Archive for the ‘NotoCosta’ Category

The Strait and Steep Hill no tourists tea and coffee shops open

January 8, 2019

It beggars belief, over the Christmas New Year vacation many tourists milling around, up The Strait and Steep Hill, in Castle Hill and Bailgate, tea and coffee shops were either closed or closed early.

Now the holiday season over, no one around, the streets deserted, the tea and coffee shops open.

This would be like a business in the tourist area of Cyprus closing during the peak summer season then opening in the winter when no one about.

To say the least, bizarre.

Although not all were open, and a few closed early.

The Rest rarely found open. Today no exception. Rumoured to be for sale

Bunty’s tea room, closed or closed early when tourists around, now no tourists tea room open.

Bookstop Cafe, closed or closed early when tourists around, now no tourists open.

Imperial Teas, a rarity, open over Christmas New Year.

Pimento tea rooms, once excellent, new owners took over and destroyed with six months.

Changed hands yet again. Closed over Christmas New Year, does not reopen until no tourists outside.

Since my last visit, interior has changed and not for the better.

A board outside promises specialty tea and coffee, new menu.

No menu, no espresso machine.

It takes more than a sign to serve specialty tea and coffee.

I said I may pop back later. When I did, a little after three, I found to be closed.

When queried, told closed early today. When asked when usually close, told between three and four.

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Quad Restaurant reusable coffee cup

January 8, 2019

Quad Restaurant demonstrating how not to.

Not barista friendly ugly plastic reusable coffee cups, one of the worst examples of reusable coffee cups I have come across.

No surprise,  low take up.

The Quad is the privately run renamed former County Restaurant, the staff restaurant of Lincolnshire County Council.

Early last year, it was the norm to see staff sitting at table drinking tea or coffee out of a takeaway cup when ceramic cups available.

This has at least improved, more are using ceramic or compostable cups. But where are the compostable cups deposited? This will be general waste stream unless special bins provided.  A tiny step in the right direction but still a  fair way to go.

Plastic cups are still being used for water. These should be glass.

Plastic is being used for their own yogurts. And why low fat yogurt with additives which is very unhealthy?

Only one person observed using a Quad Restaurant reusable cup everyone else using ceramic or Vegware compostable cups.

The reusable cups need to be removed, or if compostable cups for people to take back to their office, bins for compostable cups.

Lincolnshire County Council should be setting standards, not lagging behind best practice of indie coffee shops.

The County Council needs to do a deal with KeepCup, ecoffee or POLŪ to bulk buy branded cups, which are sold at cost to staff, given away at conferences, to get the message out.

There should be a latte levy of 25p on takeaway cups. The money goes into a  separate pot, once a month, staff choose, funds raised go to a local environmental group.

Should aim at 80% minimum of replacement of takeaway cups with reusable cups.

But also recognise compostable cups, reusable cups, are addressing symptoms of a grab it and go takeaway culture. Should encourage relax with coffee served in ceramic.

The Quad should have a target date for plastic free, zero waste.

Attrition of indie businesses on The Strait and Steep Hill

December 31, 2018

Walking up The Strait and Steep Hill, quite shocking the number of closed, failing or for sale independent businesses. More what one would expect in a run down town centre than what was once named only a few years ago the No 1 street in the country.

Why, what has caused this collapse?

One factor is the reliance on tourists. The tourist footfall has collapsed. The principle cause of this apart from maybe fewer tourists, is the bus that takes people from the High Street to Castle Hill, depriving them of an interesting walk, and for the local businesses loss of opportunist footfall.

Many running the businesses are clueless.

Christmas and New Year is when there are a lot of tourists milling around. And what do the local businesses do, they close. They will reopen in the New Year when it will be dead until Easter.

Lincoln Castle closed. The Tourist Information Office closed.

And the excuse for being closed. It is Christmas and New Year.

It would be better to be open, then take a well earned January break relaxing in Tenerife.

Coffee Bobbins closed over Christmas New Year rumoured For Sale.

Undrinkable coffee from Lincoln Tea and Coffee, tea tea pigs tea owned by India conglomerate Tata, Tetley under any other name, a recipe for disaster.

Modern Classics, a greasy spoon cafe with Mod memorabilia, closed a couple of years ago. Has remained empty ever since.

Lincolnshire Live, claimed a mystery it was closed. Not really, lack of customers. Maybe hacks should get out and about a bit more.

Bird’s Yard junk shop, rarely open, odd hours when it is open.

Vintage Clothes shop, rarely open no surprise it has closed.

Base Camp, an excellent coffee shop, closed over Christmas and New Year. No indication when open. It is for sale, maybe has already changed hands.

Bunty’s tea room, not open Christmas New Year. Former owner sold changed tack to distilling gin.

Harlequin Bookshop. An excellent bookshop or was. Now sitting derelict. The bookshop driven out of business by a greedy developer.

The shop below Harlequin Bookshop sitting empty and gutted.

Bookstop Cafe closed over Christmas and New Year.

Imperial Teas, excellent for tea, also coffee and chocolate, tea and coffee making paraphernalia. The rare exception open over Christmas and New Year, as a result a steady stream of customers. The other big difference, focus on quality and service, the staff and owners know their tea and coffee.

Pimento tea rooms. Once an excellent tea shop, served tea from Imperial Teas. New owners took over and destroyed within six months. Yet more new owners have taken over, but will remain closed until sometime in the New Year, thus missing the Christmas New Year trade. An unhelpful notice on the window tells passers by to check social media for when open, but looks no time soon.

Widow Cullens Well Closed. Premises gutted.

The Old Mouse House Cheese Shop & Coffee Bar, previous tea shop closed and gutted. Fake cheddar cheese, tea pigs, Stokes coffee. How long will it survive?

If pass through into Bailagate, Bailgate Deli serving undrinkable coffee supplied by Lincoln Tea and Coffee illustrating why we need a latte levy. Customers sat outside drinking from takeaway cups. Not open part of the Christmas New Year season or closed early.

Pass through Bailgate to Coffee by the Arch, was for sale, sale agreed, buyer pulled a dirty trick, offered half the agreed price as contracts were due to be signed.

Down in the town centre, Sincil Street has fared even worse. Once, busier than the High Street between ten in the morning and four in the afternoon. A street lined with indie businesses in Victorian buildings, trashed by the local council in bed with the local Coop.

Each time a local businesses collapses, there is less reason to visit a street, more businesses collapse, a domino effect. And this collapse can destroy a street, as we have seen in Sincil Street and are now starting to see in The Strait and on Steep Hill.

It does not have to be, poor town centre planning, lack of understanding of how local economies function, clueless individuals.

Internet and on-line shopping get the blame.

It is not why High Street chains are failing, they are failing due to piss-poor service. Their answer to on-line, cut service, treat customers with contempt, and enter a death spiral.

We have seen HMV collapse, the first casualty of the New Year. And yet indie record stores, for example Ben’s Records in Guildford, Resident in North Laine in Brighton, are doing well.

But, as one young lady running a business on Steep Hill told me, she never enters a shop, buys everything on-line, she added the same was true of all her friends.

Indy businesses cannot compete on price, they can only remain in business on quality and service, something many on The Strait and Steep Hill fail to comprehend, and thus do not remain in business for long.

If you open a coffee shop serving poor quality coffee worse than the corporate chains, cut corners, buy cheap catering supply coffee, do not invest in equipment or people, open a cheese shop selling poor quality cheese will find in the Coop, are rarely open or keep irregular hours, then on hiding to nothing and will not survive for long, and will join the 80% of businesses that fail within their first 18 months.

It does not though have to be. North Laine in Brighton, three long streets similar to Sincil Street, side streets, quirky indie businesses, bookshops, coffee shops, fashion shops, music shops, little restaurants, always busy, not a chain in sight.

Indie businesses provide a sense of place, they recycle money within a local economy, employ people, but no help or support from local council.

V60 and Om Nom at Outpost Coffee

December 27, 2018

In indie coffee shops, not only excellent coffee very often interesting reading material.

I came across Om Nom in Magazine Brighton. Then when I came across again later in the day in Infinity Foods I decided to pick up a copy, On Nom issue 3.

Issue no 2, long sold out.

The day after the longest day, the Saturday before Christmas, I decided to try my luck in Ideas on Paper in Nottingham, as always keeps back issues. I was out of luck, issue 3 but no earlier issues.

They did though have latest issue of Standart and Ambrosia.

Then another idea, Outpost Coffee. I had seen Om Nom on display on a previous visit. I may be in luck. And I would have as always an excellent V60 from one of their single origin coffees.

At first I thought I was out of luck, not on display, then I noticed more reading material tucked away on a shelf. I was in luck, not only a copy, they kindly gave me their copy.

As always an excellent V60 served in ceramic.

The ceramic cup, Åoomi dust ceramic coffee mug, is on sale at Outpost Coffee.

Good Taste Lincolnshire

December 26, 2018

Lincolnshire is an agricultural county, the second largest county in the country. One would expect quality producers.

Lincoln is the County Town. Odd then, a market town with no market. Odd then, a farmers market in the High Street with less than half a dozen stalls.

When wandering around it can be helpful to have a guide, though I prefer to go where my legs take me and discover not be led.

Good Taste Lincolnshire is a magazine which one assumes promotes the best the county has to offer. Only it does not.

It also hands out Taste of Excellence awards. Which only serves to emphasise what I have been saying for some time, so many awards that can get an award for almost anything these days, that the awards have become worthless, marketing scams nothing more.

One of the worst examples of awards is the Great Taste Awards. A meaningless award, not to say that what is is stuck on is not quality, but no guarantee it is.

Looking through the listings of Good Taste Lincolnshire, many many omissions that should be there, many many inclusions that should not be there.

Lincoln has three excellent coffee shops, Coffee Aroma, Madame Waffle and Makushi aka Base Camp on Steep Hill. Only one gets a listing, and yet several other coffee shops listed.

Redhill Farm Shop a quality butcher in Bailgate (they also have a stall on the Lincoln farmers market in the High Street) get a listing but not Andersons an excellent butcher in Heighington, one of the best in the country.

Elite fish restaurant, excellent fish n chips, again one of the best in the country, and yet no listing.

Many chains are listed. Utterly bizarre a promotional piece for Cosy Club, a chain, a fake 1930s bar so fake it is a Monty Python parody of fake.

White Hart serves excellent food and yes, deserves a mention.

On the other hand, The Cheese Society, the place for high quality cheese, with staff who know their cheese, not a  mention. Though Cote Hill Cheese which they sell does have a mention.

Nor a mention of the excellent fishmonger in Lincoln Central Market.

Food and Drinks Awards are presented if not hosted by Taste of Excellence.

One of the sponsors Lincoln Tea and Coffee. One of the recipients of an award, for Tea or Coffee Shop of the Year, Coffee Bobbins, a mere coincidence is supplied by Lincoln Tea and Coffee. What beggars belief, Lincoln Tea and Coffee awarded Wholesaler of the Year. Oh, and just when you think it could not get any worse, Lincoln Tea and Coffee supplied the tea and coffee for the fifty quid a head award ceremony.

The coffee supplied to Coffee Bobbins, which according to the their website, is an exclusive blend for Bailgate Deli, which they describe as a speciality coffee shop. They claim to only supply the best quality products.

At The Lincoln Tea and Coffee Company, our philosophy has always been that we only supply the best quality products and service to our customers.

We supply a wide range of fabulous teas and coffees of the highest quality, as well as creating bespoke blends for that added wow factor! We make our coffee and tea just for our clients.

Our coffee is roasted and packaged to a very high standard.

We constantly receive comments on how fresh our coffee is when bags are opened. This places us at the top of our industry.

We were approached by Barry when he was at the initial stages of setting up a specialised coffee shop in spring 2016. After initial discussions and listening to his business plan, we quickly started to get a picture of Barry’s vision for the Bailgate Deli, a vegan and vegetarian café/deli in Lincoln’s Cathedral Quarter.

We worked together to come up with the right espresso coffee blend and range of fine leaf teas and discussed the coffee equipment and skills that would be needed. In one day of Barista training, Barry quickly picked up coffee making skills he could start to build on and he soon discovered he had a fine palate for tasting when a coffee was just right.

You could not make up this bullshit if you tried. The coffee supplied to Bailgate Deli and Coffee Bobbins, Sweet Brazil Blend, neither has exclusivity as claimed, is some of the worst coffee I have encountered, over roasted to the point of being burnt, broken beans. Coffee usually has a pleasant aroma, this coffee smells disgusting. Far from being quality freshly roasted coffee, the bags had no roast date, this coffee is is low grade commodity coffee. They are not even coffee roasters, they buy in and bag. And no, they are not top of the industry, bottom of yes, top of no. One day of training does not a barista make (and if in any doubt visit Bailgate Deli and order a coffee, though I recommend not). Bailgate Deli is not a speciality coffee shop. No surprise then, the coffee served in Bailgate Deli and Coffee Bobbins undrinkable.

We have a host of bandwagons people jumping on, craft beer, coffee shops, coffee roasting and now gin.

Day after shortest day in Nottingham

December 22, 2018

Sunny morning, tempted to go to York, but thought trains will be busy, people heading for Christmas Holidays, had not checked train times. Luckily I did not as Northern Fail were on strike, as were Southern Railways.

Was not sure if would even make the train, as yesterday Lincoln grid-locked.

1140 two-coach East Midlands train Lincoln to Nottingham, packed, standing room only, drunken yobs. More people pile on at Newark.

I usually avoid town centres on a Saturday, as seem to attract every idiot around. What was I doing travelling to Nottingham on a Saturday a couple of days before Christmas?

I looked in H Hopkinson next to the station. Amazing building full of junk.

Hops Coffee House and Bar appear to have upped their game since my last visit. Now using sunset espresso Stewarts of Trent Bridge but whether any good I do not know. They now need to up their game still further, employ a barista, someone who knows coffee, cappuccino served in too large a cup with chocolate dumped in top. They also need to ditch the output of chemical factories on tap and serve only craft beer.

Hops Coffee House and Bar appear to have expanded since my last visit, and were busy. Live train times displayed on the wall a good idea. But has this been at the expense of The Wonderland Cafe, a surreal, Alice in Wonderland tea shop which was hidden in the basement which sadly is no more?

To 200 Degrees around the corner from Nottingham Station overlooking Nottingham Canal for lunch.

Parsnip and honey soup a strange combination. Parsnip already sweet, why add honey? I could not though detect honey had been added.

200 Degrees was unusually quiet for lunchtime, maybe because weekend, though did fill up as I was leaving.

200 Degrees is excellent for lunch, but not for coffee, the coffee at best mediocre. The coffee on sale last few visits has always been old coffee, today they had upped their game and recent roast date. The espresso blend has robusta.

In the town centre, an ice skating rink and Christmas sheds selling tat and disgusting junk food.

An insult to cheesemakers, cheese claiming to be Great British Cheese, the smell was off putting.

To Ideas on Paper, my only reason for visiting Nottingham. I had hoped he had Om Nom issue 2, as he always keeps back copies of everything. Sadly not.

Outside I found a lady. I know not why I dragged her in. To my surprise, Ideas on Paper busy. I am usually the only visitor. The owner looked out of his depth.

As the lady had asked me about coffee shops, I recommended Cartwheel Coffee, The Speciality Coffee Shop, Wired and Outpost Coffee, I mentioned Standart and Drift. I also found for her Om Nom and Ambrosia. She was suitably impressed and thanked me especially as at a stroke I had solved Christmas presents for her.

I picked up latest Ambrosia and latest Standart.

Before Ideas on Paper I had looked in Think in Cobden Chambers. Pop up shops, or at least a few tables. Better quality tat than in the Christmas sheds.

Every time I pass by Wired, I pop in to say hello. Today, I decided to have a coffee. As on my last visit who I wished to see not there.

Cappuccuno ok, but not great.

Second good deed of the day. I helped someone looking for coffee.

I noticed James Hoffman has second edition of The World Atlas of Coffee.

To Outpost Coffee for V60.

My other reason for visiting Outpost Coffee, Om Nom issue No 2. Not on display. More hidden on a shelf. Could I buy? Had it been Drift or Standart, the answer would have been no. They kindly gave it to me.

It was then time to catch 1621 train, earlier than I usually leave, which I just made.

Luckily, train not crowded.

At Lincoln, gridlock at the barriers.

Cappuccino at Craft Coffee

December 20, 2018

I emerged wrong entrance from King’s Cross Underground, but had an advantage. I emerged to find Craft Coffee.

Craft Coffee a kiosk down the side of King’s Cross Station, between King’s Cross and St Pancras serves one of the best cappuccinos in London.

If passing through King’s Cross, always worth setting aside extra time to visit Craft Coffee, to stop, relax and have a coffee. Note relax, not grab it and go, relax and enjoy.

My cappuccino, the best since Athens, and that is high praise indeed.

Coffee, La Vega, a Colombian single origin, an exclusive roast for Craft Coffee from nearby Notes.

Notes is nearby, literally a couple of minutes walk across the open space.

Also worth setting aside extra time when passing through King’s Cross to visit the Street Food Market in front of King’s Cross Station, especially the Borough Cheese Company cheese stall.

Cold misty afternoon in Guildford

December 14, 2018

A cold afternoon. In Guildford not misty, but looking down the High Street to North Downs across the valley shrouded in mist.

It used to be if saw any reusable coffee cups it was Keep Cup, then inferior clones of Keep Cup started to appear, and now one clone ecoffee cup is starting to dominate, only it is not that simple.

What is ecoffee, is it a company making coffee cups with a horrible rubbery, actually silicone, surround and lid, or is it several different companies, all buying from the same Chinese factory branded under their name?

So far

POLŪ Coffee Lab variety dark blue, logo on the rubbery surround, ecoffee FCB Coffee version multicoloured, logo on the rubbery surround.

Discussing this with both Coffee Lab and FCB coffee, why logo on the rubbery surround, which many remove as serves no useful purpose, would not it better to be on the cup, after all coffee shops put their name on the cup for takeaway throwaway cups (though I have never understood the logic of wishing to put ones name on trash that is littering the environment)?

We assumed cost, same cup, different bands. Though on reflection this makes no sense, as all the cups are different multicoloured cups. Though that raises questions on the dyes used. Maybe it is copying Keep Cup, the logo on the surround.

There are further questions, sustainable bamboo, compostable?

Crossing the road from Guildford Station to the River Wey, Harris + Hoole demonstrating why we need a latte levy.

Descending down to the River Wey to walk along the river into the town centre a noticeable drop in temperature.

Looking in Harris + Hoole, fairly busy, usually nearly empty. Since takeover by Caffe Nero they probably attract those who frequent the corporate chains, as they have lost any kudos they once had as a specialty coffee shop.

Looked in Food for Thought. Serving a disgusting concoction to drink. I suggested they check the Christmas farmers market on Tuesday. If Chimney Fire Coffee have a stall, talk to them about stocking their coffee.

As always excellent lunch in Bamboo Shoots.

On leaving, now very cold.

As always Surrey Hills coffee shop empty. Well OK, two customers, as good as empty.

By contrast, Krema as always busy. I am lucky to find a table.

I have a cappuccino followed by a V60.

V60 at Flat Whites

December 13, 2018

Flat Whites since it opened a little over a year ago has very rapidly acquired a reputation both for serving excellent coffee and for acting as a coffee curator with their guest coffee.

Flat Whites was already familiar to many as a little van, strictly speaking a pod, in the High Street in Winchester. It took over the spot once occupied by Jimmy Bean.

It was to Flat Whites I headed on a cold wintry December afternoon. As much to get warm as for a coffee.

I was too late for a coffee. I stayed and had a chat in the warm whilst closing.

Then someone calls in and has a V60. I too get a V60.

Guest coffee this month Assembly.

Assembly won coffee roasting championship this year in the UK. I have tried their excellent coffee before at Kiosk in York.

The elite in the coffee world is a small world.

At The Speciality Coffee Shop I found Gardelli as guest. Last year they won the world coffee roasting.

In October, The Underdog, winners of Greek coffee roasting championship.

In October I met at Manor House No 2 world latte art champion  Michalis Karagiannis who kindly served me a cappuccino.

The barista who served me at Flat Whites knew Michalis Karagiannis. He told me when Michalis was in London on holiday, he kindly stepped in and judged a latte art competition.

Flat Whites is located in a courtyard in Parchment Street. Easy to find, walk up Winchester High Street, past the Flat Whites van, turn right at the corner where located WHSmith.

If in Winchester on a Wednesday, a street food market in the High Street, and close by the Flat Whites kiosk an excellent cheeses stall.

V60 at The Espresso Room

December 9, 2018

Saturday in London, looking forward to a V60, I detour to The Espresso Room, which luckily I find still open.

Too late to eat at Home Slice in Neal’s Yard, Saturday evening there will be a long wait as very popular, I go on a detour to The Espresso Room, which I find open, open until seven.

I abandon all hope of eating at Home Slice, as there will be a long wait.

They remember me, I get a free coffee, as bought a bag of coffee on my last visit.

A Lithuanian girl makes me V60 using Kemyan coffee. Excellent. Best coffee all day. Very fruity.

We chat long gone closing time.

Available free Clipper. An example of a free magazine of quality. Comparable with Independent Life, a free magazine in Leeds and York.

On my last visit I was given direction to a shop selling Standart, Drift. I could not find. I followed directions, head down Monmouth Street to Seven Dials.

I learn a vital piece of information was missing, in Shorts Gardens.