Archive for the ‘NotoCosta’ Category

Blend

January 17, 2020

Blend coffee shop located in Steinton Market is the retail arm of coffee roastery Stewarts of Trent Bridge which is also located at Steinton Market.

And so it was to Steinton Market, an area of Nottingham I had never visited before.

Sneinton Market fairly easy to find, head off straight down the street from Wired. The further I walked down the street the seedier it became.

Google Maps says five minutes, more like ten minutes. Though I did pop in Bookwise on the way. Never miss up the opportunity to look in a second hand bookshop.

Steinton Market something of a disappointment. I was expecting a vibrant market like Trinity Market in Hull. I was also expecting fruit and vegetable stalls. But no, revamped units, now let to small businesses and start ups by the local council. A good idea. Though nearly everything appeared to be closed. And the area was dead, literally no one about.

I then happened upon Luisa’s bean-to-bar craft chocolate, the jewel in the crown of Sneinton Market.

I popped in, but at a delicate process. I am asked can I pop back? No problem. I am off to Blend coffee shop, I will return a little later.

Sneinton Market is three rows of long low outbuildings. In the second row I find a craft brewery. I pop in. Not open to visitors, but I walk in anyway. I buy a can of expensive IPA, only a choice of two. I don’t like cans, I prefer beer in bottles.

In the third row I find Stewarts of Trent Bridge, a coffee roastery. Again I pop in. I am kindly shown around, not that there is a lot to see apart from a Probat coffee roaster.

Then to Blend, a coffee shop, the retail outlet for the coffee roastery.

Open and airy, like a warehouse, but smell of frying bacon not so good, nor the loud unpleasant music, too loud. I was surprised how busy.

For an outlet for a coffee roastery not exactly showcasing their coffee, a single origin, not at all obvious, appears to be a blend that changes monthly and the house blend.

I asked for a cappuccino. As far as I could tell, no pour over on offer, or if there was not obvious as I did not see.

I was asked what size? Show me the cups. I asked for the correct size. Then a silly conservation ensues, told it is personal preference. No, there is only one size for a cappuccino, the correct size. It is always best to keep quiet than display ones ignorance. And if do not know, do not wish to know, then get out of coffee.

My coffee is brought blended with chocolate.

No, a cappuccino does not have chocolate, ether blended or dumped on top.

I take it back, ask for a cappuccino with no chocolate. I should not have to ask. I should be asked. And a good coffee shop would not ask as they would not dream of insulting clientele with chocolate.

What is brought is not good. OK, but not good. Lukewarm, mediocre at best. Marginally better than 200 Degrees, which is a very low bar to exceed.

It was then back to Luisa’s where an interesting conversation on chocolate ensued.

In essence Blend a greasy spoon cafe serving mediocre coffee. The food I did not try, and if I wished to eat from what I saw there are better places to eat Taste and Ugly Bread Bakery which are nearby heading back into the centre of Nottingham.

The coffee for a greasy spoon cafe better than would expect but not to the standard of a coffee shop, especially one showcasing what a roastery has to offer. Not in the same league as Outpost Coffee, Wired, Cartwheel Coffee or The Specialty Coffee Shop.

Carluccio’s

December 27, 2019

A chain eatery, thus my expectations were low, and they were not exceeded.

I was only there because Madame Waffle opposite closed and a friend had said the coffee was good (I think she was taking the piss).

Soulless as would expect from a chain eatery.

Cappuccino ordered. Served with chocolate on top.

Why oh why does no one know do not put chocolate on top of a cappuccino? Not unless trying to disguise that is crap coffee. At the very least ask. And a good coffee shop would not dream of asking as would not wish to insult their clientele.

Cappuccino taken back.

Next attempt, oddly in a different cup, not good, cheap catering supply coffee.

A young fellow asked how was my drink? I said not good, very poor compared with Madame Waffle where can get an excellent cup of coffee. He scowled and walked off. Why ask if do not wish to be told the truth?

It was then to Coffee Aroma for a decent cup of coffee.

Pino

December 27, 2019

A greasy spoon cafe with pleasant decor.

Location is wrong for two reasons.

  • On a corner of a busy junction, no outside seating, if there was too polluted.
  • Within spitting distance of two greasy spoon cafes, two corporate chains serving disgusting undrinkable coffee.

Bread sourced from Iceland.

Coffee sourced from LavAzza. .

Layout poor, too much space devoted to their serving counter reducing the seating area.

Ambience not pleasant, mainly due to poor layout and hard surfaces, very noisy, impossible to relax.

LavAzza therefore my expectations were low, and they were not exceeded. Cappuccino with chocolate dumped on top sent back, second coffee undrinkable. All the classic mistakes, including coffee scalding hot.

Why oh why does no one know do not put chocolate on top of a cappuccino? Not unless trying to disguise that is crap coffee. At the very least ask. And a good coffee shop would not dream of asking as would not wish to insult their clientele.

No water brought to the table, nor could I see water on display to help oneself to.

The norm in Athens, as soon as sit down, ice cold water brought to the table. It is called service.

Ibriks on display. For show? To my surprise they served Turkish coffee. Though the bed of sand not large enough. I did not try.

Poor use of social media. Facebook, a message box pops up even though may have no wish to post a message. If do, lack the courtesy to reply.

Maybe would have got away with opening a greasy spoon cafe serving undrinkable coffee ten years ago, not now, the world has moved on, and if wish to drink undrinkable coffee have the corporate chains, two of which Caffe Nero and Costa are located nearby.

The market is saturated. If opening these days have to serve quality coffee, quality food, otherwise on a hiding to nothing. Source coffee from local roasteries Stokes or Seven Districts but God forbid not from Lincoln Tea and Coffee, cakes and bread from a local bakery.

Bricked-up windows opened up have improved a red-brick Victorian building, but why the grief and hassle by the local council, three months delay for a resolution? If going to give grief give for the garish entrance out of character with the building not the windows. The same council with not a clue what constitutes good town centre design, the town centre trashed, ugly buildings, binge drinking bars.

La Pila de Guatemala

December 17, 2019

La Pila a honey process coffee from Guatemala roasted by The Underdog.

Try different baristas, different coffee shops.

Stokes at The Lawn, as always I let Mike choose brewing method, I chose cappuccino and V60, Mike decided on French press.

My reason for trying a cappuccino, had been roasted to suit espresso,

At first I thought cafetiere, but as cooled easily the V60. The cappuccino not so good.

Beautiful colour the V60. Taste of fruits and wine.

All agreed, Nick, Mike and myself, excellent coffee.

Almost a month on, retry La Pila at Stokes at The Lawn. Usually I let Mike choose, today, as roasted for espresso, I chose, cappuccino and V60. Mike chose a flat white.

The classic cappuccino, rarely achieved, smooth and creamy. Not so, but nevertheless interesting fruity notes making the cappuccino an interesting drink. I was very much reminded of cappuccino at Makushi with their own light roast.

The V60 a disappointment, OK hot but not good as it cooled.

Mike said his flat white excellent.

Next, a few days later, The Specialty Coffee Shop. Again I chose, a cappuccino.

Not the classic smooth creamy, nevertheless interesting with fruity notes.

What was now left of the bag of coffee beans I gave as a gift to Michelangelo.

Special thanks to Mike barista at Stokes at The Lawn and Mohammad barista at The Speciality Coffee Shop.

Rodolfo and Reina are the proud owners of the La Pila farm. Rodolfo has basically been in coffee for his whole life. When he was young, he used to work on farms as a coffee picker to earn money. And when he was 25 years old, he inherited a plot of land from his father, so that he could start his own farm business.

Little by little he managed to make steps ahead, increase the volume of his coffee, and invest in another plot of land. He names his farm ‘La Pila’, which is a tank for water in this context, as he found a small water source on his farm. He made a small cement tank and decided to use this as a reference for his farm. Water is very scarce and precious in this region.

Rodolfo is very eager to improve the practices on his farm, to keep learning and innovating. He’d like to have a soil analysis done at his farm, so to optimize the root and foliar systems of his plants with adequate nutrition. He also plans to keep investing in the processing area. He came up with a genius system to depulp the coffee with a bicycle! Since 2017 we are working with him on honey and natural processing and are thrilled by the results.

La Pila single origin honey process, location Santa Ana la Montaña, Fraijanes, farmer Rodolfo Garcia, var yellow catuai, altitude 1750m, taste notes molasses, maple syrup, blackcurrant, roasted at The Underdog.

Cultivate

December 10, 2019

Hidden down a side street off the top of the High Street.

Not open, though according to a sign positioned for dogs to read was open.

Lincoln Pier Café

December 9, 2019

From St Mark’s, tried to find Lincoln Pier Café on Lincoln University campus. The Students Union pointed me in the direction of a thin sliver of land between the railway line and Brayford.

Good view of Lincoln Cathedral across the Brayford and of Azuma passing by as pulled into Lincoln Central.

Too many universities take the easy option, grant corporate chains concessions serving disgusting coffee on the campus.

Lincoln University has opened its own independent coffee shop Lincoln Pier Café, invested in the equipment, employed skilled baristas, then let the whole show down by sourcing poor quality coffee.

My coffee was made by one of the best baristas in Lincoln, but it was not great, on a par with what I would find in 200 Degrees.

94 Degrees roasted by Roastology, Sheffield based and yet I have never come across in Sheffield.

Lincoln Pier Café a classic example of

Don’t spoil the ship for a ha’porth of tar

The ambience was that of a morgue.

No takeaway coffee cups. Cuts down on litter, good for the environment. Bring own barista friendly cup or buy a takeaway cup. The cups are made from rice husks. Therein lies a potential problem. German research has shown ecoffee cups made from waste bamboo release toxins when filled with hot liquids and cannot be recycled. There needs to be a student research project to replicate the German research with ecoffee cups including these rice husk coffee cups.

In the meantime use glass KeepCup. But why in any case would the University wish to associate its name with an inferior product?

I would not buy a bag of coffee, not when excellent coffee available in the city centre from Coffee Aroma or Madame Waffle. Nor would I go out my way to the University for a coffee for the same reason.

Amazing what can get away with with a captive audience.

Absolutely no excuse these days for sourcing poor quality catering supply coffee from a food and drinks company when spoilt for choice of quality coffee roasteries. But this is what happens when outsource catering and corners are cut to maximise profit.

No excuse when Seven Districts roast locally.

Staff, students and visitors deserve better, though compared with tax-dodging corporate chains serving vile disgusting undrinkable coffee a step in the right direction. But need to try harder, showcase what good coffee should be like, have guest coffees, but please do not cut corners with cheap catering supply coffee from a food  and drinks company.

Seven Districts

December 8, 2019

I happened upon Seven Districts, a stall in the grounds of Lincoln Castle on the first day of the Lincoln Christmas Market. A rare example of a quality stall on a very tacky Christmas market. I stopped by and had a chat.

Seven Districts, a coffee roastery based in Lincolnshire, one of the few local traders on the Lincoln Christmas Market.

The coffee is in eye catching bags, but, and it is a very big but.

A classic example of capture by a marketing company and falling hook, line and sinker for their bullshit.

We’re proud to be from Lincolnshire, where we sipped our first coffee, burnt our first bean and celebrated our first roast, perfecting our craft as we grew; naturally we wanted our own coffee to be inspired by our home.

Many-a-great tale have been shared over a cup of the ‘dark brew’ and doubtless many more will still be told; to carry the heart of our homeland to the world, we want you to enjoy yourself a cup inspired by the folk-lores woven throughout these Seven Districts of Lincolnshire.

Lincolnshire has seven districts, filled with ancient history, beautiful heritage and age-old folklores. We wanted to take some of these to the world and share their passion through the stories woven throughout our seven districts.

We’ve named each of our single origins after a folklore of the seven districts. We’ve then taken the uniqueness of each district and matched it with the profiles of the coffee roasts we produce.

For example Tiddy Mun is a fairy king  who used to inhabit the marshland around Boston until Charles I engaged Dutch civil engineers to drain the marshes. Which begs the question what has this to do with high altitude coffee grown in Rwanda? The simple answer is absolutely nothing. On the other hand could be one of the many tales associated with coffee in Ethiopia.

Gullible American tourists in a touristy shop on Steep Hill may fall for this bullshit but it is not doing the coffee any favours. Good coffee speaks for itself.

Ethically sourced meaningless. Fair Trade long past sell by date, marketing ploy to make Middle Class feel good. Fair Trade pays a tiny premium above commodity price, coffee is coffee, maintains farmers in poverty as no incentive to improve. Direct trade, coffee roasteries form long term partnerships with growers, help to improve quality quality, willing to pay a premium for quality. With Direct Trade everyone benefits, the farmers, the roastery, the coffee shop, the coffee drinker.

The bags Roman numerals, I to VII, seven districts of Lincolnshire. Each bag also has a name, and a little bit of local history. At least I thought each bag had a different Roman numeral, logical, but no, all VII, only the name is different.

Yes, well designed packaging, but if to be taken seriously the coffee has to have details of the coffee, not local history no matter how interesting that may be.

Coffee is seasonal. It does not help, different single origin packaged under the same name.

Every coffee bean has a story to tell, if telling a story, tell the story of the farm the coffee beans come from. This means a lot to the farmer.

Within the coffee industry have often discussed how much information to put on a bag, too much and turns people off, too little and not sufficient.

But as a bare  minimum, where sourced from. altitude, processing of beans, tasting notes and roast date. Maybe a little summary of where sourced from. More information may be provided via a qr code.

I can think of several coffee shops that regularly have in stock and serve guest coffee. Would they stock this coffee? No. The reason why, there is not the information on the bags their discerning customers expect to find.

A coffee shop where Seven Districts tried to peddle their wares was singularly unimpressed by their lack of knowledge of coffee.

Excellent advice in Businesses for Punks, do not waste money on marketing, do not engage marketing consultants, invest the money in your product.

Seven Districts have ably demonstrated why that advice is so valuable. They have poured money down the drain.

An artistically designed booklet. Try reading in anything other than strong daylight.

Marketing bullshit to one side, what of the beans, the roasting?

A Q grade in excess of 85. The roaster no previous experience in coffee roasting.

On the stall it was possible in not ideal conditions to try a not very well poured V60. It was ok, not great, nothing to get excited about. I do not know which of the seven coffees on display I was served.

I took away two bags of coffee, an Ethiopian and a Rwandan.

I await an expert brewing.

As I write a beautiful aroma from the Ethiopian, nothing from the Rwandan.

TOMS

December 4, 2019

Passing through Mitropoleos Square I pop in TOMS overlooking the square.

TOMS a weird set up, a coffee shop that is sells shoes and glasses and claims to provide a week’s supply of water to third world need for each cup of coffee sold.

I am always wary of these claims. Far better to work with farmers, improve quality, fetch a higher price for the coffee beans.

The coffee shop, their flag ship store (not that I have encountered any others), was serving coffee in paper takeaway cups, thus damaging the environment of the very people they claim to be trying to help. Also on sale e-coffee cups.

E-coffee cups have recently been embroiled in scandal. Toxins released from the cups into hot liquids, thus best avoided.

A lovely black cat had bagged a seat. At first does not appear to be friendly from the warning meow, but was friendly. Lost in translation.

I have a brief conversation with a man sat outside, even though now I am running late. He says ask next time I pass by, UK still in EU. He makes the point EU makes impossible for countries to leave a one way system, Hotel California, can check out but cannot leave.

He tells me I am paying too much heed to Yanis Varoufakis. Interesting as until that point, neither of us had mentioned Yanis Varoufakis by name, though we were very much discussing his ideas.

Mokka coffee shop

December 4, 2019

Having looked in their retail shop next door, which is also where the coffee is roasted, it is to Mokka for a coffee.

I watch Greek coffee brewed on a hot bed of sand.

Excellent cappuccino.

It is a pity the coffee shop does not at least have the single origin coffee on sale.

The retail shop closes early at 3-30 in the afternoon. I asked why so early? No demand later.

Located on a busy main road outside Athens Central Market in Omonia.

Very professional staff who take a pride in their coffee.

How many coffee shops visit where grinders dismantled and cleaned every two days, coffee vacuumed out every night, coffee beans put to bed and sealed every night.

Mokka fourth generation founded in the mid-1920s.

Mokka retail shop

December 4, 2019

Usually I am lucky to find Mokka coffee shop open.

As I am earlier than usual and find their retail shop is open, I first look in Mokka shop, it closes at 1530 and this is the only visit I find open.

Massive industrial grinders for their coffee fed from a large roasting machine above, also single origin on a smaller roaster though still large compared to most roasteries in England.

When I asked abut the single origin coffee, I found the staff to be very knowledgeable and helpful.

I chose a Costa Rican single origin coffee.

Then to Mokka coffee shop.

Mokka fourth generation founded in the mid-1920s.