Posts Tagged ‘coffee culture’

Union Summer Carnival

June 22, 2017

I arrived a little later than I would have wished.

I was half an hour later than I wished arriving in London, then I went on a detour to Lower Marsh, behind Waterloo Station, to investigate Lower Marsh Market and happened upon a little coffee shop Love & Scandal.

As a result, I missed the cupping session and arrived part way through a fascinating talk on coffee, trees, forests, climate change and Ethiopia.

Kew Gardens have been carrying out mapping of the forests, how will be effected by climate change, how to mitigate, and will the coffee varieties survive.

To preserve the forest, we need to add value, we add value by encouraging the farmers to focus on quality not quantity, but this will only succeed, if the farmers have a market for their quality beans.

Union has been helping, they have improved the care of the trees, educated the farmers to only pick the ripest reddest coffee cherries, have improved the drying stations to use polypropylene netting not hessian and to establish a cupping station to enable the farmers to evaluate the quality of their beans.  These must be in excess of 84 on a Q scale, anything above 80 qualifies as speciality coffee.

Union are marketing as the region, Yayu Forest.

How much information on a bag of coffee?

This came up in the next session on Generation Z and the five waves of coffee.

Five?

Most people are only aware of three, if that.

Zero: Quality coffee beans, usually Arbabica, available from local stores.

First: Mass marketing of instant coffee.

Second: Starbucks, a marked improvement, coffee as a lifestyle.

Third: Artisan coffee shops, roasters, focus on high quality, money going to growers.

Fourth: Professionalism.

Fifth: Marketing hype, creation of chains.

Oxfam are still stuck at zero, peddling the fairtrade scam with tubs of black powder to which you add hot water, poor quality coffee that makes people feel good because they have been duped into thinking they are helping growers.

Many would question the existence of the fourth and fifth waves.

This session people either loved or hated. I fell into the second camp.

Anthropologist David Graeber describes bullshit jobs. That was what I was seeing.

Generation Z, Millennials, I groan when I hear these terms. Are people hardwired within their DNA when they are born?

We live in a world where nearly everyone is interconnected through their smartphone.

This has huge implications on social behaviour.

What we should be discussing is this interconnection, and how it is used, not stereotyping behaviour on the basis of when born.

We saw it with Jeremy Corbyn, when he easily won two leadership elections, when despite the smears in the oligarch-owned and controlled media, he almost won a General Election.

PR and marketing show little understanding of this interconnection, how it functions.

It is also personal space, invade at your peril.

Social media is social networks, social, interaction, many to many. It is not broadcast, one to many.

Andy Street former boss of John Lewis has said you do not control it or own it, it takes you where it flows.

We are post-capitalism, capitalism ended in 2008.

Basic tenet of the market is that it self-corrects. it did not for 2008 banking crisis, the criminal bankers had to be bailed out.

Classic Marx, cost is land, labour and capital. We now have a fourth factor, information.

Information has a tendency to flow, you cannot unknow what you know. Like water downhill, it has a tendency to flow. Only artificial and draconian copyright and intellectual property rights restrict this flow, and in doing so, hinders innovation.

We have pure information products, e-books, digital music, that can be reproduced and distributed at near zero marginal cost. We have physical products with high information content, eg mobile phones.

The marginal cost of information products, or physical products with high information content, is falling exponentially.

Robots will take over at least forty per cent  of jobs, or would if it were not for wages being held artificially low.

If we focus on brands, then at risk of cultural jamming, as Naomi Klein, author of the seminal No Logo, discusses in how we jam the Trump brand.

Nike went from producer of $70 retail sports shoes, factory gate price at the sweatshop factory of one dollar, to a lifestyle choice.

Apple likes to project a lifestyle image. What of the workers committing suicide?

We are used to dealing with producer coops. Why do we not see this the other end, cooperating coffee shops, collaborative commons, open coops?

Actually we do. Baristas help each pother, little cooperating networks form.

In Lincoln, indie coffee shops are considering, maybe already have, a joint loyalty card.

Rather than attempt to form so-called fifth wave businesses, why not grow organically, skilled baristas leave, set up their own coffee shops?

If we follow this route, we also can sustain organic growth for coffee roasteries, and plough money back to sustain growers,  encourage them not to replant coffee trees with a  less sustainable crop.

Try a quality coffee in an artisan coffee shop then go back to tax-dodging corporate Starbucks and demand the same quality?

I think not. More likely to search out other artisan coffee shops.

How much information to put on a bag of coffee? Danger of information overload. Why not small information panel, QR code to scan for more information.

Every bean has a story to tell. Why are we not telling that story?

The earlier session on Ethiopia, was telling that story.

Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development presented to the two co-founders of Union.

A coffee throwdown in three rounds.

Here I was a little baffled. Different methods were used by the competitors.  Should everything  not be equal, a level playing field? One method in itself, may produce a superior outcome. On the other hand, maybe that in itself tests the skill of the barista, with the coffee given, part of their skill, is to choose the method that will best bring out what the coffee has to offer.

Watching the competitors, intense concentration.

Then the judges, which coffee would they prefer? They indicated by pointing to or tapping the cup.

The judges explaining their decision, would have provided useful feedback.

On display, a fancy all singing and dancing espresso machine from La Marzocco.

It was one of several different  machines, there to be used.

A couple of baristas were making a coffee. Could I have one please? They handed me their coffee. A queue formed.

There was to be a short talk by a guy from La Marzocco. Either it did not take place or I missed it.

On entering, various coffees on show, fake milk, chai.

Including the almost mythical Geisha coffee.

I have always thought, using cold brew coffee to make cocktails, a waste of good coffee. Half of Cold Brew Coffee is padded out with recipes.

World champion barista Martin Hudak World Coffee in Good Spirits Champion 2017 did an excellent job of making me think again with his excellent cocktail, but even then, use of Geisha.

More on Geisha, read the excellent must read God in a Cup.

The Japanese chilled filter I liked. Little recipe cards were available.

Many will be familiar with Oatly, or at least the name, as it was the wrap around for Caffeine 26.

My experience of fake milk was a cappuccino in Malaika, a vegan coffee shop. To say the least, it was disgusting.

A Greek barista was making himself a cappuccino. Would he make me one too please?

It was so-so. A marked improvement on my previous experience. Not great. Was this the coffee, the machine, the barista? A direct comparison with milk would have been useful.

The previous week, dinner with an Indian. She told me how they drink tea, half milk, lots of sugar. It sounded disgusting. I was shocked. I expected as I drink tea, fresh boiling water on tea leaves, no milk, no sugar.

Prana Chai was served ice cold. To me it was like a milkshake.  A strange tea milkshake with spices.

Talking to the guys later as we walked to the DLR Star Lane Station, they said they were thinking of describing as tea latte, which seemed apt.

In the car park, excellent pizza from a clay oven by Arancina.

For everyone a goody bag.

All in all, a very interesting, informative and entertaining day, and a big thank you to Union for the hard work organising their summer festival.

 

Coffee Culture

May 5, 2017

I occasionally walk past Coffee Culture as I walk through the courtyard of The Angel Hotel. I have never popped in, as it is off putting the smokers hanging around outside.

Today I thought I would give it a try.

The decor is ok, but that is as good as it gets.

Everything they did, screamed they know nothing about coffee

I was offered coffee in normal size cup or an outlandishly large cup.

Never use a large cup.

I ordered a cappuccino.

It looked disgusting, and did not taste much better. But at least I was asked, did I want chocolate, it was not dumped on top.

Never use chocolate, use cocoa.

The coffee was a on a par with the free coffee out of the machine in Waitrose in Farnham.

A tad too hot, milky, watery, barely drinkable.

The best that could be said of my cappuccino, was served in an attractive cup, the same cups used by Harris + Hoole.

I walked out and left it.

Outside a board telling me an award winning coffee shop.

This once again emphasises the point, awards have become meaningless.

I do not know which award they are referring to, they are not one of the best coffee shops in Guildford, not by a long way, nor for that matter is Caracoli which has a board outside making that ridiculous claim.  It is like awarding Costa the nation’s favourite coffee shop brand, completely and utterly meaningless.

Whoever drew up the short list of coffee shops for Surrey, clueless on coffee.

The coffee beans used, catering supply for the trade, no roast date.

Why bother? There is no excuse these days for using poor quality coffee, other than cutting corners and do not care what you serve.

The notice also says, locally sourced. Since when has Scotland been local? There are plenty of coffee roasters locally or in London they could have used, could have used if they cared and knew anything about coffee.

And no, tea pigs is not quality tea.

Coffee Culture is not a coffee shop, it is a cafe that serves coffee masquerading as a coffee shop.

Take back coffee culture

May 9, 2016
Jam of the Week

Jam of the Week

Adbusters Jam of the Week:  Take back coffee culture: Support indie coffee shops.

Despite years of backlash, Starbucks can still be found on every corner around the globe. Its efforts to create an ethical image have done little to hide its dominating nature.

For centuries, coffeehouses were meeting places for philosophers, artists and activists. That’s where big ideas percolated and revolutions were hatched. But who wants to talk politics at Starbucks? Despite their attempts to manufacture an atmosphere of creativity and community, Starbucks remains an invasive presence in any neighborhood.

This week let’s break the corporate chain. Take a stroll in your neighborhood and zero in on one independent coffee shop you really like. Get to know the owner and the baristas who work there. Make it the place where from now on you connect with your community and your friends.

A couple of blocks from Adbusters, here in the Fairview Slopes neighbourhood of Vancouver, is a wonderful little indie coffee shop called Wicked. We go there almost every day, often to strategize and cook up campaigns . . . there’s something truly wonderful about being plugged in like that.

This week let’s give the indie coffee movement a worldwide boost . . . let’s walk away from Starbucks and never go back.

This is the revolution of everyday life.

For the wild,

— Team Adbusters

Old Town Square in Prague, girl drinking from a Starbucks takeaway. Another girl approaches, ‘scuse me, can you tell me where I can find Starbucks?

One of those moments when you want to cringe.

Starbucks at Prague Castle

Starbucks at Prague Castle

Prague Castle, the location with the most stunning view over Prague, occupied by Starbucks. A grass terrace, a spiral stone staircase. They were even queuing.

Why do people drink this disgusting coffee? Do they have no self-respect? is there something wrong with their sense of taste?

And it is not only Starbucks, Caffe Nero, Costa, are no better.

Nor is there any excuse when there are quality indie coffee shops, with their own unique atmosphere, where the barista can tell you more than you ever wished to know about coffee, where the coffee actually tastes good, is usually sourced direct from the farms, where you meet interesting people, and they pay their fair share of tax.

If you find an indie coffee shop serving excellent coffee with atmosphere, tell your friends, make it your meeting place.

The very first coffee shops in London were where people went to read newspapers, to discuss the issues of the day.