Posts Tagged ‘Afternoon in Reading’

Afternoon in Reading

November 19, 2018

This morning rain. Weather forecast for today did not say rain.

Check weather forecast again. Dry all day, heavy rain all day Tuesday.

Very cold in Reading, cold wind.

Chicken noodle soup in Mum Mum Vietnamese restaurant. Unlike Pho, where food is lukewarm to cold, soup is piping hot. Unlike last week, at least contains chicken. Problem is owner cutting corners, tells staff to cut the amount of chicken.

Cappuccino in Anonymous Coffee. Coffee is sourced from Union. Not very good, weak and insipid, with an unpleasant taste. Problem is Union will supply anyone.

I found a large lounge on the first floor, learn food at weekend, occasional evenings, plus wine tasting sessions which have to be booked on advance.

Entire shelf of wine books. I suggest also have books on coffee. I recommend Real Fresh Coffee and The Wold Atlas of Coffee, and subscribe to or buy Standart and Drift. If wish to add excellent reading on food then also Ambrosia and Om Nom.

Only a couple of customers.

Phone alley off Broad Street to visit one of the phone shops. Man quite helpful, as he was last week.

It is then to CUP, hidden behind Reading Minster.

Always a pleasant atmosphere.

Owner suggests I have a cappuccino, as her barista recently came seventh in the UK latte art championship. I would have had V60, as already had had a cappuccino, but only polite not to refuse, also I wished to try a cappuccino as I have been told The Roasting Party has gone downhill, and what I had two weeks ago from CUP opposite Reading Town Hall was not geet.

No, not as good as The Roasting Party used to be, though what I had from The City was better, though Coffee Lab have their own blend.

I was going to catch a train around 4-30, as getting cold and to miss the rush hour crush.

Every location, far longer than intended. I will not make 4-30. Not even 6-30. I go for 1902 to find cancelled. Then the nightmare begins, no trains no announcements, no explanation, no apology.

Next train for Gatwick, showing twenty minutes late.

Next train an hour later, comes into wrong platform.

As by now frozen decide to catch this train, even if later, as appears to be on time, as at least I can sit on a warm train out of the cold.

During this time no announcements.

Train does not leave on time. Train does not leave, told to catch earlier train. It does not leave either. After a long delay, it pulls out of the station, to stop 100 m from the station, where its sits.

Arrive North Camp Station at 2125. If trains running normally, approximately 30 minutes from Reading depending upon fast or slow train.

On leaving CUP it was raining. I did not expect rain, but then I did nit check for evening.

I go on a detour to a fish and chip show as hungry.

—- to be continued —-

Afternoon in Reading

November 13, 2018

A pleasant sunny afternoon in Reading.

I was half an hour earlier than last week.

Workhouse Coffee has two coffee shops in Reading. I have never been impressed by Workhouse Coffee in the town centre, it is very overrated, the beans in open boxes, the coffee of poor quality.

I decided therefore to check out their other coffee shop Workhouse Coffee Oxford Road, which closes at 1-30.

Google maps tells me twenty two minutes walk from Reading Station. Maybe true if power walk. Thirty minutes walk.

Not difficult to find, head from Reading Station into Broad Street, walk to the end, then along Oxford Road.

A rough area of town, but then that is true of most of Reading.

The coffee shop grim. I have encountered better greasy spoon cafes. Art on the walls would be an improvement, especially if strip out the tacky plastic world map on the rear wall.

I ordered a cappuccino. Only one other customer.

If I was hoping for something better than the coffee shop in town, I was to be disappointed. It was not good, more or less undrinkable.

I ask of V60. The girl calls it paper filter coffee. I explain to her, V60 or pour over.

Swan neck kettle. No, she pours out of a normal kettle. Weigh water and coffee, time? No.

I learn why the coffee shop closes at 1-30. She opens at 7-30 and six hours is the maximum she is prepared to work. She runs it all on her own. It closes at 2-30 on a Saturday, she opens one hour later.

Most of the custom is takeaway, Reading West Station is a few minutes walk down the road. There are no chains nearby.

I am there as the coffee shop is closed. Does she clean the machine? No, only once a week. Same as town she tells me. Beans emptied out of the hopper? No. We do things different she tells me.

Takeaway coffee cups compostable. No. Why should we care about the environment, compostable cups cost more, she tells me.

At least she is honest.

I learn she is an artist.

I suggest she puts her art on the walls. Not her coffee shop. But at least she will think about it. It would at least be an improvement.

I half walk back to the town centre then hop on a bus.

I wander down an alley. It could be called mobile phone alley, nearly every shop a mobile phone shop.

I revisit the Vietnamese restaurant Mum Mum where last week they offered me two cold spring rolls. I order pho, Vietnamese noodle soup. Again from the fridge which they hot up.

Calling it chicken, is probably stretching trade description to the limit, yes they are a few fragments of chicken. Pot is compostable, the fork wood, but the spoon plastic. Given a cup of water, not compostable.

Why not serve in a bowl? Why not bowls of rice?

In terms of value for money, Pho is better, loathe as I am to recommend a chain where service is terrible.

It is then to Broad Street Bar and Kitchen. It used to be Artigiano. Coffee is Assembly. At least someone knows about coffee.

Today two people. Downstairs dead, upstairs half a dozen people working on laptops, again dirty coffee cups on tables.

On a bar a couple of rolls wrapped in paper, at least that is what I assume to be. Not possible to see what they are.

I ask of the non-existent kitchen. Closed. I do not inquire why but last year I was told could not get the staff. Could nor get, or not prepared to pay?

My cappuccino reasonable, far better than Workhouse, but a tad too hot. A skilled barista would have made an exellent cappuccino with the coffee they are using.

It is then to CUP behind Reading Minster.

Walking down an alley, I pop in Anonymous Coffee Co which I had passed last week. I thought maybe a chain but no. A wine shop and coffee shop. To be strictly correct, two separate businesses in the same premises.

Coffee roasted by Union. Good coffee, but Union will supply anyone.

Far better atmosphere in the original CUP, than CUP opposite Reading Town Hall, which functions to serve takeaway coffee to commuters.

I order a V60. I let as I always do the barista choose. He chooses coffee from Kenya. Other barista says drink, it will be getting cool. I explain it improves as it cools, but not good when cold.

Talking to the Italian barista, an Italian who can make coffee, rare indeed, he tells me of the Greek who won the World Championships in Brazil (actually No 2 for latte art). I ask the name. Michalis Karagiannis. I say I know him, the barista at Manor House in Athens, I was with him a couple of weeks ago and he made me a cappuccino.

I had wished to catch a train around 4-30, to miss the rush hour and before it turns cold and dark. I am an hour later than last week, catch a train at 1804. As last week the train is packed. They need four coach trains on the Reading-Guildford-Gatwick route.

Afternoon in Reading

November 5, 2018

A pleasantly mild afternoon.

Workhouse has two coffee shops in Reading. I look in one, but do not visit the other.

I do not gave a coffee, as have tried before and found to be overrated. Too many beans to have quality, left in open boxes to oxidise, no aroma.

I head to CUP. They now have a second coffee shop.

CUP is hidden behind Reading Minster which is approached via an alley off Broad Street.

In front of Reading Minster, Tamp kiosk. I was not going to have a coffee, as last time it was not good and I poured down the drain. As I am chatting to them, I think only polite to have a coffee.

My cappuccino is little better than last visit, weak and insipid. I half drink then pour down the drain.

I look in CUP, ask where their other coffee shop is.

I walk through a ghastly shopping centre and find my way back in Broad Street at the far end.

On my last visit, Artigiano, now Broad Street Bar and Kitchen. I suspected this would happen, Vulture Capitalists create a chain then sell.

Internal changes, not for the better, a large widescreen TV on the wall at the back. Coffee now served Assembly, last year was Origin.

It screams corporate, I only see one member of staff dirty coffee cups piled on tables everywhere.

I do not stay, or return.

Approaching three, now hungry. I decide with reluctance on Pho. If for no other reason than to compare with Guildford.

I had earlier popped in a Vietnamese restaurant and ordered spring rolls. I was appalled when served cold from a fridge. I asked for my money back, which they gave me.

Trademark of Pho is appalling service. Pho Reading even worse than Guildford.

On entry I am invited to sit by the door. I say no the place is empty and walk further in.

The table dirty, either has not been cleaned or not been cleaned properly.

Long wait to be brought a menu, then wait again as food is freshly prepared. Bowl is cold, rice lukewarm. I suspect cooked then left standing, as rice is warmer in the middle.

I am brought the wrong bill. When I pay correct bill short changed.

This is the problem with chains, low paid casual staff who do not care.

I then look for second CUP. I was given complicated directions. Had I been told outside Reading Town Hall it would have been easy to find.

I visited CUP, the original CUP behind Reading Minster a couple of times last years and found very friendly and welcoming, This one cold and sterile, a cafe where order and leave. The guy serving unfriendly to the point of being rude. My cappuccino not good, I leave half drunk.

This is what happens when open a second coffee shop, standards fall,

The two coffee shops need different names to avoid confusion, CUP Reading Minster, CUP Reading Town Hall.

No Caffeine in either.

Only a few minutes walk to Reading Station to catch my train.

Afternoon in Reading

December 4, 2017

I had intended to visit Reading last week, but too cold. Today cold and damp, but lacking the cold north wind. In Reading it was fresher, not so damp.

Train on the way to Reading, display not working, wifi not connecting to Internet.

As walk from Station to town centre, what appears to be a Victorian Arcade, though the building not Victorian, or at least does not appear to be. I cut through Harris Arcade.

My initial impression correct, Harris Arcade built in the 1930s by John Harris.

A coffee in Workhouse.

Very annoyed chocolate dumped on my cappuccino. They should know better.

18 different coffee beans to buy.  Espresso machine, the pumps are in a rack on the wall.

I would have stayed to eat, but not tempted by what is on offer.

I wish Waterstone’s would not insult readers and coffee lovers with their very poor choice of coffee books.

Coffee Art and Coffee Style excellent, but not Where to Drink Coffee, one of the most useless guides written.

Lunch and a coffee at Artigiano, my reason for revisiting Reading. I had looked in on my last visit, but no time for a coffee.

I was not impressed on my last visit, and not impressed today by their poor choice of food, poor choice, and expensive. Nor that upstairs was out of bounds due to a private party.

I can though see why upstairs hired out. Not busy.

I would have had bacon and brie, but not available. Beetroot yuk, chutney yuk, mustard less yuk. I settled for the ham, salami and mustard.

Not good. Poor quality bread, sent down from London, and ruined by the vile tasting mustard.

It is better to let the customer add mustard, add chutney, if they wish. Also better to make fresh food periodically throughout the day, not early in the day, then remove at three o’clock.

The problem, Artigiano have no kitchen staff. Whether this is cannot find, or directive from head office to cut staff, the same problem Harris + Hoole has now owned by tax-dodging Caffe Nero, loss of good staff, never see same staff twice, death by a thousand cuts, I do not know.

Not a place to eat. Though that is true of all the good coffee shops in Reading.

By contrast, excellent cappuccino, a blend from Origin. far superior to Origin coffee I have been served in Canopy Coffee.

No single origin or pour over coffee.

2.5 billion takeaway cups a year are thrown away in the UK. Anything we can do to reduce this trash mountain is to be welcomed.

In Artigiano, takeaway cups are paper, paper that can be composted. The lids are plant-based plastic, thus biodegradable.

So far so good, except too simplistic.

If I am on my way home, if I have bought fruit and vegetables from the shop in the nearby alley, I can pop in my bag with my fresh produce, then throw on my compost heap when I arrive home.

What though if not on my way home? What then do I do with the cup? Throw in the bushes, throw in the river, throw in the nearest litter bin? And that is the dilemma, and why compostable paper cups are not the answer. Yes, if have a captive audience, with a bin for the cups that can then be collected and composted, but if that be the case, why use disposable cups?

Artigiano sell KeepCup. Plastic is light, relatively cheap, but made of plastic. Glass is heavy, expensive, and shatters if dropped. Plus have to cart around the KeepCup.

If buy a KeepCup, first drink free, 15p discount thereafter. If buy a coffee every working day, then will take five months to break even if buy a glass KeepCup, two and a half months if buy a plastic KeepCup.

KeepCup only comes into its own if popping out from the office for a coffee.

The only real solution to the problem of disposable coffee cups is to discourage their use, if not an outright ban.

Interesting conversation with the barista.

Cappuccino in CUP.

Interesting art on the walls. Ink line drawings.

One was an avenue of coppiced trees. I recognised, unless several such avenues, as used by Gary Nicholls for The Imaginarium.

I caught the same train as two weeks ago, 1732 to Gatwick. Possibly the worst train to catch, as everyone leaving work. As two weeks ago, packed in like sardines, standing room only. Two weeks ago, the train emptied at the first stop. Not today, more people got on than the few that got off.

Afternoon in Reading

November 20, 2017

What a difference a week makes. Last week in Reading freezing cold, today mild and damp with occasional light drizzle.

I had intended to look in Workhouse then pop back later. But decided to stay and have a cappuccino.

Ethiopian, better than I had off Tamp kiosk last week, weak and insipid, which I poured down the drain. Not though as good as from Ethiopian Coffee Roasters.

I was asked did I want sugar, but had to intervene to stop chocolate, I assume cocoa, from being dumped on top.

No information on the beans, but staff knowledgeable and will explain if asked.

It would though be useful to have information, for example as in Small Batch in Brighton.

I learnt why the silly names for several of the beans. These are blends and it is an attempt to give some idea of the flavour profile.

The system is very much as Monmouth in Covent Garden, choose the beans you want, these are then weighed and bagged. They will grind if asked.

Perceived wisdom is to leave beans for a week after roasting before used. Workhouse leave for two weeks.

I think, but not sure, I could have picked any of the beans for a V60, though it may have only been what was illustrated on a  sign.

The rear of Workhorse the walls used to exhibit art.

Workhouse is surrounded by dreadful places to drink coffee, opposite Costa and tax-dodging Starbucks, adjacent down the street Patisserie Valerie and Pret a Manger.

In the centre of Reading, indeed even before leaving Reading Station, I have never seen so many coffee shops, but unlike Brighton, where at least indie coffee shops, these are chains. Like a Medieval plague of rats, Reading is infested with tax-dodging Starbucks.

MangoBean closed. This does not surprise me. It is a franchise scam, relies on mugs who know nothing about coffee, as the old adage goes fools and their money are easily parted.

The only surprise is that MangoBean in Aldershot has not closed long ago.

Next door to MangoBean, Artigiano.

Artigiano a  trendy coffee ship, serving craft beer, multiple levels, very much in the style of The Underdog in Athens. A sign indicated they used Origin. Sadly though a chain, albeit a small chain.

I had wished to go back, but spent the rest of the afternoon until early evening at CUP speciality coffee and tea.

Lunch at Cup spinach and feta pie.

Artigiano and Workhorse almost empty, CUP packed. It quietened down a little mid-afternoon, then late afternoon, it fills up again.

Usually in a coffee shop, people drink coffee, in CUP, maybe half drinking tea.

A selection of 18 different teas, with an unusual method of brewing the tea.

The tea and water carefully measured and timed, boiling hot water poured onto the tea, then released through a gauze into a glass carafe with a cork in the top.

The brewing method I have seen only once before, in Just Made 33, the method of serving only seen in CUP.

The teas are for sale, they will weigh and bag.

I had wished to leave earlier than last week to miss the commuter rush hour, but left an hour later, just made it in time for a train, which I found was non-stop. The next train, ten minutes later, was ten minutes late.  Packed in like sardines.  Most of the train emptied at the first stop.

Afternoon in Reading

November 13, 2017

Reading is not somewhere I would usually wish to visit, pass through yes, visit no.

What therefore was I doing in Reading on a freezing cold day?

A chance conversation in Coffee Lab in Winchester last week with a new barista who said he had worked at Work House in Reading.

I thought why not visit.

As train approached Reading, many shiny new office blocks, the station had been revamped too.

Greeted by the same crap coffee chains as found in every town, in this case tax-dodging Caffè Nero.

Then I found map had vanished off my phone.

I walked in Virgin Money. Did they have wifi? Yes, The Cloud. No way am I using The Cloud, as owned by Murdoch. One tax dodger supporting another tax dodger.

I passed by an impressive Town Hall.

Then luckily I found Work Horse Coffee.

Fairly basic inside, a large choice of roasted coffee beans. I would say too large a choice. No information on the beans. They roast their own coffee.

I picked up wifi from a chain.

It was basically a trawl for personal information. But needs must, I had lost the map from my phone.

I found Nibsy’s to be a cafe. Not worth stopping or returning.

I passed by a kiosk, Tamp Coffee Culture, stopped and had a cappuccino. A mistake as was not good. Weak and insipid I half drank, then poured down a drain. I am used to quality Ethiopian coffee. This was anything but. Baffled why they roast their coffee in Lancashire and yet their kiosk is in Reading.

I passed by CUP more than once. It was hidden behind a church.

Long chat with Greek guys coffee shops in Athens. Small world elite coffee.

It was then find The Shed. Apart from the fact an interesting building, a waste of time, the food awful.

I looked in Waterstone’s. Appalling choice of coffee books. Where To Find Coffee has to be one of the most useless guides ever written.

Interesting building. What would imagine a library to be. Not a library, a former chapel.

It was then down an alley to find CUP.

A cappuccino and a small cake.

Cappuccino far better than kiosk the other side of the church, cheaper, not served in a takeaway, and not out in the cold.

A mistake I did not have lunch at CUP.

Picked up copies of the latest issue of Caffeine.

Caffeine says London Coffee available in Waterstone’s. Not true. I have so far checked three. This is a book Waterstone’s should be stocking.

I stayed longer than intended. Reluctant to go back out in the cold.

It did not take long to walk back to the station.

Sadly I did not make it back to Work Horse Coffee as I would have liked to have tried their coffee. It would have been a better place to eat, as would CUP, than The Shed.

Walking around Reading, I noticed, it was quiet. No traffic. The entire town centre pedestrianised. Norm in Europe but rare in England. An example the idiot councillors in Lincoln should follow.