Posts Tagged ‘Caffe Nero’

The sad bitter truth of undrinkable coffee

September 18, 2018

In May, I met with a friend in a coffee shop in Cyprus.

Where we met in Cyprus, Robustos in Paralimini is a rarity, a speciality coffee shop that serves decent coffee.

Cyprus has more coffee chains than can shake a stick at. Chains you may have heard of, chains you will never have heard of, Costa (now owned by Coca-Cola), tax-dodging Caffe Nero, tax-dodging Starbucks, Coffee Island and Coffee Berry, the Greek versions of Starbucks, Second Cup, the Canadian version of Starbucks.

My friend Georgia does not like coffee. I explained why she found coffee to be unpleasant and bitter, poor quality coffee, bad machine, brewed by someone who not a skilled barista, too hot. Yes, she had found coffee to be served scalding hot, and yes, it was unpleasant and bitter.

Owner George joined us for a chat and I asked him to make Georgia a cappuccino. To Georgia, I said please try, if you do not like it, you are not obliged to drink it.

Georgia took a tentative sip, found it to be OK. Only when her cup was empty and she had said she enjoyed it, did I point out that that she had not had to add sugar.

The only reason chocolate is dumped on a cappuccino, sugar and syrups added, is to mask the taste of bad coffee.

Visit a speciality coffee shop, they will source their beans from a quality coffee roastery, who sources quality beans from a farm. The roast will be light to medium roast to bring out the characteristics of the beans. The roast varies with each batch of beans. It then takes a skilled barista to bring out the best from the beans, and the skilled barista needs a quality grinder and quality espresso machine. Any error en route from farm to cup will ruin the beans and produce a poor cup of coffee.

The coffee chains buy cheap low quality beans. These are over roasted to hide any defects in the beans. This though is not the only reason for the dark roast, it gives uniformity of the beans, a burnt coffee bean is a burnt coffee bean, it requires no skill of the barista, a robot could do the job, the only reason McWorkers are employed they are cheaper than robots.

An analogy would be McDonald’s. All their burgers are identical, maybe 200 cows in one burger. No skill required to cook the burger.

Brian Stoffel from the viewpoint of a coffee farmer in Puerto Rico explains in an excellent article The Bitter Truth About Starbucks Coffee why cheap coffee is dark roast and preferred by the global coffee chains and speciality coffee a lighter roast.

In a dark roast, bitter is the predominant flavor. That’s because bitter is the flavor you get when things get burned.

At El Toledo, he demonstrates to tourists how the beans change over the course of just a few minutes of roasting, and what those few minutes means for the taste that ends up in the cup. Beans sampled at one-minute intervals, beginning 15 minutes into the roasting process.

The main difference between the three different roasts (courtesy Brian Stoffel):

  • In a light roast, the flavors are more fruity and acidic. That’s because the coffee cherries that the beans come from are fruity and acidic.
  • In a medium roast, the coffee tastes more balanced and sweet. That’s primarily because the glucose has been heated up and activated, but it also hasn’t burned away yet.
  • In a dark roast, bitter is the predominant flavor. That’s because bitter is the flavor you get when things get burned.

Two speciality coffee shops to try light roasted beans, Base Camp on Steep Hill in Lincoln and Outpost Coffee in the Lace Market area of Nottingham.

Dark roasted coffee can be tried in any coffee chain, and sadly too many indie coffee shops that buy cheap rubbish catering supply coffee. One of the worst I have tried, Jacobs coffee served in an indie coffee shop in Cyprus, the coffee undrinkable, the beans, black, over roasted and the disgusting smell of the beans turned the stomach.

To buy quality coffee beans, from most speciality coffee shops or direct from the roastery.

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Coffee chains ripoff their customers

September 16, 2018

Last week, The Mail on Sunday had an article Barista bandits on how the coffee chains are ripping off their customers.

Caffe Nero and Starbucks dodge tax, Costa owned by Coca-Cola, Pret a manger by Vulture Capitalists, all serve disgusting cheap undrinkable coffee, but as the MoS points out, we are paying a high price for this undrinkable coffee, at least those with no taste for coffee are, those of us who appreciate coffee, seek out the nearest local speciality coffee shop. To this list of reasons to avoid the chains could also add poor working conditions, soul destroying low paid McShit jobs, drain money out of the local economy.

MoS describe how the wholesale price of coffee has fallen, in the meantime the price charged by the chains has risen. By wholesale price, it is assumed they are referring to the coffee exchange price for commodity coffee in London and New York.

According to MoS, price of beans on the international markets has dropped 67% since 2011, from £2.23 per pound to a low of 74p last month. In the same period, a ‘tall’ cappuccino in Starbucks that cost £2.15 in 2011 now costs £2.60 in most outlets – a 20% increase.

It is not only Starbucks ripping off their customers, other chains are also ripping off their customers too:

  • tax dodging Caffe Nero – regular cappuccino has risen 40p from £2.30 in 2011
  • Pret a Manger – from £2.19 to £2.45
  • Costa – the £2.15 ‘primo’ now costs £2.35

The usual excuses, we have heard them all before with ratchet pricing from energy companies, cost of Brent Crude goes up, electricity prices rise, cost of oil drops, electricity price stays the same.

  • Starbucks: ‘Many factors contribute to pricing decisions, including rents, labour, competition, distribution, commodities – and coffee.’
  • Costa: ‘The price of a cup of coffee does not simply reflect the cost of the beans.’
  • Pret a Manger: ‘Our coffee prices take into account the cost of our ingredients, as well as operational costs such as wages.’
  • Cafe Nero: declined to comment.

That low price on the international commodity exchange translates as bigger margins for the chains, poverty for the growers, the difference between sending the kids to school or not, a nutritinal meal every day.

The world of the speciality coffee shop is different, they engage in Direct Trade. Yes you are paying a higher price for your cappuccino, usually somewhere between £2-50 and £3-00, though often less than will pay in a chain.

There are though very good reasons for this price, and unlike the chains, it can be more than justified.

Investment by the coffee shop, decor, ambience, employment of skilled baristas, quality espresso machine and grinder, a choice of brew methods, V60 or Chemex pour over filter coffee, cold brew coffee. They are buying quality speciality coffee, not cheap commodity coffee, a far higher price is paid to the growers.

We have a choice, no one is forced to drink coffee from a corporate chain, to pay through the nose for undrinkable cheap coffee. There are speciality coffee shops, where the baristas and owner will be passionate about coffee, where can relax with a quality coffee served in glass or ceramic, where can drink with a clear conscience knowing a higher price is being paid to the coffee grower.

Caffé Nero dodge tax

March 28, 2018

Caffé Nero and Starbucks are two large tax-dodging coffee chains serving undrinkable coffee.

Caffè Nero dodge tax as does Starbucks.

Caffè Nero dodge tax through a complex network of companies, ultimately owned by a Vulture Capitalist holding company based in Luxembourg.

Debt was used to acquire the company, which is then loaded onto the company, unable to  service the debt let alone pay it off, Caffè Nero is a zombie company.

Were Caffè Nero to file for bankrutcy, it would be another BHS.

This tax-dodging we all pay for with fewer police on our streets, the terrible scenes we have seen over the winter in our A&E departments in hospitals, cuts to social services, mass library closures, cuts to social benefits.

For the independent coffee shop, it is unfair competition, as they pay their taxes.

Big corporations dominate too many areas of our lives. They destroy the character of our town centres losing our sense of place. When they go under, we are left with devastated town centres which never recover.

They drain money out of our local economies. Spend a tenner in a corporate chain and that is a tenner drained straight out of the local economy, less a tiny trickle down to low paid temporary zero hours staff.

Spend a tenner in a local indie business and that tenner is retained and recycled within the local economy. There is also a local multiplier. For every pound you spend it is as though more than a pound has been spent, as the local business will spend it in the local economy. The coffee shop will be ordering cakes from a local bakery.

And the clincher, the local indie coffee shop serves better coffee.

Acquisition of Harris + Hoole by Caffè Nero has resulted in low staffing levels, leading to poor service, many good staff have left, the coffee once sourced from Union Hand-Roasted is now roasted by Caffè Nero, death by a thousand cuts.

One reason for the acquisition of this loss making chain may have been to offset tax.

I suggest for next issue of Caffeine that UK Uncut are invited to contribute a feature on tax dodging by Starbucks and Caffè Nero.

Caffè Nero demonstrates why we need a latte levy

January 11, 2018

2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK.

What appear to be paper cups are not. They are lined-with plastic, and therein lies the problem, these plastic-lined paper cups cannot be recycled, if tossed in with paper, contaminates the paper with plastic.

Plastic pollution is killing the planet.

8 million tonnes of plastic are discarded into the oceans every year. The plastic accumulates. By 2050 the amount of plastic in the oceans will outweigh the fish. It is hazardous to sea life.

It is thanks to chains like Caffè Nero why we have a problem, they encourage a grab it and go, throw away consumerist culture.

Why are these cups sitting on a table, why was the coffee not served in a ceramic cup?

It demonstrates why we need a 25p latte levy, to be introduced at the next budget, why we must make it socially unacceptable the grab it and go coffee culture.

Please sign the petition calling on Michael Gove to introduce the 25p latte levy. And boycott chains which are lobbying hard to stop introduction of the latte levy.

Caffè Nero dodge tax

February 26, 2017

Caffè Nero has joined the growing list of tax dodgers, which includes Starbucks.

Coffee shop chain Caffè Nero paid no corporation tax in the UK last year, despite ringing up profits of £25.5m.

Companies House filings show turnover at Caffè Nero grew 6.7 per cent to £257.6m as it opened 31 stores over the year.

Caffè Nero has not paid UK corporation tax since 2007 and came under criticism last year for not paying corporation tax in 2015 on profits of £23.6m.

Starbucks has also faced backlash in the past over alleged tax avoidance, but has since changed the structure of its company and paid an £8.1m UK corporation tax bill in 2015.

It is unfortunate Caffè Nero now own Harris + Hoole – Tolley, Tolley and Tolley having sold the staff down the river. They did the same to Taylor St Barista staff when they closed the coffee shop in Brighton.

In both cases, these excellent coffee shops, especially Taylor St Barista in Brighton and Harris + Hoole in Guildford, could have been made available to their staff and customers to run as open coops, but that would not have satisfied the greed of Tolley, Tolley and Tolley.

The solution is simple, avoid disgusting coffee in Costa, tax dodging Starbucks and Caffè Nero and support local indie coffee shops.

Big Business coffee chains

September 15, 2016

Three coffee chains, Costa, Caffe Nero and tax-dodging Starbucks, dominate the High Street and shopping centres. Three coffee chains you will avoid if you love coffee.

It is difficult to comprehend why anyone drinks what is called coffee in these chains, when here is now a wide diversity of quality indie coffee shops. But then it is difficult to comprehend why anyone eats in KFC or McDonald’s.

Chains making millions out of serving poor quality, undrinkable coffee and factory cakes, in a characterless corporate environment.

Starbucks part of the local community? Was that a joke?

If coffee out of a machine tastes the same as that served by a barista, what does that say of the baristas employed by Costa?

Indie coffee shops, serve quality coffee, source quality coffee beans, employ skilled and knowledgeable baristas and recycle money within the  local economy.

Avoid the chains, seek out indie coffee shops and learn what real coffee  tastes like.

Sales fall at tax dodger Starbucks

April 25, 2014
Starbucks protest

Starbucks protest

Excellent news, the Starbucks boycott is working, sales are falling at Starbucks.

I would be ashamed to be seen dead in Starbucks, and shame on those who still drink coffee in Starbucks.

Shame too on those who drink coffee in Caffe Nero and Costa.

Caffe Nero is also a tax dodger.

Starbucks have announced they are moving their corporate headquarters from Netherlands to the UK, but this should be seen for what it is, greenwash, they will still be dodging tax.

Disgusting the rubbish piled up outside tax dodger Caffe Nero, North Street, Guildford. Why no action by the local council?

tax dodger Caffe Nero rubbish piled in the street

tax dodger Caffe Nero rubbish piled in the street