Day in Brighton

June 10, 2018

Rail works, instead of arriving midday, arrive not long before one o’clock.

Cappuccino off Small Batch stall. Compostable cup? Do not know, did not ask. Will drop on compost heap.

I love what is on the side of a bus, get on and go somewhere.

Pleased to see owner of Grocer & Grain. He has a wide range of coffee. But Union not as fresh as could be, as getting via Infinity Foods. Why are Union not supplying direct?

Stop off at soup kitchen for homeless. Quail.

A fashion shop that is ethical, though not open today.

I liked what was on the window re plastic.

But why is Brighton not doing more?

Why are the disgusting fish n chip shops on the seafront still using polystyrene trays and burger style boxes?

Cycle hire very busy. Only one not busy as not all cycles taken. Contrast with Lincoln where the cycle hire not popular.

North Laine, not possible to sit outside Iydea, carry on to Magazine Brighton. Surprisingly busy, and to my pleasant surprise has latest Standart.

Excellent lunch sat outside Iydea. Followed by refreshing fruit juice, I think apple, carrot, lemon and ginger.

The cafe next door has gone, now an ice cream parlour, Brass Moneky, the ice cream made down in the basement. I try. Very good.

Brass Monkey has only been open two weeks, will serve coffee.

Then on to Pelicano for a coffee. I was initially going to have a V60, but decie on a cappuccino. I also add one of their excellent cakes, a jewel cake.

I notice many changes. Is it my imagination? No. Standart on sale, a wider range of coffee, and the coffee has improved.

They tell me they have installed a new 20kg roaster down in the basement. I did not think to ask how they got it down there.

I was doing this the wrong way round.

Walk down to the seafront, then walk back up to the station.

Early for me to leave, sun high in the sky, only 6-30, but I am tired, and thinking will be cool at the end of my journey.

All day it has been hot.

1855 Southern Fail from Brighton to Victoria, only four coaches usually twelve, packed in like sardines.

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Appalling train service

June 10, 2018

We have appalling train service, high fares, and yet rail boss gets awarded.

Today, on Reading-Guildford-Gatwick line, no trains from Reigate, a bus to Gatwick.

At least the guard on the train walked through the train, apologised and told passengers bus service from Reigate.

No station staff at Reigate, no information.

I had done this before and said to passengers follow me.

No bus. When bus did turn up, a further wait of at least ten minutes.

Arrival at Gatwick, 1200 instead of 1135, and find way through terminal building to train station.

1855 Southern Fail Brighton to Victoria only four coaches not twelve. Passengers packed in like sardines.

At Gatwick, station staff blowing whistle for train to depart whilst passengers trying to board the train. Passengers left stranded.

Asked where to get bus for Reading, what time, he did not know.

The station had no display information, passengers had to find their way through the airport terminal to find the bus.

The bus unbelievable, two seats one side of the aisle, three seats the other.

At Reigate a train of only two coaches, not the usual three. Twenty minute wait until train departed. Again no directions, no train staff.

On Friday at Gatwick wished to catch 0525 first train of the morning to Reading. Board showed 0510 which was just pulling out, no train shown for 0525. The timetable had wrong times printed.

Sustainability Fayre

June 9, 2018

In Gostrey Meadow in Farnham a Sustainability Fayre.

I recall passing through last year, not busy, not many stalls, but maybe I passed through as closing.

A good variety of stalls, far better than at the Farnham Carnival. Something the Farnham Carnival should take note of and act on.

Sadly no coffee stall.

A burger off a farm stall was very good. Though unfortunate not fresh off the grill.

A brief chat with Farnham Town Council. They must exact higher environmental standards in the park for events, get rid of the Tony Fresko ice cream van belching out noxious fumes at the height of small children damaging their brains. They do not own the park, but did not disagree with what I said, maybe we will see change.

A bowl of soup from the vegan cafe that has opened in Downing Street. Far better attitude than the failed deli, and busy. The bread was black. I have never come across black bread.

Excellent cold brew coffee off Krema. Once had one, desire another. Very refreshing on a hot day. Far better than the V60 earlier in the afternoon off Karuna Coffee during a fleeting visit to Aldershot Victoria Day.

Aldershot Victoria Day

June 9, 2018

 

Aldershot and busy not something expect to hear in the same breath.

Today for Victoria Day the streets were busy, stalls in the streets and in the park.

Out of curiousity, I had a V60 off Karuna Coffee. Not good.

I noticed Mango Bean, a franchise coffee shop, had closed. The only surprise not closed sooner as the coffee not good.

V60 Karuna Coffee

June 9, 2018

To find V60 in Aldershot is a very rare event indeed. So rare this was a one off for Victoria Day. And it was free, or at least a donation, courtesy Karuna Coffee.

It was not good.

No surprise. So many things wrong.

  • poor quality coffee
  • poor roast profile
  • not freshly ground
  • not weighed or timed
  • lack of skill in use of V60

I am used to high quality V60, I trial high quality coffee. This was not good.

For V60, the coffee has to be high quality single origin, traced to the farm or microlot.

I was offered medium or dark roast. This is to go back to the Dark Ages. No one discusses coffee in these terms. It will be a light roast, and the roast profile chosen to bring out the best the coffee has to offer, but it then has to have a skilled barista brewing the coffee.

Yes, there are dark roasts. A dark roast is to hide the defects of cheap low quality commodity coffee. It then requires no skill of the barista.

I asked of the Q grade of the coffee. Not known. OK a ball park, above or below 80? My question fell on deaf ears. Not good for a coffee roaster, Q grade of the coffee not known.

The coffee has to be freshly ground, precisely weighed, and that includes the water.

No one serious about coffee would make a V60 with coffee scooped out of a jar ground only God knows when.

V60 looks easy, nevertheless there is a skill involved.

V60 has to be served in ceramic or better still glass. This was a takeaway cup on a stall, albeit a compostable cup. A step in the right direction but what to do with the cup and are they compostable? The cup will go into the general waste stream. My cup retained and will go on the compost heap, together with a compostable cup I picked up later from Sustainability Fayre in Farnham. The main difference between Farnham, Farnham had a bin for the cups.

Compostable cups, reusable cups for example KeepCup, address symptoms not the underlying problem of takeaway coffee cups which are part of a wider problem of pointless consumerism. We have to eliminate takeaway be it through latte levy or legislation and encourage sit and relax in an indie coffee shop with speciality coffee served in glass or ceramic.

For an event such as Victoria Day with a fairly captive audience there should have been a bin for the compostable coffee cups. Maybe there was and I did not notice. Though I did query what to do with the compostable coffee cup? I could have thrown in the bushes, a reasonable thing to do if biodegradable, but probably would not have gone down too well. I did the next best thing, took away with me to throw on the compost heap.

I have to admit I am spoiled, V60 quality coffee, skilled baristas, world champion baristas.

Later in the day a cold brew coffee at Krema. A world of difference. But then it was roasted by Horsham Coffee Roasters and brewed by skilled baristas.

 

Second Cup

June 3, 2018

Second Cup is a franchise scam, a specialty coffee franchise scam.

Why open a franchise, why not open an indie coffee shop?

I sort of get it. Well actually I do not, I cannot see why anyone wants to serve rubbish coffee, employ people who do not care about coffee. I sort of get it if open Starbucks or Costa, fools who do not like coffee will walk through the door. But an unknown name?

Franchise speciality coffee is an oxymoron.

The corporate website pushes the franchise, no mention of the coffee.

If opening a specialty coffee shop would open an indie coffee shop, would have gained experience. Or would employ experienced professional baristas.

Second Cup Paralimni is like walking into a McDonald’s of coffee. Ok if I am fair, Pret a Manger.

Despite the corporate feel, a reasonable ambience. Jazz playing, not the loud moronic noise blasting out elsewhere.

And the coffee?

The beans dark and overroasted.

The Q grade? After all this is supposed to be speciality coffee.

I am met by blank expressions.

I draw a Q. Q grade, Q for quality.

I explain all coffee is graded, explain cofee over 80 is speciality coffee.

I could be talking a foreign language. The guys try to be helpful but have not a clue what I am talking about.

They tell me the coffee is 100% arabica, but that is the extent of their knowledge.

The coffee cups are far too large, even the smallest is too large for a cappuccino.

I order a cappuccino. It is undrinkable. Too hot, bitter, mainly froth and foam. A long way down I find actual coffee.

When I place my order I am given an electronic device. What is this, they track me to my table? No, self service, it beeps and I collect my coffee. Completely and utterly pointless gimmick

I ask of V60. They understand, but no. A machine grinds and delivers filter coffee. Er no thanks.

On a board, dark, medium roast, a few other options. No mention of origin.

On the back shelf rows of syrups which says it all.

The staff and service excellent, did their best but as a coffee shop Second Cup is a joke.

For speciality coffee, only one coffee shop in Paralimni, Robustos.

Future of coffee using 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?

Caffeine issue 32 was a special issue The Future of Coffee. An article entitled Crypto coffee looked at blockchain and cryptocurrences and what role if any they had to play in the coffee supply chain.

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.

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.

Robustos

May 15, 2018

I missed a bus to Paralimni. Which meant I missed a bus to Liopetri.

Then along came another bus. Maybe, but no.

An hour and fifteen minutes until the next bus.

In one of his books, Paulo Coelho is crossing a desert in search of The Valkeries.  Accompanied by his wife they have a guide. The guide forgets something and goes back to retrieve it. Wondering what is keeping him, Paulo searches out his guide, to find he is sat meditating.

When challenged,the guide explains, he was delayed for a reason, so rather than be impatient, pause and reflect.

That was me. What to do for an hour.

On past previous visit to Paralimni, I had beeen told of a coffee shop. I could not find. But, on a bus to Liopetri I had passed by.

I had also been told no good good coffee shops in Paralimini, or at least what to expect when I could find none.  Though as I was to learn, maybe not in the centre but at least one on the road leading out of the town centre.

I decided to to and find this coffee shop.

I asked in a  coffee shop. Where else? Only one problem, I had no idea of its name. Where was it?. I did not know. Oh, but the bus passed it by.

Helpful coffee shop pointed me in the right direction.

And that was how I happened upon Robustos aka Cava Robustos. A rather nondescript coffee shop cum wine bar cum deli.

I spoke with a helpful girl. Yes they had quality coffee. They did not roast as I thought or had been led to believe, but did have Cup 10 imported from Athens, not only espresso blend  but also several different single origins, also different brew methods, V60, Chemex, Japanese syphon, cold brew tower. I also noticed tucked away, member of SpecialityCoffee Association.

I was inroduced to the owner George.

He told me he had helped found Speciality Coffee Assocation Cyprus and was their coirdinator.

He kindly offered to brew me an Ethiopian using a V60.

As a hot day, I asked Japanese iced filter, which he kindly obliged when I explained how.

We brewed half the usual volume of water, half as ice into which the coffee drips to be istantly chilled.

The ratio could have been 2/1 rather  than 1/1.

Correction: V60 notot from Ethiopia, from Costa Rica.

I explained I would be back, and mabye a coffee cupping session in Nicosia.

Something very very rotten Lidl Aldershot

May 12, 2018

There is something very very rotten with Lidl in Aldershot.

This evening around 1940, a little before it closed, walked into Lidl in Aldershot with a friend.

The only reason we were there was because Lidl Farnham was out of stock of what we were looking for. As we knew what we wanted, we headed to what we wanted, picked up, headed straight to cash tills.

As we walked in past end of aisles, I noticed boxes scattered on the floor, a trip hazard.

The tills not manned, a scruffy looking woman standing near the tills but otherwise doing nothing, did not offer to man a till, nor did she offer help when not all the automated tills appeared to be working. When my friend queried which were working the woman looked straight through her as though she did not exist.

On leaving I commented we were being followed around the store. No soonest had I voiced my observations than a Nepalese security guard blocked our way and demanded to look in our bags. I refused and we walked out of the store.

There was no grounds to stop us, we were not acting suspiciously, and as my friend noted, it was obvious what we were carrying was not from Lidl.

If this was racist behaviour by the Nepalese security guard, then not an isolated incident at the store, as has happened before.

Earlier we were in Lidl Farnham and the experience could not have been different. The staff were helpful, checked what we were looking for, courteous at checkout, which was manned, and no we were were not stopped on leaving, even though we had wandered around the store and were carrying the same goods as in Aldershot.

It is common knowledge there is something rotten at Lidl Aldershot, and yet still no action by Lidl CEO.

We await an apology but are not holding our breath.