava Lourdes from Costa Rica roasted by Square Mile. I have been spoilt.  Nothing now compares with Finca Immaculada Laurina  let alone Martin Hudak Signature Geisha, first from Colombia, second from Panama, both roasted by Union.

I walked through The Village. Now early evening. Back to the moronic music thudding out. Empty.

Retro Coffee Shop

August 3, 2017

I have no idea why called the Retro Coffee Shop.

Is it due to the split and cracked seats? Or that you stick to the seats?

Maybe it is the undrinkable coffee, that somehow managed to be weak and bitter all at the same time? Retro coffee, regressing back to the heyday of undrinkable coffee. Though we can always drink undrinkable coffee in Costa or tax dodging Starbucks and Caffe Nero.

I asked to see the beans. Poor quality catering brand, commodity coffee.  No excuse when these days so many quality coffee roasteries to choose from.

The Tea Shop around the Corner does at least make an attempt to source quality beans, could do better, their coffee is not great, would be much better if employed a barista and sourced quality beans, but they do make the point they are a tea shop not a coffee shop.

Although called a coffee shop, in reality, an old-style greasy spoon cafe. If you are going to call yourself a coffee shop, then at least have the decency to make decent coffee.

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.

Kalita Wave Martin Hudak Signature Geisha

August 1, 2017

Kalita Wave filter coffee using Martin Hudak Signature Geisha from Panama roasted by Union Hand-Roasted Coffee.

I have been hanging on to this coffee since picking up from Union Summer Carnival, wanting to try and at the same time resisting.

But coffee like fresh fruit, cannot be left, it has to be used within an optimum period, and I was already passing that by.

Method a Kalita Wave. I could have tried V60 or Japanese syphon, it would be an interesting comparison.

  • 17 grams of coffee
  • 275 ml of water
  • 4 minutes

Water around 95 C, just off boiling.

First cleanse the filter with hot water, then throw away. This also warms the jug.

Wet the ground coffee, this allows it to bloom, releases carbon dioxide.

Pour water in a circular motion to agitate the coffee.

Then enjoy.

This was the coffee Martin Hudak used to win World Championship Coffee in Good Spirits, Budapest June 2017.

I had the honour of meeting Martin Hudak at Union Summer Carnival a few days after his winning the world championship, not only meeting but actually trying his award winning cocktail, a cocktail made with Geisha.

Geisha, a coffee from Panama, is one of the world’s highest rated coffees.

The Martin Hudak Signature Geisha has a Q rating of 91.

Geisha grows at high altitude, shaded by trees, as all the best coffees grow.

When it was discovered in Panama, the reaction of those who first tasted Geisha was that of discovering God in a cup.

For more on Geisha and its almost mystical status, God in a Cup is an absolute must read.

Next try as Japanese iced filter.

Kalita Wave at Canopy Coffee

July 28, 2017

My third visit to Canopy Coffee aka Coffee House at 62 Haydon Place.

Tomorrow they will have been open a month

A new barista, ex of Harris + Hoole.

The lovely juicy Kayon Mountain batch brewed on Moccamaster – just brewed! So sweet..

A post shared by Canopy Coffee (@canopy_coffee) on

After a cappuccino, they asked would I like to sample their filter coffee, a Keyon Mountain, maybe brewed 45 minutes earlier.

I asked would they like to try Finca Immaculada Laurina, Union Hand-Roasted from Colombia, sadly now past its optimum, as roasted 21 June, but still excellent.

It was brewed using a Kalita Wave, which I have not seen before, let alone tried. I had seen before in the coffee shop, thought a cheap clone of a Chemex, in many ways a cross between a Chemex and V60.

I learned why it is called V60, the angle is 60 degrees.

Beans carefully weighed and ground, the filter cleansed with hot water, brew carefully timed.

Hot water is poured over the ground coffee to allow it to bloom, lets the CO2 escape, then pour in slow concentric circles, pause, repeat, for four minutes

I would have thought same beans, different filter method, nevertheless filter, Japanese syphon compared with Kalita Wave, would be the same. I was surprised to find a big difference in taste.

The resultant clear brew poured into small glasses, we all tried, including a couple of customers.

All agreed excellent filter coffee.