Archive for the ‘Winchester’ Category

Cappuccino at Coffee Lab Academy

November 2, 2016
Coffee Lab Academy

Coffee Lab Academy

barista champion Dan

barista champion Dan

barista champion Dan

barista champion Dan

cappuccino

cappuccino

I would have had a cappuccino at Coffee Lab, but too cold on a cold November afternoon  in Winchester with door open, instead Coffee Lab Academy.

Served by Dan, UK barista champion several years running, as always, excellent cappuccino.

I also bought coffee beans, Einstein blend.

Afternoon in Winchester

November 2, 2016
Winchester

Winchester

Yesterday in Guildford for farmers market, cold and grey and misty.

Today in Winchester for street food market, sunny, but very cold.

On my way, looked in Alton Station Cafe. What was tonight for biker night special? Chicken casserole. Moussaka? OK.

St John the Baptist

St John the Baptist

Walked down the hill into Winchester, but then on a detour to St John’s Church. It would have been easier to have walked down to the church by going on a detour down the hill.

Inside, a very unusual church.

River Itchen

River Itchen

Instead of later, when it would have been cold and dark, a walk alongside the River Itchen, the boundary of the Roman city, around the backstreets, and into the High Street through the Cathedral grounds.

Popped into P & G Wells. They usually have a wonderful window display. Sadly not today. Even they admitted, would you wish to give or receive autobiographies of Nick Clegg or Ed balls for Christmas. And no, they have not sold.

I suggested put in the window And the Weak Suffer What They Must? and accompany it with The Global Minotaur.

Christmas Market and ice Rink opens on Friday 18 November 2016.

Around the back of the Cathedral, like walking into a deep freeze.

Falafel off Falafel stall. This time hot.

Then coffee at Coffee Lab. Coffee Lab too cold with door open, Coffee Lab Academy instead, where it was warm, but noisy. And I get a cappuccino by Dan. I asked him where had the training machines gone. He said they had been loaned out for an event, but would be coming back.

Longer in Winchester than I had intended. By now very cold.

Bus to Alton Station.

Moussaka at Alton Station Cafe, then train.

Cappuccino in Coffee Lab

October 26, 2016
cappuccino in Coffee Lab

cappuccino in Coffee Lab

Last week I had a cappuccino in coffee Lab Academy served by Dan, champion barista.

Whilst I liked the cappuccino, I did not much like the ambience, too noisy.

This afternoon in Winchester, after a wander around, it was Coffee Lab.

I was was pleased that no sooner had I walked in, than in walked my Spanish friend Emilio, then a few minutes later in walked Dan.

I asked Dan, would he please make me a cappuccino.

Two weeks running, the privilege of a champion barista making me a coffee. This time I did not observe him.

My cappuccino was better than last week. Why, I do not know.  To date, the best cappuccino I have had at Coffee Lab.

Coffee Lab is the gold standard by which others are judged.

It is a mystery why anyone drinks the disgusting coffee from Costa or tax-dodging Starbucks, when such excellent coffee is avaible in Winchester. On the other hand at least I get served.

Afternoon in Winchester

October 26, 2016

Thanks to dysfunctional Stagecoach bus service, I missed my train. Half an hour wait for next train.

But luckily, as I alighted from the bus, there was a friend who I had not seen for over a month.

steam train at Alton Station

steam train at Alton Station

At Alton Station, a steam train. A locomotive I had not seen before.

On the way down to Winchester, the steam train on an embankment on the skyline.

Alton, warm and sunny. On the way down to Winchester, dark, black clouds, but as Winchester was neared, out came the sun.

Winchester

Winchester

Alighted at the last bus stop before bus station and walked down into Winchester.

Falafel wrap off falafel stall. Not as good as usual, but that was because I let it get cold.

Chatted to a young guy at the stall. He did not know Winchester, and we suggested what he could see, and I showed him the way to the Cathedral.

cappuccino in Coffee Lab

cappuccino in Coffee Lab

I then bumped into him a little later, showed him the back streets. He was delighted, especially as he appreciated good coffee and I took him to Coffee Lab.

He had a machiatao and was impressed.

Although he knew coffee shops in London, I suggested a couple he did not know:

I pointed him in the direction of Winchester Station for him to catch the train to London.

Not long after I arrived at Cafe Lab in walked my Spanish friend Emilio. We met in Athens the week before.

Long chat with Emilio, until we were thrown out of Coffee Lab an hour after closing time.

Not long after we arrived, in walked Dan, champion barista. I asked he make me a coffee.

He made me a cappuccino last week in Coffee Lab Academy. This was better. I wonder why?

Bus to Alton.

moussaka at The Station Cafe

moussaka at The Station Cafe

Bikers night at Alton Station Cafe. Only about half a dozen had turned up. Maybe too cold and dark, maybe they expected the winter regime, when bikers night only once a month.

But no special. In September, I had regretted not having their moussaka, as it looked good. Last week they said moussaka today. No moussaka, I had looked forward to it. The chef offered to make moussaka just for me. I thought he was joking. But no.

I popped to Waitrose, came back, and moussaka was served with a little salad.

It was delicius.

Then train to Aldershot, then bus.

Missed the bus, 25 minute wait with the drunks that have been hanging outside the station since the summer.

Cappuccino in Coffee Lab Academy

October 19, 2016
Coffee Lab Academy

Coffee Lab Academy

barista champion Dan pouring the milk

barista champion Dan pouring the milk

cappuccino

cappuccino

Coffee Lab had no date slices, I tried instead Coffee Lab Academy around the corner.

I was privileged to be served by Dan, one of the top baristas in the country.

He showed me the milk they use, sourced from a dairy in Wiltshire to get the best quality milk.

It was interesting to watch him doing the latte art. Usually a single movement, he used three movements.

To one side espresso machines for beginners. In the corner training. Learn how to be a barista. Then buy the beans and milk and come in at any time and practice.

Seems like a great idea. Maybe I will give it a try one day.

I prefer Coffee Lab. Coffee Lab Academy very noisy and lacked the ambience.

Afternoon in Winchester

October 19, 2016
cappuccino in Coffee Lab Academy

cappuccino in Coffee Lab Academy

Catching the train down to Alton the weather was fine. Alighting at Alton, cold. Rain all the way down to Winchester. Winchester colder still with temperature dropping all afternoon. By late afternoon more like November.

Pleased to see the falefel stall is now using card boxes not polystyrene.

Would have had a coffee in Coffee Lab, but no date slices. Having never had a coffee in Coffee Lab Academy, decided to try there instead.

I was privileged to be served by barista champion Dan.

Too cold to hang about, a bite to eat, coffee and then catch return bus.

Windows of bus too  filthy to see out, no heating, no wifi,  all too typical of the contempt Stagecoach has for passengers.

Reasonable chicken curry and rice at The Station Cafe at Alton Station.

Train no heating, wifi did not connect to internet.

Cappuccino at Coffee Lab

September 14, 2016
cappuccino and date slice

cappuccino and date slice

Excellent cappuccino and date slice at Coffee Lab. Poor choice of cakes, but what they do have is excellent.

Beans. Did they have any later than 8 September 2016? In Coffee Lab Academy they had 12 September. They checked. Found 1kg sacks of 12 September roast date. They kindly slit open a bag, and bagged for me two bags of 200 g.

I sat outside and was joined by a guy whose name I sadly cannot recall, owner of Kyoto Kitchen, a Japanese restaurant in Winchester.

matcha latte

matcha latte

He ordered a matcha latte. A strange green looking coffee. No, not coffee, a green tea.  He offered me a taste. I said no, I would order, but now past closing time. Something to try on my next visit.

I tried cascara Again not heard of. made with tonic water and the husk of a  coffee bean. Fruity, nothing like coffee, very refreshing.

Excellent baristas innovate, try out new ideas.

I am hoping they will stock South West Independent Coffee Guide. But they said there was soon to be published South East Independent Coffee Guide, and that they would hopefully stock.

Afternoon in Winchester

September 14, 2016
River Itchen

River Itchen

I would not have chosen one of the hottest days of the year to visit Winchester, sitting under the trees in my garden was the preferred option, but Wednesday is street food market, and it was not as hot as yesterday, the hottest day of the year.

Bus to Aldershot, train to Alton, bus to Winchester.

Bus to Aldershot unbearably hot.

alton-station-september-2016

steam train at Alton Station

At Alton a steam train.

Bus to Winchester bearable, as mot of the journey along dual carriageway, and flow of air through the bus kept it cool.  Bus almost empty.

Alighted before the bus station and walked down the hill into Winchester.

Falafel stall said only there Wednesday Excellent food, falafel in pitta bread, with hummus and salad.

The Cathedral has a restaurant, last time, no ice cream with blackcurrants. Again no ice cream with blackcurrants. Why display what have not got? At least today able to sit outside in the walled garden. But sadly spoiled by an ugly marquee. I daresay for corporate entertaining, anything to make a fast buck.

Then to Coffee lab, but first what was on my last visit, Alexander Tea Shop. It has been turned into Coffee Lab Academy. A pity they did not retain as was, and instead incorporated Coffee Lab Academy.

To Coffee Lab, sat outside with a cappuccino and a date slice. Both excellent.

I wanted beans. 8 September. Nothing later, as in Coffee Academy 12 September, but in 1 kg unmarked bags. They looked, and found they had 1 kg with 12 September roast date. They kindly opened, then bagged 200g. They sell 150g.

matcha latte

matcha latte

I was joined by a Bengali guy, who introduced himself as the owner of Kyoto Kitchen, a Japanese Restaurant. He had walked by, looked, and I said excellent coffee. He said so he had heard. He asked did they do a matcha latte. I had no idea, for the simple reason I had no idea what it was. What looked like a coffee, a strange shade of green was served.  Not something I had ever seen before. Not coffee, tea, green tea.He kindly offered me a taste. I declined, but said I would order, but it was past closing time.  Something to try on my next visit.

He showed me his site on social media. A girl had posted a message, would someone please take me on a date to this restaurant.

He mentioned he was writing a book, somewhat in the style of  Paulo Coelho. Turned out he was a fan, and had read most of his books.

Long gone closing, a man turned up, suggested a drink I had never heard of, cascara. I tried. It was excellent, very refreshing, fruity and cold.

I juts had time to walk along the back streets and catch the bus.

Again it was one of the new buses.

I then popped in to the Alton Station Cafe. I made the mistake of not having the moussaka and salad, it looked good, special for Bikers Night. I am sorry to see the original owners have gone, but the new owners appear to be doing a god job.

Afternoon in Winchester

September 1, 2016
Winchester

Winchester

A pleasant warm afternoon.

At Alton Station, a little garden, help yourself. A lady had picked runner beans and placed on  chair. I helped myself to a handful. Hopefully they were not for her.  In the past, there has been a donation box in the station Ticket Office, but today I did not see one.

I wish they would repair the old bridge at Alton Station. It has been derelict now for months.

Bus down, No 64, was a City of Winchester Park and Ride. I double checked to ensure it was the correct bus. The driver said it was the only one available. It was a brand new bus.

Alight at bus stop before town centre and walk down Magdalene Hill. Apart from the traffic, a pleasant walk down into Winchester.

fleet of new buses

fleet of new buses

Winchester August 55

fleet of new buses

Winchester appears to have a fleet of brand new buses. Contrast with the old buses that serve Aldershot. At a guess, because in Winchester Stagecoach has competition from a rival bus company.

Wednesday is street food market in Winchester. Each time I visit, the market has shrunk. Mid-June, it was smaller than winter. Two weeks ago, it had shrunk again. Today, it was yet smaller. At this rate, it will soon be non-existent.

Luckily the falafel stall is still there. Falafel in a wrap with salad, my lunch in the grounds of Winchester Cathedral

I wandered into the Cathedral cafe. I fancied ice cream with blackcurrants. None in stock. I had a chat with the manager. They try and be as environmentally friendly as possible. To discourage people using takeaway cups, they give  a 25% discount on a drink if you bring your own cup. Water help yourself, even ice by the side, but why plastic cups?

I found there was a back entrance through a hole in the wall. This led into a maze of back streets which I had not explored before. I took one that led off at an angle. To my pleasure, it led to the street with Coffee Lab.

cappuccino in Coffee Lab

cappuccino in Coffee Lab

excellent reading material in Coffee Lab

excellent reading material in Coffee Lab

Cappuccino in Coffee Lab. I sat outside, but it started to rain.

I picked up a well thumbed copy of South West Independent Coffee Guide, now in its second edition. I have its companion, The Northern Independent Coffee Guide, or I did until I gave away my copy. I suggested to Coffee lab that they had South West Independent Coffee Guide on sale, as that was how I obtained The Northern Independent Coffee Guide  from a coffee shop, Coffee Aroma Coffee House.

I also suggested they sell bagged beans in 250 grams not 150 grams.

Coffee Lab have a coffee club. An annual fee of £25, gives discounted coffee mid-afternoon, free entrance to evening events.

Something I had not noticed on previous visit, on the communal table at the back, leads to charge phones and tablets.  I would have preferred a row of main outlets, plug in a charger, or usb outlets, but I can see if desperate, it could be useful.

cat sat watching the river

cat sat watching the river

Just time to walk down the side of the river, out into the countryside, around the back streets and back to catch the bus.  Walking down the side of the River Itchen, what used to be the boundary of the Roman city, a door in  a garden wall, a cat sat watching the river.

In the evening, it now appears they use their new fleet on the No 64 route. It appears to be the same as the Park and Ride slight different seats.  Why use new fleet. At a guess, more fuel efficient, better passenger satisfaction. Both have usb charging, in addition to wifi. This time I notice a blue light glowing, which I had not seen before. Maybe indicates working, in which case, previous bus trips not working.

There needs to be more information on the bus on thse usb outlets. What for example the output? If we assume 1A per usb outlet, that is a lot of amps if we add in all the seats. I noticed what I had not noticed before, two usb sockets.  I would be reluctant to plug in an expensive phone or tablet. Is it sourced from battery? If from a generator, could be very dirty supply. On the other hand, most vehicles these days have a lot of electronics, including on-board computers, therefore would need very clean power supply. I would only use, if no other option, and desperately needed to use phone or tablet and battery was dead or dying Maybe better to use to charge a power block, then use power block to charge phone or tablet.

Alighted one end of Alton and walked through the town.

Said hello to Peter in O’Connor’s Secret Garden. He said they had a wedding party. That was ok, as I was not stopping. He confirmed that The Old Curiosity Shop had closed.

Chips off the fish n chop shop near the station. Avoid. They had been fried hours ago.

The Station Cafe is now in new hands. The curry looked ok.

Wednesday night Bikers Night. Very few bikers around, many leaving as I arrived.

Excellent service in Waitrose. As always, puts to shame the piss-poor service in Waitrose Farnham and their appalling stock control.

Aldershot Station, just missed a bus. 25 minutes wait for next bus. Early this month, for about a fortnight, a gang of drunks hanging around the bus station. Not seen them for a couple of weeks. They are back.

 

Coffee Lab

August 17, 2016
Coffee Lab

Coffee Lab

Coffee Lab is hidden down a side street off the High Street in what was Ginger Gelato, opposite what was Ginger Two.

I had noticed Coffee Lab on my last visit to Winchester a couple of months ago. A promise of high quality coffee. Many promise, few deliver. I was pleasantly surprised, excellent cappuccino.

An argument often put, with which I strongly disagree, no point in attempting to serve high quality coffee as it will not be appreciated. If true, then we would not have seen the rise of quality coffee shops in London, slowly slowly spreading beyond London.

Coffee Lab has a top of the range espresso machine and coffee grinder, they buy their milk from a dairy in Wiltshire, buy top quality beans, employ top class baristas. And it shows.

cappuccino at Coffee Lab in Winchester

cappuccino at Coffee Lab in Winchester

My cappuccino was excellent, gold standard by which other coffees are judged.

It is always a pleasure to visit a quality coffee shop, where they take a pride in their coffee.

Sometimes I think, is it my sense of taste, then I am delighted by an excellent coffee and I am assured.

I queried had they added chocolate, a sin, but try telling that to the imbecile manager in Caracoli Guildford.

They had not, it was the quality of the beans, the milk and the skill of the barista.

The quality of the cappuccino was that of Shaun when he was running the FCB coffee kiosk on Platform 2 at Guildford Station.

A suggestion, remove the sugar, has to be requested. Let customers try first with no sugar. I think they will be pleasantly surprised.

Coffees are named after scientists, or at least the beans. When I visited it was the turn of Einstein.

With my coffee I had a date slice. It was excellent. Although ideally I prefer a cookie. A date slice or cake, is somewhat rich and better with tea.

When I looked in June, towards five o’clock, they were empty. This time they were full. I sat outside. I did not mind as it was a warm afternoon. And one of my minor criticisms, loud music, which was not pleasant.

I thought they closed at five, must be wrong, as I was sat outside undisturbed at 5-30.

I queried their closing time. Yes, it was five, but they did not chase people away.

Contrast with the indie coffee shops in Guildford, where they are turning people away before five with ‘we are closed’. By all means close at five in the winter, cold and dark and people wish to go home, but not in the summer.

For Coffee Lab a very long day, preparing to open from six in the morning.

On my visit, staff were Heidi and Ben. Very pleasant and helpful, answered all my questions which for them was at the end of a long tiring day.

They had opened in March, and word of mouth spread that a top quality coffee shop had opened.

For a fee, I think it was £25, whether one off or for a year, I do not know, can join their coffee club. This entitles to reduced price on coffee during off peak mid-afternoon and invites to special evening events to learn more about coffee.

Grouts are available to take away for free. Excellent slug repellent I am told.

Beans, roasted by The Roasting Party, are bagged and available for sale. But why 125g, would it not be better 250g? Details of the beans on the bags, and of course the roast date.

Contrast with Caracoli Guildford, where the manger could not understand the importance of roast date, or why I was appalled to learn the set of digits so tiny almost needed a magnifying glass to read showed roast date of October last year.

If I was to level any criticism, it is that a little pricey. My cappuccino and date slice was over a fiver. I always recommend charge less than Costa or Starbucks, but serve much higher standard.

On TripAdvisor, a couple of reviewers have compared with Monmouth Coffee Company. There is no comparison, at least not with Monmouth Coffee in Covent Garden. I have tried a couple of times and been a little disappointed. Monmouth Coffee in Borough Market may be better I have not tried.

If I was to make a comparison, it would be with The Ethiopian Coffee Company Coffee Roasters on the South Bank street food market or Curio Cabal in Dalston.

TripAdvisor needs to have a separate category for coffee shops and tea shops. It is ridiculous that they are lumped together with restaurants, which they are not.

With such a high quality coffee shop, and Flat White on the street food market, it begs the question why anyone drinks the disgusting stuff masquerading as coffee in Costa, Caffe Nero or tax-dodging Starbucks?  Although I am pleased they do not all turn up, as the likes of myself would not get a decent coffee.

Coffee Lab is not only the top coffee spot in Winchester by a long way, it is one of the best in the country.

Gold standard by which other coffees are judged.