Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Coffee blockchain and cryptocurrencies

May 25, 2018

Coffee is an agricultural product that passes through many hands from grower to picker to shipper to roaster until finally our barista turns our roasted coffee beans into that perfect cup of cofffee.

What can blockchain and cryptocurencies offer?

Coffee is the second most valuable traded commodity after oil.

The price of coffee is determined by speculators in London and New York.

Fairtrade coffee adds a small premium to the commodity price. In essence it maintains farmers in poverty as there is no incentive to improve the quality.

Direct trade offers a higher premium for quality. It relies on transparency as all parties have to trust the others in the chain. If I buy a bag of natural processed beans from a finca in El Salvador with a Q grade of 86, how can I be sure?

Blockchain superficially offers all the answers, blockchain offers trust, only it does not.

Kai Stinchcombe:

Blockchain systems do not magically make the data in them accurate or the people entering the data trustworthy, they merely enable you to audit whether it has been tampered with. A person who sprayed pesticides on a mango can still enter onto a blockchain system that the mangoes were organic.’Blockchain never has, never will, imply, infer or comfirm trust.

Blockchain protects the integrity of the data, each data block is linked to the previous datablock by crypotography.

Blockchain tells us nothing about the validity of the data, the trustworthiness of the data or of the person who was responsible for that data.

Trust comes from interpersonalrelationships.

Coffeeography documents the trust Stephen Leighton has built with the growers who he visits and buys his green beans from. He trusts them to deliver quality, they trust him to pay a fair price. When the beans reach Hasbean we trust Stephen Leighton to choose a roast profile to bring out the best the beans have to offer.

During the dot.com bubble we saw comanpanies increase in value merely by adding dot.com to their name. We are now seeing the same with blockchain, hype and little more.

Why do comanpanies need a blockchain, it is not easily adaptable? Therein lies its strength, it is immutable, what we need for a currency, that is why gold serves us well, it is immutable.

Though immutable is not quite the advantage it at first appears in a currency as it leads to hoarding and money is of no use if hidden in a cave, it has to be put to work in the economy.

Beans are shipped around the world, different currencies, fluctuating cuŕrency exchange rates, banks.

Cryotocurrencies, no exchange rates, no banks.

Bitcoin on energy grounds alone should be rejected, rejected that is if we care about climate change and its devastating impact on coffee growing.

Bitcoin fails to meet the criteria of a currency, as a medium of exchange not widely accepted, as a store of value it widely fluctuates.

CoffeeCoin for coffee. How many cryptocurencies do we need? Acceptability approaching zero. It is little more than an in-house trading token with a lot of hasssle.

FairCoin was developed to address the problems of Bitcoin. A cryptocurrency for coops around the world.

FairCoin is actually used in the real world. On a local autonomous street market in Heraklion in Greece FairCoin is in use.

FairCoin can act as a local currency, where indy coffee shops trade with other local businesses, as many already do, keeping money flowing within the local economy, whilst at the dame time we are providing support for direct trade.

FairCoin is backed by cooperatives in Catalonia. If speciality coffee shops use, encourage its use within their local economies, it will help support and stabilise the currency.

But a word of warning. Coffee growers already suffer speculators in the commodity market. We do not wish to expose them to further risk of cryptocurrency speculators.

Beware of snake oil salesmen.

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Cappuccino at Robustos

May 16, 2018

Following my visit to Robustos yesterday, I decided to revisit late afternoon today.

Today bearing gifts, copies of Caffeine, Cold Brew Coffee and guest coffees from Alchemy and The Barn.

George kindly brewed me a capuucino, one for him too, we then sat outside in conversation.

He surprised me when he said the espresso blend from Cup 10 contined a small percentage of Robusta, nevertheless the cappuccino was excellent.

Two Gingers Coffee House

May 5, 2018

Chatting with Caffeinated in Trinity Market, it was suggested I try two coffee shops, Thieving Harry’s and Two Gingers.

Pushed for time, Two Gingers was en route to Hull Station and so Two Gingers it was.

Two Gingers is located within Paragon Arcade.

No time for anything other than a cappuccino, which I am sorry to say I then poured into a takeaway cup (had I not I would have missed my train).

I noticed a copy of Coffee Shop North, to be told by the barista who served me, former head barista at Thieving Harry’s, that he was in it.

I thought he meant Two Gingers was one of the featured coffee shops. No, he was in it personally from his time at Thieving Harry’s.

A wide selection of coffee on offer.

Liquid Jade

May 5, 2018

Liquid Jade, hidden down an alley, Zebedee’s Yard off Whitefriargate.

Pleasant ambience.

The focus on tea and food. Yes, did have coffee, but would not tell me where from.

Perverse. I lacked the time to enjoy the food, and declined to try the coffee. Transparency is everything.

Owner very helpful, suggested places to visit and kindly marked my map.

Hull Old Town

May 5, 2018

A hot and sunny Mayday Bank Holiday Saturday.

Afternoon in Hull was more of a fleeting visit, it took longer there and back than the couple of hours I was there.

A very hot day, even waiting at Doncaster Station it was hot. Doncaster Station is grim, and a pain to change trains. Last couple of times cool, today hot and sunny. A pity though about the drunks everywhere.

Train to Hull, passes by a coal mine not long after leaving Doncaster. Wind farms en route. As approach Hull, stunning view of Humber Bridge.

On leaving Hull Station greeted by statue of poet Philip Larkin. Most confusing that it is not called Hull Station.

My destination Hull Old Town. Lacking a map, I headed in the correct direction.

Drunks spilling out of pubs onto the street outside. Not pleasant.

Interesting fountains, jets of water out of the ground, fun for the kids on a  hot day.

Maritime Museum had free maps, at least I assumed they were free.

Liquid Jade, hidden down an alley, Zebedee’s Yard off Whitefriargate. Pleasant ambience. Mainly tea and food. Yes, did have coffee, but would not tell me where from. Perverse. I lacked the time to enjoy the food, and declined the coffee. Transparency is everything.  Owner very helpful, suggested places to visit and kindly marked my map.

Trinity Square, with Hull Minster centre stage.  More strange fountains, this time squares in the square, water flows upwards, flows to the edge.

Statue of poet Andrew Marvel.

On one side, Trinity Market.

Trinity Market a recently refurbished Edwardian market, the oldest covered market in Hull. Stripped back exposing the iron columns and girders, open and airy. They have attempted to create something like Borough Market in London, artisan food and other independent traders.

It was here I found Caffeinated.

From Caffeinated excellent cappuccino. A very knowledgeable and helpful young couple running the stall.

As I was leaving a stage was being set up. Live music later?

I was recommended by Caffeinated try Thieving Harry’s and Two Gingers.

I passed by McCoy’s overlooking Princess Quay, but no time for a coffee.

Two Gingers was en route to the station. No time for anything other than a cappuccino, which I am sorry to say I then poured into a takeaway cup (had I not I would have missed my train).

Not much time to explore Hull Old Town, but now I know where it is, next time with more time to spend well worth another visit.

Cold brew at Spring Espresso Lendal

May 3, 2018

to follow

Brew and Brownie

May 3, 2018

to follow

Afternoon in York

May 3, 2018

Change trains at Doncaster. A grim station.

Virgin Trains to York running several minutes late, but luckily arrival at York Station not too delayed.

York Station is a stunning Station, an excellent example of  Victorian architecture.

Was tempted to visit National Railway Museum, but insufficient time, and was not immediately outside the station.

Two weeks ago, daffodils in full bloom on the grass bank below the City Wall.  Today cherry blossom.

Crossing the River Ouse, I was going to try The Perky Peacock, but it no longer seems to exist, or I was looking in the wrong place. I thought it was in one of the Bridge Towers.

Spotting a sign for a bicycle coffee shop, I wandered into the Museum Gardens. Very pleasant gardens alongside the River Ouse.

Ruins of St Mary’s Abbey reminded my of Fountains Abbey.  Built by William the Conqerers this was once the richest abbey in northern England.

Coffee-Bike a German franchise run by a couple of ex-teachers. Lacking any businesses expertise, they said they did quite well, but at a guess the location.

Why though not work in a coffee shop, learn about coffee, then open own stall?

I cannot comment on the coffee as I did not try.

Lunch at Burr Coffee. No coffee, as coffee not good, but food excellent.  Toasted sourdough bread with wild mushrooms, haloumi cheese and pine nuts.

Burr Coffee selling off The North and North Wales Independent Coffee Guide at a fiver (they get it free) but pay £500 for their entry (which they write themselves). Maybe they recognise fourth edition out and need to get shot of what is not selling.  Basically a marketing scam. Masquerades as an independent guide to coffee shops. Do the sums, 89 coffee shops at £500 each, plus the coffee roasteries, pus advertising, or what is obviously advertising.

Two coffee shops, Brew and Brownie and Bake Shop. In essence cake shops that serve excellent coffee.  Only espresso, nothing else.

It was then Spring Espresso Lendal.

I wished to find their other coffee shop, but could not find.

I did though visit a little bookshop, picked up Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Back to Spring Espresso Lendal for a glass of their cold brew. No time to stay and enjoy. I did what I do not like doing, plastic takeaway to enjoy on the train.

Guy on the train was curious what I was drinking. I explained what cold brew was. I let him have a flip through  The North and North Wales Independent Coffee Guide, as he was interested to see what was in Durham and Newcastle.

I explained it was a markting scam, therefore take with a pinch of salt. Best way to find coffe shops was to follow ones feet, then ask.

Nothing in London? No, only the north.  But try London Coffee, 111 Coffee Shops … and for the North Coffee Shop North. I also recommended StandartDrift and on-line The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop.

V60 at Outpost Coffee

May 1, 2018

—- to follow —–

Indy coffee chain to ban disposable coffee cups

April 24, 2018

I’d stop tomorrow but I think it’s only fair to give our loyal customers and fantastic team a month to get used to the idea. — Sam Roberts, Boston Tea Party

Indie coffee chain Boston Tea Party is to ban disposable coffee cups.

Yes, a step in the right direction.

A real step not the greenwash we have seen from Pret a Manger, Starbucks and Waitrose.

As always, it is the independents leading the way, not the corporate coffee chains, the same corporate coffee chains that lobbied the government not to introduce a latte levy.

Glasgow Coffee Festival has this year banned disposable coffee cups. It is either bring your own cup or festival sponsor KeepCup will have cups available.

Independents are already moving in the right direction, introducing KeepCup or clones thereof reusable cups, introducing compostable cups.

Reusable cups have to be clean and barista friendly. Too many are neither.

An example would be ecoffee cup on sale in Oxfam. Too large.

Reusable coffee cups are of limited utility, expensive, bulky, inconvenient to carry around. Which explains their limited take up. I have yet to be in a coffee shop and witness a reusable coffee sold or in use.

Boston Tea Party had offered a 25p discount on drinks if customers brought their own cup. Less than 3% of their customers took up the offer.

This is in line with research. Take up is minimal if only a discount offered, it has to be coupled with reusable cups on sale.  But even then the best that has been recorded is around 30% take up.

The target demographics, office workers popping out for a coffee.

Boston Tea Party are to discontinue their discount if bring own cup.

Compostable cups raise a number of issues, a compost heap on which to deposit the cup, do the cups compost as claimed?

The only way forward is to introduce a latte levy, discourage takeaway coffee, encourage sit down and relax in an indie coffee shop with a cup of speciality coffee served in glass or ceramic.

Plastic-lined disposable coffee cups, 2.5 billion a year in the UK, are not the only waste generated by coffee shops. What of the food waste, the waste milk, the coffee grounds?

Small Batch in Brighton, with the help of Espresso Mushroom Company, recycle their coffee grounds as a growing medium for oyster mushrooms, the growing kits are on sale in their coffee shops.

The Boston Tea Party has a similar scheme with Dartmoor Prison, Green Shoots, coffee grounds used for oyster mushrooms, kits on sale and the mushrooms served.

Boston Tea Party are sourcing water from Frank Water, who supply water in glass bottles not plastic. This though is questionable. Why not follow the practice of indie coffee shops in Athens, and what is increasingly becoming the practice in indie coffee shops in England, bring a carafe or bottle of ice cold water to the table or less often help yourself to water from a jug or a large jar with a tap?

Water as a human right. Without asking, a glass and a matt black bottle of ice cold water brought to the table at Tailor Made in Athens.

Boston Tea Party is a small chain of 21 coffee shops in the south west and midlands. Very odd for a coffee chain, no mention of the coffee on their website.