Archive for the ‘NotoCosta’ Category

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 socials 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.

Reclaim the Streets Soho

June 3, 2020

The impact of covid-19 has hit everyone hard, every sector, but none so hard as the hospitality sector, with no sign yet of when they may be able to open.

Look at Soho, boarded-up streets and unless action is taken soon, they will remain boarded-up. And unlike airlines and travel sector which spread covid-19, are victims.

And yet it should not have been. Opening up too soon, relaxing lockdown, will create a second wave, but there was absolutely no reason why indie coffee shops and restaurants, not chains, could have not opened up in May, the weather was ideal, opened up with their tables and chairs spread well spaced apart in the street to maintain social distancing.

What has stopped this happening is the intransigence of local councils who would rather see local businesses die than give them a helping hand.

We can hear birdsong, streets are traffic free, city centres pollution free.

Covid-19 has jolted us into another now.

There can be no return to normal as normal was not normal.

Time to Reclaim the Streets.

Pedestrianise not only Soho but also Covent Garden, leaving only the arterial routes for through traffic. Deliveries park on the periphery, deliver by hand cart or trolley.

Kick start the local economy, allow indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread their tables well spaced apart into the street, no chains no pubs No Smoking, social distancing maintained.

Win win for everyone, local businesses helped back on their feet, improves the ambience.

Soho Summer Festival:

We’re proposing that streets around Soho are temporarily pedestrianised, in order to allow restaurants and bars the space for outdoor seating. This would allow the public to enjoy the Soho we know and love, while maintaining a safe social distance.

The norm in Athens, local streets at night turn into restaurants.  The Mayor of Athens is extending the pedestrianised streets.

The norm in North Laine in Brighton, coffee shops and restaurants, tables in the street. Brighton is extending its pedestrianised streets.

This does not require a change in licencing laws, it does require a change in the mindset of local jobsworths who would rather see local businesses go to the wall than improve the ambience of our city centres.

An initiate to Reclaim the Streets in Soho has been launched, an initiative dubbed the Soho Summer Festival. Initially pedestrianise the area for the summer. 

Once the summer has passed, it should be made permanent.

Reclaim the Streets

May 16, 2020

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.

The first businesses to reopen coffee shops, tables outside, social distancing maintained,  dwell time relatively short.

To achieve this, coffee shops need to be able to spread out into the streets, out into the squares, the norm in Athens, indeed the norm across Europe, when one coffee shop in Lincoln requested this they received an emphatic no from Lincolnshire County Council, not even the courtesy of an explanation.

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).

Kick starting the local economy, improving the ambience, worthless council jobsworths don’t give a damn.

Our High Streets were dying before the covid-19 pandemic. The loss of Big Business, corporate chains, from the High Street is no great loss, it was destroying the High Street. If we are to recover it will be through small local independent businesses.  That is why we must allow indie coffee shops, and only indie coffee shops not chains, next restaurants, to expand into the streets. Not pubs and bars as we do not want drunks on the streets.

Local businesses spreading into public space helps everyone, safeguarding staff and clientele through social distancing, improves the ambience of the locality, especially if No Smoking, and for many local businesses it will mean life or death, the difference whether they survive or not.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has recognised people are going to be reluctant to use public transport  therefore we have to encourage walking and cycling if we do not wish traffic levels to rise. But if wishes to improve cycling and walking, must also make our city centres more attractive by encouraging local councils to facilitate indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread out into our streets.

Deliveries to the pedestrianised areas,  park on the periphery and deliver by handcart or trolley.

Sheffield, an unusual city in that prior to the covid-19 pandemic a city on the up, a marked contrast to most decaying cities. And why? Independent businesses everywhere.

BBC Radio 4 The Food Programme recently featured Sheffield, the focus on how indie food businesses were bringing life back to Sheffield. With the exception of Marmadukes I would not agree with their choice of examples, but the gist yes. I could list several examples, South Street Kitchen, Marmadukes, Steam YardSheffield Cheese Masters, Bullion bean to bar craft chocolate, ShuJu Taiwanese pop-up kitchen at Union St.

Mention also needs to be made of Now Then, an indie magazine that features local culture and indie businesses, interesting articles and art, well worth seeking out.

Through reclaiming the streets, we are operating at the interface between business, environment and society, a component part of Doughnut Economics, where the local economy is designed to be regenerative and distributive, with people and the environment at its heart.  We kick cars out of our town centres, we plant trees, we improve the ambience, we create a space where local businesses and communities can thrive, breathe clean air, or simply relax with a  good coffee, read a book, sit and watch the world go by.

One of my favourite places to sit and relax, Little Tree, a bohemian bookshop cum coffee shop, not far from The Acropolis.

In Exarchia, an anarchist district of Athens, they set up road blocks, boxes with plants,  created traffic free zones. The city authorities also act, they are extending the pedestrianised areas around The Acropolis.

Waterstone’s the J D Wetherspoon of the book trade

March 22, 2020

Boss of J D Wetherspoon Tim Martin was more than happy to put staff and clientele at risk by forcing sick staff into work under threat of no sick pay.

The same irresponsible attitude, encouraging going to the pub, failure to heed advice on social distancing.

Waterstone’s are showing the same contempt for staff and customers during coronavirus crisis. No ban on cash, no hand sanitiser, no social distancing. Office staff sent home, staff in book shops forced to carry on working.

Waterstone’s where greed rules ok. There should be hand sanitiser by the door, everyone walking in required to use. Contactless card only. Close early at three every day. This was the norm in Sheffield last week.

Contrast last week with Steam Yard coffee shop in Sheffield. Hand sanitiser by the door, close at three.

Or contrast with fish n chip restaurant Elite on the Bail, restaurant closed takeaway at the back, social distancing, hand sanitiser on offer to use.

Waterstone’s destroyed Ottakar’s. I had hoped James Daunt may improve, but no. Still the rubbish dumped by publishers piled on tables, staff treated badly.

Why is it always the big corporate chains that treat their staff badly?

Indie coffee shops as always leading the way. Coffee served in takeaway cups, no reusable cups, hand sanitiser by the door.

Talking to an employee of 200 Degrees a small coffee shop chain before they were forced to close, she said refusal to put hand sanitiser by the door, no interest in health and safety of staff or customers.

When the ban on pubs, bars, coffee shops came in, I walked down Lincoln High Street, indie coffee shops closed, Caffe Nero and Starbucks open.

Use contactless card. I prefer cash, cash is anonymous, cards are traced and tracked, inflate profits of banks, but these are not normal times, cash is dirty. Similarly, good coffee is to be appreciated, sit and relax with coffee served in ceramic or glass, but not normal times, takeaway protects staff and customers, minimises contamination.

Support your local indie bookshop

  • P&G Wells – Winchester
  • Lindum Books – Lincoln
  • Blue Bear Bookshop – Farnham
  • Ideas on Paper – Nottingham

and indie coffee shops

  • Marmadukes – Sheffield
  • Steam Yard – Sheffield
  • The Specialty Coffee Shop – Nottingham
  • Cartwheel Coffee – Nottingham
  • Outpost Coffee – Nottingham
  • Madame Waffle – Lincoln
  • Coffee Aroma – Lincoln
  • Krema – Farnham and Guildford
  • Coffee Lab – Winchester

By no means an exhaustive list.

Tuesday of last week, UK was two weeks behind Italy, one week behind Spain, with one big difference, Italy and Spain already had measures in place before they introduced ever tighter measures. In UK, too little, too late.

If you wish for something to read, stuck at home, read an e-book.

Paulo Coelho has made available several of his books for free download.

Something other writers and filmmakers could do.

Mark Thomas has made available for almost free download one of his shows (he asks make a donation to a food bank).

When Primark, McDonald’s announced they are closing, we know it is game up.

Waterstone’s announced they were closing. But will staff get paid. Staff who were off sick, suspected covid-19, told to take out of their annual leave.

James Daunt the Tim Martin of the book trade. Shops closed but more likely no one on the streets, no one buying books, shops losing money, than consideration for the well being of staff and customers. Plus with shops closed staff on furlough government will pay 80% of their salary

But what does this say of Pepsi Trump? China gave us time, we squandered it. Tuesday of last week UK was two weeks behind Italy, one week behind Spain. With one big difference, both countries had measures in place, and have since tightened those measures. It was sporting bodies which decided to close, led the way. Now it is shops closing, taking the initiative. Still no lockdown of London. Bars and pubs serving drinks.

Cappuccino Stokes at The lawn

March 3, 2020

Usually I take coffee in for Mike to try, but today raining, I let Mike select a coffee.

Try this Colombian.

Aroma was that of chocolate, milk chocolate, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.

OK I know it is not chocolate, fat and sugar. Read the label if do not believe me. Cadbury’s do not claim it to be chocolate.

A moot point Stokes at The Lawn. Please stock quality bean-to-bar chocolate.

Bullion and Luisa’s would be good starting point, maybe add Bare Bones.

I digress.

Mike brewed a cappuccino.

Fruity, very different to the aroma.

And not usual for a cappuccino, improved as it cooled, more akin to behaviour of a V60.

The roast less a light roast, though was a light roast, but instead of lowering roast temperature reduced the length of roast.

Happy Coffee Bike

February 22, 2020

Spend fours hours travelling up from Kent, pay £400 for a pitch to stand in the cold to serve LavAzza coffee at a junk food travelling circus in Lincoln.

Masochistic.

To say the least I felt very sorry for the young Romanian lady whose stall it was, her very first outing with her coffee trike.

I doubt she covered her travel costs, let alone cost of the pitch, cost of overnight stay.

Who conned her into this ridiculous venture?

She had not worked in coffee, knew nothing about coffee.

Why serve LavAzza when High Street lined with coffee shops serving bad coffee?

She was frozen. I offered to take her for a coffee to have the chance to warm up and drink a decent coffee.  But she could not leave her stall.

I advised she checked out coffee roasteries in Sussex, and to attend the Brighton Coffee Festival in August.

Coffee by the Arch revisited

February 19, 2020

Since my last visit some time ago, Coffee by the Arch has changed owners. It had been for sale for some time. New owners took over 20 days ago.

On my last visit, service was so bad, I gave up waiting and walked out. And what I saw of coffee served not worth waiting. The coffee sourced not good.

Very little has changed, and not improved.

Service still bad, clueless on coffee.

Long wait before served with a cappuccino carpet bombed with chocolate.

I took it back. Second attempt not much better. All I can say in its favour is that I have had worse.

The coffee supplied by Limini, suppliers of catering supply coffee to the trade. Says all need to know about Limini when they supply syrups.

There is no excuse for sourcing cheap low quality coffee, or for not employing skilled baristas.

Local try Seven Districts. But would need to employ a barista to get the best out of their coffee.

I have never understood why anyone opens or buys a coffee shop when knows nothing about coffee.

Depressing, in a good location and could be an excellent little coffee shop.